God’s Promises Make Every Day Count

Gods promises

Are you waiting for something God has promised you? For sure, many of God’s promises can come to pass without your input – or even your cooperation. But why would you want to just sit around and do nothing? You could be learning to partner with the Holy Spirit in your own development … and make every day count!

The Lord has shown me the Desires He placed in my heart. I used to ask Him – almost daily – to remove those Desires because I had been unsuccessful in bringing them about on my own. But He promised to give them to me Himself. That’s pretty exciting!

But when, Lord? I’m not getting any younger, you know. And please don’t remind me of those Biblical late-bloomers like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, or Caleb. I want to step into my inheritance and fulfill the purpose for which You created me. Today.

Can I speed up fulfillment of God’s Promises?

At the very least, isn’t there something I can be doing while I wait?

I want today to be Significant.

I want to partner with The Lord. To submit to Him. To become the person He wants me to be. So I can fully receive and fully enjoy the Times He has planned for me. That He has conceived in His Heart for me since before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 2:10).

Wait! The Answer is within the Promise!

Take delight in The Lord,
  and He will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4)

Take delight in The Lord? So that’s my job? I love it! Don’t know what that means to you all. But here’s what it means to me to delight in The Lord:

  • Worship Him. First thing. Everyday. There is Joy in His Presence.
  • Find Joy in the sometimes-painful process of being made more like Jesus.
  • Spread Joy. Love unconditionally. Lavishly. Without expecting anything in return.

Yes! God’s Promises do make every day count!

[callout]“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’ (John 4:34)[/callout]

Remember to seek the Holy Spirit and examine the Scriptures.

… they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11b)

I failed … again.

Yes, this woman messes up on a regular basis. Repeatedly. Frequently. And I’ve done it again. And I hurt. Yes, I take risks. I swing the bat. And I strike out. Far more than I get a hit. But when I try to hide my vulnerability, someone else gets hurt. I hate that.

When I take matters into my own hands and pretend like I didn’t mess up or try to prevent others others from knowing about it, I’m living in the flesh. And since I’m dead to sin and alive in Christ, that simply won’t do!

[callout]Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;
the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB)[/callout]

From Vulnerability to Shame

You’ve no doubt watched a baby learning to walk, yes? He’s vulnerable. He falls down. A lot. He cries. He looks for empathy. But, no matter what, it’s in his DNA to get back up and try again. His vulnerability doesn’t stop him. He’s just learning what doesn’t work in walking. And he’s training his muscles to do what they’re created to do.

However, long before he reaches adulthood …

  • life experience will teach him to hide his vulnerability.
  • He will go from knowing he’s failed to believing he’s a failure.
  • And that’s called shame.

Everyone experiences vulnerability and shame. And everyone knows shame can be debilitating. But men and women think about vulnerability and shame very differently.

Women and Vulnerability

The point where vulnerability hits us women hardest is in our belief that we must do everything perfectly. Like the Proverbs 31 Woman. Which, of course, we can’t. We compare ourselves to other women – mostly the airbrushed ones – and anxiety takes over. Here are two ways to look at it:

  • Psychologically: When you hide your vulnerability and set yourself up as “having arrived,” you’re partnering with shame. You’ve set up a wall between you and the man you love. And the disconnection hurts you both. Deeply.
  • Spiritually: Jesus has set you free to learn without fearing your failures. Perfect love casts out fear. Because fear has to do with punishment. And God is not about to punish you for being vulnerable. Jesus took your punishment for you so that you would be free to learn to walk in His Righteousness instead. (1 John 4:18)

Men and Vulnerability

I’ve written extensively about men and vulnerability in my books and could simply quote myself here.

  • Psychologically: But for this post, I want to quote Dr. Brené Brown in her TED video, “Listening to Shame.”

For men, shame is not a bunch of competing, conflicting expectations. Shame is one: Do not be perceived as what? Weak. I did not interview men for the first four years of my study. It wasn’t until a man looked at me after a book signing, and said, “I love what [you] say about shame, I’m curious why you didn’t mention men.” And I said, “I don’t study men.”And he said, “That’s convenient.”

And I said, “Why?” And he said, “Because you say to reach out, tell our story, be vulnerable. But you see those books you just signed for my wife and my three daughters?” I said, “Yeah.” “They’d rather me die on top of my white horse than watch me fall down. When we reach out and be vulnerable, we get the shit beat out of us. And don’t tell me it’s from the guys and the coaches and the dads. Because the women in my life are harder on me than anyone else.”

  • Spiritually: Our Creator never meant life to be that way for men! That means He is deeply invested in helping us make things right again! (Ephesians 5:21-33)

He who finds a wife finds what is good
    and receives favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)

She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:12)

Problem or Possibility?

Whenever a new couple comes to me for counseling, The Lord quickly shows me what He has in mind for them. So my initial goal is always to help them see how their issue, when the problem is defined, is pointing toward the possibility for their marriage. That is, without the issue they would probably continue to ignore the problem – and thereby miss out on all that God has for them both.

My method is pretty easy actually. You can do it, too. Just define the problem; then name its opposite. And there you have it!

If you’d like some help identifying your possibility,
just send a message to mail@drdebismith.com

HINT: The problem is usually the how we deal with our vulnerability (by being defensive) and shame (by hiding).

The Truth: There is Freedom in Vulnerability

Psychologically: People who can allow themselves to be vulnerable with one another have achieved the Core Skill needed for Emotional Connection. And according to Dr. Brown, vulnerability is also “the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

Spiritually: We are free to stumble while we are learning. The Lord knows we are dust. After all, He is the Potter, and we are the clay. (Jeremiah 29:16)

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25)

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13)

REMINDER: Seek the Holy Spirit to examine the Scriptures.

… they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11b)

3 Things We’re Missing in Marriage Counseling

marriage counseling

Marriage counseling often fails – simply because it is founded upon the wrong principles. In other words, the real problem is how we see the problem. Because how you see the problem determines how you believe you should solve the problem.

I love psychology. Dedicated a lot of my life to its study. Time. Money. Energy. And I’ve been counseling couples and individuals for more than 18 years. Despite my extensive training, I eventually began to notice that something Important was missing.

Prepare-Enrich: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach

Prepare-EnrichAs a Seminar Director for Prepare-Enrich, I’ve helped launch marriage programs with a lot of other therapists, pastors, and lay counselors.

If you’ve never heard of Prepare-Enrich, you should check it out. The company that developed this excellent couples inventory (of strengths and growth areas) and skill-building program celebrated their 35th Anniversary in 2015.

The beauty of it: You don’t need a psychology degree! Completing a one-day workshop is the only requirement to become a Certified Facilitator – for life. And you can search their online database to find a Facilitator (or a Training Workshop to become a Facilitator) near wherever you live. Pretty cool, eh?

Emotionally-Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT)

hold_me_tightIf you have complicated issues or just want to go deeper and achieve more lasting change, check out EFT.

My graduate training at Biola University included an introduction to this approach. And after becoming a Licensed Psychologist, I went on to complete a 4-day externship in Houston, Texas, on this amazing approach to building a lasting connection between husband and wife. And I’ve incorporated this training to help couples connect for more than 8 years.

If you’d like to learn more about EFT, order a copy of Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson.

[callout]Both Prepare-Enrich (cognitive-behavioral) and EFT (emotionally-focused) are good approaches to marriage counseling.[/callout]

So what is missing?

1. The first thing I noticed was the absence of a clear understanding of the Psychology of Men and their relationships with women. I’m talking about Traditional Men. As therapists, we were taught to treat everyone as if they had the same needs and desires.

Kinda crazy since there is so much research on gender differences, ya?

I guess we were all giving into “political correctness.” But I suspect that feminism has had a larger role – and for a longer time – in trying to make men and women “gender-less.”

2. The second thing I noticed – and given my faith, it could have been the first – was the absence of an understanding of the Ephesians 5 model for Christian Marriage. Yes, there is such a thing as Healthy Submission in the 21st Century. And it’s really fun. Like dancing. I go into great detail in my book Ephesians 5 Romance: the Truth about Love. (You can get a pink-spoon taste in this FREE SAMPLE.)

3. But the Most Important Thing I noticed was the absence of Heaven’s viewpoint. Relationships are – first and foremost – spiritual endeavors. So – especially as Christians – shouldn’t we be giving more than a nod to God’s approach? Instead we focus marriage counseling on what we can do in the flesh.

If that’s all you’ve got, then go for it! You may achieve a measure of success.
And if it doesn’t work out, you always can say “I did everything I could.”
(NOTE: Even when you do everything, the other person has a choice.)

So if you’re seeking Abundant Life in your Marriage …

… you’ll want to consider these oft-quoted Bible verses:

  • I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
  • For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:5-7)
  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

A New Way of Addressing the Issues in Marriage Counseling

We’re not going to throw the baby (psychology) out with the bathwater. We can learn a lot from the psychology of relationships. Our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are very informative.

However, as we look at the problems of marriage in future posts, we’re also going to consider the possibilities.

To do that, we’ll take a look at the psychological perspective, then the spiritual perspective so that we can make informed choices about how we address the issues at hand. (ALWAYS REMEMBER: Even when you do everything you can, the other person still has a choice! You cannot make someone love you. And you shouldn’t even try.)

QUESTION: What problem are you facing now that you would like help viewing from multiple angles?

God’s Presence Is His Promise

The Best Good News for me is that God promised to never leave me or forsake me. So no matter what I’m going through, God’s Presence is with me. And He is with you, too.

Promises of God’s Presence

God's PresenceBe strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139)

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

The joy of the Lord is our strength!

the Joy of the Lord

The Joy of the Lord is your Key! Just read the following words aloud and see what happens to your mood as your spirit takes charge over your soul. Then post your favorites on Facebook.

Discover the Joy of The Lord

You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his dwelling place. (1 Chronicles 16:27)

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

May we shout for joy over your victory
    and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests. (Psalm 20:5)

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him. (Psalm 28:7)

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:11-12)

MORE UPLIFTING EXERCISES: Be sure to post your favorites on Facebook and Twitter! Then search the Bible for joy (pun intended). What are some of your other favorite verses that contain the word joy? Or – if you want to get carried away – count how many times the word joy (or a derivative thereof) appears. That would be fun, eh?

[callout]Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)[/callout]