TGP Volume 10
(April/May/June 2010)

Guidelines for Constituting a New Church

1. Scripturally, a church does not exist until a group of believers responds to the call of God to covenant together for the purpose of fulfilling the commission (called the Great Commission) which Christ gave the church immediately before he returned to Heaven after his resurrection.

"Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:16-20).

2. According to the Scripture, a group does not become a church because they file legal papers for a State charter or an IRS status. They may be a legal organization, but not a church. The authority which churches have to exist is from God - not from the State. Again, churches (the same as ministers) are called into existence by God, not licensed or certified into existence by the State. A group is not a church because the State says they are a church, but because God says they are.

This means, a church is not started by something an attorney does. He can give legal advice, but his calling is not to advise on how to Scripturally constitute a church. Also, the information he is asking for (if a church pursues State recognition) assumes care has been taken to follow the Scriptural guidelines for gathering it.

3. God has a plan for doing his work. Acts, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus were written to provide guidelines for the organization and work of the church. A church is not started in the same way a man and woman might think they can form a home by deciding to just start living together or a group might loosely organize a neighborhood club.

Paul wrote to the church, "Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way" (1 Corinthians 14:26-40).

4. A house built on the sand (for example, a legal foundation) instead of on the Rock (a Scriptural foundation) will not stand.

Jesus said, "On this rock (speaking of Himself), I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

The Apostle Paul wrote, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Jesus also said, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

Solomon wrote, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F30

Why Prayers Aren’t Answered: The Big Hoax

My friend asked me to pray for her, so I explained that my prayer to God for her will be for his enablement in my life to minister to her needs according to his redemptive plan, which meant that I would be instructing her concerning God’s provisions for her healing and also concerning his will for her life that she receive them.

But I knew that she was not actually thinking about receiving God’s redemptive plan for her health but only wanted me to help her talk God into providing her needs anyhow, maybe because she was nice to her neighbors and went to church last Sunday, or maybe on the merit that I was a minister speaking to God on her behalf. Or better yet, because he was a kind, gentle old soul who could be talked into giving her a pass on her stubborn, self-willed choices that had not worked out very well for her. 

Prayer is our opportunity to communicate with God in response to his communication to us by the Holy Spirit through the Scripture. He communicates to us concerning his love and care for us and our need for him. We communicate to him to confess our confidence in him and our brokenness and need for him, and to invite him into our hearts so that we can have his enablement for making the wise choices that establish us in health so that we can serve to support others for the choices they must make for their own health.

So we cannot help but grieve because of the shallow concept that represents prayer as little more than a wish list to Santa Claus. Personally, I think it is a hoax from Hell to deceive the church. Never mind that the Bible clearly teaches that “according to your faith be it unto you” and that faith is more than holding on to a positive thought with our fingers crossed, but is our enablement to trust and respond to God in obedience to receive his provisions which meet our needs.

This means, all the begging, crying, fasting, and negotiating you do hoping to persuade God to meet your needs, but with disregard to his provisions for meeting them, will only leave you disappointed, frustrated, and exhausted.

The notion is foolish that we can leave God’s provisions out of our diets and lifestyles, especially to take time daily to be renewed by the filling of the Holy Spirit in our quiet time so that we can have his enablement for making wise choices for our lives, yet call on him (also enlist our friends to help us gang up on God) so that he will meet our needs in a way different than he has already provided.

To use our most simple illustration, it is the same as refusing to drink water, yet pleading with God to satisfy our thirst in a different way, never mind our arrogance and disobedience.

See Prayer

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F29

Ministering to the Mind: The Priority Purpose of the Church

God ministers to our entire being. He has made provisions for our physical health in the soil and atmosphere, and also for the health of our souls (mind, emotions and will) through connection to supportive relationship in the community, mainly the home and church. God has especially cared for our spiritual needs through Christ - his death on the cross for us so that we can go to Heaven, and also his Life in us so that we can be healed from our brokenness in this life (Romans 5:10).

This means the ministry of the church is to the whole being of man (body, soul, and spirit) and that it wonderfully fulfills God’s redemptive purpose for its existence when it 
  • helps to clothe and feed the poor,
  • serves to meet the needs of man’s heart - that is, to provide relationships that support his need for family and friendship, and especially,
  • leads the lost to Christ for eternal salvation.
To break down these needs of the heart (the soul - mind, emotions, and will), every person has a need for supportive relationships in their lives which meet their need for affection and acceptance (emotions), and also for decision making (will), a very much overlooked need. The most critical need of the heart, however, is for information (mind) concerning how to go to Heaven and also how to be healthy and happy. That is the reason Paul wrote, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

This is also the reason why ministry to those we serve must give priority to expounding the Scripture so that we do not miss meeting the most critical need of broken hearts to hear the message that calls them to intimacy with Christ for healing.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F28

Giving Up the Good to Gain God's Best: A Call to Shut Down the Superficial

Any first choice you make in the morning that does not renew you in your experience of Christ will not be your best choice, and may be an addiction issue. If tv, radio, or the internet is your first stop, you are putting at risk your hope for the abundant Life which Christ has promised (John 10:10).

This means, if you seek first in the morning to hear what someone else may have to say to you before you seek to hear what God wants to say to you, you are not making a wise choice for your life. This is exactly the warning of James 1:5-8:

"If any man lacks wisdom (or any other experience of Christ), he should ask (connect to) God who gives generously to all without weighing their worthiness, and it will be given him. But when he asks (connects), he must believe (stay connected) and not doubt (disconnect), because he who doubts (disconnects) ... should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded person, unstable in all he does."

Or, if you set out to communicate, even minister, to others before you have given opportunity for God to minister to you, the seed you sow for ministry might be adequate to produce superficial results, but it will not be effectual to produce eternal results (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

This is a call to you who seek to be set free from your brokenness (not just find superficial relief from your pain) to set out on a dead run to your quiet place when you first wake up in the morning, quickly taking care of whatever practical needs you have, including maybe easy stretches to get the blood circulating while you are brewing green tea. Every lure of the demon world and of your fallen human nature will call you away, even to good places, but the Holy Spirit will call you to your open Bible to hear God communicate to you "who he is" and your need for him.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F25

Analyzing Again for the First Time the Meaning of “God Bless You!”

We melancholy types analyze just about everything. If we are writers, we are never without something to write. That is the reason I have a blog. I mostly comment on my understanding of The Scripture, but I also sometimes analyze the comments others make about The Scripture. I even comment on church message boards. Rarely do I see one that is not a fear or guilt motivated message. Among the worst is, “Turn or Burn.” Occasionally a church will communicate a grace message of God’s goodness. I always enjoy those. This week I saw one that said, “God bless you!” Well, okay! But, in my opinion, it did not have much substance to it. So here I go with my analysis:

The word “bless” is at risk to be overused. “Have a blest day” has worn me out, especially when I suspect the meaning is lost. Actually, to be blessed by God means he has caused us to prosper, and that he has “reversed the curse.” Blessings are our experience of God’s provisions in our lives. Light is a blessing. So is health and happiness.

“May God bless you” does not mean that a pronouncement can be made to another that works magic or evokes God’s provisions to bring prosperity; rather, it is the same as to say “It is my prayer and desire for you that you enjoy good health.” When we add to that our understanding of prayer, it means that, “It is my prayer that God will enable me for ministry to you so that you may enjoy good health.”

This is the meaning of 3 John 1:2, “Dear friend, I pray that (God will enable me for ministry to you so that) you may enjoy physical health and that all your circumstances may go well with you, even as your soul is in health.”

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F24

The Four Loves: An Advanced Concept for Consideration

There are four Greek words which express different aspects of our English word love:
  • agape (God’s love, birthed and cultivated in us by the Holy Spirit, for Christ, ourselves, and others, always expressed in unconditional service to meet the redemptive needs of others).
  • phileo (affection for others, naturally developing, and conditionally received and expressed),
  • storge (affection for family, naturally developing, and conditionally received and expressed), and
  • eros (romance for spouse, naturally developing, and conditionally received and expressed).
The love which God has for us and also births/cultivates in a minister for those he is called to serve is giving or serving love (agape). The minister may also have naturally developing phileo love for those he serves, as well as storge love for his family and eros love for his wife. However, God only as agape love. 

The natural developing love (storge, phileo, and eros) which a wife has for her husband is receiving love. It is a responding love rooted in her experience and awe of her husband’s agape service to invest in her redemptive (health and happiness) needs. It is the same naturally developing, responding love she has for Christ, who is both her Father and Husband.

She may also have agape love for her husband, the same as for God, but it
  • is birthed and cultivated in her by the Holy Spirit (and not possible otherwise),
  • enables her to value all that God values (the redemption of mankind), and
  • is always expressed in unconditional service to meet the redemptive needs of others, beginning with herself.
Also, if she has agape love for her husband, she will unconditionally serve the redemptive needs of those to whom her husband has been called to serve, beginning with herself and children.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F18 

Why Performance Fails: The Frustration of Visualizing the Inherent Value We Don’t Have

Several years ago I asked a counselor friend in Atlanta if she had been born again. When she said she had, I asked her to tell me about it. As it turned out, the new birth experience to her was an intellectual experience awakening her to the knowledge that a spark of divinity was inherent in her so that, as she visualized it to be true, she was empowered to experience her human potential. Her enthusiastic confession did not speak of Christ or her need for him.

I thought of my friend again this week when I spoke with someone who made much of Oswald Chamber’s “Co-Resurrection.” In it he writes (with my comments in red),

“The proof that I have experienced crucifixion with Jesus is that I have a definite likeness to Him. (Actually, our likeness to Christ is only made possible by the death of Christ, but is made a reality only by our experience of the Life of Christ.)

The Spirit of Jesus entering me rearranges my personal life before God. (The Spirit enters our spirit which only makes possible God's redemptive plan to rearrange our personal lives.)

The resurrection of Jesus has given Him the authority to give the life of God to me, and the experiences of my life must now be built on the foundation of His life. I can have the resurrection life of Jesus here and now, and it will exhibit itself through holiness. (This misses the concept that the Holy Spirit not only lays the foundation, but also builds the house, lest "the builders labor in vain.")

The idea all through the apostle Paul’s writings is that after the decision to be identified with Jesus in His death has been made, the resurrection life of Jesus penetrates every bit of my human nature. (We may consider “the decision to be identified with Jesus in his death” as one of the steps we take [conviction/faith, change of mind/repentance, confession, conversion, calling] toward trusting Christ for salvation [the new birth aspect of it], but the Holy Spirit does not “penetrate every bit of our human nature” by merit alone of our new birth experience. Rather he enters into our inner being (the soul) only when we open the door of our hearts to him in confession of our brokenness [our identity in Adam] and need for Christ.)

It takes the omnipotence of God— His complete and effective divinity— to live the life of the Son of God in human flesh. (Amen!)

The Holy Spirit cannot be accepted as a guest in merely one room of the house— He invades all of it. (No he does not! The Holy Spirit takes residence in the spirit of the born again believer, but enters the soul only through the doors opened to him. Otherwise, the Scripture would not call us to be “filled with the Spirit” or to be filled “to the measure of the fullness of Christ.”)

And once I decide that my “old man” (that is, my heredity of sin) should be identified with the death of Jesus, the Holy Spirit invades me. (Again, we may consider this decision to identify “my ‘old man’ with the death of Jesus” as a condition for our new birth, but the Holy Spirit does not “invade all of” us when we are born again.)

He takes charge of everything. (No he does not! That is the reason the Scripture says, “Grieve not the Spirit.”)

My part is to walk in the light and to obey all that He reveals to me. (This is performance. Identifying rules and concepts and deciding to walk in them has only superficial power to motivate obedience.)

Once I have made that important decision about sin, it is easy to “reckon” that I am actually “dead indeed to sin,” because I find the life of Jesus in me all the time (Romans 6:11). (This is the most grievous statement.)

Just as there is only one kind of humanity, there is only one kind of holiness— the holiness of Jesus. And it is His holiness that has been given to me. God puts the holiness of His Son into me, and I belong to a new spiritual order.” (This contains Truth but fails to state that our sanctification is a long-term process of healing produced in us by Christ’s resurrected Life flowing into our hearts [the soul] as we remain connected to him through Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and worship.)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F22-23

"Father's Day: Celebrating Recovery" is at

Don Loy Whisnant/Journey Notes 10F21

Going, Giving, and Grieving: Expressing Our Experience of Chris

God goes, he gives, and he grieves

He Goes

God invites us to come to him, but before he invites, he comes to where we are, to the very door of our hearts. This means, when “who he is” is birthed in us, our experience of him will move us to not only start a church, but also to go out into the community to invite others to come in.

He Gives

We do not give to God so that we can get from him; rather he gives to us so that we can give to others – that is, he gives to others through us.

“For God so loved the world that he GAVE.” – John 3:16

And when he gave, he did not overlook any need we have which supports our health and happiness needs, or our need for going to Heaven. This means, as we begin to experience “who he is” more fully, we are moved to receive from God his provisions so that we can invest in the needs of others.

He Grieves

God grieves our misbehavior – because he knows our wrong choices will not have good outcomes, and that generation after generation will be hurt by those choices. But mostly he looks beyond our failures to see our brokenness and grieves because we do not take time to receive his provisions for our healing.

“You refuse to come to (receive) me that you may have life.” – John 5:40

“He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F11

Experiencing God Daily to Be Made Competent for Meaningful Ministry

We can have many notions about how God may be planning to use us in his service. Some of them can be rooted in our own unmet needs to be significant and not at all what God has planned for us.

The Scripture is clear that God uses in his service only those vessels who know how to experience him (1 Timothy 1:12). Without his enablement, we would have no competence for ministry (2 Corinthians 3:5b-6a; Psalm 127:1). Also, the first service God calls us to is our own health. That is the reason Paul wrote, “The man who loves his wife, loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28).

This means as you live out your daily experience of Christ, the Light of “who he is” in you will shine into a dark world calling hurting, stumbling lost ones to you for ministry. They will gravitate toward the Light and open the door of their hearts for your influence.

“It is my earnest expectation and hope that I will not be a dim light in a dark world, but that, with all boldness (as a beacon light), Christ will be made manifest through me, whether it is in the way I would imagine it, or not.” (Philippians 1:20 GracePoint paraphrased and expanded)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F10

A Giving God Grieved by Performances to Please Him

No, we do not give to God in order to receive from him; rather, we receive from him in order to give to others.

Most of the counseling I do is to those who are worn out and broken by the expectations which religious legalism (performance to be a good Christian) makes upon them. They are set free when they understand that we do not give to God but he gives to us. Jesus said, “Come unto me and I will GIVE YOU rest” (Matthew 11:28).

I grieved when I heard of the pastor who one Sunday morning during the church worship service asked his parishioners to give the shoes which they had on their feet as an offering to the poor and as an act of obedience to break the bondage of their selfishness and also to teach giving. So right there, even the young boys and girls removed their shoes to offer them as a gift to others. It was a showy gift and some were impressed. I am not sure God was.

The church’s mission statement is “Love God, Love People.” But to love God means to receive from him the provisions he offers for our health. No one can say he loves God who rejects (for example) his provisions for our food choices which establish us in health, or worse, neglects to take quiet time daily for Scripture reading and worship (not the same as devotional readings or Bible study), then, in his brokenness, attempts to impress God with his gifts to him with hopes to win his favor for a blessing (as it is commonly understood) to circumvent the outcome of his failed choices.

The Scripture clearly teaches that any consideration of giving to others must flow out of the abundance of health which we have first received from God (2 Corinthians 9:7-11), and that it is not in order to win his favor in hopes that he will give to us. This means, children do not give to parents and wives do not give to husbands in obedience to a religious law, but receive from them. Also, church members do not support the ministry programs of the church, but are supported by them in order to be established in their own health and competence for their service to others.

"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 

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F17

Him and You: Pondering Jesus' Proposal for a Relationship

(Excerpt/Outline from Sunday's sermon at Ebenezar Memorial Community Church)

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus offers himself to you as a Spiritual Husband – that is, for you to become his Bride. Twelve times Jesus uses the pronouns I, me, my, you, and your to speak of him and you.

He says, “Come to me … Take my yoke upon you.”

This is the same yoke that would represent the relationship of a husband to his wife and of a pastor to his church.

But why should you consider Christ?

1. He’s interested in your soul.

Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary, wornout, and broken … Take my yoke upon you… and you will find rest for your souls.”

The soul is your mind, emotion, and will. As intense as your needs are for physical health, the pain and burden of psychological brokenness is even greater. Humans do not become as distressed about their unmet physical needs as they do about their unmet emotional needs. That is the reason why a hungry person will fight for his life, but a lonely person will sometimes give up on life.

2. He is gentle and humble.

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from (experience) me for I am gentle and humble in heart.”

Jesus was not loud and showy, but silent and strong, a man of substance and integrity. He was like carrot juice which has power to heal, not like party foods which have no value for health.

3. He is true.

Jesus said, “I am gentle and humble in heart.”

The Bible warns about those who "speak with flattering lips and with a double heart” (Psalm 12:2).

“They flatter others for their own advantage.” - Jude 1:16

That is why I say that we really should not trust in others, because by human nature we are all users, but trust only in the God who lives within us, who transforms us to be investors.

4. He initiates to come where you are and to call you to him.

Leadership always initiates. It is God’s order for a man to pursue a bride the same as Christ pursues us.

The Bible says, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).

But if he came to you, why would he call you to come to him? It makes sense only when you understand that he comes only to the door of your heart.

This is the meaning of

Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him.”

5. He knocks but he does not impose.

Jesus knocks (calls and invites, then waits), but he does not impose to gain entrance into your heart. Instead, he sets out to win your favor. This means you do not need to seek God’s favor. Rather he seeks your favor so that you will open the door of your heart and give him opportunity to serve you.

6. He gives to you, not you to him.

“Come unto me,” Jesus said, “and I will give you rest."

But doesn’t the Bible instruct us to give to God, that if we give to him, he will give to us? No, God doesn’t need anything. He gives to us (we receive from him), so that we can give to others.

7. In relationship to him, you are the winner.

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you (let me be your husband, or your pastor, or your employer)... for relationship to me is easy and the weight you will bear is light.”

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F14-16

The Offer to Help: Getting a Response, but Sometimes a Reaction

To some temperament types (especially we melancholies), presentation is important. (Melancholies understand and appreciate systems and procedures and are gifted for research and analysis, which means we make excellent quality control persons, inspectors, and maybe detectives.) The singer needs to be on key and the speaker’s grammar must be correct – otherwise, we lose confidence and are turned away. We may also express our disappointment to the offender, sometimes to criticize and condemn, but sometimes also with the desire to help.

Recently, a friend reported that her mother-in-law is in a rehabilitation center and is receiving excellent care. She says she has been able to address concerns to the staff about any missed needs her mother may have without fear of offending. I love hearing reports like that about service providers. Too often they are offended and react to be defensive.

Also recently, I clicked on a website which had a good message but was disappointed that it needed some editing for grammar. I emailed to say their message deserved a better presentation. (I couldn’t just let it go!) The ministry director responded to say thanks and that they would immediately correct the errors, which they did. I was impressed.

This week, a ministry I care about reported on their website that they were sending money to a group which had asked in an email for financial support to evangelize Muslims. Based on information I have from Crimes of Persuasion, I emailed the ministry to encourage them to investigate the group in order to verify that the email was not a scam. They responded to say thanks for alerting them and that they were withholding the gift until they get more information.

I had taken a chance. Sometimes, rather than a response, I get a reaction. I was prepared for the ministry leader to be offended. That's because, we live in a broken world of unmet needs, mostly the need to be unconditionally valued. Any comment about a failure or oversight is like touching an open wound. It hurts and so we react.

The hurt of not being loved unconditionally runs deep. We suffer not really because of what we hear that offends us, but because of what we have not heard that heals us. It manifests in anger, a secondary emotion which barricades the mind against hearing Truth.

(We can know the level of this anger in our children or students when we correct or instruct them. If we or another resource has made the investment so that they are healthy, they will respond to receive the help, but if not, they may be offended.)

Adding to the old axiom: Hurting people will not care what we know that will help them until we help them know that we care.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F09

Just Asking!

I am curious to know, if a thousand people laid aside their books, turned off their televisions, radios, and internets, read only the New Covenant Scripture for an extended period of time (at least six months or a year), all of it, but particularly Paul's writing, especially including Roman 5-8, and trusted the Holy Spirit to teach in the way Christ promised he would, how many of them would come to the understanding of God’s redemptive plan which is taught by their favorite author or teacher. I suspect not many!

Which is the reason I am so passionate to say that, if what we believe is based on the writings and sermons of man, we have reason to wonder if what we believe is Truth.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” – John 14:26

"When the Holy Spirit has come, he will guide you into all Truth.” - John 16:13

You do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as he has taught you, remain in him.” – 1 John 2:27

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F08

Sowing and Reaping: God’s Sovereign Plan

A popular pastor/teacher writes that God always accomplishes his redemptive plan with or without us. (God, he says, gives us the opportunity to be used by him only so that we can enjoy the blessing of seeing him touch others through us.) The statement misses the concept of sowing and reaping which is at the core of the counseling we offer to broken lives.

Absolutely God is sovereign to accomplish his redemptive plan, but his plan is, by executive decree, for the law of sowing and reaping to govern his creation. This means that
  • his provisions to meet our redemptive needs are faithful and effectual and cannot fail – that they cannot return void, but will accomplish the purpose for which he gave them (Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 24:35) - in the same way that water never fails to be water, but always does exactly as God created it to do; however, 
  • unless we have made wise choices daily for our health, especially to experience Christ, the Living Water, by the Holy Spirit through his Word, he will not make us healthy anyhow, and if we do not have seed to sow in the field or in ministry to others, he will not give us a harvest anyhow. (Also, by just showing up on program day wanting to participate in the blessing of the work, does not mean that we have been made competent per 2 Corinthians 3:6; 1 Timothy 1:12 so that we will be useful to the task.)
This means that some people will be lost and broken who God desired to be saved and healed – not because his hand was shortened that he could not save (Isaiah 59:1-2), but because the failed choices they made had an outcome consistent with the law of cause and effect which God gave to provide for it.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F07

A Wife in Awe: The Husband's Opportunity to Invest for the Response He Wants (Edited)

In our counseling, I take a lot of care to define God’s love (agape) – that it is
  • unconditional (not based upon how valuable we are to him),
  • expressed to us in giving (provisions of grace), and
  • produced in us to enable our expression of it to others only through our experience of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
For the husband, this means God’s love produced in him for his wife will be unconditional (not based upon how valuable she is to serve his needs), and expressed in giving (provisions of grace).

The New Covenant Scripture does not specifically call for a wife to unconditionally love her husband, but to submit or "to give opportunity for influence to her husband" (which is the meaning of the word in the context of the organic home). The love of a wife for her husband in Titus 2:4 is “philandrous” which is her affection for him. It is a conditional love based upon her experience of receiving (provisions of grace) from him and is expressed in awe, trust, submission, and obedience – the same as our love for God is a response to our experience of receiving (provision of grace) from him.

To insist that she should have affection for him anyway is legalism. It will also break her health. That's because, when we make demands on an organism (individual, home, or church) greater than its strength to comply, it dies (Romans 7:8-24).

(Shouldn't a wife have God's unconditional, giving love [agape] for her husband? Yes, but agape is the love which she should also have for her children and for others she is called to serve, and also for her neighbors. This means she is not specifically instructed in the New Testament Scripture to have unconditional, giving love for her husband except in the same sense she is to have it for everyone.)

So does the husband want his wife to have affection and romantic love for him? Then he must manifest to her God's unconditional, giving love so that her experience of him meets her essential health and happiness needs. This is exactly how God motivates our response to him (of awe, love, trust, and obedience) – that is, by sowing into us his provisions, beginning with "who he is," so that, by our experience of him to meet our deepest needs, we gravitate to the Resource through which healing flows into our lives.

Sadly, however, husbands have expectations for their wives to romantically love them anyhow, and are often angry when they do not – which is true to their user disposition, also to their unmet need for mom's affection and/or dad's attention in their formative years, and to the inappropriate choices they made for superficial pain relief which resulted in sexual and other addictions. It is also rooted in their theology that God is in a power position over us demanding our unconditional love for him, instead of in a support position beneath us investing in our redemptive needs.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F04

Grace Living Guided by Learning the Meaning of Words

We are not going to understand much about the message of grace apart from understanding the definition of words. For an easy example, the Bible word believe means more than “to accept information as truth” but means “to trust God’s provisions for our redemption in the sense of receiving them.” Getting into a boat provides a good illustration.

Other examples are:
  • To please God means to be useful to him in service to others
  • To praise God means to commend him to others
  • To glorify God means to manifest or radiate the Light of who he is into a dark world
  • To worship God means to open our hearts to him in order to experience the flow of his Life into our minds, emotions, and wills
  • The name of Jesus means "who he is" and to pray in his name, for example, means to pray according to his redemptive purpose.
Maybe the most important word to understand is love, especially that there is a difference between
  • God’s love (agape), which is his unconditional value of us expressed in his giving to meet our redemptive needs (John 3:16) and
  • Human love, which is our affection for others based upon our experience of them to serve our needs and expressed in receiving.
Churches sometimes use the word to identify their values and mission statements as in: “Love God; Love others.”

But the statement is presented without the explanation that our love for God is first a receiving love and our love for others, the same as God’s love for us, is a giving love.

The explanation is important so that we are not confused to think that our love for God is a giving love and that God’s love for us and our love for others is a receiving love – which, actually, is exactly the legalistic concept lived out in pseudo-grace churches.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F03

"Just Do It" Just Wore Me Out

We applaud those who encourage/instruct us to follow Christ, obey God, love others, have faith, be happy, etc. but grieve that they do so without explanation for how all that is enabled. “Just do it!” they seem to say as if there was a button we could push that would turn on the feature – or as if these expressions of the Christ Life were by merit of and subsequent to the new birth experience.

But they are not! At least, it has not been my reality. I was born again at an early age, but that experience, in and of itself, did not suddenly enable me to experience the love, joy, and peace of Christ, or to manifest his likeness into the world, or to trust and obey God. Those who tried to motivate me for that experience anyhow, just wore me out.

The message of grace is that, not only has God given us instructions for the choices we can make which establish us in health and happiness, but he has also made available the provisions which enable us to comply with those instructions.

When we miss understanding about those provisions, we are left to attempt the Christian life enabled only by our human strength, without the Life of Christ in us which transforms us to love ourselves as he loves us, so that we make wise choices for our health, and to also love others as he loves them, so that we are moved to present ourselves to God as vessels for his use in service to them.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F02

Building a Church with Broken Christians: A Commendation and Concern

We commend the programs and church building strategies of the evangelical church to reach the unchurched in their communities, and rejoice for the many who are born again. But I am concerned about a theology and strategy which misses understanding that the new birth experience does not, in and of itself, enable us for the work of ministry to others - that it only makes possible our relationship to (intimacy with) Christ which leads to and supports our enablement for ministry.

From a counselor’s perspective, I know that attempting to build a church with broken people is the same as building a house on the sand - that it will not endure to produce the long-term outcome church builders sometimes hope for. It is the same also as a broken man attempting to be a husband, or a broken man or woman attempting to parent children, which only perpetuates the tragedy of unmet needs and brokenness.

I would rather see the church focus on teaching new believers first how to connect to God’s provisions for their lives, beginning with intimacy to Christ by the Holy Spirit through his Word, so that they can be rooted and established in health, and made competent in their service to others.

“…our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers…” – 2 Corinthians 3:5b-6a

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” – Psalm 127:1

“Connect to me all you who are worn out attempting to serve others in your own strength, and I will give you healing and recovery.” – paraphrased from Matthew 11:28-20

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F01

God So Loved the Word that He Gave: How to Save the Hurting and When the Slacker Should Suffer

As a rule, giving a handout to a person who is suffering the consequences of his poor choices does not serve him well. When we do (not knowing sometimes how else to help), it may make us feel better, but it only enables him to continue living in his defeat, and, worse, removes the motivation he may otherwise have to begin making choices for his life which would have a better outcome.

There are at least two other plans to consider for helping the suffering.

The first plan (I call it Plan B) is to condemn his behavior, berate his character, and in other ways beat him down until he is so whipped that he will allow us to control him (you know, boot camp style). With us now in control (the power position over him we sometimes want anyhow), we can intimidate him to make choices that will produce whatever outcome we have decided we want him to have.

The second plan (Plan A) has two parts

The first is is to attend to his emergency needs. If he needs water or oxygen or food or warmth or 911 to save his life, we provide it for him with haste. Beyond saving his life,  we do not circumvent the outcome of his choices by rescuing him from his circumstances. This means, we allow the slacker to suffer per Paul’s instruction to the church (2 Thessalonians 3:10), “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat (don’t give him food)” which is based upon God’s instructions to Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” (Genesis 3:19).

(This means also that, if a man is satisfied to live under a bridge or in a cardboard box, we don’t provide him a standard house to live in. If he has a house that has become a dump, we let him live in it until the health department comes to condemn the place. If he doesn’t have a vehicle, at least a bike, we let him walk or hitch a ride.)

The second part of Plan A is to begin investing in his redemptive (health and recovery) needs. (Actually, this second part begins with the investment we make first in our own lives to receive God’s provisions for our own healing -  because we cannot give what we do not have. It is only out of our renewed health that we are enabled to invest in those whom God has called us to serve as vessels for the flows of his provisions for meeting their redemptive needs.)


The most critical need the sufferer has, and the first we invest in, is the conviction (faith) that God loves him – that is, that he is unconditionally valued by God.

This confidence that, to someone in this world (especially to God), we are valued, regardless of what may be true about us, is the greatest health need of the human heart. This is not the same as being valuable to God – which would be conditional love (or human love), based in something about us that merits favor or meets a need. Actually, there is nothing about us that is valuable (adds anything) to God or that serves his needs – because he has none.


This communication of God’s unconditional love to the suffering person must first be verbal (or heard). That’s because faith (conviction/confidence/persuasion concerning Truth) comes
  • by hearing the Holy Spirit communicate Truth into our minds (sow it like a seed – which is the Gospel or good news and the dynamic of our salvation – Romans 1:16-17)
  • through the written Scripture (“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word [rhema] of Christ.” – Romans 10:17).
Also, the message is more than that "God loves (unconditionally values) him" but that “God so loves him that
  • he gave
  • his only begotten (virgin born) Son
  • that whoever believes (receives him – his Blood/death and Resurrected Life - as God’s provision for our salvation)
  • shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
The Vessel

The vessel for the communication of this Truth by the Holy Spirit to the suffering person can be our own voices quoting or reading aloud the written Scripture, or the Holy Spirit communicating it directly to his mind as he reads the Scripture for himself.

This means that God may use our benevolence and Christlike behavior in his redemptive order to win the sufferer’s attention and willingness to hear, and also to call him to his provisions, but our handouts and even holding and stroking him, alone, falls short of meeting his most critical need.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E24-27

Choosing a Church

My community may not need another church. But then again, how can too many churches exist with consideration of how individual needs are different. Personally, I continue to look for a church (leadership) whose mission it is to serve as a resource for the flow of God’s provisions (grace) into our lives which support health and happiness – that is, to provide

Instructions, most essentially for how to
  • Read the Bible, in order to
  • Hear God communicate Truth about himself, his redemptive plan for health and happiness and for going to Heaven, and also about ourselves (brokenness) and need for him, in order to
  • Experience God, in order to
  • Manifest Christ - the Light of who he is into a dark world (to provide instructions to others for how to read the Bible in order to hear God in order to..., and so on).
Opportunities for class study to learn Bible doctrine

The Sunday School and Bible Institute serve especially to define Scriptural terms without which (for examples) Theology, the doctrine of God, Bibliology, the doctrine of the Scripture, and Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, cannot be understood.

Opportunities for ministering/mentoring relationships

When the church (the same as the home) serves to support the psychosocial (informational, emotional, and decision-making) needs of its members, it is fulfilling one of the most essential purposes for which God gave it existence.

Opportunities for celebration and edification

- that is, to share and celebrate with others, during the meetings of the assembled church, but also in smaller groups, our common experience of God’s grace (his provisions for health and happiness) for the purpose of edification (growth in grace).

Opportunities for leadership service to others

This means that, as we are recovered and increased in health by the investment made in us, we, in turn, experience happiness by our opportunity to provide service (within and supported by the organization of the church) to invest in others.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E21

Getting It Right: A Review

I had the opportunity last year to encourage a young man to consider the choices he could make which would increase him in health. I shared with him some of the health and fitness principles that has guided my own life - which he enthusiastically embraced. I also introduced to him the ministry of George Malk-mus and Hallelujah Acres as a resource to support his pursuit of health. Today, David is a Health Minister certified by that ministry. His passion for the choices that support optimal health exceed mine. If he had been held back to pursue health supported only by my influence, he would have missed the critical healing he and his family are now experiencing.

I thought about him again this past weekend when I turned on the tv to say hello (so to speak) to the man who, during my four years in the church he pastors, greatly influenced the start of my journey out of legalism. But although he is recognized as one of the leading “grace” teachers, if I had not grown in grace beyond his influence, I would still be in bondage today.

Sometimes his message can be mostly supportive, but I usually never listen to him very long anymore before I began to grieve because of the performance based message that gets mixed in. For example, recently he said (only one of numerous examples), “How can we not live for Christ when we consider all he has done for us?” The statement, of course, is okay, sounds pious enough, but attempts to motivate Christian living with guilt. Also, we do not live for Christ; instead, he lives in and for us in behalf of others. Personally, I think the difference is important.

In this weekend’s message, he said we are valuable to God. The proof of it, he says, is that Christ died for us. But in fact there is nothing about us that is valuable to God. And he did not die for us because we are valuable to him. Rather he died for us because (per John 3:16) he loves (agapeo: unconditionally values) us. If he died for us because we are valuable to him, his love is not unconditional, but based upon some merit we have that serves or pleases him. Also, his death for us does not make us valuable. Even our righteousnesses, the O.T. prophet said, is as “filthy rags.” Only the Life of Christ in us, birthed in us by the Holy Spirit and manifesting as his Light into a dark world, has value.

In the same sermon, the well-known pastor and author said to the unsaved that they can go to Heaven if they repent of their sins, meaning (according to his definition of repentance) to be sorry for and turn away from their sinful behavior. The grace message, however, is that our eternal salvation is based upon our trusting in the Blood of Christ as the only payment God will accept to satisfy his judgment against the human race because of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Also, repentance means “a change of mind.” It is a fruit of the Seed of God’s Word which accompanies faith to enable us to turn from trusting in self effort for salvation to trusting instead in God’s provision of Christ death on the cross for us.

I grieved also for the answers he gave during the question segment at the end of the program. To the parents of a rebellious teen, he advised that they pray for God to send hard times to the boy so that he would be motivated to seek God. But we know that hard times are the certain cause and effect outcome of God’s sowing and reaping law which he gave after the Fall to govern his creation. So it is an outcome the parents do not need to pray for. The better answer to the parents would be to understand that the teen's rebellion is his reaction to pain which is rooted in his unmet needs, then to seek from God renewal of strength for their own lives so that they can be effectual in their parenting to meet those needs.

In a discussion later this week with a minister friend about my disappointment sometimes with “grace” teaching, he suggested that we cannot always get it exactly right. I asked him would he be satisfied if he needed directions to a location and was told to turn at the next intersection until he came to his destination. He asked, “Turn which way?” I said exactly.

“All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.” – Colossians 1:6

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E31

"Prisoners of Hope" is at Journey Notes

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E28

When a Wife is "Done"

A good confession for a husband whose wife does not want to be with him is "I don't blame her!" - which means he takes ownership for the problem. The question is, "Why doesn't she?" I think whatever the answer is, the solution begins with the husband.

That is, unless he wants to try to mandate the performance of a romantic response from her. But that is not how God motivates our response to him (of awe, love, trust, and obedience). Instead, he makes provisions for our multi-dimensional needs, especially to sow into us "who he is," so that, out of our renewed strength, we can sow into others, beginning with our wives and children.

When a wife is "done" with the marriage, no amount of rules, guilt, or fear to pressure her back into the marriage will help, based on my understanding of Romans 7:9-10 and context.

"Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, my sin nature sprang to life and overpowered me. I discovered I had no enablement to obey and that the very commandment which was intended to bring life, actually brought a death sentence." (GracePoint paraphrased)

So when a wife is headed for the door, grace counseling does not try to slam it shut in her face with warnings that God wjll not be happy with her or with threats that, if she leaves the marriage, the outcome for her will not be good (although I do teach repeatedly the concepts of sowing and reaping from Galatians 6:7-8 and Romans 6:15-23). Instead, I support her for learning how to experience Christ, and that his Life in her will transform her desires so that she will better understand her wants and needs.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E20

Sustained in the Storm to Make Wise Choices

As dearly as we would love for God to change our storms, it will not likely happen in the way we think. That’s because more than changing our adversities, God’s goal for us is to be
  • renewed in our understanding of who he is and our need for him,
  • healed of our addictions to behaviors, chemicals, possessions, and people which provide superficial pain relief, and
  • increased in our experience of him and the strength he gives
so that we are either 
  • supported for making wise choices which change the circumstances we can control according to God’s law of sowing and reaping, or
  • sustained through the circumstances over which we have no control which come upon us by virtue of living in a fallen world.
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E19

Thanking God for Tears to Grieve, but Mostly for Grace to Trust

God was taking care of business when he created man with the capacity to grieve our losses - of relationships, possessions, and even opportunities. Grieving is a release valve for the stress and tensions of unmet needs that can build up in our minds and emotions. To suppress that tension is a mistake because it tends to manifest in other ways to put our health at risk, usually, we are told, during our sleep. Also, mind altering medications to mask the pain is, in my opinion, not a wise choice, and of course alcohol is not.

That's why we invite counselees to cry, then cry some more, even to exhaustion. It is therapeutic and allows for the hurt to find some relief. We also invite counselees to whack a pillow or punching bag with a plastic bat. However, I think the most beneficial release is exercise, especially power walking or running.

But God was also taking care of business when he made provisions for man to experience faith. Faith is the confidence we have that
  • God values us unconditionally,
  • his interest in every detail of our lives is passionate and intense,
  • his commitment to our health and happiness is unfailing, and
  • his provisions to meet our needs are powerful and effectual to accomplish his redemptive purpose.
The Bible says that
  • faith is a spiritual fruit produced in us by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23), that
  • the seed of that fruit is the Word of God which the Holy Spirit sows (speaks) into our minds through hearing (Romans 10:17), that
  • it is through faith that we access God provisions (grace) which cause/enable us to stand (Romans 5:1-2), and that
  • faith is the basis of our hope (Hebrews 11:1).
This means when the storms of life come, we do not grieve and are not shaken as others who do not have faith (1 Thessalonians 4:13) because our lives are founded on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E18

Crushed by the Rules, Renewed in Christ

Religious legalists view God’s law as a standard he gave by which to measure their loyalty to him. So they labor to comply with the rules of the law with the hope of winning his favor or at least to stay out of trouble with him.

But the reason God gave the law was to teach us concepts to live by - the outcome of which will be health and happiness. This is the message of Psalm 119 and also of Romans 6:16-23.

He also gave the law for the purpose of revealing to us our brokenness. That is the reason we soon learn that the demands of the law, good as they are, are so heavy that we do not have the strength to comply with them. This is the message of Romans 7:7-23.

Paul wrote, “I have a desire in my inner being to do good, but I cannot carry it out… When I want to do good, evil is present right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law. But I find another law at work in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin and death” (from Romans 7:18-23).

We discover also that, if we try to comply to the law, we will be crushed. Paul wrote, “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life, actually brought death” (Romans 7:10). This is also the meaning of Paul’s warning “the written law kills” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

In his desperation, Paul called out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). His answer and confession was: “Jesus Christ our Lord” (v25) “because through Christ Jesus the power of the Spirit of Life has set me free from the power of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E17

Enjoying All You Have and Being Without Nothing You Need

Psalm 37:4 records one of the great promises of the Bible. During the storms which come into our lives, we hold on to it tightly:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

It means mostly that if you are hungry to experience more of Christ, God has made it possible for you to do that, and when you do, you will not be disappointed. You may want a bigger or newer this or that, but God does not promise that, so you may be disappointed, even if you found a way to get it. You may want a change of circumstances, or relief from an adversity or storm, but God does not promise you that. But he does promise that if you want to go to Heaven or to be renewed in health, he will grant that desire of your heart.

This is how that happens: When you have trusted Christ for salvation and are renewed in your experience with him daily, your appetites are changed, and your strength to make wise decisions (for diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplementation) is increased with the outcome that you lack nothing you need and also rejoice in all you have.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E14

The Most Missed Need by Traditional Counseling

No doubt traditional counselors support choices that have good outcomes. I suspect many lives have been saved by the solutions they offer and applaud the good they do. These are my sentiments also for medical doctors. Not only do they serve to meet emergency health needs, but also provide the medical needs of those who have no understanding or appreciation for the choices they could make that would establish them in health.

Still, I grieve because traditional counseling misses the most critical health need which humans have: It is to know that we are unconditionally valued. This is not the same as being thought valuable (which is conditional), but, valued regardless how valuable we are.

This surfaced again in my thinking this week when I heard Dr. Phil state that the self-esteem of the children in a troubled home would soar if they could see themselves through his eyes, that is, if they could know how highly he thought of them – their beauty, intellect, and potential for success.

Whatever may be said about the support that is gained by having the confidence of that information, it pales compared to the healing they would experience if they could know, have deep confidence concerning, how deeply God values them regardless of their potential or even brokenness and failure.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E13

Finding Health and Happiness: The Hurting Sophisticate and the Honored Servant

The sad sophisticate lady is pretty and has possessions and prominence, but not peace in her heart that God loves her and is faithful to provide her needs. So she performs in order to win the favor of her friends and family and is disappointed and sad, and sometimes angry, when her expectations for acceptance and approval are not met.

The smiling lady next to her lives with modest means, rejoices in her confidence of God’s care for her, and humbly serves the needs of others motivated by his love in her for them. She is healthy, happy, and honored.

The one fears not having what she wants, the other enjoys what God provides.

“The believer in humble circumstances ought to rejoice in his high position (that he is unconditionally valued by the Father). But the one who is rich should rejoice in his low position (that his health and happiness is not based upon his possessions and prominence) because they will pass away like a wild flower.” – James 1:9-10

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective10E12

Considering the Consequences of Our Choices

Well-known gospel singer and writer, Dottie Rambo, died at 2:00 a.m. on this date two years ago enroute to a Mother’s Day singing engagement when her tour bus ran off the road and hit an embankment. It was thought at first that the accident was weather related, but later the Sheriff reported that the driver of the bus was at fault, although I don’t know if he was charged. The family sued the bus company’s insurance company to recover damages in excess of $25,000. I grieved because of the numerous attacks made against the family because of the suit. It was the opinion of many that the driver and bus company should not be held liable because it was simply God’s timing for Dottie to die, that her work was done, so he called her home, and that the driver had suffered enough emotional pain (never mind his negligence).

Of course Dottie was not driving, and she was mostly an innocent victim, but God did not cause the driver to run off the road so that he could take Dottie home. Also, we do not know about other choices that may have been made, including attempting to drive through the night in order to meet tight scheduling demands. Jesus said “Do not put the Lord your God to the test" (Luke 4:12). James wrote, “When tempted (to be impulsive, to jump out of the boat, for example, as Peter did in Matthew 14), no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13).

I thought of this again recently when a speeding driver skidded off the road and tore up a large section of the embankment here on the farm. When I asked the driver to repair the damages, he gave me the phone number of his insurance company who sent a check to cover the cost for repairs. To send the driver on his way based on a notion that he had already suffered emotional pain would be silly. It disregards God’s redemptive plan for the law of sowing and reaping to govern his creation – that outcomes are the cause and effect results of the choices we make. This is the meaning of Romans 6:15-23 and also of

“How shall we escape if we neglect such a great plan as this for our salvation (health)?” – Hebrews 2:3

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E11

Commitment to the Needs of Hurting Children: The Missed Mother’s Day Message

I was disappointed by the legalistic Mother’s Day message presented yesterday by one of America’s most influential conservative, evangelical pastors to a worldwide tv audience.

The most needed message on Mother’s Day is not a call for children to renew their commitments to honor and appreciate their moms, as important as that may be, but rather for parents to renew their commitment to experience God so that they can invest in the lives of their hurting children.

I understand that mothers bring children into this world, care for them, and deserve to be honored, but caring for their children is exactly the reason, according to God’s redemptive plan, that parents are to bring children into the world in the first place - in order to invest in them and meet their needs. It is not primarily to have their own self-serving adult needs attended to by their children.

My friend's Mother’s Day message yesterday is consistent with his theology that God is in a power position over us, rather than in a support investment relationship beneath us, and that he created us because he wanted someone to love and serve him – rather than because he wanted us to experience his love and service to us.

It also conveniently supports his carnal need to be in a power position over those God called him to serve, both in his home and church.

Jesus said about himself that he "did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life for the salvation of many" (Mark 10:45). 

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E10

The Holy Spirit: Our Only Hope for Understanding Truth

Seminaries and teaching ministries have served well the redemptive cause of Christ in the world. But the fact remains...

1. You do not need anyone to teach you Truth because the Holy Spirit will teach you all things.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” – John 14:26

"When the Holy Spirit has come, he will guide you into all Truth.” - John 16:13

You do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as he has taught you, remain in him.” – 1 John 2:27

2. The Holy Spirit revealed Truth to the Apostle Paul.

“I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." - Galatians 1:11-12

"God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets." - Ephesians 3:3-5 (See also 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.)

3. Paul became a servant (was prepared as a vessel/conduit) by the commission of God to communicate Truth to the saints.

"I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (doxa: “the ways and character of Christ manifested to and through believers into a dark world”).“ – Colossians 1:25-27
4. No one can know and understand Truth unless the Holy Spirit enables it.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated (are not understood) by others. For, ‘Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?’ But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9-12.

5. You cannot learn Truth from a book or website, but only rejoice in reading or hearing about the Truth which God has already birthed and confirmed in your heart and understanding during your quiet time to read the Scripture for extended periods each day in order to hear God.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E07

Missing the Message of Grace: A Review

I am disappointed when ministries use the label “grace” to identify themselves, yet sometimes have only a token grace message. Recently, I clicked on the blog of a leading “grace” teacher and began reading his last post. Beginning from the very first sentence, the blog states (in red):

… you probably are asking the question, ‘Is (the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:1) saying that since grace covers all sins, I can go out and sin if that's what I want to do?’ Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

However, we can not sin (make choices that disregard God’s provisions) without consequences – this is not with respect to eternity, because that issue is settled, but for health in this life.

... (we) died to sin … we are now a new person whose nature is to live righteously …our old nature is dead.

The old nature of the believer is not dead! Dying to sin does not mean our sinful nature dies, but only that 1) by virtue of our immersion into Christ, we are no longer under God’s judgment against the lost (spiritual death or separation from him) and 2) by virtue of Christ’s Life in us, the power of darkness within us is broken and cannot prevail.

Yes, you can sin. However when you understand your identity in Christ, you don't want to sin like before. Understanding your identity produces a desire for intimate fellowship with your heavenly Father. If you don't know who you are, you will see yourself as a servant who must make restitution for your sins. Servants find it difficult to enjoy an intimate love relationship with their masters. However, sons and fathers are able to enjoy each other.

Intellectually understanding our identity in Christ does not have a great influence on our “want” to sin. If that were true, millions of Christians who understand their identity in Christ would not continue to suffer bondage as they do to their adverse sin natures. Only the righteousness of Christ (“who Christ is”), birthed and renewed in us daily, transforms our desires and enables us to make right choices which increase us in righteousness and holiness (Romans 1:16-17; 6:11-19; Philippians 2:12,13; 3:8-9).

When a Christian refuses to believe that he is totally accepted by God or when he doesn't understand his identity, it's hard to be intimate with Him. Intimacy develops between two people as they feel an increasing willingness to share themselves with each other. This can only happen between the Christian and God as the believer comes to a biblical understanding of his relationship to his Heavenly Father.

In psychotherapy this is called cognitive therapy which seeks to help patients identify distorted thinking, modify beliefs, and relate to others in a different way in order to change behaviors.

I won’t take the time or space to respond to the remainder of the post. In summary, it is to say that
  • there are two motivations for compliance to the law: the negative - something we ought to do ("They want to know His commandments in every area of life so they can keep them."), and the positive - our love for God ("The only genuine motivation in the Christian life that will consistently sustain a godly lifestyle is love. Any other source of motivation will eventually fail."), and that
  • we have this love for God by getting to know him ("I now see Him as Someone you can't help but love as you come to know Him better. He really is lovable!")
Left unsaid is
  • the distinction between 1) wanting to know and obey God’s commandments (as rules) for the purpose of performance – that is, in order to win God’s favor and 2) wanting to know and obey God’s commandments (as instructions for health) in order to be healthy and useful in redemptive service to others, that
  • the love which motivates and sustains a godly lifestyle is the love which Christ births in us, not merely an intellectual or emotional affinity that grows out of getting to know about him, that
  • this love which Christ births in us is his love in us for the Father, for ourselves, and for others, that
  • our love for God is a receiving love, while our love for ourselves and others is a giving love, that
  • our love for God is expressed in receiving his provisions (in creation, community, and Christ) for our healing, our love for ourselves is expressed in attention to our health needs, and our love for others is expressed in service to meet their essential needs, and that
  • our broken health denies/belies our love for God (“Having a form of godliness, but denying [rejecting] the power [God’s provisions] that makes it possible.” - 1 Timothy 3:5) and our service to others testifies of Christ's love in us for them ("We love others because he first loved us" - 1 John 4:7-21). 
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E06

Stand By Me: The Tale of Two Songs

In 1905, Charles A. Tindley wrote Stand by Me, a prayer song to God for support.

"When the storms of life are raging, stand by me ... When the world is tossing me like a ship upon the sea, Thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me ... In the midst of tribulation, stand by me ... When the host of hell assail, and my strength begins to fail, Thou who never lost a battle, stand me."

Tindley also wrote many other favorites including:

Leave It There (“Take your burdens to the Lord and...”)
Nothing Between (“my soul and the Savior”)
We’ll Understand It Better By and By.

In 1961, soul singer, Ben E. King wrote a song also titled, Stand by Me.

Often the two songs are thought to have the same message, but they do not: One is a prayer song to God, “who rulest wind and water” and “who never lost a battle.” The other, voted one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America, is a man’s prayer song to his wife or girlfriend (“darling”) for support.
“When the night has come and the land is dark ... if the sky should tumble and fall, and the mountains should crumble to the sea, I won’t be afraid, I won’t cry, No, I won’t shed a tear, just as long as you stand by me.”

But our message to wives and girlfriends is:

You will lose your health if you try to be a mother to a grown man who tries to lean on you for his support instead of on God. God’s redemptive plan is for mothers to stand by their sons so that they are supported to, one day, stand by their wives so that, as mothers, they can also, one day, stand by their sons, and so on.

It is not the mother who gives away her son to the bride to be cared for, but the father who gives his daughter to the groom to be cared for.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E05

Coming to Where We Are: The Investment Leader's Care to Communicate

God does not call from a distance expecting us to be alert to hear him; rather he comes to the door of our hearts to whisper the message of his love (the gospel).

(But even from there, we will not hear him if we do not want to – that is, if we have an appetite [ear] to hear only the voices of the world which entertain rather than the words of God which enrich. This is what Jesus meant when he said, "He who has ears (an appetite) to hear, let him hear" and also what Paul was talking about when he wrote, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears [appetites] want to hear" [2 Timothy 4:3]. Also, concerning appetites, we have an appetite for what we include in our lives and include in our lives what we have an appetite for.)

From our understanding of God's care to come where we are, we find a model for how the investment leader (parent, husband, pastor) communicates to those he or she serves. Rather than calling to them from across the way, expecting them to respond in the manner of a lowly servant, the investment leader goes to where they are. Christ did this when he left Heaven to come to where we are, when he sent the angel Gabriel to announce his coming to Mary and to the shepherds, when he gave us The Holy Scriptures to hold in our hands, and when he sent the Holy Spirit to live within us.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E04

When the Sun Stands Still: Your Chances for a Charismatic Healing

Carole and I live in a small farmhouse on ten acres, but we may not have all the privacy we think for the "cuttin up" we do. We know that the sounds of bellowing cows, howling dogs, and gun shots can be heard at a surprising distance. Also we can hear the Methodist Church bells chiming from a mile and a half away. But we don’t know if our whooping, laughing, and acting silly in the house can be heard by neighbors across the way.

This morning while helping Carole make up the bed, she commented that she needed another day in the week. I told her that I would ask God to increase the calendar week from seven days to eight if that would help. It was the start of us to carrying on about other silliness and laughing big.

When we settled down, I thought about the silliness of asking God to add a day to the week or month. He did apparently cause the sun to stand still for Joshua, but I don’t know that he's done that since, which means I suspect we and all our friends would have no success praying and fasting for God to stop the orbit of the earth around the sun in order to extend time.

I also doubt that God is going to change the laws he has given to govern creation in order to circumvent the outcome of our foolish choices. That means, if we reject his instructions and provisions for health, no amount of praying and weeping will reverse that.

But what do we make of the healing miracles claimed by the charismatic healers? Of course, I don’t know, but I highly suspect that the Angel of Light (Satan) is involved. Also, people can be very gullible and enjoy being hoaxed (or else no one would watch tv). The healing hoax has been exposed more than a few times by workers defecting from the healing camps. One report stated that wheelchairs were provided to back sufferers and others while they waited in line to be healed. When they were wheeled to the stage and instructed to stand up to receive their healing, it appeared they had been delivered from longtime confinement to their wheelchairs.

Also, I suspect that our understanding of psychosomatic illnesses might give some explanation for the apparent healings.

Somewhat on the same subject: I suspect that Satan gladly gives up whatever number of people who trust Christ for salvation through the ministry of charlatans in exchange for the greater number of people who are turned off by the misrepresentation of Christ and also by the inconsistent lifestyle of believers who are not taught about God’s provision of grace for health and happiness, but instead trust in excesses and extremes with the hope of a miracle from God.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10E03

Advancing Through Adversity: God’s Plan to Increase Strength and Usefulness

To quote (paraphrase) James, "Consider it an occasion to celebrate whenever you face trials of many kinds, because, as you know, trials make a demand upon your need for God’s strength which enables you for making the basic choices and also the followup choices which mature and establish you."

The “trials of many kinds” which James (1:2-18) writes about not only include the persecutions experienced by the early church (to whom he wrote), and also those adversities which exist by default of living in a broken world (for example, our sinful human nature, storms, and other occurrences over which we usually have no control), but also the lesser challenges of life (for example, bugs, weeds, noises, odors, and other inconveniences, and maybe also the absence of accommodations like plumbing, electricity, storage/closet/work space, tools and equipment, home appliances, and others, depending on how “spoiled” we are). For certain, the hills I run on (which might be the mountains Jesus spoke about in Mark 11:22-24) are included. All of these are in some measure adverse to us advancing forward to live out our lives.

Whether the adversity is severe, or not, in every case they oppose our movement forward. But the message of James is that we can rejoice in every adversity because each makes a demand upon us for strength which, at the moment, we do not have - especially for the strength of Christ's Life in us which comes into our lives only through faith. We note that James did not write that these trials make a demand upon our physical, emotional, or mental strength, even though they do, but upon our faith - because the most critical provision we need for strength (the Life of Christ) is accessed by faith (John 15:1-8; Romans 1:16-17, 5:1-5, et al).

This means, God will probably not remove your experience of trials, but instead increase you in his strength, as you turn to him by faith to connect to “who he is” in you.

Paul wrote about an adversity he had. He said,

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take (the adversity) away from me (which can be the same as to ask for increased conveniences or accommodations). But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power (grace provisions) is made perfect in weakness (your need for me).’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses (need for God), so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses (my need for God), in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak (dependent upon him), then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

We rejoice in this divine order because it provides a way for us to be increased in strength so that we do not need to be discouraged or defeated by adversities.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D30

Meeting Redemptive Needs: Learning the Role of Leadership

No, God did not create us with a longing for him. He did, however, give us a spirit which longs to experience eternity, which only our experience of him can meet. This is in the same way
  • our physical selves (bodies) long for nutrition, which only food, water, and oxygen can meet, and also
  • our hearts (souls) long for attention and affection which only supportive relationships with people can meet.
Also, God does not long to be with us. He did not create us because he had unmet personal needs. He was complete before we were born and there was nothing about us that added anything to him. Rather, he created us so that we could experience him.

From this understanding of God’s relationship to us, we learn about his redemptive plan for the leadership role of parents, husbands, pastors, and others who serve as support resources, that his support (investment in us) to meet our needs enables us in our support for those he has called us to serve (our children, wives, and parishioners) so that our relationship to them is not about how they can meet our support needs, but how we can meet theirs.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D29

How God Healed My Hearing

For about a week or so recently, I lost hearing in my left ear. I am possessed with the temperament disposition that has a high need to see and hear everything clearly. I am intolerant to missing anything. (For that reason, I probably began using reading glasses before I really needed to. But I wanted to see, and to see perfectly.) So the hearing loss truly frustrated me.

The problem seemed to have begun with the pollen season. I run often on a wooded trail and suck in a lot of pollen, but have also started using cotton balls to plug my ears, thinking that might help. So when my ear began to pain, and then to lose hearing, I was surprised. Going to a medical doctor was not my first choice. Instead, I tried sweet oil and also an over-the-counter homeopathic product, but neither helped. After several days, I began to think the problem may be serious, so I took it up with God.

“What’s going on here?” I inquired. “I hope this is not your plan for me, because it is not supportive but rather very distracting, especially for the counseling I do and also for hearing my wife. That is, of course, unless you are allowing a problem for a greater purpose than for me to be able to hear.”

“However, I do expect you to heal me!” I added.

But this healing, I knew, would not likely be a divine touch from above in the mystical, hocus-pocus sense others seem to understand it. I did consider, however, that healing could come by merit of my experience to be renewed each day in my quiet time “to the measure of the fullness of Christ,” consistent with Romans 8:11 (“…he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies by his Spirit who lives in you”) and John 1:4 ("In him was life and that life was the light of men"). This dynamic for healing ("who Christ is" renewed in us daily) can be illustrated by, and, in fact, is not unlike the power of light to support health and also dissipate darkness. In other words, the healing has a cause and effect explanation for it, and is not an act of God which disregards our receiving/including his provisions in our lives (Revelation 3:20), all of which have power to heal and support life.

On about the tenth day, I woke up heavily burdened having suffered through my counseling and speaking appointments on the day before.

I prayed, “Lord, fill me with your presence today so that I can either experience the healing power of the Holy Spirit which raised you from the dead or have your mind to know the choices I should make which will result in a solution to this problem.”

Just as quickly, the Lord impressed me to fill a medicine dropper with warm water (I had never thought about that before!), tilt my head to the side, insert the tube, and irrigate my ear. After a few moments, a small cotton ball came out of my ear (maybe left in my ear during a shower) and my hearing was instantly restored.

I have thought again about Billionaire J.R. Simplot who died recently at age 99. He rejected religion, he said, on the basis that he was "a fact man."

"If it doesn't add up," he said, "I don't buy it; I don't believe in hocus pocus.”

And then, just today, I heard a report celebrating a large ministry group that gathers to pray for the healing needs of people who send them their requests. In whatever way God responds to all that, I do not think he gets talked into providing anything that is not consistent with his redemptive plan to meet health needs according to the laws of sowing and reaping which he ordained in the beginning to govern his creation.

This means we can give, pray and fast, or stand on our heads all day long, but God can not be talked into providing anything that he has not already provided and brought to the door of our lives for us to freely receive.

Again, for summary: For healing, we can expect that our experience of Christ renewed in us daily by the Holy Spirit through his Word will be effectual to heal our brokenness in the way light heals and dissipates darkness, or to generate in us his wisdom and enablement for making wise choices that effectually recover our health.

If I had called for the elders of the first century church (James 5:14-16), they would have manifested Christ in my room which would have called me to a renewed relationship with him and supported me for making appropriate choices for my health, or they would have investigated my health needs and instructed me to irrigate my ear.

I agree with J.R. Simplot: “I don’t believe in hocus-pocus.”


Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D28

More Than Identifying Evil, the Work of Ministry Calling the Lost and Broken to Christ

Someone, of course, needs to expose and respond to the attacks in the world against our faith and values. The Biblical Evangelist might be as good as any to serve in that way. I also like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck. It is not my calling, however. Typically, the reports which identify what’s wrong, offer no real solutions for making it right except maybe recommitment to strategies for self-improvement and trying harder (activism and performance).

Our calling and passion is to call broken hearts to receive God’s provisions for their recovery, beginning with intimacy with Christ. No darkness, hunger or thirst, hurt, or need can prevail against God’s redemptive plan for our health and happiness.

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

“... teaching them to observe (obey) all the instructions (for health) I have given you.” – Matthew 28:20

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel because in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed which is his dynamic for the salvation (justification and sanctification) of everyone who by faith receives it.” – Romans 1:16-17 (GracePoint)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D27

What It Means to Please God: A Response to Performance Theology

Performance theology absolutely consumes tv, radio, and internet religious programming. Actually, I have too much else to communicate to respond to all of it, but sometimes I grieve too much to give it a pass.

The well-known tv minister last evening (I don’t even know why I was watching!) insisted that God blesses only those he “likes.” He called it one of the “laws” of success. We comply to this law, he said, when we win God’s favor through obedience to "give to him." His support Scripture text was, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), which he interpreted as “pleasuring God.” But according to Vine’s expository dictionary of New Testament words, the Greek verb, euaresteo, means “to well-please,” in the sense of acceptable for use, “especially describing those who are of use” to the community.

The grace message, then, is that “Without faith to trust God (connect to receive his provisions), it is impossible to be useful to God as a vessel in service to others.”

The difference in the two messages is legalism, which results in brokenness, and grace, which heals.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D26

God’s Master Plan for Marriage

God’s redemptive plan for marriage is for the man of God to “go forth sowing precious seed - that is, sowing into others the seed that has been sown into him” (Psalm 126:5-6). He becomes a resource for the flow of God Life/Seed to those who respond, and the deepest needs of their lives are met. They honor him, and to some he will be given the opportunity to serve as a pastor, to others as an educator or mentor. But to someone, he may also be given the opportunity to serve as a husband.

This plan is compromised when a young women pursues a man to be her husband, motivated by the brokenness and pain of her unmet needs in her childhood. She seduces him, finding brief pain relief in his response, but soon is disappointed because who she has attracted is a user.

The plan is also compromised when a man, motivated by the brokenness and pain of his own unmet needs in childhood, preys on a hurting woman and uses her for his own pain relief, then discards.

Don Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D23

The Zone

This time of year, the NBA greats (and other sport stars) talk about those few occasions when an athlete experiences being “in the zone.” They score at a record pace. For example, Kobe Bryant was in the zone when he scored 81 points against the Raptors in 2006. Those who experience it say their brains accelerate so that the action on the court or on the field seems to slow down, no matter how competitive or fierce it is. Maybe some of the video game junkies have the same experience.

All of us may have some understanding of being in the zone. If you wake up early in the morning feeling refreshed, the weather is beautiful, the drive to work just flows, and the choices you make come nicely together for a productive day, you may have experienced the zone.

Of course we understand it is not a regular or common occurrence. Well, for the athlete it is not. But this little posting is to give testimony that God has provided for an experience with him which wonderfully enables our service to others, no matter what the adversity is, and it is available for us daily. It begins when we start our day early taking time to read the Bible in order to hear God communicate Truth to us about ourselves (our brokenness) and about him (his love for us and power to heal) and is experienced when we open our hearts to be filled and renewed with “the mind of Christ.”

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D22

Winning Others Without Whining

We know that God does not motivate us to performance through guilt ("Christ died for you, so live for him"), fear ("God is not going to tolerate your failure much longer"), or pride ("Be a Champion for Christ"). If you hear that voice, know that it is not from God, but Satan. Grace leadership never attempts to motivate (actually, manipulate) responses in that way, but serves to meet essential health needs which increase strength for making productive choices.

Also, grace leadership never complains. Yet it is common for pastors, husbands, and parents, even educators, employers, and coaches, to complain, sometimes whine or pout, about the failing performance of others.

It IS appropriate, however, for grace leadership to complain to God or to any of its resources, but never to those it serves. And it is also appropriate to be disappointed with performance, but God models and enables a more effectual way, through investment to meet needs, for us to motivate the responses we hope for.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D21

Sustained in Health by the Same Choices that Heal

George Malkmus was told he had colon cancer in 1976 but through a change of diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplementation, he now enjoys optimal health and leads a large health-based ministry (Hallelujah Acres) which influences thousands. I thought of him and his health regimen when I was told again recently that our counseling perspective is based in my own experience of brokenness and recovery and is not relevant except to persons who are broken in the way I was. The comment was made by a detractor in an attempt to dismiss our counseling model and suggested that not every one is broken. (Actually, there are no non-broken persons, but only persons in denial of their need.)

My response was to ask if that meant we should wait until we are sick before beginning a health regimen, or would it be wise to begin the regimen before sickness in order to prevent it, and were the principles I shared for running without injury also relevant to runners who have not yet suffered an injury (one that has not yet manifested).

It makes sense to me that, while the choices we make to recover broken health may be more intense than our choices to maintain good health, the general principles are the same.

Read More about George Malkmus

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D20

A Husband’s Need to Die: Understanding Romans 7:1-6

One of the most hateful expressions I have heard is the comment a young girl made recently that a radio talk show personality needed to die. The statement was likely a reaction to the radio guy’s conservative lifestyle and politics which to the young girl must have felt like a rebuke to the way she wanted to live.

(Consider this: Hateful, hostile opposition to a belief is a strong clue that the belief is right. Paul wrote, “The sinful mind is hostile to God” - Romans 8:7. This means, any belief that is railed against might deserve a closer inspection. Also, truth never curses the darkness but only shines the light.)

But there is a sense in which one indeed should die. Paul wrote, “The law has authority over a man as long as he is alive. And the woman who is married to him is also under the authority of law. But if he dies (is set free from the bondage of his sinful nature), he is released from the law, and the woman who is under his rule is also set free so that she lives in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” This is the teaching of Romans 7:1-6.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D19

Establishing Leadership in the Home and Church: God Has a Best Plan

God did not miss providing a best way to establish a home and also a local church. Compliance to the plan does not happen often, but when it does, the home and church are served well and established in health.

Ideally, a man's choice for his wife should come from among those who have responded to his ministry to invest in the lives of others. A woman's choice for her husband should be the man who has proved himself in ministry, both in the community and to her, and has won her confidence that God has called and prepared him to love and serve her in the way Christ does his bride, the Church.

God's way for a local church and its leadership to be established follows the same principle. That’s why Paul on his missionary journeys sowed the gospel in communities where the Holy Spirit led him, then organized churches (with its membership and leadership) from among the converts. Believers in Christ should make their choices for membership in a local church based on their confidence that it is a ministering church, faithful to reach and teach (to make disciples), and to build believers for the work of the ministry. 

This is a different scenario than when churches are formed with fruit from different trees (so to speak). Often members are malcontents, which means the work of the church for ministry is more difficult.

So it is also when a man and woman marry based only on their codependent needs (two people using each other for superficial pain relief). At a later time, if the husband wants to begin leadership ministry to his wife, he may find his challenges more difficult.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D16

Faithfulness to Sow Seed Without Focus on Failure: Response to a Hurting Pastor/Husband

God will indeed sometimes send you to serve where you will be rejected in the same way he sent his Son into a world who would reject him. God's call for you to serve others is to sow seed. You are not responsible for the outcome. Paul wrote:

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” - 1 Corinthians 3:7 

But you can trust that the harvest you reap will be
  • true to the quality of the seed you sow;
"He who sows precious seed (meaning effectual seed or seed which God has sown into him), will doubtless come again bringing a harvest with him" (from Psalm 126:5-6 KJV).
  • relative to the type of soil in which it is sown.
Not every soil type will receive the seed. This is the message Jesus taught in Matthew 13:1-8.

Nevertheless, God’s call to you remains for you to sow and invest as you have opportunity – i.e., when the door is open – with the understanding that 1) the work God does will be first in your own life, and 2) the change he makes in the lives of those you serve may be realized only after months or years.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D15

Anger and Addictions: Barricades to Hearing the Message of Grace

Maybe the two most powerful barricades against the message of grace (God’s provision for health) are anger and addiction. Both are the result of unmet essential health needs – anger, the reaction to the hurt, and addiction, the result of the inappropriate choices which are made to deal with the pain.

Jesus may have had these barricades in mind in Matthew 13:13-15 when he said:

“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’”

Also, Paul may have had these barricades (anger and addiction) in mind in 2 Corinthians 10:1-4 when he wrote that the weapon or power he had in his service to others was “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (understood in context from vs. 1).

"By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you ... For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds (barricading the mind against Truth). We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D14

Serving God, Using People: Grace Concepts Turned on Its Head

For example, to experience God is to experience his love, joy, and peace and all else that is true about “who Christ is” within us. Also, when we breathe oxygen, drink water, and eat food, we are experiencing the Life which God gives. “In him was Life,” John wrote, “and that Life was the light of man” (John 1:4).

We also experience God through every service provided to us in the home and church which meets and supports our redemption (health and recovery) needs. This means the care of a parent for a child, or husband for his wife, or a minister for the church is God manifesting himself to us.

Somewhat on the same subject, many fine churches have adopted “Love God, Love People” to state their mission. With all the appreciation we might have for their commitment, I still want to ask, “Is this love for God and also for people giving love or receiving love?” On those few occasions when I have had an opportunity to inquire, no one seemed to know the difference or even understand the question.

The answer to the question is at the core of our counseling message – that is, God’s love for us is giving love (“For God so loved the world that he gave…”), and the manifestation of his love in us for others is also giving love. But our love for God is receiving love. That is the reason we teach in our counseling sessions that no one can say, in the Scriptural sense, that he or she loves God (or his resources) apart from receiving him (his provisions), and that, in our service to others, we give rather than receive (so that our relationship to them is not about what they can do for us, but we for them).

Legalism, however, turns this understanding on its head so that our love for God is giving love, and our love for people is receiving love with the result that our relationship to God and to others is changed. Instead of receiving God’s provisions which he freely gives, we attempt to give to God in order to win his favor. Also, instead of serving people (invest in them) in order to meet their redemptive needs, we use them (suck the life out of them) in order to meet our own pain relief needs.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D13

A Grace Perspective on the Power of Prayer

Sometimes we hear that we should seek God more than we do his provisions. The teaching sounds pious enough but, in fact, we cannot separate God from his provisions. To have the one is to have the other.

Generally, grace counseling understands prayer as individuals connecting to God’s provisions, first for themselves, but also in behalf of specific others to whom they minister.

But sometimes, prayer in behalf of others is understood in a corporate sense. To illustrate: One candle (or light bulb) may adequately light a small office, but not provide sufficient light for a large warehouse. However, together with hundreds of candles the otherwise dark warehouse would be lighted. (Also, a portable heater could warm a small room, but not a large house in the way many portable heaters could.)

So while our separate prayers may be limited to benefit only a few, when we pray together with other members of the Body of Christ, the corporate presence of Light flowing through us is increased to prevail against the powers of darkness in the larger world.

This means: If the Body of Christ (believers) in our workplaces or communities are increased in number, but also through prayer to be lights in a dark world, the influences of evil which oppose, deceive, and call us away from God’s redemptive (healing) plan and provisions for our lives are hindered.

For an easy example, if I present the Gospel message to a gathering which includes a large number of believers who each have prayed and are filled with Light, I can minister more freely in that corporate Light without the otherwise hindrance of Satanic opposition. (It is also in this environment that we better hear God and have increased light for making wise decisions for health.) I believe this is part of the meaning of Paul’s words to the Corinthian church:

“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10-11

(This also gives some insight to Paul's message in 1 Corinthians 7:14 that, in the home, the unbelieving wife is sanctified [influenced for godliness] by her husband, the unbelieving husband is sanctified by his wife, and the children are sanctified by their parents.)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D12

Preparation and Performance: Reviewing Their Relationship

We constantly review the delicate relationship (balance) between our performance to be successful and our preparation to be strong.

The Psalmist wrote (127:1),

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”

It was the same as to say, “Unless the Lord enables the laborers, their work will have no eternal value.”

But not to be overlooked, I think, is another principle which the Psalmist at least implied: It is that,

“Unless the builders, in fact, labor, their enablement or preparation for it will be in vain.”

So we consider and appreciate the balance between performance and preparation.

1) The Performance for Building Success

We applaud the industrial types ("movers and shakers" we sometimes call them) who build schools, churches, organizations, and businesses. But we are saddened and alarmed (because the outcome will be disappointing) when their work to build is driven by the desire to be wealthy or powerful or prominent, rather than motivated by the heart of Christ to meet redemptive needs. Paul identified this brand of labor as "wood, hay, and straw" and for that reason urged that “Everyone should be careful how he builds.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

This was also the concern Christ had when he warned:

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

2) The Preparation for Building Strength

But if, on the other hand, the builder is energized for the work by “who Christ is” within him or her, the work will be effectual and the results produced will have eternal value.

This is what Paul meant when he wrote,

“By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. I worked harder than the others, yet it was not I, of course, but the grace of God that was with me (to enable me).” – 1 Corinthians 15:10

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D09

Grace: God’s Incremental Work in Us to Increase Our Inclination for Making Wise Choices

God not only guides us in the direction we should go (Psalm 16:7; 23:3), but he also energizes/enables us for the journey. This is one of the core concepts that guides grace counseling.

“For it is God who is at work in you (energon: to effectually, fervently, and efficiently energize and enable you) both to desire and to do his good pleasure (eudokias: kind intentions – that is, redemptive purpose).” – Philippians 2:13

But God’s work in us is not a one time event; rather it is a process which produces incremental results over an extended period of time. This means that, at any given time, we will have a measured degree of inclination and enablement for making wise choices for our lives, but also a measured degree of disinclination and powerlessness for making those choices.

This helps us to understand the reason Paul wrote,

“I do not say that I have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which God has taken hold of me. Also, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but this one thing I do… I press on toward the goal to win the prize (sanctification, conformity to be like Christ) for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. …Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians 3:12-13, 16; see also Romans 8:28-29).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D08

Health: Quiet Strength, Doing What It Does

Health seems to manifest itself in the following ways:

1. Health is humble.

Health is an outcome for which God is the explanation. He planned it, made provisions for it, and calls us to it. We only respond to receive it. Health would be impossible otherwise.

2. It does not keep score or report outcomes.

The health which God gives will always be what it needs to be according to his redemptive plan.

3. It remains connected to God’s resources which support those choices.

This is the reason Jesus said,

“Remain connected to me… No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain connected to the vine” (John 15:4).

4. It reflects its resources.

Health manifests the image of its supply. This is the meaning of Romans 8:29 (paraphrased), "It was God's redemptive plan to conform us to the image of his Son that he might be the firstborn/Seed among (before) many brothers." 

5. It serves others.

Health is not distracted or hindered by unmet needs, but is enabled by God’s provisions to focus on and serve the ministry needs of others.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D07

Still Broken: The Missed Followup Step to Experiencing Wholistic Health

The abundant life (or wholistic health) which Christ said he came to give is not by merit alone of our trusting him as our Savior. 

Jesus said (expanded paraphrase), “I am come that they might
  • have life (regeneration so that they can go to Heaven), but also
  • have it more abundantly (a rich and satisfying experience on earth)” (John 10:10).
This means, eternal life and the abundant life are intimately related but are not the same experience, that our new birth experience (which makes secure our going to Heaven) is only a first step or condition which makes possible the abundant life, and that the abundant life becomes a reality only as we meet the second and third conditions, which are to
  • take time to be renewed and increased daily to a fuller measure of “who Christ is” in us (through Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and worship) - then, enabled by the increased healing and strength he gives us, follow through to
  • make the wise choices which further establish us in health - including physically, psychologically, financially, and relationally - which is the abundant life Christ promised to give.
Not only does this second condition get overlooked, but, even more, so does the third.

This means, even with all the emphasis our counseling gives to being renewed and increased daily to a fuller measure of “who Christ is” in us - that it is our most essential need for health and happiness - still we do not want to leave unsaid that, at least theoretically, we can be filled “to the measure of the fullness of Christ,” maybe even more than anyone ever, yet still be unhappy and broken in health.

Again: We can be filled to the fullest measure of the divine nature - which is “God’s power (dynamic) for the salvation (healing sanctification) of all who receive it” (Romans 1:16-17), and which also “gives us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) - yet still be limited in our experience of health and happiness.

Understanding this perspective begins with identifying God’s purpose for imparting to us the power of his divine nature in the first place – that it is more than just for the enjoyment of a feel-good or even healing experience, beneficial as that may be.

Rather, it is primarily for the purpose of increasing us in God’s enablement for making the follow up choices which establish us in health and happiness.

This is the meaning of

Romans 8:17 (paraphrased): “Now if we are children of God, then we are also heirs (of the abundant life)…if indeed we share in his suffering (to make wise choices) so that we may also share in his glory (the abundant life).”

Philippians 3:12: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that (sanctification) for which Christ took hold of me (in regeneration).”

Philippians 3:16: “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

Philippians 2:12-13 (paraphrased): “Work out the salvation which God is working in you.”

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D06

The Limited Benefits of Reading the Bible

The Bible itself is not God, but a vessel he uses to communicate Truth - in the same way a cup is a vessel to provide water.

Years ago, one of my first counselees stated up front that he was looking for more help than just encouragement to read the Bible. I learned that he read the Bible mostly as a rulebook for Christian living, so, of course, since he was broken and had no enablement for living by the rules, he was worn out and done with reading it.

I told him that would not be a problem because the benefit of just reading the Bible is limited anyway, even if he read large portions of it daily, memorized it, or knew it well enough to pass a test on it or teach it.

He was surprised by my response, but also interested to hear my explanation that, by “limited” benefits of reading the Bible as a rulebook, I meant as compared to reading it in order to
  • hear the Holy Spirit communicate Truth to us, and especially in order to
  • experience God.
I said reading, or even studying, the Bible as a rulebook (but not in order to hear God tell us about himself and our need for him or to call us to receive him in fuller measure) is the same as studying the properties of water and our need for it, maybe even well enough to speak and write about it, but not drinking or bathing in it in order to experience its healing, cleansing benefits.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D05

Health and Happiness: How It Happens

God is absolutely sovereign. He does not need our response or participation in order to accomplish any outcome he chooses. If he wants, he can part the Red Sea, turn the water to wine, give sight to the blind, or raise the dead.

This means, he could create a world governed arbitrarily by the imposition of his will without regard to human will or choices.

Or, he could create a world ruled by random - that is, no occurrence would be the result of a cause. It would "just happen." My mind can't get around that one.

Or, he could create a world governed by the law of sowing and reaping - which is what he did, in fact, according to The Scripture (Galatians 6:7).

Science gives witness to this: We know that every effect has a cause - which means, good outcomes, including health and happiness, are the return on the wise investments we make. They don’t "just happen."

Those choices include diet, exercise, and education, but begin with a relationship to God through intimacy with Christ. That's because,

“His divine nature (birthed and renewed in us daily) gives us everything we need for life and godliness." - 2 Peter 1:3

"Through him all things were made: without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life and that life was the light of men." - John 1:3-4

"If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but your spirit is alive because of (his) righteousness (in you). And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies by his Spirit who lives in you." - Romans 8:10-11

This means, according to Galatians 5:22-23 and John 15:1-8, it is only by our experience of Christ living his Life in us that we can
  • experience his unconditional love (value) for us, and love ourselves and others,
  • experience joy and peace (although without Christ we may have superficial fun or find ways to be pacified),
  • express longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness toward others, and 
  • express humility, faith, and temperance toward God (for connection to him in order to have his enablement for making wise choices for health and happiness in compliance to his plan for our redemption).
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D02

"R.J. Barber, Jr." is at Journey Notes

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D01

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