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Called Out for Compromise

Called Out for Compromise

Anyone watch Love Is Blind? So good. And so bad. If you watch it, you know what I mean. I never watch shows like this one. The “F” word is thrown out so casually, and it’s very worldly, but it sucked me in.

As I was watching and couldn’t stop watching, I started feeling guilty. But here’s what happened with those guilty feelings. I would just silence my internal dialogue. But my silencing attempts were not stopping the guilty feelings. I had to think of something better to keep the “binge watch state of mind” alive, so I began telling myself all the good reasons for watching the show. You know, like, how this show is helping me learn about relationships… this show is giving me content… I need to know what’s going on out there, etc.

Around that time, I was listening to a sermon from Brooke Ligertwood. She said something that convicted me in a moment. I stopped the video, thought about it, rewound the video, listened again, and then stopped it again to write it in my notes.

Here’s what she said:

“Compromise is convincing yourself that it is okay to do the wrong thing if it is for the right reason.”

I have to be honest; I haven’t listened to a message in a while that made me feel “called out”. But this one did because it is something I do more often than I would like to admit. In fact, I have “justified” my actions at times like this for as long as I can remember and never felt convicted for it. I don’t remember ever being “called out” about it. Maybe I have not been “called out” for it, because from the outside looking in, I always had a good reason for my actions. Again, the justifications…it helps me understand people better…I can relate to people more…I could show people you can love Jesus and…

I have heard it said that when people train to identify counterfeit money, they begin with studying genuine money. They study the real thing, learning all its details and characteristics so well that they can easily spot when something is off. So, here’s what I am being convicted of today: We don’t learn more about Jesus from studying the world, we learn more about Jesus from studying the word. You might need to read that sentence again. Anytime your heart (or mine) tells your otherwise, that is most likely the voice of compromise.

More often than I like to admit, if you searched my heart, you would see conviction covered up with piles of comprising statements that I said so beautifully and convincingly that I began to believe them myself.

You see, the only way to “call yourself out” of compromises is to humble yourself and confess what your convictions are really saying. It takes an honest and willing heart to admit that you have been doing the wrong thing and disguising it for the right reasons. This is something a friend, a family member, not even your own mother can teach you; it is only the job of the Holy Spirit working within you and your willingness to listen.

In John 12:1-8, there is a story told about Mary who took a pound of expensive oil and poured it all out on the feet of Jesus. Judas was sitting nearby watching this go down and Judas says, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”

Judas was doing just what I’m talking about. He was doing the wrong thing but disguising it for the right reason. But Judas literally had Jesus in the room with him to call him out. The bible says in the next verse, “Judas said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag, he used to help himself to what he put in.”

It is important that you call yourself out for the compromises in your life because your compromises don’t just affect you. You are likely leading others to believe in your compromise because you have learned to eloquently disguise it with a spiritual message, just as Judas tried to do. Judas was hiding his “compromise” by giving it a spiritual twist, but Jesus was not fooled. Sounding spiritual never has made the wrong thing right.

Other topics of compromise found in the church and in my own life look like –

· Setting or not setting boundaries before marriage.

· How much you can drink and why you drink.

· What you listen to and watch.

· Words that you say, and things disguised as a joke.

Think about what you might be leading others around you in or to. Are you leading out of a place of compromise in your own heart or are you leading out of a place of conviction about God’s heart? The fruit of your life will tell the story. Leading with conviction starts first with living an honest life with yourself, then you can lead others with conviction based on God’s word, not the words of the world.

Staying in Step with the Lord

Staying in Step with the Lord

Have you ever been in a season where you feel like you have no direction for where you are going? Maybe you’ve asked God where He is at. Maybe you’ve felt as if He isn’t working in your life and it seems like you are completely stuck. I’ve been there too, many times in my life. But specifically at the beginning of 2022, I was frustrated with where I was. I was a full-time nurse, about to be a first-time author, ran a small business, was encouraging women through social media, and knew that the Lord was stirring something new within me. I just had no idea what that something new was, and it became all that I could think about.

I honestly was really struggling with being a nurse at the time. Work was draining, my co-worker’s morale was really low, and I had all these other new passions within me. It was getting hard to balance the writing I was doing along with having a full-time job, being a wife, a friend, and taking care of myself. Burnout was really close. I was waiting for the day when the Lord would tell me to quit. I selfishly didn’t want to be doing the hard work as a nurse anymore. I wanted what seemed to be the “easier way.” But deep down inside I still had this feeling that I was still called to be involved in nursing. Every part of me was trying to ignore it. My dream was to be part-time, but that was desired by many people and seemed impossible since we were short staffed so I never bothered asking.

One Sunday morning I was at church and during the last worship set I remember sitting down and pleading to the Lord, “What is next for me?” I began to see a picture of Joshua at the Jordan river, I felt the Lord remind me that the waters didn’t part until the priests took a step into it. It was at that moment that I felt the Lord tell me to quit my job as a nurse. I was hysterically crying as now I knew I heard clearly from the Lord and wanted to obey but now doing the one thing my flesh wanted felt like the most horrifying thing to do. I didn’t know what would come of it. I was stressed about what our finances would look like, and I had no plan whatsoever of what would happen once I wasn’t working, but I chose to be obedient to what the Lord asked of me. The next day I put my notice in for 2 months. Why 2 months? Only the Lord knew.

Fast forward a few weeks and I still had zero clarity on what was next. I found myself asking God, “Okay Lord, you told me to do this, and I still have no idea what you want me to do!” I felt the Lord call me to fast for a day from food. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but still, nothing. The next day I was at work and it was the day to tell my boss what my official last day would be with the new schedule out. As I walked into the office to tell her what my last day would be, she offered for me to go part-time! At first, I was hesitant and thought, “But God, you told me to quit?” and then I felt Him say, “I am giving you the desires of your heart.”

After talking with my husband and family it was evident that this was the next step that God had for me. As I began to work part-time as a nurse God then began to open other doors that filled my time. Looking back, I see God’s hand in every moment, even when I felt as if He wasn’t there.

As I walked through that season of my life, the verse I held onto was, The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV

 I could have made all of the plans in my head that I thought were best for me and tried to pursue them. But ultimately, I wanted and knew that God’s plan for my life was better than anything I could have ever come up with on my own.

When we choose to surrender everything that feels comfortable and step into the uncomfortable of the unknown with Jesus, He WILL show up. God isn’t always going to give us a list of the steps we need to take to get to where He wants us to go. Most of the time He is a step-by-step kind of guy or even “take this blind step and see what I will do.” But with each step of faith that we do take with Him, we can trust that we are on the path to the most abundant life. I love what Mark Batterson says in his book Draw The Circle, “God wants us to get where God wants us to go more than we want to get where God wants us to go.”

You are on the path of abundance when you are on the path surrendered to Jesus. He will get you where He wants to get you in His perfect timing. He knows every detail of how He will get you where He wants to get you. And in that time leading up to where He is taking you, He is preparing you for what He has for you.

So yes, maybe you are in a season where you feel no direction or clarity. I want to encourage you, instead of asking God for a 5-step plan or just waiting for Him to make a move, ask Him what the next step for you to take is. And then boldly and courageously take that step no matter how scary or daunting or vulnerable it may seem. Sometimes instead of just waiting on the Lord to move, we need to take an action step that says, Lord, I am ready to do what you want me to do. I lay down my plans for my life and submit to your plans for me whatever they may be. If God told you to do it, He will bless your obedience. Just like the priests touched their feet in the water of the Jordan river and then it parted. They had to have faith that God would do what He said He would do. Out of faith, dip your toes in the water, and watch how God will make a way when there seems to be no way!

Believe in the promise that God is establishing your steps. Write it on your heart and remind yourself of it every day. The Lord is establishing your steps better than you could ever do on your own. Not only is He actively doing that now but He is excited about where He is taking you! It will be worth the wait. Waiting on the Lord is NEVER wasted waiting.

Allyson Golden is the Author of the devotional Words Are Golden and founder of the online ministry Words Are Golden. She is also a part-time nurse & on staff at the church in which she and her husband helped plant. Her heart is for women to recognize that their words hold power when rooted in God’s powerful word. She loves to host people in her home, cook yummy meals & learn about the heart of Jesus! You can read more from Allyson on Instagram @wordsaregolden

Fit God’s Way

Fit God’s Way

According to a poll of 300 women conducted by Glamour magazine in 2011, 97 percent of American women are unhappy with their appearance.This statistic is sad, because it shows we’re not embracing how God uniquely designed each of us. Maybe today you’re chasing perfection and believe that if you can work hard enough to reach your goal weight, you’ll finally feel good about yourself. Or perhaps you’ve completely let yourself go and tell yourself you don’t care. But I bet on either side of these extremes, there’s an ache in the heart that says, “I know I’m more than this!” And friend, you are!

Have you ever wondered who or what created how you see yourself? We need to pinpoint this and align it with the Word.

Meet Karen, the perfectionist.

She was desperate to be a size 8. Growing up, she had been bullied about her weight, and the pain from that was still affecting her. She thought if she could just get skinny, she could prove everyone wrong and finally feel good about herself. Karen tried every diet, but with each attempt, her dream felt further away. She once showed me a picture on her phone of her vision board. It was covered with images of extremely fit and perfectly photoshopped women. Karen believed that the way she looked was the problem, but the true problem was how she saw herself.

We traced her motivation to pursue perfection back to something her family had said: they always referred to her as the “ugly duckling.” Karen had taken that nickname and the bullying she experienced and turned them into a mission to be perfect. But after giving her the tools to place her identity securely in Christ and forgive her family and those who bullied her, she was able to embrace the individual beauty God had given her and get free from perfectionism.

Meet Susan, who tried to find comfort in not caring.

She was another extreme. At first glance, she seemed confident, but as she opened up, she shared she had given up on herself. Susan said getting older made her feel invisible, so she ate for comfort and had begun to isolate herself. At one appointment, I asked her, “Is there any part of you, even the slightest tinge in your soul, that really doesn’t want to give up on yourself and knows you are more than this?” Susan grabbed my hand and said, “I really do, but I feel so old . . . like it doesn’t matter anymore.” Susan needed to be reminded that it wasn’t too late, she wasn’t too old, and God still had work for her to do.

Meet Christy, who kept talking herself out of her dreams.

Christy came to me because she wanted more godly confidence. She explained that she had a dream, but she kept talking herself out of it. “I’m nothing special, I’m just a mom and a wife, so no one will take me seriously,” she said. When I asked her to explain, she shared that she had always wanted to be a fitness instructor, but she felt like she didn’t look the part; that’s why she referred to herself as “just a mom and a wife.” Christy needed to break free from the limiting vision she had of herself, and she needed to know that God had placed that dream of being a fitness instructor in her heart for a reason. She now works as a part-time fitness instructor and says she can’t imagine her life without the pure joy of encouraging women to live healthy lifestyles.

There is no peace in living with a view of yourself that isn’t based in the truth of who God says you are.

Try this exercise: Look at your child or a little one in your life who is very special to you.

Think about how much you love that child and how you would do anything for him or her. Now, take all of those emotions and let this wash over you—this is how God looks at you. You are precious to Him. You are His daughter.

Seeing yourself through God’s eyes without any need for identity based in what you look like—as a woman He created for His purposes, worthy and loved—brings your self-view back to its rightful place.

Whether you find yourself chasing perfection, settling for less, or even giving up on yourself, God has plans for you. If you’re willing to see yourself through His eyes, you can find complete freedom and confidence.

Here’s how:

  1. Pinpoint who or what is creating the negative way you see yourself, and give God full control over your self-view.
  1. Catch and replace the things you say about how you look—and never, ever say another bad thing about yourself again.
  1. See yourself through the lens of the Word, and learn key scriptures to pray over yourself, like the ones I shared with Maddi:

o You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7 NIV)

o But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8 ESV)

o So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27 NKJV)

o But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV)

o Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3–4 NIV)

o Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 NIV)

  1. Note the things, people, and places, that fuel your insecurity, and shower them with prayer.
  2. Remember at all times Jesus is the cure for feeling insecure. In these moments, just say His name aloud.

Top Five Most Common Body-Image Triggers and a Go-To Power Thought to Beat Them:

The scale. Numbers only have the power you give them.

Social media. Don’t follow anyone who isn’t following God. Body-part photos cause body-part idolatry; flee from them!

Not liking how you look. Do the very best you can with all God has given you and leave the rest to Him. Trade criticism for compassion.

What other people say about your body. Their opinion is not God’s truth and therefore shouldn’t be yours, either.

Trying to look like you did in the past. You can’t be who you were, but you can be your best you today.

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.” (Matthew 6:22 MSG)

Kim Dolan Leto’s latest book, “Fit God’s Way” is available for purchase on January 17, 2022 wherever books are sold.

Kim Dolan Leto is a wife, mother, and ESPN Fitness of America Champion, best selling author, faith-filled speaker, creator of the Faith Inspired Transformation, and host of Strong. Confident. His podcast. With 20 years in the fitness industry and a lifetime of Jesus working in her, she’s dedicated her life to teaching women to get fit and find confidence– His way. Kim’s mission is to equip women through Word-based strategies, daily action steps, and the tools they need to achieve a Faith Inspired Transformation in their health and wholeness to live Strong. Confident. His.

Finding Joy in Your Relationships

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, Why do my relationships bring me more stress than joy? Why do I keep repeating the same unhealthy relational patterns?

Paying attention to your relationship to relationships can be difficult. But this is simply about seeing the way your relationships affect your emotional well-being. Healthy relationships are marked by interdependence with your loved ones—you can share yourself without losing yourself, and you can mutually depend on one another. Unhealthy relationships, on the other hand, can look like codependency, isolation, a lack of vulnerability, oversharing, or overidentifying.

Here are some signs of an unhealthy emotional relationship with relationships:

You fear conflict, so you keep everything at surface level.

You put your entire worth and value in your friendships, dating relationship, marriage, or children.

You struggle to trust anyone other than yourself.

You rely too much on others to regulate your emotions and meet your needs.

You fear vulnerability and hide your emotions.

You use relationships to cope with the stresses of life.

You don’t experience sexual intimacy with your partner.

You feel your child’s emotions too deeply.

You’re quick to blame others instead of taking ownership in your relationships.

You overshare, vent, and complain about private matters of your life.

You never have a preference when people ask where you want to go or what you want to do.

You keep dating emotionally unhealthy people.

You explode in anger at those closest to you.

You don’t have any deep relationships.

If you see yourself in the list above, chances are that false scripts are to blame for your unhealthy relationships.

In our work with people who are struggling in their relationships, we’ve identified some of the most common false scripts:

Being in a dating relationship will make you happy.

Having your sexual needs met will make you happy.

You don’t need anyone else to be happy.

All you need is your family to be happy.

Raising your kids is the ultimate form of happiness.

Once you’re married, you’ll live happily ever after.

Being conflict free in your relationships equals happiness.

If we were to map these false scripts on a spectrum, on the left side would be scripts that say relationships are everything for happiness and success. If you buy into these scripts, you overidentify in your relationships. Overidentifying might mean relying on relationships to feel better about yourself or a situation. It also might mean engaging in people-pleasing or doing anything to keep the peace. The fear of being abandoned or disappointed results in a lack of boundaries and compromised self-care.

If you buy into the scripts on the right side of this spectrum, you undervalue the role of relationships. You exaggerate your independence and underidentify in your relationships. Underidentifying might mean not leaning on others when you need them and instead trying to take care of everything yourself. You may not believe other people can be trusted, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past. You may push people away or shut them down when they try to get too close.

When we swing to either extreme, relationships become our greatest stressors and disappointments. But there’s a way to get back to the healthy middle—to a place where our relationships resonate with joy and flood our lives with happiness.

There are three foundational truths that confront the most common false scripts around relationships. Whether your false scripts lead you to stay guarded, put your hopes and dreams in others, or keep everything surface level, these truths will help you find a healthy balance in your relationships.

1. Relationships are worth the risk.

Good relationships make us happier and healthier. We need people in our lives—not just work colleagues or immediate family, but an engaged community of people who really know us.

While many of us know this, we hit roadblocks along the way. Relational trauma, Western society’s value of independence, and our own pride can lead us to reject help from others when we’re in need. We feel apathetic about engaging in community, or we become convinced that having close relationships will only invite hurt and betrayal.

God created us with an innate desire to belong.1 Research proves that our need for connection is a powerful motivation that’s woven into the fabric of our being.2 The more we lean into this intentional design, the happier and healthier we are.3 Good relationships matter, and when you find the right people, they’re worth the risk. But when you’ve been betrayed, hurt, abandoned, or shamed in relationships, none of this research matters. The only thing that seems clear is that the safest approach is to avoid investing too much in relationships. We self-protect by resisting attachments and not letting others into our lives.

There’s a reason God gave us the desire to be in community with people. In her book Love Sense, Dr. Sue Johnson writes, “Emotional connection is a sign of mental health. It is emotional isolation that is the killer.”5 It’s through emotional connection and healthy relationships that we cure loneliness, achieve happiness, and cultivate health.

2. Relationships can’t fully satisfy you.

When we talk about relationships, it’s important to realize that not every need can be met by someone else. This is where Disney messed us up. We’ve been sold the fairy-tale scenario that all we need is a prince (or a princess) to solve our problems, and then we’ll live happily ever after. But human relationships are built to disappoint.

Think about it: when God created human beings, he acknowledged, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”6 But he didn’t just create a couple and stop there. He created each person to be in a relationship with him first and to glorify him.7 As we image God, who is three in one, we reflect his relational nature—not just with one another, but with him.

God designed us to need a variety of relationships, calling us to love him first and then our neighbor as ourselves. We need to learn how to love all three: God, others, and the beautiful self he made. If we put unrealistic expectations on others, whether it’s a spouse, a child, or a friend, we’ll doom our relationships. We need to be proactive in building communities, support systems, and our own self-care habits so our needs can be met from multiple relationships instead of putting the burden on one individual.

3. Failure is necessary; repair is everything.

In an attempt to keep the peace in our relationships, we might avoid conflict. We also might keep things shallow because we’re afraid to dive into vulnerable territory. But all this does is create superficial relationships. Conflict doesn’t make relationships weaker; the opposite is true. Failing is part of relationships—it’s the way we come back from failure that can make us stronger.

We will all fail in our relationships. It’s inevitable, because none of us are perfect. But the way we repair, or come back from conflict, makes the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one.

Repair is a relational skill that can be developed. In doing so, we learn to communicate through tough issues and draw even closer, with a deeper, clearer understanding of the other person.

Instead of putting our energy into avoiding conflict (which ends up hurting relationships), we need to lean into our humanity. We will mess up—conflict is normal. Healthy repair is the way to build strong, lasting relationships.

1. Romans 1:6.

2. R. F. Baumeister and M. R. Leary, “The Need to Belong: Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation,” Psychological Bulletin 117, no. 3 (1995), 497–529, https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497.

3. S. Saphire-Bernstein and S. E. Taylor, “Close Relationships and Happiness,” Oxford Handbook of Happiness (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013), https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199557257.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199557257-e-060.

5. Sue Johnson, Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013), 22.

6. Genesis 2:18.

7. Isaiah 43:1-7.

 

Adapted from Start from Joy: Trade Shame, Guilt, and Fear for Lasting Change, a Lighter Spirit, and a More

Fulfilling Life by Neal Samudre and Carly Samudre, LPC, releasing from Tyndale House Publishers in January 2023

Faith Driven Investing

A relationship with Jesus Christ and an identity that flows from who he is and what he has done for us changes everything. It radically transforms the way we work, the way we invest, the way we view money, all of it. How? Here are four ways.

First, the Christian faith gives us a moral compass, an inner GPS, that provides ethical guidance that takes us beyond merely the legal aspects or requirements in any situation. A Christian on the board of a major financial institution—recently publicly embarrassed by revelations of corruption—told me about a closed-door meeting there between top executives. Someone said, “We have to restore moral values.” Immediately someone asked, “Whose values? Who gets to define what is moral?” And there’s our problem.

There once was a perception of broadly felt moral intuitions that governed much behavior in our society. It went well beyond the legal. Much of the ruthlessness, lack of transparency, and lack of integrity that characterizes Wall Street, the marketplace, and many other professions today comes because consensus on those moral intuitions has collapsed. However, Christians working in those worlds do have solid ethical guidance and could address through personal example the values vacuum that has now been recognized by so many.

Second, your Christian faith gives you a new spiritual power, an inner gyroscope, that keeps you from being overthrown by either success, failure, or boredom. Regarding success and failure, the gospel helps Christians find our deepest identity not in accomplishments but in who we are in Christ. This keeps our egos from inflating too much during seasons of prosperity, and it prevents bitterness and despondency during times of adversity. While some jobs seduce us into overwork and anxiety, others tempt us to surrender to drudgery, only “working for the weekend,” doing just what is necessary to get by when someone is watching. Paul calls that “eye-service” (Colossians 3:22-24, ESV) and charges us to think of every job as working for God, who sees everything and loves us. That makes high-pressure jobs bearable and even the most modest work meaningful.

Third, the Christian faith gives us a new conception of work as one of the ways God loves and cares for his world—through us. Look at the places in the Bible that say God gives every person their food. How does God do that? It is through human work—from the farmhand milking the cows, to the truck driver bringing produce, to the local grocer. God could feed us directly, but he chooses to do it through human work.

There are three important implications of this. First, it means all work, even the most menial task, has great dignity. In our work we are God’s hands and fingers, sustaining and caring for his world. Further, it means one of the main ways to please God in our work is simply to do work well. This includes the farmhand we just mentioned and the green, fresh-out-of-college kid who’s grinding away on Excel spreadsheets. Some have called this “the ministry of competence.” What passengers need first from an airline pilot is not that she speaks to them about Jesus but that she is a great, skillful pilot. Finally, this means that Christians can and must have deep appreciation for the work of those who work skillfully but do not share our beliefs.

Fourth, the Christian faith gives us a new world-and-life view that shapes the character of our work. All well-done work that serves the good of human beings pleases God. But what exactly is “the common good”? There are many work tasks that do not require us to reflect too much on that question. All human beings need to eat, so raising and providing food serves people well. But what if you are an elementary school teacher or a playwright? What is good education (i.e., what should you be teaching children)? What kinds of plays should you write (i.e., what kinds of stories do people need)? The answers to these questions will depend largely on how you answer more fundamental questions: What is the purpose of human life? What is life about? What does a good human life look like? It is unavoidable that many jobs will be shaped by our conscious or semiconscious beliefs about those issues. So Christians must think out how their faith will distinctly shape their work.

How wonderful that the gospel works on every aspect of us—mind, will, and feelings—and enables us to both deeply appreciate the work of nonbelievers and yet aspire to work in unique ways as believers. Putting these four aspects together, we see that being a Christian leads us to see our work not as merely a way to earn money, nor as primarily a means of personal advancement, but as truly a calling—to serve God and love our neighbor.

In Luke 10:17-20, Jesus sends his disciples out to heal and to cast out demons. When they return, Jesus inquires how it went. They respond, “Wow, Lord, even the demons are subject to us!” (In other words, “We had a very successful investment year!”) “It was unbelievable. We cast out demons. We trampled on serpents. We did all these things, and it was great!”

What does Jesus say to them in response? “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (verse 20, ESV). That is certainly an interesting response. Surely, he doesn’t mean not to be happy that they have changed people’s lives. Why wouldn’t they be happy?

Rather, Jesus is saying to them, “You’re rejoicing about the wrong things. You’re making these works into your identity.” Similarly, there is that famous parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Ironically, the rich man is never given a name. He is just “the rich man.” Why? Well, that’s who he was. His identity was in being a rich man. If your identity is in your riches (or in your children or in anything else other than Jesus), you actually don’t have a name at all. You’re just a “rich man.”

What Jesus is reminding us here is that we must deliberately keep our hearts from resting in our self-created identities, in our success. The real success, Jesus says, is that because of what he has done, our names are already written in heaven. We will be received there. There is real success, real power, real riches, and it is guaranteed. Nonetheless, it takes years to get this into our hearts.

Why do you pray? Why do you worship? Why do you take the Lord’s Supper? Why do you do devotions? Because you’re working this identity more and more into yourself. It’s not all the way in there—and it will never be in this life—but keep it up, because it is your true freedom.

Rejoice, not that you’ve had a great year with profitable investments, nor that you’ve made the Midas List and were mentioned in the Financial Times, but that your name is written in heaven. This is the beginning. This is the foundation upon which you can build your investment strategy, your business practice, and your life. Start now.

Adapted from Faith Driven Investing by Henry Kaestner, Timothy Keller, Andy Crouch, Cathie Wood, et al. Copyright © 2023. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons. He is also the chairman and cofounder of Redeemer City to City (CTC), which starts new churches in New York and other global cities, and publishes books and resources for ministries in an urban environment.

How’s Your Heart?

How’s Your Heart?

Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member + ambassador, Darcy Clark! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!

Now, enjoy today’s post from Darcy 🙂 

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Jesus is after our heart’s affection, not our religious acts.

This past week it weighed heavy on me how so many of us fall into this mindset that if the bible is not the first thing our eyes see in the morning or what our mind spends time with it’s a bad day, or even the extremities of how our minds wonder to placing us on this scale that doesn’t even exist deeming us a “bad christian” because we missed one day or a week in His word.

There is no score keeping, leadership board for the religious acts you do or the culture of christianity you play apart in. What matters is your heart.

The enemy wants to convince you are a “bad christian”, isolate you, and keep you in this nest of swarming thoughts about not being good enough.

..Okay now that we know what the enemy tries to do can you accept the grace from Jesus you have full access to and remind yourself you are apart of the winning team, the team that already won, and release whatever lie about yourself you are hanging on to.

The reality is you are going to get tired, you are going to hit an off week, your heart and soul are going to get tired — faith is not easy!

Spiritual disciplines like bible reading, quiet times, praying are a few of the best ways I know to grow in my relationship with my Heavenly Father —— but seriously what good is it to beat myself up every time I fall short of putting these things into practice.

There is a difference between guilt and conviction. guilt and shame for falling short are not from God, His arms are wide open ready to embrace you and wanting you to keep on. Conviction is that check engine light feeling, keeping us in lockstep with Jesus and away from things that destroy us by the Holy Spirit within us.

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11

The SAME Spirit of God, lives in YOU. Lean on God always, in your strongest seasons and your weakest seasons.

Keep on. Shake up the routine when you grow numb to it. Read a verse a day — start somewhere.

When we feel that our religious acts have outweighed our affections for Jesus — reevaluate. Let that be your check engine light!

You are loved by God. You have access to a relationship with Him that isn’t rigid.

Please don’t wear the weight of having to be perfect inside of your relationship with your Maker, it will exhaust you.

Darcy Clark is a member of Team LO! She is a Jesus follower and friend to many. She enjoys coffee sipping, exploring, and writing. She is an aspiring author, current dreamer. Darcy attended Texas A&M University and has since moved to Louisiana to be a part of Team LO. 

Keep up with Darcy on Instagram @darcyclark!

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