Week 22

Scheduling Quiet Time: Support for the Struggle

Reading the Scripture in order to hear God is really not something we do in the sense we attempt to accomplish most things. Rather, it is something God does for us for which we give him opportunity. If he does not do it, it will be impossible for us to experience it. That's because God is the explanation for every redemptive experience we have - including healing, holiness (1 Corinthians 1:10), competence in service to others (2 Corinthians 3:6), and understanding Truth (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

This means, we can only come to the fountain (resource) - that is, to open our Bibles, open our hearts, and then begin reading - confessing brokenness and need and giving to God the responsibility to do for us what he promises to do.

It is not uncommon at the beginning for us to struggle with this - the same as starting out for a walk (using an illustration from nature). At the beginning it is hard, sometimes really hard. But we put one foot in front of the other and keep moving, trusting that maintaining the movement will build momentum (according to the law of physics, one of the laws God ordained to govern creation).

Also at the beginning, you may not experience God communicating to you in the way you want or expect. Consider that God's first goal for you right now may be to discipline/teach you how to
  • schedule the same time each morning,
  • sit in the same place,
  • use the same Bible,
  • shut the door,
  • turn off all the noise and then
  • read,
trusting him to do the rest in his timing.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 12F01

Burned Out Striving Hard to Succeed: Flipping Grace on Its Head

The performance of Christian living (with regard to our holiness and service to others) is not hard, or does not need to be. It is the preparation for it that is hard – that is, making the choices that increase us in strength, especially taking time each morning for Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and quiet time worship, so that we are supported for living out God’s calling for our lives.

Typically, however, Christians tend to flip that concept on its head. Because of their unwillingness to make the hard choices that establish them in health (preparation), including holiness, they strive hard to succeed in the performance of their Christian responsibilities. The result is always brokenness and burnout. It is exactly to these Christians that Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are wornout attempting to live the Christian life without my enablement, and I will restore you” (Matthew 11:28).

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 12E31

MisInformed by Mentors, at the Root of My Ruin

Occasionally for Saturday lunch, usually before either a day of chores or a long hike on the trails, Carole and I enjoy eating at one of our favorite buffets. It has a very large salad/fruit bar, but also lots of our favorite meats and cooked vegetables.

But we are sad to see the number of folks, especially children, who fill their plates with dead food. It is always a reminder to me of the ministry fare served to me by my early mentors. It fed my appetite, but left me broken in health. They passionately called me to performance but did not know to call me to preparation beginning with intimacy with Christ. In terms of my spiritual/psychological health, they had just as well shot me.

Recently, walking through the electronics department at one of the local discount stores, one of the tv’s was on a religious station. The nationally known lady speaker was sharing her understanding of our Christian duties to a large audience. I cringed at the few remarks I heard her speak. To me, it was like a sniper firing deadly rounds at innocent passersby. I wanted to yell to everyone to run for their lives. My counseling is filled with hurting people to whom this lady and others with her performance-based message have misrepresented who God is (loving and supportive) and what his relationship to us is about (our healing).

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 12E30

Open Letter to Husbands Considering Support Counseling

Dear (Husband):

If the reports are correct, 90% of marriages are in divorce status, meaning that the issues which result in divorce in 50-60% of marriages are present in 90% of marriages. Consider that you should not procrastinate to follow through on your initial interest to talk with a counselor.

Grace counseling is very different - which we try to make clear in our initial interviews and on our website. There is another counseling model (Plan B, I call it) which provides support for helping to manage the hurt in a troubled marriage. Sometimes, that is the only goal couples have for counseling. However, grace counseling (Plan A) supports husbands and wives for making the choices that help establish them in personal health. It's the only real hope, I believe, for a healthy, happy marriage. This means our first focus is not the happiness of the marriage, but the health of the individual.

Again, there are basically two types of counseling. The first (Plan B) focuses on helping couples learn how (mostly through improved communication skills) to manage their conflict issues so that they can somehow survive their unhappy marriage (essentially support for pain management and crisis control). The other (Plan A) helps husbands and wives identify their inborn temperament (information, affection, and decision-making) needs and God's plan for meeting them.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 12E29

Intimacy with Christ: A Hard Sell (From the Big Room to the Broom Closet!)

My early legalistic ministry produced impressive organizational growth and some recognition. In time, however, it failed because it was rooted in my energies (also ignorance, arrogance, and even carnality) more than in Christ.

In my brokenness, I heard Jesus say,

“Come unto me/connect/yoke to me all you who are wornout trying to do my work without my enablement and I will give you recovery” (Matthew 18:28-30).

I responded to that call and Christ began a new work in me.
At the outset, I was certain this message of healing and recovery through intimacy with Christ would be highly appreciated and earnestly sought after by a hurting world.

“Where has this message been?” they would ask. “We are worn out by the performance message and have been waiting for you!”

Actually, many have come who were hurting, and maybe all have been helped in measure, but not all have fully received the message which Paul called "God's grace in all its Truth" (Colossians 1:5-6).

After hearing me speak to a group recently on the subject of God’s grace (his love and care to make provisions for our healing, and the opportunity we have to receive it), a kind, older gentleman wanted to make sure I understood that “God does what he wants to do, that if he wants something to happen, it will happen, and if he doesn’t, then it won’t.” I learned he was a member of a prominent church where he was being taught the performance message (which, essentially, is to please God in order to earn his favor/win blessings from him). I was sad for him, not only because he hobbled around, looked to weigh 300 pounds, and said he was diabetic, but also because he had not yet learned the sowing and reaping connection between his poor health and the lifestyle choices he made (for diet, exercise, and supplementation) – also that he was putting the blame on God for his broken health.

Through the years, I have found the message of grace (God’s provisions for our healing, beginning with intimacy with Christ) is a hard sell. Kind persons politely walk out, go to sleep, or turn away. But I don’t have any other message.

I joke that a church would not want to invite me for a seminar if they were interested in increasing their numbers, but only if they were running out of space and needed to reduce, because, in only a few short weeks, I could have them meeting in the broom closet.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 12E28

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