Double-Minded or Undaunted: Your Choice

undaunted

Yesterday, The Lord whispered a Truth in my ear. As only the Holy Spirit can do. No blame. No shame. Just something to work on. Disappointment. Hurt. Fear. I become double-minded. But His desire is that I – that you also – live The Kingdom Life. Undaunted.

Like you, I have a calling. But everything seems to be against me. I know I’m in a battle. A battle I’m losing. Everything is falling apart. Nothing is working. And I’ve run out of ideas. I need help. But I feel totally alone in my struggle.

What Shall I Do with Wisdom?

Like you, my spiritual reflex is to cry out to God. But nothing is changing. So The Lord gently reminds me that I’ve forgotten about my part. It has sneaked up on me unawares.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:5-8)

Believe and Not Doubt

Like you, I must admit that I can’t conjure up an that kind of bold, steadfast belief on my own. Fortunately, everything good thing comes from The Father. A Gift. Just for the asking. But I have to be willing to trade in my negativity. It’s a Divine Exchange:

  • My hurt. My disappointment. My fear.
  • For His Healing. For His Promise. For His Faithfulness.

“So exactly how does this work?” you ask.

luke-11-13Well, it’s the not-so-secret Work of the One and Only Holy Spirit. We acknowledge our need (as soon as He points it out). Then …

  1. Ask.
  2. Receive.
  3. Give Thanks.

We get to be Undaunted because
He Who promised is Faithful.

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:29-31)

undaunted-defined[callout]Find more encouragement in Undaunted: Daring to do what God calls you to do by Christine Caine.[/callout]

Save

Save

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!

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)

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]

To Abide In Jesus Is Your Number One Priority

What’s your primary concern today? Is it your marriage? Your children? Your relationships? Your finances? Your home? Your job? Your health? If you’re like most of us, you probably spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to change your situation and circumstances. Finding the solution – no matter what problems occupy your mind today – begins with a single step: to abide in Jesus. In fact, abiding will always be Your Number One Priority.

I hope yesterday’s post started you thinking about Who God is for you and helped you remember where your identity originates. There’s a lot more to say on those topics, so we’ll get back to them later. But for today, let’s consider your mental focus.

[callout]Jesus said, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. ” (John 15:5)[/callout]

That’s the perfect picture of what it means to abide in Jesus!

  • Stay attached.
  • Keep your mental focus on Him.
  • Remember that He will never leave you.

How do you do that? It takes work to be sure. But it’s pleasant work.

  1. Start your day – even before your coffee – by thanking Him for being with you.
  2. Whenever your thoughts wander to something troubling, bring them back into focus by recalling Scripture that addresses your situation.
  3. Thank Him that it’s His pleasure to instruct you, to bless you and keep you, and to provide for your needs.

QUESTIONS

  • What is your Number Once Concern today? Right now. This very minute.
  • What Scripture comes to mind for your situation? If nothing pops up, you can do a quick keyword search here.

Post your comments here or send me a message > mail@drdebismith.com

Is there more to being a Christian?

I’ve always believed that being a Christian should make a real difference – not only in terms of where we spend the hereafter – but also in the here-and-now of our daily existence. So how do we connect the dots between what we believe about our relationship with The Trinity and what happens to us in “real” life? Or do we?

As you may recall from Genesis 3, the serpent started up a conversation with Eve back in The Beginning. The most crafty of beings, he got her to question …

  • God’s goodness and
  • her own identity.

If you’re going to connect those dots …

… between what you believe and what you experience, you need to know the Truth about those same 2 Things!

[callout]“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” ― A.W. Tozer[/callout]

The enemy probably tries to do the same thing to you he did to Eve – virtually every day. He plants doubt to get you to question God’s care and personal involvement in your life.

But mostly, he distracts you with what’s going on in the physical realm – what you can know with your five senses. He wants to keep you thinking the spiritual realm is just something that happens in the movies.

He doesn’t want you to know who you really are in Christ because he knows he wouldn’t stand a chance against you. So he does the only thing he can do: confuse and intimidate you with everything that’s going wrong – to keep you living your life in the flesh.

My Prayer for You (Purloined from Paul)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

~ Ephesians 3:14-19, NIV

And that’s where I’m heading this year. Are you with me?

Joyful Anticipation

“I know the plans I have for you. They will stretch you. They are stretching you now. My plans are for your good and the only way you will be truly happy. Trust me. You are more dear and precious to me than you realize. I put those desires in your heart, and I am the only one who can fulfill them.

Walk closely to me. You cannot screw this up. You cannot even delay it when you become fearful because I’m at work in your anxious times, too.

  • Do not let shame rule over you. Do not listen to those lies.
  • I will turn your mourning into dancing.
  • You will face challenges, and you will overcome them all.

Watch me. Watch what I do next. You’re going to love this one!

Love, Papa

Destiny … via Detours

Trust in The Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

If you’ve read Our Vision, you know Divine Destiny can create some pretty cool concepts.

But if you only look at what’s happening right now – and if you don’t know the Lord’s ways, you might begin to wonder about me and my ability to hear God’s voice.

But if you do know The Lord,
then you totally understand the cool concept of detours.

Right now, I live in Los Angeles.
But my office is still in the OC.
It’s interestingly complicated.

Google Maps helps me find my way to work each day. Depending on the time of day I leave and the current flow of traffic, the mysterious voice (small “v”) coming through my car’s audio system tells me which way to go.

Most of the time, the voice sends me east on the 101, then south on the 405. But some days, the voice tells me to take the 118 to the 5. Which is actually 2 miles longer. But still may be the fastest route.

For today, that is.

Once I’ve heard the instructions and headed in the given direction, the voice (small “v”) reassures me:

You are on the fastest route, and your route is clear.
You will arrive at ____ (the quoted time).

Pretty cool.

GPS > God’s Positioning System

I realize that God is the One Who has put me where I am today – for His purposes. And – just as He’s promised – it will all be for my good. And being on a Detour puts me in Good Company.

  • Remember Joseph? Dr. Tony Evans has an inspiring sermon series called Detours to Destiny, which you can download … or watch on YouTube. Or read a summary here.
    • Joseph was the spoiled, favored son of Israel.
    • And he had a lot to learn on his way to his destiny.
  • Remember the Exodus? Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt toward The Promised Land. It could have been an 11-day walk. But it took them 40 years.
    • The Hebrews had been slaves for 400 years.
    • And they had a lot to learn about how to follow Yahweh.

Learning to Follow

Am I taking the Long Road? Yes. The Scenic Route. I still have a lot to learn. And The Lord is faithful to His Promises. And He is making my path straight. That is, He is in the process of positioning me (physically and relationally) and preparing me (spiritually and emotionally) to fulfill His Purpose in my life.

As I listen to the Lord’s instructions and follow Him – even if it seems illogical, His Voice (Capital “V”) reassures me:

You are on the fastest route, and your route is clear.
You will arrive on time.

Hallelujah!

QUESTIONS: How about you? What is your Destiny?

  • If you don’t know, ask. God will be happy to tell you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • If you already know, are you on a Detour? Ask The Lord what He where He wants you and what He wants to teach you during this season of you life. He will be happy to tell you. (Jeremiah 33:3)

How cool is that?