Volume 2

January 2006

Body, Soul, and Spirit: The Trichotomous You

You are a tri-fold being, existing as body, soul, and spirit. To illustrate, you can visualize a large outer circle to represent your physical body (the biological systems which support your physical life), then a smaller inner circle to represent your soul (your mind, emotions, and will), and also, an inmost circle to represent your spirit (your sanctuary for the presence of God).

Specific to each dimension of your trichotomous nature - body, soul, and spirit - are inborn needs essential to health and happiness. For example, you have needs essential to good physical health, including water, oxygen, food, exercise, and rest. You also have needs essential to good psychological health. In clinical counseling, these needs are referred to as Inclusions needs, Affection needs, and Control needs.

A summary definition of these needs is as follows:

Inclusion is your intellectual need for people to be involved in your life for the purpose of information;

Affection is your emotional need for people to be involved in your life for the purpose of intimacy.

Control is your volitional need for people to be involved in your life for the purpose of decision-making;

The measure of your Inclusion, Affection, and Control needs is determined by profile testing and is highly individualized. Also, the information provided by profile testing helps to identify your unique temperament type.

Temperament Types

The National Christian Counselors Association has identified five basic temperament types: the Supine, the Melancholy, the Choleric, the Sanguine, and the Phlegmatic. Knowing your temperament type helps provide insight for understanding your attitudes, motivations, and behavior - for example the following: 
  • your need to be alone or to be with people,
  • your orientation to trust or distrust others,
  • your appreciation for systems, operations, and procedures.
Your Most Essential Need

Most important, however, when considering the essential needs of your trichotomous nature is your spiritual needs. When you were born, your spirit was without life, dead on arrival, so to speak, not unlike a battery casing is dead on arrival from the manufacturer before it is infused with an electric current to give it life. You were born physically alive, but spiritually dead until Christ gave you life.

"In him was life and that life was the light of men." - John 1:4

Grace theology embraces the concept that God has made adequate provisions to meet every human need - physically (through creation), psychologically (through community), and spiritually (through Christ's death on the cross for you and his resurrected life in you).

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #601

February 2006

To God, It's All About You

Although I had not yet read the book, I was happy for the report that the number of hardback copies sold was the most of any book ever.

Then I bought and read Rick Warren's "The Purpose-Driven Life." And grieved.

Warren's book is about pleasing God and making him smile. He establishes this theme early. The beginning statement in chapter one is: "It's not about you!" But to God, it is totally, completely, fully, and absolutely ALL about you.

The Grace Perspective

God's relationship to you is not about what you can do for him, but what you will allow him to do for you. He is not in a power position over you, but in a service and support position beneath you. He has no unmet needs for you to be concerned about. He is not lonely or unfulfilled. You do not need to make him smile.

Before the world was created, and before you were born, God was all that he is now - sovereign and self-sufficient. Creation was not about God's happiness; it was about yours. He did not create you for his experience of knowing you, but for your experience of knowing him.

Praise and Worship Defined

God does not need you to sing to him. He does not need your support, encouragement, or applause. To praise God means to celebrate him and to commend him to others. To worship him means to open your heart for him to nurture in you his life. To glorify him means to radiate the light of "who he is" in you into a dark world. To please God means to be renewed by his grace and made useful and fruitful in redemptive service to others.

God's love (agape) for you is unconditional, not based on who you are (your worth) but on who he is; his interest in every detail of your life is passionate and intense; his commitment to fulfill his purpose for you is unfailing; and his provisions to enable your Christian life and service are faithful and fully sufficient.

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #602

March 2006

Christ in You: Your Hope of Heaven, Holiness, and Happiness

A wiseguy in a crowd once asked me, "If Christ is the answer, what's the question?" I said the question is:

How are you going to go to Heaven?

He said he had it figured out. I said Cain in the Bible thought he had it figured out also when he presented to God an offering for sin that represented his hard work - but God rejected his offering (Genesis 4:1-5). The lesson he learned, I said, was that no amount of self effort to perform good deeds can satisfy the judgment of God against sin (Titus 3:5). The Blood of Christ, I said, is the only payment for sin that God will accept (Hebrews 9:22).

I said the question also is:

How are you going to be holy (to be like Christ)?

I said only one person ever lived the Christian life and that his only hope to be like Christ was for Christ to live his life in and through him (John 15:1-8).

I said there is also a third question:

How are you going to be happy?

The young man challenged the idea that he could not be happy without Christ. He insisted he was happy and had lots of fun. I asked him if he was happy when he was not having fun. He said not really. I said having fun is what people sometimes do to help them cope with their pain of being unhappy.

The devil of it all, I said, was that what he did for fun today would not be as much fun tomorrow and that the fix he got today would not give him the same relief tomorrow. Christ, I said, came into the world not only to provide a way for him to go to Heaven and a way for him to be holy, but he came also so that he could be healthy and happy.

This is the meaning, I said, of

"In him was life, and that life was the light of men" (John 1:4) and

"I have come so that (you) may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).
Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #603

April 2006

Holiness: How It Happens

In a recent discovery learning class I asked who had ever charged a battery. Most said they had. Then I asked who had ever flown. Again, nearly all said they had. But then I asked the group to think again about what I was asking. On second thought, no one had ever actually flown, but instead had traveled in an airplane that flew (except for one wise guy who said he had once taken a "flying leap"). And, as it turned out, no one had ever actually charged a battery.

The lesson title was: "Yes You Do, But No You Don't! Not Really!" The truth is we do not really charge a battery; electricity does. Also, we do not fly, not really. And holiness is not what we do, but what God does in us by the Holy Spirit through his Word. We have no strength, but only his strength. We have no light except his light. And it is only available for our lives as we take extended time daily for Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and quiet-time worship.

Give Up Trying To Be Godly

God has graciously provided through Christ and his Word by the Holy Spirit all you need for Christian living and service to others. All you attempt to do to be like Christ that is not enabled by his Life in you is legalism: it will put you in bondage to religious rule-keeping and performance, set you up for defeat and attacks from Satan, and wear you out.

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge (experience) of him." - 2 Peter 1:3

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #604

May 2006

Compliance, the Common Struggle: Finding Support for Your Commitment

In any controlled clinical trial to justify or discredit the therapeutic benefits of an alternative health procedure, one of the parameters of the review must be compliance to the program. This means only patients who fully follow the prescribed regimen are considered in the review's conclusions. Subjects who deviate from the protocol are excluded. This is appropriate in any clinical trial.

In a recent study, 22 pancreatic cancer patients were selected for alternative treatment. Although the orthodox medical cure rate for pancreatic cancer is zero percent, the alternative program had a 100 percent cure rate - even though only five of the 22 recovered.

But of the 22, it was only the five who carefully, faithfully, and completely followed the protocol. Seventeen didn't, and died. According to the follow-up research, the 17 who died failed to follow the prescribed program for reasons that are not uncommon in all such studies. For some, the program was perceived as not affordable in terms of time, effort ("too much trouble"), and money. For others, it was the non-support, interference, or opposition of family members, friends, and even physicians. Mostly, however, it was the patients' own resistance, especially to lifestyle changes.

"What Up with Me?"

This is the same struggle the Apostle Paul confessed to. (See Romans 7:14-24.) He said: "I know the plan and I understand the need to comply. But something else is going on inside me that opposes all that. I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't. When I want to do good, I don't; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway."

"It's clear to me," he said, "I‘ve got a problem!"

Then he asked, "Who will set me free from myself?"

The Grace Message

The Living Bible paraphrases Paul's conclusion: "Thank God!" he exclaimed, "It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. The power of the life-giving Spirit - and this power is mine through Christ - has set me free (8:2).

The problem, then, is not the lack of a plan, or desire, or commitment, or self-discipline. The real problem is a lack of divine enablement.The grace message is that God has made provisions multi-dimensionally for the enablement we need to sustain our compliance. He has done so through creation to enable us physically and through community (relationships) to enable us psychologically. But our most powerful enablement is spiritual, from Christ's life birthed and nurtured deep within us by the Holy Spirit.

"For it is God who works in you both to desire and to do according to all that is good for you." - Philippians 2:13

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #605

June 2006

Water: The Essential Need

Water is one of the metaphors that Christ used to teach about God's faithful provisions to meet human needs. He represented himself as the Water of Life and invited those who had unmet needs ("any one who is thirsty") let him come and "drink of the Water of Life freely."

Water is an appropriate metaphor for God's provisions. It is involved in every biological function of the body. When it is not present in sufficient amounts, those functions are impaired, putting good health at risk. Without water, life is impossible.

Water has its own power. You do not need to make water work. It does what it does. It only needs to be included in your life. You can talk about water and your need for it, research and discuss the science of how it works, and even try to get along in life without it. Or, if you drink it, you can live out of the strength it gives.

The Well: A Grace Resource

Christ also spoke of the well. (Christ is uniquely both the Well and the Water of Life!). The well represents the resources (conduits) God has established for the flow of his provisions to meet human needs. It, too, is an excellent metaphor, notably as follows:
  • The well's purpose for existing is specific: It is a resource for the supply of water.
  • It does not exist to serve itself but the needs of those who are thirsty.
  • Its supply is from a providential source.
GracePoint is a Well

It exists specifically to provide counseling and support for renewal and reconciliation to individuals and families.
It has no goals that represent its own organizational or statistical success.
Its needs are met providentially. It does not charge for its services nor depend on those it serves to provide its needs.

"He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." - 2 Corinthians 9:10

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #606

July 2006

An Open Letter to the Failed Wife of a Fallen Husband

Dear (Hurting Wife)

I am sorry for your hurt and disappointment. I don't wonder why you feel the way you do. I would wonder, as Dr. Phil says, why you wouldn't. Dr. Phil, however, might say "get over it." But I don't think we can. Pain, as I understand it, is the result of unmet needs - the normal, inborn multidimensional (biological, psychological, and spiritual) needs we have that support our health and happiness. If those needs are not met, we suffer.

The Good News is that God has lovingly provided for our needs to be met - biologically in creation, psychologically in community (ministering relationships in the church and home), and spiritually in Christ. Each of these is a divine resource to which we can connect for the flow of his provisions into our lives to meet our needs.

Of the three, however, only Christ is an unfailing resource. Who we are in him and who he is in us makes certain our going to Heaven and our holiness. But because of the Fall, the resources found in creation are imperfect. Also, the resources God has established in community (beginning with parents and husbands) to support the mental, emotional, and volitional health needs of women and children are typically either missing (through death or abandonment) or are dysfunctional.

From the grace perspective, at the root of every unhappy marriage is a husband who is dysfunctional in some measure (we husbands all are). This means his wife has been failed, as you have been. The support and nurturing she has needed has not been met. Understandably, she has become disillusioned, discouraged, and angry.

One of the reasons husbands fail is they do not understand that the home is not an organization, but an organism, that the husband is not the CEO in the relationship but the vine and his wife is the branch, and that it is his role to support her, not hers fundamentally to support him. (Whatever may be said about "a good marriage takes two," it begins with one - the husband. It is his investment to make.)

The problem, too, is that men are born users which means the default disposition of our fallen human nature is to focus on our own needs and how others can meet them.Also, users are not happy because a user can never be satisfied. This means the relationships they use to meet their needs today will not meet their needs the same way tomorrow. The woman he once charmed to get his needs met, he now disrespects and mistreats. (Why else would a husband speak unkindly to his wife?)

The only hope for a man to become an investor instead of a user is for the likeness of Christ (Galatians 5:22-23) to be birthed and nurtured in him by the Holy Spirit. This takes time. One of the most difficult challenges for hurting wives is to allow time for the process, to trust that God favors her needs and will establish her husband. Sometimes, however, out of her deep hurt and need for relief, or in an attempt to motivate a change in her husband's attitude and behavior, she attacks. The momentary relief she experiences, as it turns out, inflames her husband's emotions, increases the tension in their relationship, and pushes him further away - opposite the outcome she wanted.

My prayer and hope for your husband is that he will grow in his understanding of his own health needs, and then out of his increased strength, to focus on his role in relationship to you to care for your health and happiness needs and sense of well-being.

And I pray that you will be renewed in faith daily to trust in God's love and care for you.

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #607

August 2006

The Christian Life Is Not Hard: Living the Life That Christ Enables

No one (absolutely no one) I know who "tries" in their own strength to live the Christian life does very well at it; instead they struggle with frustration, inconsistency, discouragement, and defeat. That's because of the fallenness of our human nature (Thank you, Adam, very little!).

One of the core concepts guiding grace counseling is that there is nothing about us apart from God's life within us that accommodates Christian living. Rather, the default disposition of our human nature, the Bible says, is hostile to God (Romans 8:7).

Also, the world's culture, as well as demonic forces, are conspired against our Christlikeness (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-16; 1 Peter 5:8).

(Note: It is in this context that we understand the Scriptural concept of "suffering." The Bible's several references to our "sharing in the sufferings of Christ" identify the Christian's experience of living under the weight of a fallen world.)

Still, the Christian life does not need to be a struggle. God has not left us without resources (in creation, in community, and in Christ) for the flow of his provisions to rescue us - also to enable us. This is the redemptive concept at the core of grace theology.

What is hard is "trying" without God's enablement to perform (mimic, I call it) what we think the Christian life should look like. (This is the idea of WWJD - What Would Jesus Do.) It is this kind of religious striving that wears us out.

The Christian life that is enabled is not hard. If there is a challenge involved, it is to stay connected to the Vine (John 15:1-8) for the flow of God's provisions into our lives. (But God enables even this by nurturing within us through his Word a longing to know and experience him.) We find ourselves sometimes (usually during change) being pulled away from our resources, from one then another, and then tend to minimize how big a deal it is until we begin to feel the tension.

Christ spoke to this concern when he called out, "Come to me all you who are worn out working hard (performing) in your own strength to live out the Christian life and I will give you renewal" - Matthew 11:28-29 (paraphrased).

Christ also addressed this need when he taught the disciples to pray "give us (again) this day our daily bread (that which is absolutely indispensable to life)."

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #608

September 2006

Referencing the Bible for What You Believe: Getting It Right About the Beyond

When I pastored years ago a young woman called to say, "Don't send me your newsletter again!" On it I had written Psalm 14:1, "The foolish person says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'" She was mad at me because she thought I wrote that. The rest of the verse says: "They are corrupt, their deeds are evil; not one of them does good." She thought I was being rude.

"I don't believe like you do," she said.

"I understand," I said. "So what do you believe?" I asked.

"If you knew," she said, "it would really weird you out."

I had never been really weirded out before, but I took a chance and asked her again what she believed.

She said she believed that when we die, we have an opportunity to reflect on our lives, come back into this world to make the necessary adjustments, then die again to reflect and make more adjustments, until finally, after much reflection and adjustments, we become gods.

"Where did you get that information?" I asked.

Her source of information, she said, was a man by the name of Arthur Ford who died and returned to inspire a woman named Ruth Montgomery to write "World Beyond."

"So are you willing to place your hope for eternity on Arthur Ford and ‘World Beyond'?" I asked.

"Yes," she answered.

I said, "The part about what you believe that concerns me most is that after you die, if ‘World Beyond' is wrong, you will not have the opportunity you have now to reflect on your beliefs and make an adjustment."

"Well, what do you believe?" she asked.

I said, "I believe we are corrupt, our deeds are evil, and that the foolish person, to accommodate the way he wants to live, will say, ‘There is no God.'"

I then told her about Adam and Eve, their choice to live their lives apart from God's provisions for them, the subsequent darkness that came upon the human race, about God's love and provision of Christ to save us through our faith in his death and resurrection, and about his plan to take us to Heaven.

"So what is your source of information?" she asked.

I said, "It's the Bible!

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #609

October 2006

The Choice Before the Choice: Factoring in Your Bio-Rhythmic Potential for Making Future Decisions

The power of life and death are in the choices you make. This is true in a way you may tend to overlook. Not only do the choices you make impact immediate outcomes for your life, but they are also building support and momentum for the choices you will make later. That's because every choice you make makes it easier for you to make another choice just like it. This has something to do in part with how the body works and its ability to adapt. (It's called training effect.) Also involved is bio-rhythm, a theory having to do with the cyclical tendency of biological behavior (bio-momentum, I call it).

(This explains the reason why it is easier for you to exercise five days a week than it is just one day, or why the hardest day to exercise is on the day after you didn't.)

It also has something to do with how the brain works. Our choices, we are told, support or subvert a required environment in the brain for neurotransmitters to create new pathways leading to increased learning. (So that's all I know about that.)

The point for grace counseling is this: The choices you make today that build strength support the choices you make tomorrow that build success. The most critical focus, then, is not on the things you do that make you successful, but on the things you do that make you strong to do the things that make you successful.

An athlete knows this. Doing every day in training what makes him or her strong is essential to doing well on "game day" what makes him successful. But if he focuses more on the performance than on conditioning, and more on "success" than on strength, he will not win often. He or she may do a one-time fast lap around the track, but not be able to sustain long-term.

Spiritually, this perspective is especially important. The choice you make each day to sit quietly before God with an open Bible (for Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and quiet-time worship) gives opportunity for you to hear God, to be increased in your confidence concerning his love and care for you, and to experience the strength he gives for making the right choices and the tough choices, particularly in your relationships to others, that result in success.

"Your natural self is weak. Just as you used to choose impurity leading to ever-increasing wickedness, so now choose righteousness (Christ) leading to holiness (spiritual health)." - Romans 6:17-23

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #610

November 2006

Faith in God's Love and Care for You: The Key to Answered Prayer

A lot is said about prayer that can be confusing, especially concerning the bases upon which it is answered. The fact is: We do not receive from God answers to our prayers solely on the basis that we call out to him. Rather, we receive from God in answer to prayer only what we ask for that has redemptive value, i.e., that which renews us in health - especially spiritual health, or holiness (which is his Will for us - 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

The oft-quoted scripture, "You have not because you ask not" (James 4:2) is not a stand-alone Bible verse that can be understood apart from its context or other scriptures. Neither is "Ask and you will receive" (Matthew 7:7). The context for James 4:2 is prayer for wisdom from God that results in a harvest of righteousness, including purity, peace, and sincerity (See James 3:13-4:3). Also, the context for Matthew 7:7 is prayer for provisions ("bread" - see verse 9) that sustain life. This means asking God for this and that because you want it in order to meet your consumption needs will have a disappointing result. James says exactly this: "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3).

Secondly, God gives in answer to prayer what we trust in him for. This trust is in his undying love and care for us and in his faithfulness to provide our needs according to his Will. (This is not the same as trying to sustain a positive thought in your mind as a calculated way to motivate God to give you what you are asking for.) Understanding this is important when we consider prayer for healing. The Bible says "the prayer of faith (concerning his love and care for you) shall save the sick" (James 5:15).

This is important also when we consider prayer for eternal salvation. You are not going to Heaven solely on the basis you ask God to take you there; rather, it's on the basis that you have called out to him trusting in his provision of Christ's atoning death on the cross for you.

Here again, the oft-quoted Scripture, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13) is not a stand-alone Bible verse that can be considered apart from its context (The next sentence, verse 14, says, "How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?") or independent of other scriptures including John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.").

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #611

December 2006

God Made Manifest in Me: Celebrating God's Provision of Himself

Jesus was human. He could not fly or lift a huge rock or run faster than the wind; he was human, subject to human limitations. But he was also God, the same as the Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible says he existed as God in eternity before time began.

"In the beginning (of time) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" - John 1:1-2.

Jesus was called "the Word" because just as words embody and manifest thought, Jesus embodied and manifested God. Also, Jesus embodied God as seed embodies the principle of organic life ("seed" is used as a metaphor for "the Word of God" in Luke 8:11).

This concept of Jesus as Seed helps with the meaning of the next two verses:

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

This Seed was sown by the Holy Spirit in creation, and all that has been made was made. This Seed was also sown by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary (Matthew1:20), and the Word became flesh.

That is exactly what John says in verse 14:

"The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory (Gr. doxa: "the character and ways of God as exhibited through Christ to and through believers"), the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

The appearance of Jesus was that of a man (see Isaiah 53), but those who knew and walked with him also experienced him as the Embodiment and Manifestation of the eternal God. They beheld in him the character and ways of God. He was full of compassion and joy. He was peaceful, never in a hurry, and without anxiety or frustration. He was gentle in every relationship and patient in every adversity.

"How was this so?" they asked. "The Father is in me," Jesus said.

"It is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work." - John 14:10

Then he said, "And if you abide in me and I in you, he will also manifest himself through you." - from John 15:4-8

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC/The Grace Perspective #612

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