TGP Monthly
Volume 5

January 2009

Grace: God's Provisions to Enable Compliance

God's Purpose for the Law

God's Law (in the Old Testament, summarized in the Ten Commandments, and in the New Testament, taught by Christ and proclaimed by the Apostles) was not given as a standard of behavior by which he measures our loyalty to him or determines our worthiness to receive "blessings" from him. Instead, it was given as a guide to teach us how to live, the outcome of which is health and happiness. If we do not comply, we will be broken. No one gets a pass (Romans 8:13; Galatians 6:7-8; Colossians 3:25; Hebrew 2:3; 10:26-27; 12:25).

God's grace does not eliminate the rules.

Crossing the t's and dotting the i's are as relevant now to good outcomes as they were the first day God charted the course for man to follow in order for his life to go well. This is exactly the meaning of Romans 8:12-13 "Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation... if you miss it, you will die" (paraphrased). 

But God's grace (his provisions to establish us in health) does enable our compliance to the rules.

Jesus said he did not come into the world to do away with the Law, but to enable us to obey it (Matthew 5:17). Paul said Christ came so that "the righteous requirements of the Law might be fully met in us" (Romans 8:3-4).
  • God's provisions of grace for our enablement areGod's Word (to provide information),
  • the Holy Spirit (who generates conviction [faith] and a change of mind [repentance] concerning the information revealed to us in God's Word),
  • nutrients in the soil and atmosphere,
  • support relationships in the home and church,
  • but mostly, his divine nature birthed and nurtured in us by Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:3; Romans 8:1-4; Colossians 2:27).
This concept of God's provisions to enable our compliance to his health laws sets grace theology apart from religious legalism, also Christianity apart from all world religions.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #901

February 2009

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

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

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

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

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

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #902

March 2009

God's Purpose for the Home: Dying to Save a Marriage

God did not create people to provide for the heavens and the earth, but the heavens and the earth to provide for people. This means we do not serve the elements in the soil and atmosphere; instead, they serve us. Or the sun and moon and celestial bodies; instead, they serve us. Or the apple and carrot, or water; instead, they serve us.

Also, God gave Christ to serve us. He did not create us to serve Christ. Jesus said about his incarnate ministry on earth, "I did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:45). And he continues to serve, by his presence in Heaven as our Advocate before the Father (Romans 8:34), and by the presence of his Spirit in our hearts to renew us daily in his likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God has also given the Holy Spirit and his Word, including the Law (all of which are health laws), to serve us, not for us to serve them. For example, Jesus said that God gave the Sabbath to support the health of people, not for people to support the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). (Note: The first day of the week, Sunday, is the Christian Sabbath.)

Also, God did not create people for the home, but the home for people. Or children for the parents, but parents for the children. Or the wife for the husband, but the husband for the wife. (This is not to comment strictly and specifically on the normal human needs of people, but on the redemptive roles of parents and the husband as investment leadership resources in the home.) And he did not create people to serve the church (its pastors, elders, and deacons), but he created the church to serve its members.

This means God did not create people to serve marriage, but marriage to serve people. Grace counseling is deeply rooted in the concept that while God instituted the home as a resource for meeting needs, and cares for marriage, he does not care more for the institution than the lives he purposed for it to serve. And while God established and cares for the institution of the church, he does not care more for the institution than he does for the lives it serves.

When the resources for the provisions fail, grace counseling does not support the sacrifice of our health and happiness to perpetuate them. We understand God's purpose for the home and church, but we do not, for the sake of tradition or religious rules, guide and support wives or church members to assume responsibility for the recovered health of dysfunctional resources or to remain in dead-end relationships, especially at the risk of their health, in order to prove loyalty to God, to make him smile, or to meet the expectations of religious legalists.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #903/8L10

April 2009

The Health and Happiness Needs of the Husband: How They Are Met

Indeed, the inborn temperament (intellectual, emotional, and decision-making) needs of men are as valid as those of women and children, and are as essential as his physical and spiritual needs. It is also appropriate for wives and children to help meet those needs. The counseling GracePoint offers, however, is to guide and support men to invest for the needs they have. This, instead of expecting and demanding that others meet them because of imposed religious rules or traditions.

This investment men must make is first in their own lives, to make choices that establish them in health, beginning with

daily quiet time to be renewed in their experience of Christ through his Word, confession of need, prayer, and worship, but including also
diet, exercise, and education.
The best that a man can do for his family is to give them a healthy husband and father. Otherwise, his talk of love for them is disingenuous.

Then out of his increased strength, he researches to learn in what ways his wife and children are best supported for their health. (This is the truest meaning of leadership!) Whatever provisions they need that energizes them, he works to find resources through which those provisions are supplied, then supports his family's connection to the resources. This means he, for a short list of examples, brings raw fruits and vegetables into the home, provides materials and supports opportunities for advanced education, and also provides for whatever equipment or supplies that is necessary to encourage daily exercise. But mainly he guides and supports their relationship to Christ in order for them to experience God's love (the greatest health need of the human heart).

But he also identifies adverse elements that sabotage health and happiness and is vigilant to safeguard against them. This means he, for another short list of examples, opposes offensive entertainment coming into the home including via television, radio, and internet. His home is also smoke, drugs, and alcohol free.

It is then reciprocally, out of his family's increased strength and health, and because of the investments he has made, that they relate to him in a way that helps to meet his own temperament needs (basically for respect and the opportunity to influence).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #904

May 2009

Counseling Compassion for Hurting Husbands

In our one-on-one counseling with both men and women, we are always gentle and compassionate, "speaking the truth in love." But sometimes our writing is tough on husbands, especially when I am writing to expose the problem in a broken marriage as it exists at the core.

Usually at the core of a failing marriage is the husband‘s wrong view (misinformation) about
  • God, that he is not in a power position over us but rather mostly in a support position beneath us;
  • the home, that it is not mostly an organization, but an organism, which means the dynamics of leadership are different, i.e., that the husband does not demand, but instead, invests for appropriate outcomes;
  • our inborn health and happiness needs, that they must be met or we suffer, and that we just don't "get over them";
  • the role of the husband, that it is to love (value) his wife just as Christ loved his bride, the Church, and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25), and that, to the husband, in relationship to his wife, it is not mostly about what she can do for him, but what he can do for her to serve and support her health and happiness needs.
But we husbands (also parents and pastors) can be knuckleheads. We want to be served instead of to serve, also for the support needs of our wives to just go away and for them to somehow respond to us to meet our needs anyway. It's that attitude that grieves me. So sometimes, I just want to shake husbands, if not boot them in the behind.

That said, and while grace counseling is a passionate advocate for wives (also children and church members), we don't want to overlook that we men may have our own unmet needs, that we also struggle, usually because we have been failed also by someone. When we come into a leadership relationship, we may bring less than a full glass of water (actually, mostly empty) to serve the needs of our wives - this especially so if she has intense, crippling, unmet needs due, not mostly to her current experience with her husband, but to the failing support relationships in her past, most critically and usually with her father during her "growing up" (formation) years at home.

Still, the call remains for us men to seek and find from God the strength we need in order to make wise choices for our own lives, and also to begin, one day at a time, one seed at a time, to invest in the lives of those we serve, with this promise:

"They who sow in tears shall reap in joy; He who goes out weeping, investing precious seed, will doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing a harvest of grain with him." - Psalm 126:5-6 (GracePoint paraphrased)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #905

June 2009

Seven Scheduled Successes to Support Health and Happiness

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

To some, it may mean a successful performance - for example, passing a test, fixing a problem, making a sale, scoring points, or winning a contest. To others, it may mean rewards and recognition, or having a feel-good experience.

However, with consideration that human life does not perpetuate itself, but must have supports, or else it quickly diminishes and, in time, dies, a win from a grace counseling perspective is not mostly a successful performance or feel-good experience (whatever may be supportive about all that); rather it is our experience of what God does in and for us daily as we are connected to his resources for our support - for example:

1) Exercising 30-45 minutes to increase strength (weight lifting), endurance (walking, running, aerobics to increase heart rate), and flexibility (stretching); 2) going to bed early in order to get up early; 3) eating 4-6 small meals 4) to include grains, nuts, and seeds, and 5-9 servings of raw fruits and vegetables; 5) drinking at least 64 to 100 ounces of water; 6) reading (research and study) to increase knowledge; and especially, 7) extended time for Scripture reading (in order to hear God), confession of need, prayer, and quiet-time worship (in order to experience Christ).

And all this as scheduled.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #906

July 2009

Yoked to Christ: Our Enablement for Making Wise Choices

In Matthew 11:28-30, Christ calls to relief those who are hurting. He says (GracePoint paraphrased), "Come to me, all you who have been striving to do good but have not had the strength you need to do it, and are now beaten down, and I will give you rest (Gr. anapausis, relief, refreshment)."

But then in verse 29, Jesus says, "take (or receive) my yoke upon you." Is this an absurdity? How is it that we can take a yoke upon us that will result in our relief? Why not turn us loose to run wild in the woods - which is the very place our hurting souls are disposed to go anyhow, called there by the world, Satan, and our own carnal nature and addictions.

But the relief to which Christ calls us is not from the yoke of responsibility for making wise choices for health; instead, it is from the heavy burden of not knowing what wise choices to make and from not having the strength we need to make them.

While it seems to be an absurdity, it is in this very way, being yoked to Christ and seemingly limited in our ability to be spontaneous and impulsive, that we, in fact, have our best hope for enduring health and the relief that follows.

Also by our yoke to Christ, our conformity to a regimen which leads to restored health is not burdensome, but is "easy and light." Not light because the responsibility is reduced for making hard choices, but because we are supported in making those choices by the presence and guidance of the One to whom we are yoked.

Long-term relief from pain is found only in health. And making wise choices that lead to health is only burdensome when it is not enabled.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #907/7D25

August 2009

Grace Counseling: Based in Concepts Not Widely Held

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #908/9E25

September 2009

Concept Distinctives to Guide Grace Counseling

The following concepts are unique to grace counseling:

1) God does not attempt to control us, but invests in us in order to empower us, then sets us free. Rather, it is Satan who attempts to control and, if he cannot, to destroy us.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." - Galatians 5:1

2) God grieves the foolish choices we make which break our health, but he is never upset with us. This means we can do nothing to motivate God to love us more, or to love us less.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #909/9G20

October 2009

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

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

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

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

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #910/9J06

November 2009

Getting Past Preoccupation with Appearance

The Georgia Division of Driver Services person at Window 9 said I could only renew my drivers license for five years since I was now 60. Also, that I would need a new photo. I especially hate that.

So do I grin, smile, look serious, what? It never matters, I always look terrible. Ready, one, two, FLASH! No, I'm not ready! Give me a second, for crying out loud, to get this silly nice guy grin off my face!

Too late! This time I managed the absolute dumbest pose of all time. I looked like a big goof with gas pains. I plan to laugh about it when I can get over the embarrassment. Wife, Carole, wanted to see it, but I told her she would only laugh. She promised she wouldn't, but she did. She said she couldn't help it.

Why should my stupid looking picture matter so much to me? Why are we recovering legalists so preoccupied with what others think, what we wear, what others wear, how we look, etc?

From our understanding of grace concepts, we know that the answer is rooted in our need to be what it is all about to someone. When that need is not met, we suffer heartache, loneliness, fear and anxiety, confusion, and feelings of rejection and worthlessness. It even shows up (Haven't you noticed?) in us ministers, in our writing and in our speaking.

Hurting people feel and behave differently. When our inborn need to be "what it is all about" to someone is not met, we become "what it is all about" to ourselves. Mostly we become very self absorbed. How do I look? How am I doing? What do you think of me? Almost every word and action scream "Me! Me!" This is the worst of bondage, as any of us knows who suffers in this way. And we long to be delivered.

"Who will rescue me from this body of death? I thank God - through Jesus Christ, our Lord." - Romans 7:24

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #911/Journey Notes #911/8J20

December 2009

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

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

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

Traditionally, this is done by gift-giving. Giving to meet redemptive needs, rather than carnal needs, would be the most purely appropriate way to celebrate the gift God gave of his Son to meet our redemptive needs. However, much seems to have been lost with respect to this purely motivated purpose for giving at Christmas.

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

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

Families celebrating together around the Christmas dinner table can also provide for this occasion. Fun conversations and sharing of personal experiences are always enjoyable and create memories.

But at the foundation of any truly meaningful Christmas celebration is our excitement and rejoicing for all God’s gift of Christ makes possible for our redemption.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #912/9L25

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