Thursday, March 22, 2012

Identity Theft

"Who am I?" I can show you my driver's license, social security card, passport, a birth certificate, credit cards,  – and they all prove to you that I am Richard Lawry born in Madison, Tennessee. There is no one else in the entire world who can be me.

That is unless I become a victim of identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.

I recently experienced this problem when I noticed some charges on my bank account that I knew I had not made.  After numerous calls to the company, and promises that the money would be refunded it never was.  Identity theft is a serious problem.

A few months ago I read in the news a bizarre identity theft story.   Jakadrien Turner ran away from home in the fall of 2010 when she was just 14. She left home under duress caused by her parents' divorce and her grandfather's death. Jakadrien made her way to Houston, where she was soon arrested by police for shoplifting a white shirt, black vest and jeans.

That's when things took a bizarre turn. Jakadrien gave the police a false name and her new alias just happened to match up with the name of a 22-year-old Colombian citizen who had been in the United States illegally. To compound Turner's plight further, the Colombian national had a warrant out for her arrest. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then deported Jakadrien in April 2011.  After Jakadrien was deported, she was given a work card in Colombia and released onto the streets.

 Her grandmother, Lorene Turner, had been looking on her computer every night for clues to her granddaughter's location, and was cooperating with Dallas police as she carried out her search.  She spent months monitoring Facebook postings she believed to be her granddaughters that led her to think that she was in Columbia. 

When the story was reported in the U.S. media, The Colombian Institute for Family Welfare confirmed that Turner was in its custody.  After a joint investigation by U.S. and Columbian authorities, Jakadrien Turner arrived back in Texas, eight months after she was mistakenly deported to Colombia.

As sad and disturbing as this story is, Jakadrien brought these problems upon herself by using a stolen identity. 

Now I’m sure that you or I would never think of being identity thieves.  A person’s identity is the most important thing that they own.   How does the Bible identify you?  In 2 Corinthians 6:18 The Bible tells us, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”

You are a child of God, but someone wants to steal your identity.  We read in Rev 13:16,17 “ He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads  and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 

Satan knows our true identity as sons and daughters of God, but he wants to give a new identity.  He wants to give us his name. 

There is a passage in Exodus 34 where the name of God is equated with his character.  We read in verses 5 and 6, “Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.”

God has given us his name just like a father passes on his name to his children.  God’s true identity is His character.  He wants our identity to be His character, but Satan also wants our name, our identity, to be his character.

Satan’s character, the name he wants to give us, is outlined in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where it says, “this know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.

If we see ourselves anywhere in this passage we are guilty of identity theft.  God’s character, the name he has given us, is found in Galatians 5:22,23   The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 

Don’t be like Jakadrian who stole the identity of someone and ended up being deported.  You are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.  You are a child of the king of the universe.  With an identity like that why would we want to be an identity thief?