Health: A Work of Grace

We were born
  • lying down, but grow to sit, crawl, stand, and walk,
  • knowing how to cry, but grow to talk,
  • with the need to be fed, but grow to feed ourselves,
  • needing help, but grow to help,
  • knowing how to lie, but must learn to be truthful,
  • knowing how to deny, but must learn how to confess,
  • knowing how to hit or hurt, but must learn how to help,
  • knowing how to use others, but God enables us to invest.
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L31

Confidence that We Are Unconditionally Valued: Our Greatest Need

1) Our greatest health need, by far, is for confidence that, to someone in this world (a resource person), we are unconditionally valued.

2) This need is greater than our need to feel valuable - which is conditional and based upon our ability to meet someone’s standards.

3) When our need to be unconditionally valued is not met, we are left to pursue our more superficial need for confidence that we are valuable, almost as a pain killer. Since this need can only be met conditionally through our ability to perform, and is also subject to the opinions of others, the pursuit of it sets us on a course for performance and expectations to win favor. Worse, it puts us at risk for bondage because the favor we win that meets the need today will not meet it again in the same way tomorrow. The end of the pursuit to win favor is often deep disappointment, discouragement, hurt, and sometimes reactions of anger, even violence.

4) Absolutely, we need to hear the words “good job!” It is an encouraging sentiment which communicates to us that we have performed well – also that we may have earned someone’s favor. But our deepest, most critical need, in terms of health, is confidence that they we are valued, regardless of our performance.

5) We tend to look first for this need to be met through supportive relationships in the home (also church home).

6) When the need is not met in the home and church, we look to superficial friends for support, and even more peripherally, to the world which knows only how to use us for their own increase.

7) But more meaningful than to have this need met by faithful resources in the home and church, is the need for it to be met in personal relationship to Christ. Nothing really substitutes.

(After all, the promise of the Psalmist is not “When God forsakes you, your father and mother will make up the difference” but rather “Even if my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will be my support.”)

When it has become our deepest confidence that God values us unconditionally, regardless the performance, that his interest in us is not our support for him, but his support for us, it establishes us for health and happiness at the deepest dimension of our being.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is the love (unconditional value) of Christ (for us).” – Ephesians 3:18

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L30

Taking Time to Hear God: Our Only Real Hope for Understanding Truth

We may have some benefit to hear information shared with us by others who heard it from God personally by the Holy Spirit through his Word during their quiet time. But if we are embracing information communicated to us by others who heard it from others who also heard it from others, and so on, we have reason to wonder/worry if the information we are hearing isn't just hearsay. Also, if we communicate the information to others, we risk perpetuating error. Our only real hope to know Truth is to take quiet time each morning for Scripture reading in order to hear God.

"Let all the people of the world be in awe of him." - Psalm 33:8

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L29

God Help Us All! Understanding Appropriate Times to Hear, to Talk

We do well to listen sometimes more than we talk. We also do well to talk sometimes more than we listen. But that would depend upon to whom we are listening, also to whom we are talking, or what we are saying.

Our fallen human nature (God help us!) will stop to listen for many hours to the sounds of the world – especially its media for entertainment, but will resist taking extended quiet time daily to listen to the Holy Spirit communicate Truth through his Word. How often we can be impulsive to talk over the quiet voice of God, sometimes calling it prayer, while saying too little about his grace to those who need to hear it!

"Let all the earth be silent before him." - Habakkuk 2:20

“My sheep hear/listen to my voice.” – John 10:27

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone.” – Matthew 16:15

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L28

Running from God: Man in Bondage to Performance, Born Hostile to God’s Provisions for Holiness

Man is born sinful with a carnal need for acceptance and approval, also subject to a sense of condemnation, which drives his intense religious, performance-based behavior to seek favor from others, most critically, he thinks, from God (god). But man is not born with a hunger/thirst for God or with a desire for his redemptive provisions, especially for Christ; instead he runs from them.

It is paradoxical: We users soon disrespect those who attempt to win our favor or allow us to use them; but we respect those who resist being used and give us opportunity only to invest in/serve them.

God is an investor, not a user; this is how we know that he has no need for us to win his favor.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L27

Desperate to Have Fun: In Bondage to Boredom

My friend said he got bored and acted out to find relief in ways he later wished he had not. I told him boredom is discontentment rooted in unmet health and happiness needs, that it is the same as thirst, only a psychological thirst, that the water offered by the world’s fallen culture does not satisfy, but, instead, poisons the appetite and intensifies the thirst (symptoms of addiction), and that it is from this bondage to boredom that our experience of Christ sets us free.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L26

Christmas: Celebrating God’s Gift of Himself for Our Healing 

On this day we celebrate God's gift of himself to meet our redemptive needs, not only for going to Heaven, but also for health and happiness. Nothing the world offers can satisfy those needs. Eve in the Garden of Eden learned that. Jesus knew it when Satan offered the world to him in the wilderness. But "every gift that comes to us from God our Father is good and perfect” (James 1:17).

Christmas is celebrated in various ways. To the world, it is an occasion to party, as in eating and drinking. To us pious believers, it is a time to celebrate Christ.

Traditionally, we celebrate by gift-giving. But it is giving to meet redemptive needs, not carnal needs. Otherwise, our gifts to others would not appropriately represent or magnify the gift God gave to us.

Also, a wonderfully appropriate way to celebrate Christmas is to give testimony of our personal experience of Christ in our lives.

The opportunity for this could be during a gathering of the church family, not just to sing carols and hymns, or to dramatize a Christmas story, or even to observe the Lord’s Supper, but to testify of our love for Christ and experience of his faithfulness to renew us.

Families celebrating together around the Christmas dinner table can also provide opportunity for this occasion. Fun conversations and sharing of personal experiences are always enjoyable and create memories. But at the center of any truly meaningful Christmas celebration is our excitement and rejoicing for the gift God made of his Son.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L25

Grace: The Unsurpassed Experience, God in Us, Loving Us

God communicates his love to us through creation – also through the words of The Scripture. This is the love he communicated to us through the Incarnate Jesus during his ministry on earth by his death on the cross (Romans 5:8). God also communicates his love through support relationships in the home and church. But surpassing any other expression of God’s love for us is the love he communicates to us personally and intimately by our experience of his Divine Nature (the presence of "Who he is") birthed in us by the Holy Spirit.

“God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.” – Romans 5:5

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L24

Groaning: Part and Parcel to Growth

Groaning, waiting, and growth are intimately related in the Scripture. Paul said (GracePoint paraphrase), “We groan inwardly, like a mother in the pains of childbirth, as we wait expectantly for God’s redemptive plan to be accomplished in us” (Romans 8:22-25).

Waiting, the Bible understanding of it, means to take time to include in our lives God’s provisions for our health. It can be illustrated by the need to park a battery in a charger in order for it to be renewed. Or, to take time to exercise. Our old nature and sinful bodies, addicted to winning favor and feeling good, groan through the process.

Groaning is part and parcel to waiting - also to growth. If we are not groaning, we may be missing the opportunity to be increased in health.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L23

The Meaning of Asking and the Certainty of Answered Prayer

It is impossible not to receive from God when we ask him for our needs to be met. The notion that God denies our requests is not a Scripturally supported concept. Jesus clearly promised, “Ask, and you will receive.”

But asking for provisions, in the Scriptural sense, cannot be understood apart from faith.

Jesus said to the blind man, “It shall be done for you according to your faith” (Matthew 9:29). He said also, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" (Matthew 21:22) and also, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it (connect to the resource that provides it), and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). James said, “When any of you ask, he must believe and not doubt … that man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord” (1:5-7) and “the prayer of faith will make the sick person well” (5:15).

But neither can faith be understood apart from confession of need, trust, and obedience to connect to God’s provisions for meeting those needs.

Asking God for provisions that disregard his resources for providing them is not prayer in the Bible sense. For example, it is impossible for water to meet your need for hydration apart from drinking it. It is impossible for food to renew your strength apart from eating it.

So when we ask God 
  • to forgive (remove) his judgment against us because of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, it means we trust and receive his provision of Christ’s Blood/death of the cross for us (which is the only payment that will satisfy that judgment),
  • to transform us to be like him, it means we trust and receive (open the door to) his provision of Christ’s Life birthed in us by the Holy Spirit when we were born again,
  • to reveal his Will to us, it means we connect to him through his Word in order to be filled with his Mind and Wisdom,
  • for healing, it means we connect to him in order to be filled with the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) which enables us for making wise choices that support good health.
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L22

Grace Giving is Not Sacrificial Giving but Enabled Giving

1) We do not give up our lives (time, energy, possessions, or money) to our resources; rather they give to us. This means children do not sacrifice for their parents, or the sheep for the shepherd, or a wife for her husband, or a church for its leadership.  

2) We do not give to God (he doesn't need anything); rather he gives to us.

3) God’s provisions for us enable us to give to those we serve - as a resource for them.

4) Sometimes, out of our met needs and health, we give corporately to a resource which serves as a surrogate/proxy resource for us all in behalf of our service to others (for an easy example, to the lost on mission fields when we cannot go).

5) Giving does not break the bondage of our self-absorbed human condition; rather, "Christ in us" does. In other words, we can't give or otherwise behave our way to holiness.

6) Grace giving is not sacrificial or painful. We give what we have received. The Scriptural call for us to give (or serve others in any way) assumes our enablement, and is not with disregard to it.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L21

My Four Friends

(Excerpt from recent presentation)


The message of The Bible is clear: God allows adversities into our lives so that we can be increased in strength.

This is in part the meaning of Psalm 119:67, 71: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word… It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”

It's a law of physics (which God ordained to govern/support his creation): Our fallen human bodies cannot tolerate inactivity, nor can they tolerate activity which makes no demand. (That is the reason you cannot, for example, safely lift a 50 pound weight ten times every day, unless on several days a week, you lift a 75 pound weight 5 times.)

Fatigue, depression (same thing: one physical; the other psychological) are the outcome of neglect/failure to respond to the increased challenges God allows into our lives. You may have had strength sufficient for your challenges last week, but not today for the new adversity. Rather than remove the challenges, which we tend to want, God allows it into our lives in order to provide opportunity for our growth. Your option is to either resist/quit, which will lead to a decline in health (fatigue and depression), or to stay the course for increased health. Stimulants and pharmaceutical drugs are not the answer.


James (1:2) says “the testing of (the demand which our suffering makes upon) our faith develops perseverance (increases our endurance).”

It is not suffering that increases our endurance (actually, suffering breaks us down); rather our endurance is increased by God’s provisions to which we connect through faith. There’s a difference.

“For by grace (God’s provisions) are you saved (justified and healed) through faith, and even your faith is a provision from God.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 (GracePoint)

Bio-Momentum (Endurance)

The process that builds endurance begins with
  • motivation, usually brokenness and hardship (which God allows) sufficient to encourage
  • initial movement (the first step) to connect to God’s provisions for help which, in turn, enables
  • maintenance of the movement (additional steps the next day in the same direction) which builds
  • momentum (endurance), or bio-momentum (I call it).
This is the reason it is easier to exercise five days a week than it is on just one day, also the reason why the hardest day to make wise choices for your health can be on the day after you didn't. It explains also why if we procrastinate to get out of bed in the morning, we tend to procrastinate to make other wise choices all day long.

It is in this context that we can understand Philippians 2:12-13 (GracePoint paraphrase):

“Work out of the strength God is working in you.”

Also: Philippians 3:16:

"Only let us live up to what we have already attained."


We have no better support for building endurance than our schedule. This we know: Without a schedule, we will not likely make the choices long-term that support our health. We may run a one-time fast lap around the track occasionally, but not stay the course. A schedule means we get up out of bed in the morning, not because we want to, but because our schedule tells us to.

I have never known a tired or depressed person who was compliant to their scheduled regimen for
  • quiet time to read The Scripture at the beginning of their day in order to hear God, confession of need, prayer, and worship,
  • exercise to get their heart rates up for a sustained 20-30 minutes on most days of the week,
  • timely meals and food choices, and
  • sleep.
The choices we make for health are not the same as those we make in order to be successful. Those choices (duties/responsibilities) dispense our health. James (1:11) says, “In the same way the sun rises with scorching heart and withers the plant, so the health of a man will fade away even while he goes about his business.”

This means: If the choices we make to be successful are not supported by the choices we make to be renewed in strength, we will not endure to continue making wise choices.

This helps us to better understand the words of Christ to those who suffer intense adversity: "By your endurance you will gain your lives.” - Luke 21:19

Also, “This kind (the kind that moves mountains) goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (scheduled preparation).” – Matthew 17:21 (KJV)

And the message of Paul, Peter, and James to

"Consider yourselves fortunate, instead of ill-fated, whenever you suffer adversities, because it is during such times that you have an opportunity to learn about the needs and weaknesses of your fallen human condition and also your need for God's provisions to enable you, not only for strength to make wise choices, but also for endurance to continue making them. This is the process (as God has ordained it to be) that matures you and establishes you in health, so that you may be complete, not lacking anything."

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L20

The Pursuit of Significance: Dying to Feel Good

The goals we pursue which neglect health are not from God.

We really don’t always know what God is doing redemptively in our lives, except we can trust that he will work to establish us in health before he places us in service to others. (Of course, we can push forward to place ourselves.) This means, no one whom God uses will ever need to sacrifice his/her health or family (though they possibly can be taken in persecution).

I have never seen it otherwise: When we pursue outcomes which we think will make us look or feel good or give us significance, the price we pay for it will be our health and, often, our families. How much better we do to pursue health, beginning with an intimate relationship to Christ, in which case, we rise higher, go farther, and endure longer.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L19

The Heart of Christ in Us for Others: The Compassion that Makes Our Ministry Effectual

Our temperament needs are inborn and valid, including the need to be with people, but also the need to be alone. We do not "get over" our needs; either they are met, or we suffer.

But for this exception: God’s call and preparation for ministry transforms us so that our need or non-need for people is consumed/transcended by (does not prevail against) the heart of Christ in us for the redemptive needs of others.

Were it not for this transformation, our church and ministry pursuits would be driven and motivated by our own human needs, resulting in disappointment, but also outcomes that have no eternal value.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L18

God's Redempive Purpose for Hills

On our runs we rejoice because of the hills. The steeper, the better! Well, actually we rejoice more because of the outcomes they produce. Hills (true also about gym weights) are essential to the process that increases and maximizes our fitness and health (called “training effect”). That is exactly what James (1:2-4) teaches.

The joy James (1:2) speaks of concerning our suffering (defined as living in a broken body with broken people in a broken world) is not our experience of adversity itself; rather, it is our experience of God’s provisions to renew/increase us in health and happiness.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11

God could have removed hills from the landscapes of life, but with consideration of our fallen human natures, that would not have served us well long term. Of course, for the moment, no hill seems pleasant, but painful (Trust me!). Later on, however, they produce a harvest of health and peace for those of us who have been trained by them (Hebrews 12:11).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L17

Appropriate Gift Giving: A Guide for Celebrating Christ at Christmas

We have birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other occasions to give fun gifts or taste/feel good gifts, but gift-giving at Christmas is different. God’s gift to us was redemptive. This means that in order for us to appropriately celebrate God’s gift to us of Christ, our gifts to others should also be redemptive. An excellent choice would be clothes, exercise gear or equipment, a health basket to include books, fruits, nuts, whole grains, or other gifts that support health, not only physically but including also educationally and spiritually.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L16

Learning Late that Mom and Dad Know Best

The differences in temperament traits manifest clearly when we are wrapping Christmas gifts. One temperament disposition may be painstaking to wrap a gift beautifully, but take forever (it seems) to do it, while another may wrap quickly without the interest to be perfect about it.

Also, even apart from the commitment and interest some may have to wrap a great looking gift, experience still matters. Some of us melancholy types have a high standard and commitment to excellence, but we do not come close to meeting it on our first try. So we practice.

Now I understand why The Scripture instructs children to honor (give weight to the influence of) their parents. That is so kids will not be so presumptuous or foolish or prideful to think they automatically know better than mom and dad.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L15

Don: Why do you small cap pronouns for deity?

I do not large cap pronouns for God, but only his proper names, in the same way I would not large cap the pronoun “it” for The Bible.

Speaking of which: This may be picky, but The Scripture is not a bible, but The Bible. (Writers some times small cap The Bible but large cap TV. I sleep with my Bible and wonder if they sleep with their tv). Also, I never set The Bible on the floor, or ever place anything on top of it. The Bible is not God, but it is the resource he prepared and chooses to use to communicate Truth to my heart.

Still I wonder: Why do we always large cap the pronoun “I”?

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L14

Salvation Made Simple

Water is God’s provision to meet our need for inner cleansing, also for hydration to satisfy our thirst. So we drink it. It is a freewill choice based upon our confidence that God’s provisions are faithful and effectual and will accomplish the purpose for which he provided them.

(Note: Water also meets our need for outer cleansing, so we bathe in it. This is not the same as inner cleansing, but represents the power of Christ’s example for all the world to model outwardly.)

Christ, the Living Water, is God’s provision for the removal (forgiveness) of his judgment against us because of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, and also for the removal (forgiveness) of our human brokenness (which is healing).

In the same way we receive water, we also receive Christ: The one by opening our mouths, the other by opening our hearts (intellectually, emotionally, and more specifically, volitionally).

God prepares and offers his provisions. The Holy Spirit calls us through his Word to receive them. If he does not call, we cannot receive. But if he calls, and we do not receive, then we remain broken, hurting, and lost.

This may be an easy way for you to present God’s plan of salvation using John 3:16, John 1:12, and Revelation 3:20.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L13

1 Peter 3:1 Not a Proof Text for Wife's Tolerance

"Likewise, wives be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives."

Sorry guys, 1 Peter 3:1 is not a proof text for a wife to serve, give a pass to, and tolerate her self-absorbed, dysfunctional husband at all costs, including her health. Whatever truth we learn from Peter’s instruction, it must be understood in the context of the following:

1) The relationship of a Christian husband and wife is organic. Any perspective on Christian marriage that is not rooted in that concept is error.

2) In its organic context, the instruction for a wife to “submit” to her husband means for her “to give him opportunity for influence” and assumes his heart toward her is redemptive and that he has won her confidence.

3) Wives are not called to support/serve their husbands, but to respond/connect to the support/service of their husbands who are responding/connected to God’s support/service to them.

4) Every instruction in Scripture assumes enablement, also that the leadership vine we are connected to is alive and fit. Jesus calls his bride to abide/remain connected to him (John 15:1-8) who is the Living Vine (so that we do not wither and die). We cannot imagine that he would call a wife to remain connected to a dead vine.

5) The husband Peter refers to who can be won by his godly wife is not necessarily failing in his support role to his wife; his disobedience to the Word may be otherwise, i.e., to a general range of other issues.

6) Especially did Peter want wives to understand the importance of their husbands’ protection during the first century when the church was scattered among the nations, was without civil protection, and suffering intense persecution.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L12

Walking by Faith: More than Positive Thinking, Support for Life and Service Through Confession of Need and Connection to Supply 

The circumstances are hurtful, the pain and discouragement are real, so we do not deny or disown them, or otherwise try to suppress them; rather we stumble our way to the Well, in full confession of our brokenness and need.

But there at the Well, we trust/connect to receive Living Water and are renewed so that we walk from there, confident and enabled, into the battle.

(Remember we cannot understand the meaning of trust apart from
  • the faith/conviction (which God's Word births and increases in us during our quiet time) that his provisions are effectual and cannot fail, or from
  • the choices we make, albeit feeble, to connect to those provisions.)
This means walking by faith is more than a brave, positive, mental attitude, or a gritty determination to just move forward anyhow, but rather it is a walk (life and service) enabled by grace provisions received through faith (trusting/connecting/receiving).

"For ...we have gained access by faith (trusting/connecting/receiving) into this grace (provisions) which sustains us. And we rejoice in what this means for our healing. We also rejoice in our sufferings." - Romans 5:1-5 (GracePoint)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L11

Don: What is safe to hope for that will have no disappointments?

1) Nothing is really safe from disappointment that is based upon human hope.

One of the goals of our counseling is for counselees to leave our sessions having renewed hope. But the hope that is based upon the words of man is human hope and not the same as the divine hope which flows up from the faith birthed in us by the Holy Spirit through his Word/Seed/Truth (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Hebrews 11:2).


2) God's provision for healing and health are effectual and cannot fail. So it is impossible that our faith, trust, and hope in them will be disappointed.

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth (power of the Seed to produce faith for making wise choices that result in good outcomes): It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." - Isaiah 55:10-11

3) We cannot understand the meaning of God's love apart from his provisions for our redemption (John 3:16). It is more than a warm, thoughtful emotion or feeling he has for us - a definition which might satisfy the dictionary understanding of the word, but not the Scriptural meaning in its organic context. So our faith/belief that God's love never fails means we trust that his provisions never fail. (Note: Neither can we understand our call to love God apart from our response to receive his provisions.)

4) Your personal recovery to health is God's goal and plan for you right now. When you look to discover outcomes down the road, you are looking where God apparently does not want you to look. That's the reason you don't have any conviction concerning any particular good outcome, so you become fearful.

5) We can only sow. It is God alone who gives good outcomes (1 Corinthians 3:6 James 1:17). And he always does it in due season, according to his timing (Galatians 6:9), and in fulfillment of his redemptive plan (which will always be consistent with the sowing and reaping laws that he ordained to govern his creation).

6) We do not experience good outcomes because we hope for them; rather, we hope for good outcomes because God has given us faith in our quiet time during our reading Scripture/hearing God (concerning who he is, his love for us, and our need for him) which, in turn, effectually moves/enables us to connect to (worship) his Son, so that, by our experience of his Life renewed in us daily, we are enabled to make additional essential choices (also daily) which further establish us in health according to his redemptive plan.

7) "We rejoice in our hope (confident expectation) of God's glory (his plan for our experience/manifestation of him). We also rejoice in the suffering that is a essential part of the journey" (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L10

Too Busy Serving Others, Confessing Need

Teasing wife, Carole, I told her I had talked to God about her earlier this morning, that he asked me, “Who is this now?” and I said, “You know, my wife!” and he said, “Well now, let me check,” then after a pause he said, “Oh yes, but I don’t get to talk to her much any more since she is so busy - also she's one of those types, you know, that is very independent and self-reliant, so tends not to need anyone’s help, including mine.”

“Wrong!” Carole interrupted to say.

Don Loy Whisnant/Journey Notes 9L09

Additional journey notes are at donloyw's journey notes

Plan A: Pure Ministry, Pure Giving

Clearly, the reports show, more time, energy, and money is spent for pain relief than is invested for healing. Also dollars given in support of charities which circumvent the outcome of poor choices is significantly more than is given to support ministries which guide wise choices for health. The one is motivated by our need to feel good, maybe to protect our own hearts from guilt, the other by the heart of Christ purely for others.

"They who go into the world bearing precious seed (sowing ministry for healing) will surely return bringing with them a harvest of eternal fruit.” (See Psalm 126:5-6).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L08

My Father the King, and His Son My Savior

The presentation of God/Jesus as the Great King is more appropriate/relevant to Old Testament and Kingdom Age Israel than to who he is organically to us his Bride, the Church. To us, he is the lowly Servant, Shepherd, Physician, Husband, Vine, Friend, and Savior, also Light, Bread, and Living Water.

This means he relates to us personally and intimately as we receive the provision of himself into our lives.

We note that the mother of the groom does not give her son away in marriage to the bride in order for her to continue nurturing him. Rather, it is the father of the bride who gives away his daughter to the groom based upon his promise and commitment to perpetuate the nurturing love and support she has received from her father.

This means that, in measure, a husband lives out to his wife the role of her father, but also, now in marriage, he more intimately relates to her as a husband, imparting his life to her in order for her to live out her calling as a mother, not to him, but to their children.

God relates to us also as our Father, but he also gives us his Son (together with other provisions), whom we receive (“I do”), and with whom we are united spiritually as one. In our daily intimacy with him (worship), we give him opportunity to impart his life to us so that we may bear fruit, that as he is in the world, so are we (the meaning of doxa, “manifesting/reflecting to others in a dark world the Light/character and ways of God through our experience of Christ”), also so that he may be the firstborn of many children (Romans 8:29).

On this note also, we support the concept that the father of the groom should stand in as the best man who represents support for both the son and his bride. We think we see this taught in John 15:1 when Jesus said, “I am the (organic) Vine (through which life flows) and my Father is the husbandman, or support, to enable me in service to my bride."

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L07

America Wants to Know: "Why Do Men Cheat?"

The Tiger Woods scandal prompts USA Today to ask, "Why Do Men Cheat?" One of its attempts to provide an answer is: "The underlying piece is the fact they're not getting the kind of attention or intimacy they're looking for within their primary relationship" which suggests that wives need to step it up in their performance to please their husbands.

But we offer this answer. Men cheat because they are users. And this is what we know about users:
  • In time, they become bored with whatever/whomever they use, so they are never really happy or fulfilled, but mostly frustrated and sometimes angry.
  • The other person (the wife) is always the problem.
  • They deny they are users.
  • They are users because of unmet affection needs, missed because of failing resources in the home during their formation years, and also because of neglect to connect daily for intimacy with Christ through his Word.
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L03

The Call to Ministry and the Challenge of Surrendering to God's Timing for His Work in the World

As we live out our ministry experience, we seem to always have good opportunities to witness the manner in which God works to accomplish his redemptive plan in the world.

Sometimes our awareness and burden concerning a need are a clue that God is preparing us for use in a particular ministry. But not always. His plan may be to use someone else to meet the need. So that is the reason we are careful to surrender to him the who concerning his will.

Even if we are the instruments he is preparing to use, still we are careful to surrender to him the what, where, why, and how. And as critical as that need is, the greatest need sometimes is to give to him the when - this so we are not anxious or too ambitious about the start up time for a new ministry.

We consider this also: Sometimes our plans must die in order for them to live. That's because our plans can be too full of our own ideas and solutions. Unless they die, the outcome they produce, if any, will not be enduring, but only "wood, hay, and stubble."

This we know: "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for us; his love endures forever; and he will not abandon the works of his hands." - Psalm 138:8

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9L01

Dear Husband: Take it Personal! Please!

The young wife was reluctant to serve notice on her husband that she did not want to live the rest of her life not having her support needs met according to God's purpose for their marriage, because, she said, she did not want him to "take it personal." I told her I understood her not wanting to offend or hurt, but that he indeed needed to take it personal because whatever was true about her health and happiness and also her heart for him reflected who he was and his enablement to invest in her, and that unless he gave opportunity for God to change him, he was going to have no one but himself personally to fault for the tension in his marriage.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9K30

Success! What's That?

Occasionally the success record of our counseling is questioned/challenged. Our standard response is that we have had absolutely no success (zero percent) in the work we do for which Christ is not the enablement.

Enabled (pure) ministry does not bother to keep score of outcomes which, to some, may represent success, as we would if we were a sports team or a for-profit business. Also, if (since) God is the enablement and explanation for his work, we may not always know what he is doing. The work is his; he will do what he does.

For a simple example, although we may enjoy the initial experience of drinking water or eating an apple, still there aren't always obvious ways for us to know what all the water or apple are doing to support health in us, especially at the molecular level. So we just trust that God's provisions are faithful and will accomplish the purpose for which he gave them - that the long-term outcome can only be increased health and energy manifesting in effectual service to others.

So we are passionate to warn counselees that they will be disappointed with the hopes and dreams they have which overlook/minimize their health needs, body, soul, and spirit - that tend to be more for self-serving success than for outcomes which represent God's work to enable us.

It is an ongoing temptation (which I can testify to), one particularly tragic for leadership in the home and church, to pursue goals (even worthy ones) at the expense of our own personal health, to mis-prioritize God's order for the choices we must make which establish us in good outcomes. This is, in part, the meaning of Psalm 50:23:
"And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God (for healing)."

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9K27

Hearing God: How We Grow in Grace

A significant index to measure our growth in grace is our willingness to listen, especially to the resources God brings into our lives. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing God. So this must mean God's redemptive plan begins with listening.

It's the reason why our counseling begins with an appropriate time to listen so that we can understand our counselees' pain, but then invites them to listen in order to understand grace solutions. Of course, when any of us hurts, we want to talk to relieve tension, but at some point we must stop to listen.

(No, Truth does not lie dormant within every person waiting to be drawn out, or that surfaces as we talk. We are born with a God gene, certainly a religious gene, but not a Truth gene. Solomon said, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but it leads to death." Paul said Truth must be revealed by the Holy Spirit or we remain uninformed.)

So our forefathers had it right: Children are certainly to be heard, but mostly, as they grow, they are to listen (the Bible meaning for "honor your father and mother" is "to give weight to their influence"); students are to be heard, but mostly they should listen; also, God hears our calling, but mostly we listen.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9K25

More Core Concepts for Guiding Grace Counseling

1) Yes, we need hope. When we lose hope, we fall into despair. Not just "some kind of hope," but Bible hope. Any other hope is false hope, which is what the world has.

2) Bible hope ("the confident expectation that God is accomplishing his redemptive plan for our lives") is rooted in, flows out of, and cannot exist apart from our faith (Hebrews 11:1). (This is true also of our enablement for trust, obedience, and thanksgiving.)

"For it is in this hope we are saved (healed, restored, have good outcomes). But hope that is seen (not based in faith to trust God's redemptive plan) is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has (what the world gives)? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." - Romans 8:24-25

3) So the greater need is faith (conviction concerning God's promises). That is the reason why Romans 1:17 says "the righteous will live by faith (or, our righteousness is supported by faith)."

4) Faith, of course, is produced and renewed in us by the Holy Spirit through his Word (Romans 10:17, Ephesians 2:8). That is the reason our counseling plan begins with taking quiet time daily to read the Scripture: It is where the solutions begins for every counseling need.

5) Health is the physical, psychological, and spiritual outcome of the scheduled choices we make daily to include God's provisions in our lives. It not only supports us for good outcomes, it IS the good outcome. Preoccupation with other outcome is misfocused and will not turn out well.

6) Unless we have been established in personal health, we misfocus if we push on ahead in pursuit of other goals, even for successful relationships/ministry to family and others.

7) We may have an excellent regimen for health and be faithful to it, but the status of our personal health is not the same as (is not defined by) the regimen which attains it.

8) We cannot perform (attend church, give, witness, serve) our way to health, but only include God's provisions in our lives. For example, giving does not break the bondage of self-centeredness; God's provisions for our health, beginning with Christ, does.

9) When we make choices for life which result in broken health (including relationships), we tend to want to gather around the bed (so to speak), make bargains with God, pray, fast, weep, groan, repent, confess every known sin, lay hands on, anoint with oil, believe, think positive, recommit to vows, make promises, start back to church, tithe, stand on our heads, etc., in a desperate attempt to persuade God to give us a reprieve, a quick fix "miracle" maybe to somehow circumvent the outcomes of our foolish, unwise, failed choices which disregarded God's plan for our health. Of course, God can do sovereignly whatever he chooses, but the law of sowing and reaping, which he ordained to govern his creation, will prevail.

10) This we do instead of turning around to begin making wise choices which are effectual in time to recover our health. For example, when we have become dehydrated, we can fast and pray (and all the above), or we can drink water according to God's redemptive plan. This is the message which the elders of the church bring to the sick person who calls for them (James 5:13-16).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9K18

Embarrassed by Errors: Losing the Need to Win

My friend was excited recently to plan a weekend trip for his family to an amusement theme park. The kids were especially excited as they loaded up on Friday afternoon and headed out. The travel experience was enjoyable, including the in-car conversations, the scenic views along the highway, and the timely stop at a favorite restaurant to eat. Arriving at their destination, they found the hotel accommodations very comfortable. Dad had done great. He was proud. Early the next morning, after a great breakfast with the family, the happy dad strolled by the guest services counter to confirm directions to the park. That's when he learned that the park had closed for the season the week before.

As a college student many years ago, I was a cocky young man, a legend in my own mind. I hated to lose and hated worse to be wrong. I was asked once (old joke) if I hated to lose. I said I didn't know, because I had never lost. In a discussion, I was arrogant to imply that, in order to save time, let's just go ahead and assume I know everything. Of course, I didn't.

I was embarrassed at a family reunion one summer when I was too energetic to help jump start a dead car battery, I carelessly connected the cables to the wrong battery posts and set the engine wires to smoking. I also offered to help with a complex home remodeling project. The outcome was disastrous.

The need to be perfect, to know everything, or to never lose is brokenness. So while I do not subscribe to the notion that deliberately misspelling a word or giving a wrong answer is good therapy to treat perfectionism, I am no longer intimidated by losing or intolerant to being wrong. I discovered that only losers need to win and that who we are in Christ and who he is in us makes us winners.

Don Loy Whisnant/Journey Notes 9K11

Grace: Increased in Fuller Measure on Earth, Our Experience of Holiness in Heaven

In Heaven, we will be filled with the purity, integrity, and excellence of Christ.

But this can also be our experience in increasing measure on earth.

The Life of Christ in us is effectual (powerful) for our sanctification (holiness). That is the reason Paul wrote:
"I am bold to present the Gospel because, in it, God has revealed his dynamic (the righteousness of Christ in us) for the healing of everyone who receives it." - Romans 1:16-17 (GracePoint paraphrase)

"I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way - in all your speaking and in all your knowledge." - 1 Corinthians 1:4-5

"How certain and unfailing will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace, and (especially) of the gift of his righteousness, reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." - Romans 5:17

Also, "the called" in Romans 8:28 means "saints" or "saints by effectual calling." It is a call upward, like the sun calling up vapors from the earth.

"God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:14

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9K04

Unconditionally Valued: Our Greatest Health Need Met in Relationship to God

Our need to feel valuable (self esteem) is an essential health need. Indeed we need to hear "Good job!" But our deepest, most critical need is for confidence that we are valued. These are similar needs, sometimes confused, but also very different.

Our need to feel valuable is met by human love (phileo), which is conditional ("I love what you do for me"), so means our experience of it is based on our performance or appearance to please (how loving, lovely, and lovable we are). Our pursuit of this love, however, sets us on a course to perform in order to win favor, and worse, puts us at risk for disappointment and hurt. 

Confidence (faith) that we are valued, on the other hand, is met primarily by our experience of God's love/value for us (agape), which is unconditional, not based on anything true about us or who we are, but based on our experience of "who Christ is" (particularly his love for us) within us. (Note: This means Christ did not die for us because we were valuable, but because we were valued, else his love for us would not have been unconditional.) It is also met secondarily through our experience of supportive relationships in the home and Church. Worry/fear about how others may perceive us (self-esteem needs) cannot prevail against this experience and confidence.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9J06

Propped Up in Pain: The World's Failed Plan for Healing

God's provisions are faithful and strong to establish us in health. The world's provisions are only props to help us survive our brokenness.

"... a wise man built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. ... a foolish man built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." - Matthew 7:26-27

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9J05

Support Letter to Guide a Wife's Separation

Dear (Wife): Grace counseling affirms that God is committed to your health and happiness needs and that it is the role of your husband to serve as a resource for those needs being met. When he has failed, our counsel to him guides and supports him on a journey that leads to his renewal. Our counsel to you is to pursue an intimate relationship with Christ so that you are supported during this time of your husband's recovery.

This means that, if your husband is not sexually involved with another woman or abusive so that your safety is at risk, but has embraced his Scriptural role in the marriage and gives evidence that he is increasing, small as it may be, in his commitment and enablement to live it out, it is not God's redemptive plan for you to leave/abandon/end the marriage. You may separate from him to allow for a period of prayer in order to be increased in your health, especially your spiritual renewal, but with the full hope and intentions of returning. If you do not return, Christ's instruction for you is that you must remain unmarried (not enter into an intimate relationship reserved for marriage with another man.)

"To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife." - 1 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)

Concerning the separation we sometimes support for the purpose of healing: It is not a running away, but a carefully planned strategy, prescribed, supported, and monitored by the pastor/elder leadership in the church, which may include a referral to pastoral counseling.

I hope this helps. I grieve for your hurt and am committed to support you during this time.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9H28

Concept Distinctives to Guide Grace Counseling

The following concepts are unique to grace counseling:

1) God does not attempt to control us, but invests in us in order to empower us, then sets us free. Rather, it is Satan who attempts to control and, if he cannot, to destroy us.
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." - Galatians 5:1
2) God grieves the foolish choices we make which break our health, but he is never upset with us. This means we can do nothing to motivate God to love us more, or to love us less.

3) God's provisions flow faithfully and fully right to the door of our hearts; we only need to receive them (Romans 5:17; Revelation 3:20). This means we do not need to pursue God; rather he pursues us. It means also that God does not withhold his provisions from us until we work on ourselves to improve our behavior.

4) Obedience is not our behavior/performance to win God's favor, make him happy/smile, etc., but the choices we make to include his provisions into our lives which establish us in health. For example, drinking water is obedience.

5) Forgiveness means "removal." It is God's removal of his judgment against the human race (separation from his Life/Light resulting in spiritual darkness) because of Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden, and also his removal of our brokenness because of the choices we have made in the darkness. This is the meaning of Romans 5:12-14. He forgives (removes) his judgment against us on the basis of our faith/trust to receive his provision of Christ's death/blood for us, and he forgives (removes) our brokenness (this is the meaning of "healing" - also "salvation") on the basis of our faith/trust to receive (include in our lives) his provisions for our health in creation (soil and atmosphere) and community (supportive relationships in the home and church), but especially through Christ's resurrected Life birthed in us, which enable us for making the wise choices (obedience) that establish us in health.

6) Our forgiveness of others "as Christ forgave us" is the enablement he gives us to withhold judgment/punishment from those who have offended us, and to minister to their support needs for the healing/removal of their brokenness.

7) We have no power to battle Satan. Satanic warfare is not our fight, but God's. It is wasted energy and time. We can only take time daily to be filled/renewed in fuller measure with the Light of who Christ is so that the darkness of the demonic world cannot prevail.

8) We do not serve God, but he serves us and others through us. We are not slaves attending to his needs (He has none!), but vessels for the flow of his redemptive provisions into a hurting world - conduits for the shining of his Light into the darkness.

9) God gave the law as a minimal standard to govern/guide man's fallen nature. He gave his Son to make possible our holiness and to enable our choices for health. This means, we are enabled to serve in the new way of the Spirit (by the power of God's provisions which we receive into our lives, beginning with his Son), not in the old way of the written code (Romans 7:1-6).

10) Talking to God is not a substitute for hearing God. Faith (to trust/receive God's provisions for strength) is birthed and increased in us when we take time daily to read the Scripture in order to hear God communicate to us his Truth.

11) Nothing any teacher/writer/counselor says is a substitute for what God says to us by the Holy Spirit through his Word. If what we believe about God is based upon what man writes or says instead of rooted in what the Holy Spirit is teaching us as we sit quietly each day to read the Scripture, we have reason to wonder if what we believe is Truth. Error is perpetuated when man teaches/writes/reads books that fail to understand the mystery/revelation given to the Apostle Paul - which is "Christ in you, the hope of glory (doxa: "the ways and character of God [who he is] revealed in Christ and manifest in us") - Colossians 1:27.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9G20

Drinking Water: Manifesting Love for God

My friend says that he "really loves God!"

But he confesses to making few choices for his health. He doesn't care for water, hates fruits and vegetables, doesn't understand seeds, grains, and nuts, and couldn't walk a mile, he says, without passing out.

As it turns out, to my friend, "loving God" means that he has a longing for God to love him, and has set out to please him and to win his favor.

But God already loves him (agapao: to value unconditionally). Also, grace theology does not separate "loving God" from our obedience to include in our lives his provisions for our redemption (health and happiness). This is the meaning of
"If you love me, you will obey my commandments (for your health)" - John 14:15 and

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" - Luke 6:46

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9G13

Grace Counseling: Based in Concepts Not Widely Held

The counseling we provide is not mainstream. It is based on our understanding that:

1) Ministry to broken, hurting people is really very different than ministry to others. It is the care Jesus provided when he left the ninety-nine and attended to the needs of the one who was lost and in trouble. It is also the ministry for which Heaven rejoices most (Luke 15:3-7).

2) God's relationship to us is organic, which means he is in a support position beneath us and not in a power position over us. This means the goals and dynamics for leadership in the organic home and church (investment leadership, I call it) are different from those of an organization or institution.

3) God gave the Law to guide behavior, but provided himself (grace) to heal our brokenness so that we are enabled to serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written codes (Romans 7:5). Law may save us from falling off a building, but it has no power to heal brokenness or to birth holiness (Romans 8:3-4).

4) Christ is in relationship to us as a Father (John 14:9-10) and also as a husband (Ephesians 5:22-33). He gives himself up to serve his bride and to make her radiant. (She is the glory [reflection] of her husband's care - 1 Corinthians 11:7). He is the faithful Vine so that his bride, in relationship to him, is supported for fruitfulness (John 15:1-8). In yoke with him, the wife is renewed (Matthew 11:28-29).

5) God provided the home and church as resources to support our health (in the same way he made the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath - Mark 2:27). They were given for our good, as a benefit, not to be a burden to us. This means we are not called to give ourselves up for our resources; instead, they serve us in behalf of our support and enablement in service to others. This means Ephesians 5:22-24 does not call wives to "suffer" their husbands, but to give them opportunity for influence (the definition of "submit" in its organic context) as they do to the Lord who is the Savior of his bride, feeds and cares for her, gives himself up for her (vvs. 25-33) and pursues her to the door of her heart (Revelation 3:20). This means also that children do not serve their parents, or wives their husbands.

6) God is an advocate for women and children. So is our counseling. Wives respond to it, except when they are driven, usually by religious guilt, fear, and ego, even at the cost of their own personal health and happiness, to please their husbands, to make him happy, and to stay out of trouble with him and God. It is usually religious and traditional leadership that rejects grace concepts - some times with gnashing of teeth.

7) The first goal of our counseling is personal health - which is also the first goal of God's redemptive plan for us and the way Christ will manifest himself foremost in our lives. (The first fruit of the Spirit is love - Galatians 5:22. Also, "the husband who loves his wife, loves himself" - Ephesians 5:28-29.) That is the reason the message and methods of our counseling give couples a better chance for happiness and success in the marriage than performance-based, mainstream counseling.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9E25

God's Purpose for Resources Fulfilling His Plan for Redemption

God ministers to us through the resources he has provided, beginning with Christ (the Word), through the Scriptures, through the husband and parents, through the Body of Christ (the Church) and its pastors, even through civil government, and through creation.

His investment in us is also for the purpose of fulfilling his sovereign plan to redeem others. It is not to meet his own needs. (He has none.)

This means he invested himself in Christ in behalf of others, in creation in behalf of others, in the church and its leadership in behalf of others, in parents in behalf of the children, and in the husband in behalf of his family, beginning with his wife. This means also, the husband's investment in his wife is not foremost in his own behalf but hers, and through her in behalf of their children. Also, parents invest in their children, not in behalf of themselves, but of their children's children.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9E18

The Letter of the Word: Its Powerlessness

Hearing the Scriptures read may have intellectual benefit, but has no power, in and of itself, to birth or nurture faith (conviction/confidence) within us concerning Truth. The Scripture is only a tool or vessel. This means, we can read or hear it read all day long, but except the Holy Spirit uses it (gives Life to it) to communicate Truth to us, the words of the Bible are just ink on paper, and are dead.

Also, man's teaching is useful only as it supports what we hear God say. The words man teach sow seeds of human reasoning in man's mind - further barricading it against Truth. This is the reason we call others to turn off their religious broadcasting. There is nothing on tv, radio, or internet that substitutes for sitting quietly each day with an open Bible for Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and worship.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9E11

A Closer Look: Checking the Candidate's Credit to Learn His Character

When considering a man for leadership, background checks to discover his character are critical. First impressions are helpful, but not reliable, especially if he asserts his status and worth.

The closer the inspection, the better. This means that what needs to be known about a man may be more than what his personal references say about him, and certainly more than what he says about himself. To know a man's real character, begin by checking his credit. If he owes money, and especially if it is past due, something's up. If he is debt free, it speaks volumes for his integrity, maturity, and understanding.

Check also his health and fitness status. What is his blood pressure, resting heart rate, weight (BMI), cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, etc.?

What is his diet? Does he have an exercise regimen? (This is not the same as his participation in competitive sports.)

What is he reading? What educational goals is he pursuing?

What is the health and happiness status of his wife? She is the "glory (reflection) of her husband," the Bible says. What is the tension level in the marriage?

Most importantly, what is the intimacy level of his relationship to Christ? This is not the same necessarily as his religious activity or performance record in the church, but his commitment to take extended time daily for Bible reading (not for Bible study, but in order to hear God speak), confession of need, prayer, and worship in order to be renewed in the likeness of Christ.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9E04

Yea God!

TESTIMONY: Our need recently was to make a wise decision concerning the timing for renting a one-way truck to complete our move from Atlanta to North Carolina. The weather was, of course, a big factor. So was the cost of the truck and fuel. U-Haul offered a truck for around $480. Penske offered a new larger diesel truck for $240. Yea Penske!

The trip was softly scheduled two weeks out. But early during the week of, Carole and I were uncertain, so postponed the move. As it turned out, that weekend was a soaker both in Atlanta and High Point.

The weather on the first day of our eventual trip to Atlanta was beautiful. However, the forecasters warned of strong thunderstorms and rain, also tornadoes, for the next day, beginning in the afternoon. The radio guy said he was happy to be leaving for Florida.

But next morning, after a Bojangles' breakfast, we picked up the rental truck and began loading. The weather was balmy - not too hot, not too cool. Thank you, Lord!

Then as we were about loaded, a few raindrops began to fall.

"Not yet, Lord," Carole said. "We are not finished." Instantly the rain stopped. "Thank you, Lord," she said looking at me with a big smile.

About an hour later, in less than a minute (I promise), after I had pulled down the truck door, latched it, and walked back inside, the heavy rain began to pour. Carole and I looked out the window at the downpour.

On the next day, the weather for the drive back north to unload was delightful.

PERSPECTIVE: So we may suspect that God sends and holds back the rain to accommodate our needs in response to our love for him, faith, and earnest prayers. But I do not think so. Not normally.

The rain did, in fact, stop instantly when Carole called out, "Not yet, Lord!" But we do not build our belief system on that one occurrence. I much more suspect it was coincidence, although allow that God may have been having some fun with us.

What we do understand about grace doctrine, however, is this: God knew in eternity the exact weather conditions of every minute and hour for that particular weekend. And he was willing to guide us for the timing of our move. We needed only to wait on him and be filled with his presence in order to have his mind about such things - which we took time to do early on.

So in our counseling, we warn against a concept that allows us to neglect God's provisions for our health and happiness, beginning with his Life renewed in us daily, and to do so with the false hope that, when the brokenness comes, we can nonetheless call out to him in our mess, stroke him, plead with him, fast and pray, boohoo, and do acts of contrition, all in order to persuade him to circumvent the outcome of our impulsive choices, whether it is to heal our broken health, or, as in this case, to stop the rain.

"If any one lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to everyone generously without scolding our ignorance. But when he asks, he must believe (wait on God, trusting that he is the Source of the information we need) and not doubt (make an impulsive choice to do otherwise), because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. THAT MAN SHOULD NOT THINK HE WILL RECEIVE ANYTHING FROM THE LORD." - James 1:5-6 (GracePoint paraphrase)
"Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'" - James 4:15

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9D21

If God's Blessings Are Blocked, It's Not By God

God's "blessings" upon a home, a church, a life, or a nation are not really, in the truest sense, future events that reward the attitudes and behavior we manage to have that please God. Rather, his blessings (God's provisions for our redemption from the curse) have been poured out to mankind from the beginning. They continually flow to us to provide for our essential needs. Not one is withheld.

This means, we are blessed (redeemed from the curse), not when we act out piously or heroically to impress God, but rather when we connect daily to receive his provisions into our lives, beginning with the Resurrected Life of Christ, but including also all else God has provided in creation (the soil and atmosphere) and in community (the home and church).

The notion that God withholds his blessings because of his displeasure is just not consistent with the message of grace in all its truth.
"The gift far outweighed Adam's transgression. For if the many died in the darkness because of God's judgment upon Adam's disobedience, how much more certain and unfailing did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, flow to each one of them." - Romans 5:15 (GracePoint paraphrase)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9D07

Extreme Happiness: More Than Words Can Express, Our Experience of Heaven

We rejoice when new life is born. Maybe that is the reason we love the first day of spring.

We rejoice when we experience good outcomes. It may be a call back from a hoped-for employment opportunity, an unexpected call for expanded opportunities to live out our dreams or calling for life, an increase in income, or a paid debt.

We also rejoice when old life is renewed or recovered. It may be healing, or a restored relationship, or even a recovered lost possession.

But no words in this life could ever be adequate to explain what our experience of rejoicing will be like when we get to Heaven. It will be over the top any delight we have ever known here on earth. In Heaven, there will be no more hunger or pain, no more unmet needs, unkindness, or loneliness, no more worries, stress, tension, or uncertainties, no more darkness, dying, or disappointments. All will be new, wholesome and fresh, and exciting.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him." - 1 Corinthians 2:9

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9C21

Your Spirit: God's Home in You

One of the most missed concepts of grace theology is that God, the Holy Spirit, lives/dwells within us, that is, in the deepest chambers of our being, the spirit. This is a promised work of God altogether distinct and separate from our experience of the new birth (regeneration of our spirit) which is by merit of our immersion into spiritual union with Christ (the moment we trust Christ's death on the cross as our only hope for deliverance from God's judgment upon mankind because of Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden) and is the salvation experience of every believer since Adam. Otherwise we would be spiritually dead. This is the reason Jesus said to Old Testament Nicodemus, "You must be born again."

But unique to us who live in this Dispensation of Grace (the Age of the Holy Spirit, also the Church Age) is our experience of God the Holy Spirit, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, indwelling us.

This means, Old Testament believers were born again just as we are - that is, the Holy Spirit imparted New Life to their spirits so that they possessed and experienced God's divine nature. Also, they were were revived and renewed as the Holy Spirit descended upon them from time to time. But the Holy Spirit did not dwell permanently within believers until after the Resurrection. He came as Christ promised he would (John 16:7). This was a new, even more intimate relationship which God entered into with us. It is also the fulfillment and certainty of his promise, "I will never at any time, for any reason, ever, ever leave you or forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

This means, there is no place we can be where God the Holy Spirit is not present deep and securely within us. We can not take a turn sharp enough for the doors of our hearts to fly open and he fall out, or run fast enough away from his provisions for him to be left behind. He lives within us. He is part of us as surely as we have a heart and lungs and a soul.

God is in you this moment. And he knocks (calls out) from his dwelling place in your spirit, at the door of your heart (soul), waiting for entrance into your mind, emotions, and will in order to transform you into the likeness of Christ.
"Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you." - 1 Corinthians 6:19

"Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" - 1 Corinthians 3:16

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9C22

The True Vine Concept for Ministry: Investment Leadership for People Who Need Church

A big city highway billboard promotes a mega church that offers a spiritual experience for people who "don't do church." It appeals to the many who have left a church experience which may have been disappointing or hurtful, or at least not meaningful to impact their lives. Maybe it was too rules-oriented, or too liturgical. So, good for them: They are seeking to fill their spiritual void somewhere else.

But the appropriate alternative to harsh rules is not kindly no rules. (We grieve for those who seek relief from rules abuse in a "no-rules" world experience, especially in the bars and clubs.) So whatever may be said about the "no-rules, seeker-friendly" church, we do not want to overlook the True Vine concept as the most appropriate alternative to which broken people can connect for healing.

Recently, a minister friend insisted that GracePoint should be more seeker-friendly oriented in order to be more relevant. That would include, he suggested, that I talk and dress as the seekers do, and even to reformat our ministry (counseling, speaking, and writing) to have more entertainment value.

Again, whatever merit that may have, and however true that calling may be, we do not want to dismiss the need for ministry which is most relevant to people who are broken, devastated, and disillusioned, not just hurting, bored, or disappointed, or church-hopping (or bar-hopping) in pursuit of a better relief experience.

So while we appreciate the seeker-friendly strategy for winning the lost, and wisely incorporate many of its concepts, we do so only as it complements our calling and commitment to provide a True Vine spiritual experience for people who "need church," the same as children need a home and parents who invest, not just brothers and sisters or friends and buddies.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9C06

Grace: God's Presence, Our Privilege in Pain

Some among us have enjoyed essential support, including most importantly from family during our early formation years, with the result that we have managed to sail along nicely on the sea of life, while others of us, shipwrecked and broken, "looked to the left and to the right," as the Psalmist wrote, "and found no one who cared for our souls."

But it was in our sorrow and grief that we turned to Christ as our only hope. He called out to us in our darkness, told us of his undying love and care, and asked for entrance into our lives. In him we have experienced our very deepest needs met, beyond what we could have otherwise known.

Our unmet support needs leave us in pain; we suffer more intensely than others. But who knows the refreshing of water like the one who has suffered dying thirst in a hot, dry desert? Who delights in the experience of God's love like the one who suffers loneliness? Who looks to Christ like the one to whom he alone is their support?
"I am poor and needy, yet the Lord is attentive to my needs. He is my helper and savior." - Psalm 40:17 (GracePoint paraphrased)

"My mother and father (earthly support needs) are not present to support me, but the Lord has taken me up." - Psalm 27:10 (GracePoint paraphrased)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9C05

Grace: In Our Hurting, God's Provisions for Our Healing

Only God is awesome. And all that he does is awesome.

Consider that:

1. He loves us and is tender and gentle toward our brokenness, instead of harsh. The Psalmist said,

"The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made." - Psalm 149:5

2. He has provided in Christ, community, and creation every need we have for health and happiness, and also for healing.

"God so loved the world that he gave... that we might have...." - John 3:16

3. He has imparted faithful and true information to us concerning his provisions so that we are not left without Truth.

4. He has given us capacity to see, hear, and think, so that we can observe, meditate, and consider.

5. He quickens our minds so that we understand and are not left to be confused.

6. He imparts to us his divine nature which works dynamically in us to enable our willingness to receive his provisions (Philippians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:3).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9C04

Seven Scheduled Successes to Support Health and Happiness

Pop psychologists suggest that health and happiness is supported by our experiences of "wins," that the need is for seven or more of these experiences each day. Absolutely, we agree, but differ in our understanding as to the definition of a "win."

To some, it may mean a successful performance - for example, passing a test, fixing a problem, making a sale, scoring points, or winning a contest.

To others, it may mean rewards and recognition, or having a feel-good experience, physically or otherwise - for example, seeing a fun movie, drinking a chocolate shake, and especially romance.

Whatever we question or give credit to about all that, we understand that human life does not perpetuate itself, but must have supports, or else it quickly diminishes and, in time, dies.

Central to grace counseling, however, is the concept that
  • the essential support needs we have are multi-dimensional - that is, they are physical (material and biological), psychological (intellectual and emotional), and spiritual (our capacity to experience God), that
  • the deeper and more inclusive and interactive (synergistic) they are operative within us, the more powerfully we are supported for health, and that
  • they heal, renew, and establish us in health, not just relieve the symptoms of pain.
This means, a win does not represent mostly what we do in the sense of a performance or comfort behavior, but is our experience of what God does for us daily as we are connected to the resources he has provided for our support.

This means, also, that a triumph is not really a successful performance to lift a weight in the gym (for example); rather it is: 1) 30 minutes exercise to increase strength, endurance, and flexibility; 2) going to bed early in order to get up early; 3) eating 4-6 small meals 4) to include grains, nuts, and seeds, and 5 servings of raw fruits and vegetables; 5) drinking at least 64 to 100 ounces of water; 6) researching to increase education; and especially, 7) quiet time for Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and worship.

And all this as scheduled.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9C03

Grace: God's Provision of Himself at the Door of Our Hearts

Jesus does not hide himself away, but comes into our dark, broken world, to the door of our hearts, to offer himself for our recovery.

"He came..." - John 1:11

"Every good and perfect gift comes from God..." - James 1: 17

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock..." - Revelation 3:20

This means:

1. We can trust that God will provide - that is, bring into our lives every essential resource we need in order to be established in health and happiness.

"My God will provide all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:19

"He that spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also freely give us all things." - Romans 8:32
2. We will never need to chase around after worldly solutions motivated by fearful impulses.

"If we hope (manifesting faith, the support of hope - Hebrews 11:1) for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." - Romans 8:25

3. The resources God provides will be those which first meet our deepest and most essential needs, especially to be transformed by who Christ is within us (his wisdom, righteousness, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, humility, faith, and self-control).

4. These resources are not imposed, but offered, so must be received.

"But to those who received him, to those who believed on his name (in who he was), he gave the power (exousia: capacity, competency, freedom) to become (ginomai: to cause to come into being) children of God (i.e. " them he gave the power that generates Life"). - John 1:12

5. He then sends us into the world to be a conduit for his Light so that those groping in darkness may also experience God's provisions coming into their own lives.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9C02

Paraphrasing to Make Personal the Message God is Communicating Strictly to You

Everyone would be served well in their Christian growth to journal their own paraphrase of the passages in Scripture which mean most to them at any given time, just as Ken Taylor's "The Living Bible," but not really always for anyone else to read. This is because our need for specific information may be different from any other person, so that what God is saying to them through his Word will not be as critical to our needs as the message which he is communicating to us personally in our alone time with him.

(Two important notations: 1. A paraphrase is not a substitute for The Scriptures itself because our writing to journal the message God is communicating to us is not guided over and supervised by the Holy Spirit in order to absolutely guarantee its freedom from error. 2. We do not have the original manuscripts of The Scriptures, but only translations and copies which we believe God has faithfully protected throughout the centuries in order to provide for us a reliable resource through which the Holy Spirit communicates Truth.)

We take care to follow this principle also when we take notes while listening to a sermon: They should be mostly what God is saying to us by the Holy Spirit deep within our hearts, not strictly and alone what the speaker is saying to our ears.

Also, this helps us to understand our need to pull away from the busyness and noise, to be still, and to wait quietly so that we can hear God. The information we hear while on the run and in a hurry will not be reliable.

No doubt much has been written and spoken by good people which has merit for our edification, but all of it together is but a vapor compared to the transforming relevance, significance, and power of just one word birthed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit through his Word.

"God has chosen to give us birth (life) through the Word of Truth, that we might manifest him to the world, as he has been manifested in us by the Holy Spirit" - James 1:18 (GracePoint paraphrased).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B26

Identifying Standards, Sin, and Solutions: How the Minister and The Scripture Serve the Sick

The Scriptures are given to us to provide information from a loving God for
  • what is right,
  • what is wrong, and
  • how to make right what is wrong (2 Timothy 3:16);
in other words, to identify
  • standards (the plan),
  • sin, both the act and the condition (the problem), and
  • solutions (God's provisions for our recovery).
We look for this information in balance in our speaking and writing, in our counseling, and also in our providing leadership in the home and church.

The Standard

We delight in the standard. It is God's revealed plan (path, prescription) which, when we respond to it, establishes us in health and happiness. "O how love I thy law; it is my meditation all the day," the Psalmists declared. He also said, "It is a lamp unto my feet (for my next step) and a light unto my path (the road ahead)." Paul said "the law is holy, righteous, and good... for I would not have known what sin was except for the law" (Romans 7:7-13). Also, he said the law was given so that man would know he was in darkness and the reason why he was dying (Romans 5:20). In fact, the Hebrew word for the Law, Torah, means "to teach."


Sin is not attitudes and behavior that make God mad, but that disregard God's plan (path, prescription) for our health and happiness. This means, the reason we are broken is not because we do not jump or get out of the way when God says to, but because we do not include in our lives his provisions for our health which he has prescribed for us.

(We grieve for the congregation whose pastor recently warned them that the tragedies in their lives were the result of their failure to give God his tithe, attend church, etc., that they either must give their money to the church or God will collect. He mocked that one of the church members was in the hospital having "his tithes taking out.")

The word "sin" means not only our disobedient behavior, but also our fallen human condition, i.e., brokenness and powerlessness to be perfect. It is the darkness (absence of God's Light) that exists in our lives because of Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden.

The Solution

Identifying the standard, or especially the problem, is not the hard part. Religious legalists (also Satan) can do that with a passion, also with condemnation and anger, and sometimes with hatred. (That may be the scowl we sometimes see on their faces.)

They can also identify a solution, but it is to work on ourselves and try harder to do better. This, motivated by fear and intimidation ("God is not going to put up with your rebellion against him much longer!"), or guilt ("Christ gave his life for you! How can you not live for him?), or pride and ego (to have rewards and recognition as "a Champion for Christ" both in this life on earth and in Heaven).

But identifying the grace (versus legalistic) solution is the hard part, the part oft-missed. Even a casual reading of the Scripture helps us to understand the standard and our failure to measure up. But it is in our quiet time, as we sit before God with an open Bible for Scripture reading, confession of need, and prayer, that the Holy Spirit communicates to us Truth he wants us to know about God provisions of grace for our recovery and renewal to health, beginning with an intimate relationship to Christ.

It is this ministry that James, the pastor of the first-century church in Jerusalem (also a half-brother of Jesus), had in mind when he instructed those who are sick to call for the elders of the church (James 5:14).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B25

The Bible: Highly Valued and Dear to Our Hearts

Of course, we are not opposed to sensual expressions or experiences. Our senses connect us to the world around us so that we have capacity to enjoy the beauty of a sunset, the sounds of a flowing brook, the fragrance of honeysuckle, the taste of a sweet orange, and the touch of another person.

Still we warn that our five senses are only incidental to experiencing Christ. Otherwise, they may also be detrimental.

Our conviction and understanding is that the sound and rhythm of music (for example) is appropriate when it is delicate to accommodate a message, but when it is overwhelming to drive impulses, it interferes with the message and becomes a vessel for deceit. This is the reason Jesus said that God "is spirit and true worshippers will worship him in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24). It is also the reason we are instructed to sing "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

Our personal worship and experience of Christ may manifest strongly in sensual expressions, but it remains fully and powerfully still a spiritual experience. However, an emotional experience can overwhelm the mind and shut the door to Truth, in which case, Christ and his Word cease to have the same value to us.

Several years ago at a large evangelistic crusade, Christian rockers and rappers were featured. After their loud and heated performance, as they carefully pampered their equipment to put them away in protected places, the speaker picked his Bible up off the floor to begin his sermon. I have often suspected that I may have witnessed evidence of how carnal experiences impact us, given the other witness I have had of the many who embrace their Bibles close to their hearts, not as a performance of legalism, but as they would anything which they hold dear.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B24

Synergestic Support for Making Wise Choices During Sufferings of Adversity

We are not alarmed, really, by the adversity of Satan, the world (people and circumstances), or our own human fallenness, but, instead, we rejoice, because we know that God allows the pressures of adversity into our lives in order to give us the opportunity...
  • to experience, reflect, understand, and confess (admit) our brokenness, weaknesses, and limitations, and also our need for help beyond our own ability to provide,
  • to hear God's voice calling us to him, convincing us of his faithful love and care for us,
  • to identify him as our greatest need, and
  • to turn to him and choose (receive) his provisions for our support, beginning with renewed relationship to Christ,
who, when we connect to him (through reading the Scripture, confession of need, prayer, and worship), produces in us increased enablement for making wise choices (investments for health), with the result that each faith-enabled wise choice we make increases our psychological (mental, emotional, and will/decision-making) health and enablement, also our physical health and enablement (training effect) for making additional wise investments for health.

Together (synergistically), these three dynamics (our spiritual, psychological, and physical enablements) work to increase our strength (endurance or perseverance) for making the wise choices that mature and complete us, so that we lack nothing.

As to these wise choices, if we lack wisdom (the mind of God concerning the healthy choices we should make - not only the what, but also the when, the where, the how, and the why we should make them), we should ask God who gives it to us generously without scolding us for our ignorance, and with only the condition that we believe (wait for the answer), and not doubt (give up to make fearful, impulsive, quick-fix choices according to human reasoning with disregard to God's provisions for our health), because the person who doubts during adversity is double-minded and unstable and remains at risk for increased brokenness. (See James 1:2-8.)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B23

Superficial Supports Put in Perspective

God has not denied us superficial supports for our experiences of life on earth. In time, however, we learn they only fill, but do not satisfy or support health. That's the reason why, for a very basic example, our thirst is satisfied by water, but not really in the same way by juices, teas, and colas.

God has given us capacity for sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing. But they are not absolutely indispensable to health. This means, when we weigh the choices we make, the first consideration is not mostly how they taste, feel, sound, smell, or look, but whether they build health. Again, our fives senses are gifts to enjoy, but if we end up only where they take us, our health and happiness will be left unsupported.

Also, God has given us power to think, analyze, invent, and interact - and so the world is filled with superfluities and accommodations that entertain, relieve pain, and support conveniences. But they may not heal or support essential life.

So while we appreciate worldly relationships and accommodations, feel good experiences, the "American" way, and so on, we take care to put them in their place. Nothing substitutes for God's provisions that build health, beginning with an intimate relationship to Christ, but including also tasteless water, raw fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds (taste good or not), exercise for increased strength and endurance, and hard work and study.

Now we understand better what Jesus meant when he said, "I am the True Vine" (John 15:1) and also the words of James, "Every good (beneficial, redemptive) and perfect gift (provision) comes from God" (James 1:17).

We also have fuller appreciation for "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part (superficial) will no longer be necessary" (1 Corinthians 13:10).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B20

Getting Heated Up on Hooey: An Alert to Satan, Angel of Scams

Niacin supplements, we learned from experience, cause a hot furnace sensation inside the body, called flushing. In only a few moments after ingesting it, the whole body, nearly, turns burning hot red, especially the face and upper body. It is harmless and goes away after several minutes. Drinking a lot of cold water helps.

Years ago when (family member) was a kid, and I was full of my prankster self, I gave him a niacin tablet under the pretense that it was medication to help with a minor ailment (forgot what it was, maybe a cold). I told him that I was also going to lay my hands on him and pray for his healing like Benny Hinn would, and that he could expect to feel heat inside him like the folks say they do on tv at the Benny Hinn healing crusades.

He was skeptical of course, so when, after a few moments, he began to heat up inside, he was surprised. Then he seemed to get a little nervous, if not a little scared.

"What did you do to me?" he shrieked.

What I did to him was a prank and not at all what I said it was. So we take care that we are able to support our "spiritual" experiences with the Scripture, or we discard them. That's because Satan, the angel of light, father of lies, and deceiver, has his own pranks going on, except they are not for fun, but to deceive and destroy.

This is the alert Ephesians 6:11 gives us with regard to the wiles (schemes) of Satan.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B19

God Works for Our Healing: So Do We

There is a work which God does, and also a work we do. The difference is: The work God does enables the work we do.

God's work begins with the work of Christ on the cross to satisfy his judgment against us because of Adam's disobedience and includes also his work in us to transform us into his likeness.

In turn, the work we do, which Christ enables, is first on behalf of ourselves, that is, to make choices that include God's provisions for our health, and then to make choices that help serve the redemptive needs of others.

We see this in many scriptures.

In Romans 8:28 we are told God is working to accomplish his redemptive purpose in those who love (are connected to) him.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says we are saved by the work God does in us (by the Holy Spirit through his Word) to produce faith in us which enables us to trust him and to respond to his instructions, also that we are his workmanship (persons he is working on), created in Christ Jesus (being made alive by who Christ is in us), with the result of good works.

Philippians 2:12-13 instructs us to work out our own salvation (healing) with earnest caution and care, because God is working in us to enable both our desire and willpower to make choices for our lives according to his good purpose.

James 1:3 says the exercise of our faith (our experience of Christ) works in us to develop endurance for making wise choices so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 2:26 says faith (the enablement that God works in us) produces works, also that
a "faith" which does not produce fruitful attitudes and behavior does not exist.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B17

Yesterday's Provisions a Failing Enablement for Today

Moses and Paul are sometimes thought of as the two greatest men in the Bible. (Actually, there are no "great" persons, but only a great God who lives within us to enable us.) Both had educational and cultural advantages that most of us do not have (Acts 7:22; Philippians 3:4-6). But, the Bible says, Moses turned away from all of it because he considered God's provisions for his life "greater value" (Hebrews 11:23-26). Also, Paul wrote, "Whatever was to my profit (advantage), I now consider rubbish (with consideration of its value to the cause of Christ) compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ" (Philippians 3:7-9).

Also, when Paul wrote: "This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead" (Philippians 3:13), he was not thinking mostly (it seems from the context) of the trouble and failures of his past which might have had tendency to discourage him, but of "whatever was to my profit."

This profit meant not only his advantaged background, or even his inborn abilities, but also his growth in grace.

Does this mean he considered his past experience of God's provisions also among those things which he put behind him? Absolutely!

That is because of our understanding that God's provisions for us today to enable our Christian lives and service to others are sufficient mostly only for today and will not serve us in the same way tomorrow.

Yesterday's breath will not sustain us today. Nor will its water and food. God's provisions, including our experience of his presence in our lives to renew us, is the "daily bread" for which we pray "this day."

"Give us this day our daily bread." - Matthew 6:11

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B13

God First, Our Needs Last: The Religious Root of Our Ruin

It has been awhile since I last saw it, but the old acrostic for JOY popped up again on a church sign as I was traveling across north Georgia this week. It read: J- Jesus, O-others, Y-yourself. I grieved.

It is the old worn out message that our happiness is based upon putting Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last. It all sounds pious enough, but it is one of the religious concepts which is at the very root of the bondage to performance (religious legalism) and personal brokenness which so many suffer.

It is also the concept that explains the reason parents have expectations for their children to serve their needs and to make them happy. (You know, "That doesn't make me happy! Don't you want to make mommy happy?" and "Is that how you treat me after all I have done for you for all these years?")

It is also the reason husbands do not view themselves in the marriage as investors but have the foolish notion that wives are to serve their needs.

It is also the reason pastors hold themselves up in subtle, pious ways as little gods before the church, insisting on titles, recognition, etc..

This, while God beholds us with compassion, consumed with concern for our brokenness, and with not a thought about us jumping around to stroke him or to give him his due. His heart in us powerfully moves us to make choices for our own health so that we are renewed in our enablement to meet the redemptive needs of others.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B12

The Excitement Church: Dying to Stay Ahead of Boredom

A church in a large city promoted itself as the excitement church. Once a very large church, it is now less than a fourth of its former self. It is only one of many that come to mind.

Somewhere along the way, the church stopped investing in its own health, so began to die. The dying was mistaken for boredom, so the church reinvented itself to be an excitement church borrowing concepts from the entertainment world. But death and boredom are the lack of health, not excitement.

Excitement is a stimulant (a stimulus package, if you will) to spike performance and superficial growth. But it is not a substitute for grace investments to increase health.

Part of the problem is that humans build tolerance to stimulants, so it must continually be intensified in order to stay ahead of the boredom. A drug addict understands this.

(Speaking of a stimulus package, the current legislation before Congress is promoted as "advancing our national economy into the twenty-first century." We see it also advancing us toward socialism and to a time prophesied by Christ about which he asked, "at that time, will there be any faith on the earth?".)

The message of grace investment is like carrot juice. An appetite to appreciate it can be cultivated early in life during the formation years, but if an appetite for exciting junk food is learned instead, good food is hardly tolerable.

But that is until we are broken in health. Hurting, deeply broken people suddenly have different ears to hear.

"Come unto me all you who are broken and burned out and I will renew you." - Matthew 11:28

"I always thank God for you because of his grace given (invested in) you in Christ Jesus. For in him (as a result of his grace invested in you) you have been enriched in every way." - 1 Corinthians 1:5 (GracePoint parentheses)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B10

Exiled from Eden: Growing in Grace in the Arena of Adversity

After Adam and Eve (the human race at the time) chose to disregard God's provisions for them in the Garden of Eden, God could have circumvented the outcome of their choice; that is, to have provided for them in a way that would have allowed them to continue living in a world free of adversity and hardships. That may have been appealing to them, but the result would have been rapid decline to brokenness and disorder.

That's because, in their sinful human bodies, without the pain of "cause and effect" consequences, they would not have had motivation, or even opportunity, to make the choices that we now know are essential to healing and renewal. So for the good of the human race, God removed them from the Garden to live in a fallen world where the ground no longer bore fruit of itself and they (the human race) would be required to toil and sweat, to till and sow the ground, if they wanted to eat (Genesis 3:16-19).

This helps us better understand the message of the Bible to "consider ourselves fortunate, instead of ill-fated, whenever we suffer adversities, because it is during such times that we have an opportunity to learn about the needs and weaknesses of our fallen human condition and also our need for God's provisions to enable us, not only for strength to make wise choices, but also for endurance to continue making them. This is the process (as God has ordained it to be) that matures us and establishes us in health, so that we are complete, not lacking anything."

The process begins with
  • motivation, usually brokenness and hardship (which God allows) sufficient to encourage
  • initial movement (the first step), which, in turn, produces strength to enable
  • maintenance of the movement (additional steps the next day in the same direction) which produces endurance (increased strength) and builds
  • momentum (inceased endurance).
This process, which grace counseling provides guidance and support for, is Growing in Grace.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B09

Workers, Weary and Worn, Finding Support for the Task

My friend reports being asked by his pastor to help repair a section of the church building that involved workers crawling into very difficult, hard-to-reach areas. But because he was in recovery from a back injury, he explained that he would not be able to help. The pastor replied, "That does not seem like much of a servant's heart to me."

The heart of Christ weeps!

But it is the way of the world, also religious legalism, to make demands of us for performance without consideration for the essential health needs we have which support us for the performance. Businesses do it and churches do it. They forget we humans are not stones but organic creatures.

Organisms exist according to the laws of life and death, supply and renewal. This means we are alive but are also dying, even while we live. But it also means we have capacity and potential to be renewed so that we can live and serve supported in strength instead of in spite of brokenness.

This is the message of grace counseling, that God has provided resources to fully supply our need for support.
"My God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:19

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." - 2 Corinthians 9:8

It was the message of Jesus in Matthew 11:28 to workers who were weary and worn:

"Come unto me, all you who are broken, and I will give you support for the recovery you need." (GracePoint paraphrase)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B06

God's Judgment: Friend Having a Hard Time Forgetting Hooey

"He'll get what's coming to him!" my friend said to me about a well-known person suspected of killing his mistress in order to protect his freedom and future.

"So how will that happen?" I asked. "Are you talking about karma?"

"No, God will get him!" she declared.

"How will he do that?" I asked.

Her attempt at an answer helped me to understand that she is among the majority of Christians (it seems) who believe God is on standby with a bolt of lightening (cancer or other disease or tragedy) ready at some least expected time to strike down anyone who breaks the rules.

Like my friend, we all have a hard time forgetting the religious concepts we first learned, even the hooey parts: Until it is purged, it will tend to barricade our minds against Truth.

For this reason, it is a hard sell to make sometimes, especially to generational religious legalists, that God's judgment/wrath is not to be understood mostly as an impending or future event, but, instead, as the judicial verdict which God passed down long ago in the Garden of Eden when Adam disobeyed, to wit, that anyone who makes choices to meet their needs with disregard to God's resources for providing those needs will experience the "sowing and reaping" consequences of those choices. That was the judgment a holy God handed down, and the whole world is subject to it.
"The judgment followed the trespass." - Romans 5:16

This means, anyone who disregards God's law will indeed suffer God's judgment, but not as a direct hit from him, so to speak, at least not in the way religious legalists represent it; instead, they will suffer it as an outcome of the "cause and effect" laws which God ordained to govern fallen mankind when Adam transgressed. (For example, if we choose to jump off a tall building, or any other foolish behavior, we will suffer God's judgment, not as a punitive act, but only as a "cause and effect" consequence.)

To be considered also, if the offense against God's laws also breaks government laws (i.e., murder), God's judgment may come as a result of the outcome of a trial in a government courtroom which God has ordained (Romans 13:1-5). Or, if that outcome is somehow circumvented, or if God's judgment is otherwise not clearly seen as the "sowing and reaping" consequence of any one particular act, it will be apportioned in the judgment of a whole lifetime of wrong choices driven by the same brokenness and depravity that predisposed the one act of murder.

But this means also that anyone who is guilty of wrong choices can be transformed by the heart of Christ to begin making different choices (i.e., to receive God's provisions for health), leading to his forgiveness (healing and recovery).

This is not the instant, permanent forgiveness (removal) of eternal judgment against us because of Adam's disobedience. (Instant forgiveness from eternal judgment is not based on our improved behavior, but rather on our trust in God's provision of Christ's blood/death on the cross for us.)

But it is the incremental, progressive forgiveness (removal or healing) of the "cause and effect" aspect of God's judgment against us in this life because of our own wrong choices.

Also, our understanding of God's forgiveness is with consideration that it may not in this lifetime include the removal of every consequence, for example, permanent body injuries or losses, or legal judgments, but awaits us in Heaven.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B05

God's "Prayer" to Us

The default setting of our human disposition is defiant, even hostile, to the instructions in God's Word that establish us in health. The Bible says so in Romans 7:7:

"The sinful mind is hostile to God: It does not submit to God's law (for our health), nor can it do so."

For example, we do not want to
  • go to bed early or get up early,
  • eat a large breakfast and smaller dinner, or 5-6 small meals a day,
  • eat a minimum 5 servings of raw vegetables and fruits daily, including an apple a day,
  • drink 64-100 ounces of water a day,
  • exercise 5-6 days a week to get our heart rate up for a sustained 20-30 minutes in order to increase cardio-vascular, also muscular-skeletal, strength, endurance, and flexibility, and
  • especially, take extended quiet time daily for Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and worship.
Instead, our fallen human nature can be very creative to invent alternative, more accommodating solutions, we think, to circumvent the outcome (pain) of our unwise choices (but which do not renew or establish us in health).

Or, we sometimes invent a notion about God, that he will mercifully intervene to whisk away our broken health if we pray and believe earnestly enough. So we pray to him: "Dear God, please heal my broken health."

Even as we do so, the God of the Bible is pleading with us: "Dear child of mine, please respond to the instructions for your health which I have given you."

"But thanks be to God that, though you were once controlled by sinful choices, you wholeheartedly embraced the form of teaching to which you were entrusted." - Romans 6:17 (GracePoint)

"For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned because of that one man, how much more certain and unfailing will those who receive God's abundant provisions of grace and of the gift of his righteousness reign in life (health) through the one man, Jesus Christ." - Romans 5:17 (GracePoint)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B04

Romans 5, 6, 7, 8: Central to Understanding Grace

The list of things I have a passion to know about is long - physics, biology, and world history, just to name a few. As it turns out, I know a lot about almost nothing. The nearest exception might be what God's Word says about the human condition, his love and care for us, and his provisions to 1) deliver us from eternal judgment and 2) establish us in health and holiness for Christian living and service to others.

In seminary, I heard that Romans 5 through 8 is the starting point for understanding grace doctrine. So for five years or so, I read and meditated mostly on those four chapters, day after day, for hours (so much so that I can now quote them).

So while I miss understanding all I would like to about how the universe behaves, I have not missed hearing God say...

1. For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son, how much more certain and unfailing, having been reconciled, shall we be saved (sanctified) by his Life (Romans 5:10).

2. For if, by the trespass of the one man (Adam), death was made certain through that one man, how much more certain and unfailing will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of his righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ (5:17).

3. The law was given so that man would know he was in darkness and the reason why he was dying. But where the darkness of sin abounded, grace to enable our righteousness much more abounded (5:20).

4. In Christ, we are dead to sin, but alive to God (6:11).

5. For sin shall not be our master, because we are not under law, but under grace (6:14).

6. By dying to what once bound us (the sin nature), we have been released from the law so that we now serve in the new way of (enabled by) the Spirit, and not in the old way of (self-enabled performance to conform to) the written code (the law) (7:5).

7. Through (our spiritual union with) Christ Jesus, the power of the Spirit of life set us free from the power of sin and death... in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to (enabled by) the sinful nature, but according to (enabled by) the Spirit (8:2-4).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B03

Support Ministry: The Lead Calling of Church Leadership

Reports are that evangelical churches in many communities are growing in attendance, but that the health status of its members is declining, and also, that the surrounding community reflects no increased impact of their presence in terms of Christian values.

Absolutely, the work of the local church is ultimately to impact its community for Christ, beginning with leading the lost to him for eternal salvation. If it does not, it fails to fulfill the ultimate purpose for its existence. So in this sense the purpose of the church is indeed about others.

But until the recovery needs of its members are met, the church can not be healthy and will not be effectual, active as it may be, in its outreach to the community. So in this sense, the local church exists to meet the health needs of its members.

In fulfillment of this aspect of the church's mission, members would gather to hear the ministry leadership announce to them: "With all due focus on our calling to impact our community, we want your experience in this place today to be, not about new strategies for increasing the size of our congregation or for our work in the community, but about our love and care for you to support your health recovery needs."

This is the meaning of the instructions found in Ephesians 4:12.

In this scenario, parishioners would increase weekly in their confidence that support for their health is the leading objective of the church leadership, with the ultimate objective that they can be without brokenness and weariness in their outreach to the community, beginning in their own homes.

Jesus said, "Come unto me everyone of you who are worn out and broken, and I will give you recovery" (Matthew 11:28).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9B02

Beating Up On Others to Be Number One: Super Bowl Dilemma for Christian Athletes

As we increase in our experience of grace, we discover that we are no longer the sports entertainment junkie we used to be. Also, our need to win, or for our favorite team to be number one, somehow gets diminished.

However, I personally continue to appreciate the many athletes who publicly testify to faith in Christ. (Both Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger, opposing quarterbacks in this year's Super Bowl, do so often. I am pulling for both of them to have a good game on Sunday.) And I am blessed when Christian athletes identify God as the source of their strength.

But not if it is to suggest that "God favors me more than the opposition to win this event." Peter said that God's provisions are available to all without respect of persons (Acts 10:34). Jesus said: "Come to me all you who are weary and broken" (Matthew 11:28). He also said, "I will never turn away anyone who comes to me" (John 6:37).

Also, while athletic competition may have redemptive value for exercise and discipline, competition to physically beat up on others in order to be number one does not. And because it doesn't, there is no reason for an athlete to look to God to enable it.

It is especially inappropriate when our human need to be number one surfaces in ministry, when the redemptive needs of others get lost in the needs of self to be a hero.

But there is a celebration of winning which is absolutely appropriate: It is not of personal achievements, but of God's power to enable our redemptive service to others against the adversity of Satan, the world's culture, and our own human nature.

This was the celebration of Paul: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, (with the result) that he has considered me to be faithful, putting me into the ministry" (2 Timothy 1:12).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A29

Worship: Private and Holy

We are sorely grieved by pagan worship of the earth, sun, and stars, also of nature (the Great Spirit), including water and fire, the seasons and weather, and even plants and animals.

Yet, we sometimes think we see a striking resemblance to it in the contemporary worship tradition of evangelical Christians - not of the object of their worship, the Person of Christ, but of the mode of their worship, namely, dance, song, and trance (performance) to call God's blessings down from above.

But we know from our understanding of the Scripture that we do not call for the Spirit of Christ to fall upon us or to fill a room with his presence. He already dwells within our innermost being, the spirit, and is received from there into our hearts (mind and emotions) through the open door of our human will.

We know also from the Scripture that the atmosphere around us is the domain of the demon world, the powers of the darkness (Ephesians 2:2; 6:12). There is no one out there who we need to welcome into our hearts with opened arms.

Worship is a private and holy experience. In our counseling we have pointed to the experience of a wife with her husband in their love-making to illustrate the dynamic of worship. It is not a public performance or display.

Our instruction to believers in our teaching, writing, counseling, and pulpit ministry is to take time at the beginning of each day to sit quietly and privately with an open Bible in the presence of the indwelling Christ in order to hear him call to us, "Behold, I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock (call). If anyone will open the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A25

Inside the Cover: A Witness to Grace

My life is not an open book (if by that expression we mean that it is without the challenges of my fallen human nature or that I don't care who reads it). Although my problems may not be obvious on the cover, they do exist in the text, and especially in the fine print.

For example, I don't care. Not really in the way Christ does. I wish I did. Although I don't hate, still I don't care. I have opportunities every day to demonstrate that I do, but I just don't.

I prefer that religious legalists not know all that. I make no confessions to them. They have no solution for human brokenness except performance to try harder under threat of judgment for failure. I have been that route before and know the disappointing outcome. It's a scary scenario. Religious legalists deal with their fallen condition by denying its existence. Also by daring to declare their lives an open book with hopes no one knows the difference or calls their bluff to look inside the cover.

God knows the content inside the cover. My wife knows all she cares to know. Close friends and associates know enough. But they understand it in the context of grace.

Ah! Grace! It is God's provisions for our healing! So we are not intimidated or discouraged by our fallenness and failure and can be in full confession.

"What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Christ in me will! Thank God!" - Romans 7:24-25 (paraphrased)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A23

Broken in Strength, How Do We Experience Christ?

We are broken and weak. Our strength is poor to be like Christ, to make wise choices, to care about the unmet needs of others, and to be benevolent. The hole in our hearts fills up with fear, tension, discouragement, frustration, and self-hate. We suffer.

But we are not broken because of the presence of our pain; instead, it is because of the absence of God's divine nature to renew and heal us.

It is by the power of his presence within us that
  • instead of loneliness, we experience his care,
  • instead of hurt, we experience his joy,
  • instead of fear and anxiety, we experience his peace, and
  • instead of tension, aggression, and poverty, we experience his patience, gentleness, and goodwill.
It is the cry of our hearts and the call of the Holy Spirit to experience Christ's presence to transform us.

How then do we experience him?

It is not really by reading about him. We are blessed and inspired to read about Christ, but we do not experience his presence to heal our hearts by our increased understanding of information about him.

Nor do we experience him in fullness by hearing him speak to us. We rejoice and are deeply moved during our quiet times to hear Christ communicate to us by the Holy Spirit through his Word concerning his love and faithfulness to meet our needs. But it is not really by this experience of hearing Christ speak to us that we are transformed to be like him.

Rather, we experience the power of Christ to transform us when we choose to receive him into our hearts. This is an experience as real as our choosing to eat a meal or to drink water for nourishment.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and will open the door, I will come in to him." - Revelation 3:20

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A22

Performance to Please God: A Burdensome Message

The famous tv preacher passionately told a mega-church audience this past weekend that the Bible calls for us to pursue God's favor with all our mind, heart, and strength, including to fast, even for 40 days, in order to have his blessings, and that otherwise we are "whimpy Christians" and do not need to wonder why we are poor and sickly and under God's judgment.

To help motivate their performance, the tv preacher excited the senses and emotions of his hearers with high-tech sounds and visuals and also theatrical preaching. He also warned of God's displeasure, condemned their insensitivity and non appreciation for "all he has done for you," and promised prosperity and prominence to those who lived and gave sacrificially to honor and glorify him.

It is this performance-based (versus grace-enabled) message to his church that is at the root of their burdensome, burned-out Christian experience, also need for the grace recovery counseling we provide.

Central to our counseling is our understanding that
  • we are weak and fallen,
  • we have no ability to please God,
  • our strength to change or improve ourselves indeed is small,
and that the Bible calls us
  • to confess our need for God's help,
  • to learn of his provisions for our recovery, then
  • to receive them into our lives, beginning with a personal and intimate relationship with Christ, but also including his provisions in creation to support our physical health and his provisions of support relationships (including leadership) in the home and church for our psychological health.
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A21

Today: Tears for a Dying Friend

Conservatism (versus liberalism) is best understood in terms of investment outcomes, sowing and reaping, and cause and effect. It is modeled by God's care for us to sow/invest his provisions (beginning with who Christ is) into our lives in order to enable us for making wise investments for health in ourselves, then, out of that enablement, to invest in others.

Opposed to that philosophy is the reversed concept that allows us to reject God's provisions, live irresponsibly, but then to look elsewhere, not for recovered health, but for relief from the pain.

My friend, America, had a providential birth, and for many of her 232 years has enjoyed health as she has included God's provisions in her life. More and more, however, she has rejected his provisions, and her suffering of brokenness has increased.

The perspective we have of her current status is from our understanding of the prophetic Scripture. The Bible reports that, in the days nearest Christ's return to the earth (to establish his Kingdom), she will increasingly reject God's provisions for her life, and then lose her health to the point of death. From the darkness, an angel of light (first introduced in the Bible as the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but in the last days, as the AntiChrist, also as forerunners possessed by his spirit), will appear to offer her an escape from her suffering of pain. She is deceived and embraces his provisions for her escape with great celebration, and is relieved of her suffering. But only for a short season, because his provisions do not provide for health, but only for a momentary high to relieve pain. In the end, my friend will decline in health, her pain will increase, and the drugs of false hope that kill her pain will also take her life.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A20

Hindrances to Healing: The Power of Connection to Remove Personal Offense

One of the truths Christ taught in Mark 11:22-25 is sometimes missed. It is:

As you are connecting to God’s resources, do so in behalf of others, so that, even if you have been offended by anyone’s failure to meet your expectations, the flow of his provisions for your healing will not be hindered.

Leading to that truth, Jesus said (GracePoint interpretive paraphrase):

(Verse 22) Have faith in God (in the sense that it is available and being offered to you as a gift - as are all of the nine fruits of the Spirit)

so that

1) your confession concerning the adversities in your life (which are present by reason of you living with a fallen, sinful human nature in a broken, dark world) can be...

(Verse 23) “You are imposing, indeed, but you have no power over God’s provisions to empower my life, and are the same as if you were a stretch of land before me at sea level instead of a mountain to oppose me”

so that, consistent with that confession,

2) you are enabled to believe (connect to God’s provisions which produce that confessed outcome) and to not doubt (stop believing or connecting – maybe because of discouragement, as Abraham and others did),

so that

3) your confession will (as a sowing and reaping outcome) become your reality – that is, it will be done FOR you.

(Verse 24) Again, whatever you ask for in prayer (concerning God’s provisions to heal you and to support you for living in a broken world), believe that you have received it (connect to his resources through which it is your confidence they flow), and it will be yours.

(Verse 25) And when you stand praying, God’s provisions will flow into your life so that, if you hold anything against anyone (are offended because of anyone’s failure to serve you), you will be enabled to forgive him (to remove your judgment against him – that is to withhold your punishment and also to minister to his unmet needs) so that your forgiveness (healing) will not be hindered.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A19

Our Need for Information, Affection, and Decision-Making and the Ranking of Their Importance (Part Three)

Critical to this concept is the understanding that the grace leadership investment of the husband-father in the home (to help meet the information, affection, and decision-making needs of his family) must be temperament specific; that is, it must be provided with sensitivity to each member's unique temperament needs.

From our temperament profile testing, we know that each of us has a different profile score which identifies the measure in which we need people involved in our lives with respect to our temperament needs. Our score may be very low, very high, or somewhere in the middle.

This is not the same as to say that some of us have more or less need than others for information, a sense of significance, or support for decision-making, but only that our needs vary for other people to be involved with respect to meeting those needs. For example, a family member's profile score may indicate that his/her need for information is met through independent research.

This means, a wife's temperament profile may indicate that she would be energized by her husband's strong involvement in her decision-making, or that she would be stressed by it. It is the role of her husband to learn the measure of his wife's temperament needs for his involvement so that he can invest appropriately.

Whatever the measure is of the family member's temperament need for others to be involved, the husband-father fulfills his role to invest by identifying the nature of the need and taking care that it is supported in the appropriate way.

Jesus taught this concept when he said, "Take my yoke upon you (receive my leadership) and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart (broken hearted for you)." Then he added, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The word "easy" (Gr. chrestos) means "measured for you with consideration of your needs."

Also, Solomon instructed,
"Train up a child in the way he should go (suggesting that effectual parenting is with sensitivity to the child's specific needs) and even when he is old he will continue in the way" (Proverbs 22:6).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A16

Our Need for Information, Affection, and Decision-Making and the Ranking of Their Importance (Part Two)

In grace counseling, we use this understanding of God's attention to our priority needs to support our belief that it is the role of the husband-father in the home to provide support to his wife and children beginning with, first, their information needs, second, their affection needs, and third, their decision-making needs.

This means: The husband-father is living out his responsibility to meet the essential temperament needs of his family when he demonstrates his affection, approval, acceptance, and affirmation toward them. But he does so mostly when he provides information, especially from the perspective of the Scripture.

Information is the most essential need. The Bible says (Hosea 4:6), "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (or information, from Heb. yada: "to instruct, make known, cause to discern, discover). Also we understand from the Scripture (e.g. Romans 8:5) that the battleground for spiritual warfare is our minds.

The priority of our information needs is also demonstrated and supported by the care in which God acted to provide the gift of the Scripture and of the Holy Spirit to guide us in our understanding of it. Also, we come to this conclusion because the investment leadership role of the father-husband in the home is principally the same as the pastor in the church, which begins with teaching.

Motivated to Influence Choices

This investment of the husband-father to meet the informational and affection needs of his family is motivated by his care for the free-will choices they make for their health. But rather than to control or impose his will on those choices, he invests to meet their needs in their essential order in order to influence and enable them.

This is how the Father relates to us as his children, and how Christ relates to us, the Church, as his bride. God is not in a power position over us, but in a support position beneath us. This means, he does not impose his will on us; rather he teaches and enables it. For this reason, we do not obey (respond appropriately to) God's laws because he commands it, but because he invests in us in order to enable it.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A15

Our Need for Information, Affection, and Decision-Making and the Ranking of Their Importance (Part One)

The role of the husband-father in the home is represented by religious legalism as imposed, authoritarian leadership (to the one extreme), and as incompetent leadership (to the opposite extreme) by the world's culture. (This is another example of how the opposite of error is not necessarily Truth.)

Voluminous amounts are written and spoken to support those two views; little, however, is presented that represents the grace view of investment leadership in the home.

The concept of investment leadership is seen in John 15:1-8. When Jesus said, "...and my father is the husbandman (Gr. georgeo: "tiller of the ground" ), he established that the growing of a fruit-producing vine must begin with the Father's care to invest: Without his investment, good outcomes do not happen.

The husband-father's investment in the home is in behalf, not of himself, but of the unique needs of his wife and children. Those needs, of course, are physical/material. But they are also, even more essentially, psychological, that is, of the mind (for information, explanation), emotions (for affection), and will (for decision-making). In clinical terms, these are our temperament needs.

Also, there is a priority for the order in which these needs are appropriately met: It is mind, emotions, and will.

This concept of priority needs is consistent with the model represented in Scripture, that is: God's support for us begins with his care to provide our need for information. His support for us, secondly, is to meet our emotional need for acceptance and significance. Thirdly, his support for our decision-making needs is provided mostly through his attention to support our information and emotional needs.

Religious legalists/authoritarians do not understand or embrace grace concepts, so impose themselves to meet needs in a reverse order, that is, to control decision-making without providing support to meet our essential information or emotional needs. It is also with a view of themselves, not of others.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A14

Endurance for the Process and the Power that Enables It

Perseverance (endurance) is indispensable to the process that establishes us in health and happiness.

At the behavior level, it is the essential human element in the development process that matures and completes us. This is a concept right out of the fitness manual, but also exactly what the Bible says: "Perseverance must finish the process so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:4).

Perseverance is more than just compliance (obedience) to the formula; it is the endurance of the mind, emotions, and will to comply fully and consistently. That's a tall order. We can comply easily enough sometimes partially or short-term, but maintaining the effort to fully complete the process is a challenge.

But not to worry: God has provided supports to enable our endurance. I call these supports, motivations.

The process looks like this: Motivation (God's provisions to enable), Movement (compliance for the first step), Maintenance of the Movement (compliance for additional steps), and Momentum (endurance or perseverance).

These motivations (enablements, supports) are multidimensional. At the molecular level, God programmed our bodies to respond to the movement demands we make of it. It's called training effect.

This explains how we can walk just five minutes a day for a week, and then easily add five minutes a day the next week and each following week, until, on week six, we are easily walking 30 minutes a day.

But we believers have access to a deeper motivation/support for the process. It is the Life of Christ within us. There is something about who he is within us (to speak poetically), to whom we can connect, that powerfully transforms us to value our health and to make wise choices.

That's why James says it is "the testing (exercising) of your faith (to connect to God's provisions, beginning with Christ that) develops perseverance" (1:3b).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A13

Over Stimulated and Burned Out on the Sensational: Back to the Truth in Black and White

Recently, I saw black and white photos featured at a large portrait studio. Could it be that the sensational is losing its appeal?

I have seen this coming for several years now and speak/write about it occasionally: Those to whom we make our appeal have been over stimulated and are now at the point of burnout. The flashing lights, distorted graphics, and thunderous music, like a stimulant drug, are running their course, and, in time, will no longer have the same appeal. (This also explains much of what we understand about ADD and ADHD.)

Also, it is for the same reason we have predicted that the worldly outreach strategies of the seeker friendly church (despite all we appreciate about the concept) will one day run their course and not have the same appeal.

These folks insist that "God's message does not change, but only the methods to communicate it must change." Actually, we believe that God's way to communicate his message of grace has, in fact, never changed: It is still, as always, by the Holy Spirit and his Word through sanctified vessels.

They had to change their method because they changed their message!

The message of "Christ in us, the hope of glory (Heaven, health, happiness, and holiness)" is powerful. It is only when we change to present a message of performance to religious rules (in order to win God's favor and make him happy) that we must also invent worldly and carnal methods in order to communicate it, also to stimulate compliance.

But the power of water has never changed. Neither has the power of fresh air, and exercise, and carrot juice, and an apple a day. And neither has the power of Truth changed or the power of the Holy Spirit to communicate it.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A12

Adversity! Deadly Enemy or Health Opportunity?

I have run some monster hills in my day. Up the side of a mountain in north Georgia comes to mind.

Fitness runners aren't always excited about the steep hills, or about the weights in the gym. Neither are we faith persons excited about the adversities (Satan, the world system, and our fallen human nature) that challenge our Christian living and service to others. In the Bible, our experience of these adversities is called sufferings or trials.

James (1:2) understood this: He said (paraphrased), "Yes, I know adversity is hard. But consider it with a view of its (training) effect to increase your perseverance (enablement to continue in the way that establishes you in health and happiness)."

But the message is sometimes missed. The endurance James writes about is not just increased physical strength, or even increased psychological strength (of the mind, emotions, and will) - as relevant as they are. Rather, he is writing mostly about the endurance the Holy Spirit produces in us, at the deepest level of our need, which is spiritual.

Adversities test (challenge/motivate us to connect to the resources of) our human abilities with the benefit of increased human strength. That's good! But, for us faith persons, adversities call us even deeper, to the strength God gives, which is made possible only by our confession of need and faith connection to Christ the Vine for the flow of his Life (Galatians 5:22-23) into our inner person.

And that is what James says (paraphrased and amplified), "You know it is the testing (exercising) of your faith (to open the door of your heart to receive God's provision of Christ for your enablement) that produces in you the essential endurance you need for the trials you are experiencing in your Christian life and service" (1:3).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A09

Connection to Christ: Enablement at the Deepest Level for Staying the Course

Obedience, or compliance to God's health laws (all God's laws are health laws), is as central to me now on my current journey in grace as it was during my many years in bondage to legalism. The difference is: I now understand obedience within the grace context of making wise choices, enabled choices, that result in health and happiness.

Legalism, however, is compliance to arbitrary rules motivated by the perceived need to please God and to make him smile in order to stay out of trouble with him, or in order to win his favor with hopes of possible blessings.

Also, legalism is only superficially enabled - for example, by inborn temperament or natural strengths. It is also superficially motivated by fear, guilt and ego pressures - for example, by what God or people think (typically, threats of punishment or promises of rewards).

Grace obedience, however, is enabled multidimensionally, most essentially at the deepest level of our being by our spiritual connection to the person/character of Christ living and manifesting "who he is" within us.

This "who he is within us" to enable us is (Galatians 5:22-23):
  • his love for us, manifested in love for ourselves, also joy and peace,
  • his love for others, manifested in longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness in our relationship to others, and
  • his love for the Father, manifested in meekness, faith, and temperance in our relationship to God.
This means, it is his love in us for us that enables our love (unconditional value) for ourselves, which is our deepest, most enduring motivation/enablement for the choices we make for personal health, and which, also, results in our experience of joy and peace.
Also, it is his love in us for others that enables our love and care also for others, also powerfully motivates us to make wise decisions for our own health in order to be increased in our enablement for service to them, beginning with our family, then the folks next door, and with the manifest dispositions of longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness (giving).

And it is his love in us for the Father that enables our meekness (humility to receive his instructions and provisions for enablement), faith (confidence to trust him), and temperance (endurance for staying the course).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A08

Sensational Sights and Sounds: Their Relevance for Hearing Truth

Several metaphors are used in Scripture for identifying Truth, including a sword to pierce with conviction, fire to warm and to purify, a hammer to break resistance, seed to bear fruit, food (bread, milk, meat, and honey) to nourish, water to cleanse, and oil to heal.

But mostly Truth is represented as light.

"Your Word is a light to guide my feet, and also my path," the Psalmist said (119:105).

Also, "The entrance of your Word gives light" (119:130).
Without Truth we stumble about in the darkness making foolish choices that result in brokenness and unhappiness (John 11:10).

One Truth

The Bible says (Ephesians 4:5) there is only one faith (body of Truth). This means, if Truth were a color, just by its definition, it could be only one color - perhaps the color of light, whatever that is - maybe white.

So why do so many different colors (religions, denominations) come forward to represent themselves as Truth?

We can know this about Truth:
  • It does not condemn;
  • It reveals to us (convinces us of) our brokenness and unmet needs and God's faithful love and care to provide those needs;
  • It produces hope, also rejoicing, in our hearts.
This we also know about Truth: It is unappealing, tasteless, and unexciting to our natural selves, and is rejected (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16; Romans 7:7).

But what is there to taste in pure water? Or to smell in pure air? Or to see in white? Or to hear in quiet?

I love the sounds of music in the same way I love the fragrance of orange blossoms, or the aroma of tea brewing or bread baking. Did I mention steak on the grill or mama's fried chicken? But not every sweet fragrance and delicious aroma calls us to health. Neither does every sound. So we are circumspect with regard to the sounds that deliver a message.

The theatrics of the preacher concern me - because Truth does not need it. I am also alerted to the sounds of music.

Paul instructed us to "Be very careful... Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:16-19). We believe he meant to discourage emotional music, or sensual music, or even cold intellectual sounds (for lack of a better way to express it), for the purpose of worship (experiencing God).

How winsome must the serpent Satan have been to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden! The Bible says he was the most cunning creature in the Garden and the woman was deceived by the beauty of the fruit he offered her (Genesis 3: 1- 6). So we take care about the sights we see and the sounds we listen to. This means we are alert to the flashing lights, high-tech sounds, fads, and worldly fashions employed to communicate Truth.

Sometimes, of course, there seems to be a fine line of separation. But when we have experienced spiritual music, we note this difference: There is an appropriate rhythm, but no beat for sensual movement.

We make this note also: In the same way junk foods are addicting and spoil our appetites for the foods we need, so does sensual and emotional fare inoculate us (so to speak) against hearing the quiet voice of God in our quiet time.

(The ways this principle could be illustrated are many. For example, we use it to provide wise counsel to husbands and wives in their intimacy with each other.)

Suffice it to say, Truth does not need the help of the sensational. This mainly because the sensational does not call us to Truth; the Holy Spirit calls us to Truth.

Also, we more appropriately communicate to God through our music, than he to us through music. Music may have its place in our preaching and worship, but I believe it is most appropriate in the wake of Truth.

This means, the order of our traditional church meetings may need to be reconsidered. Do we indeed need preliminary music to awaken our senses to hear the message? Personally, I don't think Truth needs the assistance, not if it is the power which the Bible says it is.

I long for ministers to step forward with an opened Bible to deliver God's message as sanctified clay vessels through whom the Holy Spirit communicates Truth. Truth is powerful: It will pierce, convict, rejoice, warm, heal, and refresh our souls deeply and purely.

This is a long treatise of the subject, but it is important, and I hope God will sow the concept deeper into our understanding to lead us in our experience of him.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A07

Denying Our Darkside: How We Deal with Our Sinfulness When We Have No Sure Solution

My minister friend is in denial of his darkside.

"What darkside?" he asks.

But he is a religious legalist, performing to please God, and worse, has no enablement for it except his own fear, guilt, and pride driven determination to stay out of trouble with God, win his favor, and make him smile, and, in the effort, to be recognized as a champion (for Christ) at doing it in order to accommodate his unmet need to feel significant.

So I understand his dilemma.

It is, indeed, a discouraging, scary scenario to have no solution for our fallenness - except for our own fragile strengths. Especially when we have already tried that route and know it does not provide much hope for dealing with our sinful condition.

So my religious legalist friend sticks his head in the sand (so to speak) because the reality of his darkside is much too painful for him to consider, not to mention, confess.

But for those of us who understand God's provisions for our redemption, the confession of our sorriness is easy, also freeing. The solution we have experienced through God's provisions to enable us, beginning with our intimate relationship to Christ, far outweighs the problem of our sinfulness. And, when we abide in (are connected to) them, we are no longer intimidated by the dilemma.

Also, our sorriness is not with comparison to others. We might appear okay looking around at each other living in a darkened world, especially compared to the thieves and murderers among us. But in the Light of who God is, and compared to the purity of the divine nature of Christ which God has birthed in us, we confess with Paul, "what a wretched man I am."

But we also confess with Paul our solution:

"Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God that I have found deliverance through my experience of Christ." - Romans 7:25a (GracePoint paraphrased)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A06

Monday: The Misplaced Day on the Business Calendar

Monday is placed as the first day of the week on a business calendar. That's too bad. It leaves Sunday, the Lord's Day, at the end of the week. But that is consistent with the values of a fallen world system.

For believers, however, our week begins on Sunday. We insist on it. That's because we know that, in Scripture, Sunday is "the first day of the week" and that it represents God's provisions to enable wise choices in the performance of our duties. But not only so: It represents God's provisions to enable our endurance for making those choices.

That is precisely the grace message in James 1:2-12:
  • Success is not only the outcome of making right choices, but of the endurance to continue making them, and
  • Endurance is not automatic, but the assured outcome of taking time to connect to God's provisions which enable it.
  • Otherwise, we are like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed about by the wind (verse 6).
But wait! Suppose we are intellectually or financially advantaged?

James says (GracePoint paraphrased and amplified):

"Good for you! But let such persons take care to boast mostly in their most essential support, i.e., in that which comes from God (beginning with their relationship to Christ), because, in the same way a wild flower, having no deep root, can not survive the scorching heat of the sun, but is destroyed, neither can we endure, even with the advantages of all our superficial supports, without being deeply rooted in God's provisions."

"They will fade away even while they go about their business," James writes (verse 11b).

But the crown of life (success) is the assured outcome for the man who maintains forward movement (endures) against the resistance of adverse people and circumstances, and under the weight of a fallen world, enabled by God's provisions to which he is connected (verse 12).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A05

Understanding Prayer for Forgiveness

Our best understanding of forgiveness is that the word means "removal."

God's Forgiveness

God has made provisions through the Death (Blood) of Christ for the removal of his judgment against the human race because of Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden. This is our justification. He has also made provisions through the Life of Christ birthed in us for the removal (or healing) of our brokenness, which is included in our sanctification. (The Greek verb, sozo, "to save" means also "to heal.")

Forgiving Others

Our forgiveness of others is enabled by our experience of God's forgiveness of us through Christ. It begins with our removing or withholding punishment from those who have sinned against us. It is extended to include our ministry to them that helps promote their healing (the removal of their brokenness). We call this redemptive ministry (service) to others.

Praying for Forgiveness

Our prayer to God for forgiveness with respect to the removal of his judgment against us is based upon our faith to trust/receive God's provisions of Christ's death on the cross for us. It is a prayer we pray only one time. Praying continually for forgiveness of our sinful behavior in order to go to Heaven is not consistent with grace doctrine.

Our prayer to God for forgiveness with respect to the removal of our brokenness (i.e., for healing) is based upon our faith to trust/receive and abide in (remain connected to) God's provision of Christ's resurrected Life birthed in us. It is this forgiveness for which we pray daily. It is also with regard to that aspect of salvation (sanctification and healing) which will not be complete in this life and which we can lose in the sense that (if) it does not progress or mature.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A02

Putting "Thou Shalt Not" in Perspective

My parents guarded me from worldly influences. I am glad they did. As a result, fires were not set in my heart and life which I would be fighting for a lifetime to put out.

However, I suspect that most of their strict watchcare over me was motivated by the perception that certain behaviors were in competition to our loyalty to God, that it made him unhappy, or that our participation in such things made us look like bad sinners. Health and happiness had nothing to do with it, at least as I recall being instructed.

I now have the benefit of a grace (rather than a legalistic) perspective on the dangers of worldly influences. I now understand "thou shalt not" within the context of God's care for our health and happiness, not in the context of making him mad or being disloyal.

The critical issue is that health is not perpetual; rather, it must be maintained. And it is maintained, not mostly by our attention to exclude worldly influences from our lives, but by including God's provisions which we access through the resources he has established.

It is for this reason that, as a main course for our preaching and counseling, rather than taking time to identify the behaviors and choices which poison and undermine our health and happiness, we hold up instead the grace principle of connecting to God's resources for the flow of his provisions into our lives to support us. We call this emphasis, "investing or connecting for an outcome."

Again, while we certainly take appropriate care to alert our counselees to our need to drive on the right side of the road and to not walk too closely to the edge of a cliff (so to speak), it is the main focus and concern for our counseling to warn of our need to stay connected to the resources which support our health and happiness. This is what Jesus meant by abiding, or remaining, in him.

"If a man abides in (remains connected to) me, he will bear much fruit." - John 15:5

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 9A01

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