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Freedom in Our Identity - Cornerstone Impact Update

"But to all who receive him, who believed in his name, he gave them the right to become children of God." - John 1:12

Where do you find your identity? As a Christian, it's easy to say that our identity is found in Christ. While our identity is (and should be) found in Christ, many believers don't live based on this truth. In today's world, it's so easy to anchor your identity in who the world says we are instead of who God says we are. The world tends to label you by gender, race, religion, income, weight, hobbies… the list goes on and on. Some of these labels can be positive, while others can be negative or hurtful. How have people labeled you? Do you catch yourself finding your worth/identity in those labels? This month’s Cornerstone Impact focus is on your identity.

Your identity is not in...

Things

"And he said to them, 'Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life doe not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'" Luke 12:15

Our society loves stuff. There isn't a problem with having material things, it's when they become ultimate things -- see more on this in my June blog on idolatry. You can idolize material things, and you can also find your identity in your possessions. The problem with this is things are temporary.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

What happens to your identity when the value of things dissipates? The things you own aren't eternal. What you own might change throughout your life. You don't want who you are to be determined by the shifting things in your life. Instead, look to God's Word as your absolute identifier.

Your Mistakes/Your Past

Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash

So maybe you don't find your identity in the things you own, but do you find yourself still holding onto your past. Maybe you've made some mistakes and feel like that's who you are and always will be. Satan wants you to believe that you are your past mistakes, but be encouraged by what God says about your past:

"For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8:12
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
"for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." Ephesians 5:8

When we give our life to Christ, we are washed clean from our sins. We don't need to hold onto our past and believe that our identity comes from things we've done in the past. Instead, your identity can be a child of Christ – that's something that will never change!

The World's Words: Labels

Photo by: Michael Arnold

I mentioned above different ways the world labels people: gender, race, religion, hobbies, etc. There might be times where you've been hurt by the way people have labeled you. To God, these worldly labels don't matter.

"But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'" 1 Samuel 16:7

There are several other verses throughout the Bible explaining how God looks at (and cares more about) our heart. Don't get caught up in the labels people give you -- whether they're good or bad. Focus instead on finding your identity in Christ and having a heart that wants to serve and glorify God. Next time you question who you are, remember your Creator:

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:13-14

Check your foundation

Do you catch yourself consistently finding your identity in the above (shifting, worldly things in your life)? It might be time to check the foundation of your life. Matthew 7:24-27 is a good analogy of the importance of a solid foundation:

"'Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.'"
Photo credit

So many people build their houses (worth/identity/purpose) on shifting things in life. It can be so easy to turn to worldly things like our job, friends/family, hobbies, etc. to find our identity. However, the issue with finding our identity (and in turn your worth and purpose) in these things, is you create a faulty foundation for your life. Most people don't intentionally build on a faulty surface. It's not always out of stubbornness, but out of thoughtlessness.

The foundation is the most important part of the house. It doesn't matter if you have a really nice house if the foundation is faulty. Whenever a storm hits, that seemingly nice house isn't going to last. The foundation of the house is also something that you don't see and pay attention to -- when people go look at the house they're focused on the appearance of it. Looking at the foundation requires a deeper look/inspection.

It's the same thing with your life. You can have a lot of good things in your life -- expensive possessions, amazing job, friends, kids, etc. Your life can look "picture perfect" on the outside; however, if you don't have a solid foundation in Christ, you're not going to make it through the storms that occur in your life (and trust me, they'll come at some point). Just like with the foundation of a house, people won't really pay attention to the foundation of your life. They won't see you spending personal time with God every day; however, your strong foundation will be apparent when a storm occurs and you remain strong in the end. (Note: having a strong foundation doesn't mean these storms won't be hard, but they'll be manageable.)

Prior to COVID, a group of young adult women at my church did a weekend "retreat" where we talked about identity. Before we jumped into Scripture, the leaders had us write down ways people might identify you. They challenged us to be honest with ourselves and not just write down things that they'd want to hear – like Christian, child of God, etc. For me at the time, two big things that consumed my life were being a volleyball coach and an Eller (University of Arizona business college) student. Those were two big ways people would describe me and where I honestly found my identity in most. Yeah I was still a Christian, but that wasn't the number 1 for me. This lesson was hard for probably every woman in that group as we were being challenged to truly create a foundation in Christ instead of worldly things.

I'd encourage you to reflect on your life right now. Take some time to write down some ways people would identify you. Do you have a solid foundation created in Christ? Something that has helped me in finding my identity and worth in Christ is by first looking at attributes of who God is. Whether you're a new Christian or have been a Christian for a long time, refreshing yourself on God's attributes can be very beneficial.

Who God is

Photo Credit

I'm not going to cover all of God's attributes, but here are some:

Love

"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love… So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." 1 John 4:8, 16

Gracious and merciful

Grace is unmerited favor, or getting what you do not deserve. Mercy on the other hand, is not getting what you deserve. For example, when a judge lessens or removes your sentence. We receive both grace and mercy from God.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved" Ephesians 2:4-5

Good

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17
"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" Psalm 107:1

Sovereign

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand." Proverbs 19:21

Immutable

"For I am the Lord, I do not change." Malachi 3:6

Back in March I discussed the fruit of the Spirit. These are all attributes of God: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Attributes of God can be found throughout the Bible. When you're reading your Bible, take some time to focus on what the passage is showing about God.

Questions?

Here are some questions that you can ask yourself as you reflect on your identity:

Who is telling you that you SHOULD be doing this or that? Are we using God's standards or the world's standards?

  • Remember that the world tends to look at the outcomes of the things you do in your life; God focuses on our heart.

What is your greatest internal struggle?

  • Bring the things that you're struggling with to God! If you're struggling to find your worth or purpose, ask God for help.

Are you trying to do so much so it feels like you're measuring up?

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10
  • While we do want to be doing good works for God to bring Him glory, our salvation is not based on our works. We shouldn't be solely focused on doing a bunch to feel like we're measuring up.

Ask God if this (where you're currently at) is where you want me.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

We can't be afraid to ask hard questions of the Lord. We want to make sure what we're doing aligns with what God wants us to be doing. We need to learn to say no to things that don't align with God's plan for us. As someone who is a people pleaser, this can be challenging.

God has given us each gifts. I briefly discussed gifts towards the end of my blog post on the fruit of the spirit. Take some time to figure out where God wants you and the gifts that He's given you.

The world creates people's identities from the outside in – what they see people doing, how they look, etc. This causes people to hold onto past behaviors and feel trapped. However, Christ identifies people from the inside out – your heart. I encourage you to anchor your identity in who Christ says you are instead of who the world says you are. You'll feel a weight lifted off your shoulder. The conditions in your life might change, but your identity in Christ is eternal.


Cornerstone Impact Update

Cornerstone Portfolios Cross $10 Million Threshold!

We launched Cornerstone just before COVID disrupted the entire country. Our plans for a nationwide roadshow to highlight these unique portfolios were squashed, but God's plan is always better than ours. The pandemic forced us into a different way of marketing to advisors and investors. We are thrilled that in June to see the total assets managed in the Cornerstone Portfolios to exceed the $10 Million mark. To put this number in perspective, SEM was founded in 1992 and did not pass $10 Million in assets until 1998! God is certainly good!

What has us most excited is this is $10 Million not invested with secular fund managers who may be taking their profits to support things God is clearly against. This is $10 Million being used to invest in companies who are striving to impact the world for His kingdom. This is $10 Million that is being used to engage with companies who are not following His Word.

We truly appreciate the support of everyone who has been a part of these portfolios. We ask for you to continue to spread the word so we can spread His word in the investment industry.

Eventide

Russell Fuller, founder and president of Fuller and Thaler Asset Management, describes three sources of alpha and the three types of asset managers who maximize each source in his paper, “Behavioral Finance and the Sources of Alpha”. The three asset managers described are: traditional or fundamental managers, quantitative managers, and behavioral managers.

Shaun Morgan of Eventide describes a potential fourth type of asset manager that isn’t mentioned in Fuller’s paper: purpose-driven manager. Learn more in the recent blog: https://insights.eventideinvestments.com/the-fourth-source-of-alpha

Alpha is defined as the value a manager adds to a portfolio compared to a passive index. Our recent SEM University discussed the "alpha" we have found by using a Biblically Responsible Approach. Our findings confirm what Eventide is saying – there is indeed alpha in being purpose driven.

You can watch the replay here:

How to make an impact with your investments without sacrificing performance
We know what we do with our money matters. That’s why we started the CornerstonePortfolios – we wanted to make an impact with our investments. The drawback somany investors have with Biblically Responsible Investing is they’re worriedthat they’re sacrificing performance. Do you know how to make …

If you have any questions or would like more information on how to align your investments with your faith, please contact me. You can also learn more about the Cornerstone Portfolios at: SEMWealth.com/Cornerstone.

Help spread the word about Biblically Responsible Investing! Fill out this form to receive a FREE Cornerstone shirt.

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Williamsburg, VA
Courtney is SEM's Marketing Manager. She joined SEM full-time in 2016. Outside of SEM, Courtney enjoys hiking with her golden retriever, Mya and volunteering at LifePointe Christian Church.