TGP Volume 10
(January/February/March 2010)

To Be Unconditionally Valued: A Child’s Most Essential Need

Parenting fails when a child is brought into the home, by birth or by adoption, in order to meet the needs of the parents – especially their need to be loved (the same reason, I suspect, they would get a pet).

Typically this means any provisions given to the child, including gifts, attention, and expressions of care, are with expectations of a return. Sadly, because the child is being used to meet personal needs, the expectations of the parents for the child’s response are never really fully satisfied long term (which is true when we inappropriately use anything to satisfy carnal needs). The child, of course, increasingly begins to sense that the approval and acceptance of mom and dad are conditional, based upon his or her successful performance to please them, and also somehow feels the tension of rejection when they do not. Worse, when the child reacts (acts out) in pain, he or she gets scolded, threatened, pounded on, or in some way punished. But the very worst of this failing scenario is that the essential needs of the child remains unmet.

Unconditionally Valued

Indeed a child does have a need for approval and acceptance (the need to feel valuable). That’s why good parenting says “good job” when the child does good at home, school, or play. But this need to feel valuable, as important as it is, is not the child’s greatest need. Rather, the child’s most critical need, by far I think, is to be unconditionally valued.

To be unconditionally valued is not the same concept as “to be considered valuable.”
  • The one is possible to give only as God enables it, the second is a human ability. Also,
  • the one is expressed to others, not conditioned upon anything that is true about them, but upon what is true about who God is within us. The second is expressed to others based or conditioned solely upon their successful performance to meet expectations (to earn it).
Lying in the balance is the child’s health. The growing experience and confidence of a child who is unconditionally valued is that he or she is not in the home to meet adult needs, but to have his or her needs met, and that his or her needs are what mom and dad’s world is all about.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C31

God's Purpose for Allowing Brokenness: Rethinking "Can't Miss" Choices

Peter had no business trying to walk on the water. Yet when he was impulsive to try it, rather than stopping him, Christ allowed it. (The word “come” which Christ used in Matthew 14:29 was not an invitation or command to Peter to leave the safety of the boat, but was an expression of permission.) The outcome was not good, except that Peter learned a lesson about himself and his need for Christ. We do not read in Scripture that Peter tried the same stunt again.

The lesson taught is that God does not always stop us from making the impulsive choices we make for ministry which we think are “can’t miss” ideas. For some of us, experiencing the outcome of a wrong choice is the only way we would learn. Otherwise, the Holy Spirit would explain it to us, or send an elder to warn us, and simple as that, we would know not to make that decision.

It is for this reason that God allows sickness, financial burdens, and failed vocational or ministry efforts. During such times we have opportunity to rethink the choices that resulted in our brokenness. When we look to God, as Peter did, he is faithful to instruct us and gently guide us in a different direction.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word… It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees... I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” - Psalm 119:67, 71, 75

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” – Psalm 32:8

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C30

(10C29) "A Passion for Preaching" is at Journey Notes

Increased Strength in Service to Others: A Grace Perspective on God's Purpose for Personal Suffering

I am sorry for the challenges to our essential needs we leaders sometimes experience, not especially because we suffer personally, but rather, if we are staggered, those we serve (beginning with our families) are put at risk to be left without some of the critical support they need - which means we are more concerned and burdened about the missed support needed by others then about our own personal discomforts.

But as we know, God has a purpose for our adversities. It is not to stagger us, but to increase our dependence on him. Paul wrote those to whom he ministered,

"For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our support for you overflows. So if I have been distressed, God has allowed it for the purpose of calling me into a deeper relationship with him in order that I can be strengthened in my support for you..." (paraphrased from 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).

Then he made this report:

"I do not want you to be uninformed about the hardships we suffered (on our missionary journey). We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead" (vv8-9).

I also understand James 1:2-18 in this context - that God allows adversities into our lives because they make a demand upon us for which we have no strength to meet apart from the provisions which flow from him (most essentially through Christ, but also through nutrition and support relationships) and toward which our pain drives us for a more earnest connection.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C26

The Grace Leadership Principle Defined

To summarize the definition of grace leadership, it is God's provision of himself in our lives (essentially who Christ is [Galatians 5:22-23] renewed in us daily to fuller measure by the Holy Spirit through his Word during our quiet time for reading the Scripture, confession of need, prayer, and worship) which
  • first, enables the scheduled choices we must make daily (diet, exercise, sleep, education, etc.) for personal, wholistic health,
  • then (subsequently), makes effectual and fruitful our service to (investment in) others, beginning with our families.
This is consistent with the principle that we can give effectually (sow into others) only what we have received (has been sown into us).

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

"For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive." - 2 Peter 1:8

"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious (possessed) seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." - Psalm 126:6 (KJV)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C25

Daring to Trust the Holy Spirit to Teach Truth

Except maybe for fitness and nutrition or for the meaning of Bible words, the concepts I speak and write about come out of my quiet time (to read the Scripture, hear God, and experience God). This means they are not a report of the information I have learned from the writings or speaking of others in books, on the internet or tv, or from the pulpit. Also, I do not usually provide bibliographies or references for my speaking or writing - because I am not quoting anyone. (The best maybe that can be said about that is, if they are wrong, at least I will not be perpetuating error.)

Of course, I would not recommend that for everyone, or else no one would graduate from seminary. Speaking of which: If my seminary professor was right, I am being foolish. He warned that, if a student could find no prominent teacher to agree with his belief, he would have good reason to doubt that he was right. So beware. I may be a quack.

But when it became my deepest conviction that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all Truth just like Jesus said he would (John 14:26; 16:13), that conviction and understanding of Truth comes by the Holy Spirit through his Word (Roman 10:17), and that we do not need man to teach us (1 John 1:27), I dared to lay aside my study of commentaries to give hours instead to hearing God speak through his Word.

I have determined also that I will need to wait to know what conclusions others who do the same have come to before I worry about being wrong.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C24

A Passionate Recommendation

ABC's new "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" not only addresses the health needs of Huntington, WV, "the unhealthiest city in America," but also reveals fallen human nature's adverse disposition to health (similar to the adversity met by the Old Testament prophets, and also by Christ, his Disciples, and the early church to bring the message of grace to a fallen world). It has been a long time since I have been this impassioned to refer a resource. Please click on the link below to watch episode 101.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C23

Challenging the Concept that God Calls Us to Ministry

Strictly speaking, God does not call us to ministry, but to himself.

Indeed, God sends us out to minister or to sow seed, but only after he has first called us to himself in order to sow into us "Who he is" (his Life Seed).

I dare to make the point, not only because of the impulsiveness of our fallen human nature to sometimes focus on the needs of others before our own, or to want to be significant in the lives of others, but also because of the ineffectiveness of such efforts which the Bible calls “wood, hay, and straw” - meaning that it has no eternal value.

The Psalmist said, “He who goes out weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again bringing a harvest with him” (126:6). We note that the seed which is sown is “precious seed.” Some translations read, “He who goes out weeping, carrying a bag (or basket) of seed….” The Hebrew word (meshek) translated “precious” means “acquisition” or “possession” (apparently as in a basket) which supports our understanding that the only seed effectual to produce eternal results is the seed we sow which has been sown first into us.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C22
The Mattress is Not Really the Problem

Counselees sometime tell me they are beginning to make better choices for their health. I congratulate them and ask for more information. Typically, they report making changes like cutting out red meat, fried foods, colas, and desserts. But when I ask what they are starting up, they are usually a little slow to answer or even to understand the question. When I ask about exercise, they sometimes say they are busy or active at work, so get their exercise there. Then I explain that our health is supported more by the helpful choices we include in our lives than by the harmful choices we exclude, and also that exercise to get their heart rates up for a sustained 20-30 minutes a day would support them for continuing their busy work load without injury.

I remember my friend telling me years ago that earlier in his life he had pursued a career in chiropractics, but that after two years he became disillusioned with it and moved on to something else – while at the same time, taking with him much he appreciated about some of the solutions for general health he had learned. He explained that during his second year of studies he learned from another resource (by chance, he thought) about the body’s need to be increased in muscular strength so that it could hold in place the skeletal structure, rather than to dismiss the need for muscular strength in favor of constant adjustments to realign the body. To give an example, he said that, while a poor quality mattress may be a factor in back pain, the real problem is the absence of muscular strength to support the back regardless.

He was easy to talk to about God’s redemptive plan for our health because he understood that the reason for brokenness is not the presence of adversities in our lives, but the absence of supports, especially the support we have through our daily renewal of “Christ in us” through his Word.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C19

A Non Mainstream Perspective on God, the Law, and Christian Living

In one car ride across town listening to talk radio, I heard three perspectives on God, the Law, and the Christian life. The first was that God uses every occurrence in our lives for our good (“It’s all good!”).

The second was that God gave the Law as a standard to measure our loyalty to him, and that he punishes our noncompliance.

The third perspective was that God is good to us for the purpose of motivating our obedience to him - that is, he has expectations of a return for his benevolence.

However, grace theology, as we present it in our counseling, offers a different perspective. It is that
  • we are broken and live in a dangerous world subject to adversity, that
  • God values every person without respect to his worthiness (unconditional love), that
  • he has made provisions for our recovery to health (in creation, community, and especially through Christ), and 
  • brought them to the door of every person’s heart, that 
  • his provisions are effectual to renew life in all who receive them, and that
  • he gave the Law to reveal our need for him, but also to define the choices we could make (a way of life), the outcome of which would be health and happiness.
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C18

Good Health: The Missed Secret

I am 61½, take no medications, and feel no pain. All indications are (including my energy level, resting heart rate, blood cholesterol and sugar levels, blood pressure, etc., but not currently my BMI) that my health is good.

I analyze to know the reason. I suspect my diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplementations have been a factor. I got my first juicer when I was 21 and have used it for many of the years since. I began fitness running in 1983 and have logged over 20,000 miles. I can eat like a heathen at times, but mostly take care (try for 80%) to eat 4-5 smaller meals a day to include whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, five servings of raw fruits and vegetables. I also take a handful of supplements and drink 128 ounces of water every day. I have never smoked, drank, or drugged. I have not been bored enough to participate in high risk behaviors like skydiving, bungee jumping, or rock climbing. I also run mostly on tracks and trails and in neighborhood subdivisions, drive the speed limit, use my seat belt, use an umbrella, wear a coat and hat in cold weather, go to bed and get up early, and get 7-8 hours sleep each night.

But I highly suspect there is something else going on which is the truest explanation for my health and also the factor sometimes most overlooked and underappreciated: It is my unfailing regimen to be renewed daily in my experience of Christ by the Holy Spirit through his Word.

"His divine nature," 2 Peter 1:3 says, “gives us everything we need for life and godliness.” Compared to it, 1 Timothy 4:8 says, “physical exercise has limited value.”

Then we have these great promises:

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

“God has united us to Christ Jesus through whom we have received wisdom, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” - 1 Corinthians 1:30 (GracePoint paraphrased)

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

That is the reason Paul said,

“I am not ashamed of (the same as to say, I am excited about) the gospel of Christ (the message of grace) because in it, God has revealed his power (dynamic) for the salvation (healing) of everyone who receives it, which is the righteousness of God (who Christ is).” – Romans 1:16-17 (GracePoint paraphrased)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C17

A Husband's Confession: “My wife does not want to live with me, but I don't blame her!”

The husband whose investment in his wife has not been effectual (with the result that she does not feel valued and supported, and is now, in fact, ready to leave the marriage) makes a good confession when he says "My wife does not want to live with me, but I don't blame her.” It identifies about him that he understands his leadership role in the marriage, that
  • he is the pastor/shepherd in the home,
  • his wife’s broken health and unhappiness reflect his failed leadership, and
  • he, not she, is the problem, and if not the problem altogether, that he is indeed the solution, or at least where the solution begins.
(The question comes: But should not Christ be her Shepherd? Absolutely! However, it is the role of the husband to serve as the undershepherd in the home to support her connection to Christ - in the same way the pastor serves the church.)

A Wife's Choice: "The Lord is My Shepherd!"

The counseling support we offer a hurting wife is not for her to "get over" her unmet needs (this is the counsel of religious legalists), but to
  • research to understand them,
  • identify them to her husband (which is not the same as identifying his failure to meet them), and then
  • find and connect to resources through which they are met.
Also, we support her to understand that
  • the problem is not really the attitude and behavior of her husband which disappoints her, but the absence of God's strength in his life so that he could be effectual in his service to her, and
  • the solution is not a new start with another man, because, if he also has no strength from God, he will also, in time, disappoint her, and
  • no man can make up the difference for Christ in her life.
"The Lord is my Shepherd; (and even if he is my only support) I shall not want (have unmet needs). - Psalm 23:1

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C15/16

Dying to Please God

I heard again today a recording of one of my favorite preachers. He preached all over America, and the big crowds who came to hear him were always deeply moved by his gifted singing, preaching, and storytelling.  Listening to him, they would laugh, then cry, and sometimes laugh and cry at the same time. He also spoke glowingly of Christ and of Heaven, and warned about the horrors of sin and hell. In his meetings, many lost sinners came to Christ and many were stirred to live holy.

But he did not have much to say about God’s love for us, or about his provisions to support us in health. His call to holiness was not to Christ for his enablement, but to
  • obeying the Law of a Sovereign God in order to win his favor, make him happy, and to, at least, stay out of trouble with him (fear),
  • loyalty to live for Christ because he died for us (guilt), and
  • winning rewards in Heaven (ego and pride).
My preacher friend weighed over 300 pounds and died broken in health in his mid sixties. Those of us who heard him, loved his preaching, but, like him, suffered under the weight of trying to live the Christian life without the enablement we needed.

“By the grace of God (his provisions) I am what I am, and his grace (provisions) to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace (provisions) of God that was with me.” – 1 Corinthians 5:10

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C12

Trying to Be a Hero / How to Become a Zero: The Reason Peter Sank

Christ did not invite Peter to step out of the boat. The word “come” which Christ used in Matthew 14:29 was not the same word he used to invite religious legalists to him in Matthew 11:28. And it certainly was not a command. Rather it was an expression of permission, as if to say “proceed” or “give it a try if you want.”

There was no redemptive need or reason whatsoever for Peter to walk on the water. Peter, I think, was being impulsive, and maybe also showing off. He may also have had an unmet affection/validation need to be a big shot, or at least to be significant. Anyway, he sank!

The take away message is:
  • Peter got out of the boat, not because he had faith, but because he lacked faith - i.e., doubted (disregarded) God's provisions for his safety and well-being (the boat); 
  • He sank, not because he took his eyes off Jesus to look around at his circumstances, but because he got out of the boat. He got on a bull (so to speak) that he could not ride and then found himself in trouble; 
  • He confessed his need, went to counseling, and Christ helped him back into the boat. 
God calls us to health, not to heroics. The Bible says the work which God enables us to do has eternal value, but the work we attempt to do trying to be a hero is “wood, hay, and straw” (1 Corinthians 3:12). Also, the work we attempt to do with disregard to God’s enablement puts us at risk for injury, which, by definition, is the result of a demand made upon us greater than our strength to bear up under it. The injury may be physical (for example, a compression fracture), emotional, relational, or even financial. 

Performance-based Christianity, motivated by guilt, fear, and ego, drives us to brokenness. But grace calls us back to health (back to the boat), then, out of our renewed strength, supports us to remain connected to Christ (to stay in the boat) for effectual service to others (John 15:1-8).

“Come to me all you who have over extended yourselves attempting to do God's work in your own strength and are now worn out and broken down, and I will recover you.” – Matthew 11:28 (GracePoint paraphrase).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C11

Broken by Religious Legalism: God's Plan to Enable Giving

We give because we are healthy, not in order to be healthy. This is true either of giving money in tithes and offerings to the church or of self in service to others. The one is rooted in grace (God's provisions to enable), the other in religious legalism (rules keeping). 

Religious legalism takes no care to enable Christian living, so is left only to motivate giving through guilt (to please God), fear (to stay out of trouble with God), and pride (to be recognized by man - which Christ warned about in Matthew 6:2-4). But the outcome is always injury. The Scripture warns: Rules-driven, performance-based giving does not increase health, but rather kills it.

"The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life." - 2 Corinthians 3:6 (NLT)

"I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death." - Romans 7:10 (NIV)

But Grace (God's provisions, beginning with and especially Christ) enables Christian giving by
  • breaking the bondage of self-indulgence,
  • enabling choices which result in abundance, and
  • birthing in us the compassion of Christ for others.
“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others... For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you." - 2 Corinthians 9:8,10 (NLT)

"Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit." - Romans 7:6 (NLT)

"You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully." - 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C10

Whatever It Takes: Entertainment and Event Evangelism Calling the Community to Christ

The evangelical church today, as in the past, strategizes for winning an opportunity in the community to present the gospel. One innovative pastor said several decades ago that he would march an elephant down the center aisle of the church if it would gain a crowd for hearing the gospel. Thousands came to Christ in that church. I couldn't find an elephant, but I did find a motorcycle which worked almost as good. In the 70's, I also promoted the world's largest banana split (the length of a football field) to attract about 200 teenagers to hear the gospel. I also gave away a Dodge Dart. Twice I invited Max Palmer, the tallest living American native (7'8" tall) to our church which drew a large crowd to hear the gospel. The list is long. Many came to athletic events or to get a hotdog. They also heard the gospel and received Christ.

But although we could draw a crowd with entertainment, hotdogs, ice cream, and events (back door or side door evangelism, we called it), we took care to build our church on calling new converts to the Word of God and to walking with Christ daily.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C09

Hearing the Old Music Again for the First Time

Old church music has lost its favor in the contemporary church. But that's good. The question is, however: Has the church embraced the new sound because it has become more Christ-like so that now it needs a more spiritual form of song? That does not seem to be true. Certainly I do not know of anyone who is reporting that communities are being impacted more for Christ today than in times past when church music was quiet and simple.

Actually, I also lost my affinity for the old sound, but I discovered that the problem was not the form; rather it was the absence of God’s presence to give life to it. Even old music without God has no Life of its own to renew health - not unlike dead food which has no life-giving properties.

But when the church became bored with its old lifeless music and opted for a more sensational sound, it was being influenced from without (the world), not from within (by the Holy Spirit). That is the reason the contemporary sound is worldly and sensual to stimulate, but not the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to edify which Paul instructed for the church (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

When I experienced the old music again many years ago (but this time flowing from the Life which God gives to it), it was effectual to edify my heart and also call me to want more of Christ.

"... in the last days, people will be... lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God... They will have a form of godliness but reject the power that could make them godly." - from 2 Timothy 1-5

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C08 

Grace Counseling: Support for Taking Time to Receive Seed, Then Sowing It Into Others

The counseling we offer to men supports them for focusing on their personal recovery to health more than on their desire to minister to others, even to their families (because the most important thing they can do for their wives and children is to give them a healthy husband and dad). The desire to minister is appropriate, but it is not God's first goal for our lives.

The opportunity for service will come soon enough in God’s timing. But it will always be the fulfillment (fruit) of a sowing and reaping principle which begins with
  • God sowing his Seed into us, which we
  • take time to receive (because we cannot sow into others seed we do not have), then to
  • sow the seed of its fruit into others (this is the precious or possessed or effectual seed of Psalm 126:6).
It is in this way that God “makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C05

Experiencing Christ: Critical Need and Challenge for Counseling

The choices we make for physical health are critical. The body has more than 650 muscles and cannot tolerate inactivity, especially the heart, so we exercise. Also, we are told that there are over 90 nutrients which the body needs daily for optimal health, so we take care to include in our diets water, raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes, and maybe even also some lean meats. We also include supplementation for vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. (Much information is available to research our health needs, and different opinions exists. But we do the best we can to follow after the guidance God gives us through his Word.)

The choices we make to include people in our lives are also critical. God provided for support relationships in the home and church to help meet our essential information, affection, and decision-making needs, so we take care who we give opportunity for influence to.
But, by far, our most critical need is to experience Christ daily by the Holy Spirit through his Word. It is the chief, most passionate goal of our counseling and ministry. (This passion seems to set us apart from mainstream Christian counseling and certainly from secular Plan B counseling.)

But this concept of experiencing Christ is a hard sell. I think sometimes I could more easily motivate counselees to train for a marathon than to take extended time daily to sit quietly before God with an open Bible for Scripture reading, confession of need, and worship (in order to hear God and to experience him in fuller measure through Christ).

Part of the reason for that is, we humans have a need to perform and to be in control (a fear of surrender) and also to be significant (to be the explanation for good outcomes). But the healing which comes from Christ has only him for the explanation. In other words, it is the outcome of something Christ makes possible, and not anything we can take credit for, except to receive it, and he even enables that (Philippians 2:13; John 6:44; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C04

Cold Religious Rule Keeping: Support for Superficial Health

The conservative, evangelical church has for many years tried hard to live according to the standards of holiness which they have been taught, including to attend church, tithe, read the Bible, witness, pray and fast, and otherwise behave appropriately in the community as good Christians should (performance Christianity or churchianity, we sometimes call it), all in an effort to make God happy, or at least to stay out of trouble with him, so that maybe he will bless them with healing and financial miracles.

But the outcome has been disappointing. The church is just not well. It suffers broken health, both physically and psychologically, broken finances (debt), broken homes and marriages, and broken influence in the community. Also, the Life promised in Galatians 5:22-23 is missing.

Some have caught up with the idea that performance to make God happy, in hopes of winning a quick-fix blessing, is hocus-pocus religion, not too unlike voodoo. They have concluded that health is a cause and effect (sowing and reaping) outcome of the fitness, relational, financial, and vocational investments (wise choices) we make, just like the Bible says it is. (Good for them!) So they have thrown out the hocus-pocus.

But the outcome has been cold religious rule keeping. Although it has resulted in improved physical and financial health for some, the psychological and relationship health needs of many still suffer. Also, still missing is the Galatians 5 experience which Christ promises.

It is this experience of Christ - which the Holy Spirit meets through his Word as we take time daily to sit quietly with an open Bible for Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and worship (intimacy with Christ) - that grace counseling provides guidance and support for.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C03

Grace Counseling: Support to Come Just as You Are to Receive God’s Provisions for Heaven, for Health

Religious legalism calls us to turn away from our sinful behavior as a first step to salvation – in other words, to change ourselves before coming to God. Billy Graham (I love him dearly) has it wrong when he insists that God saves no one who holds on to any known sinful behavior. By "Just As I Am," he means that we do not need to bring any offering of good works to God for salvation (in order to go to Heaven), not that we can come to him holding on to our sins. Christ, however, calls us to come just as we are, in full confession of our brokenness, to receive his provisions of grace - both for going to Heaven, and also for health and holiness.

Our understanding of this grace concept makes the counseling we offer different. For example, while we recognize that there are elements in the world which should be excluded from our lives because they are harmful, the first support we offer counselees is to help them identify God’s provisions which should be included in our lives because they are healing.

This means, rather than identifying what to stop doing in order to be healthy, we focus first on what to start doing.

For a simple illustration, rather than identifying the food choices that should be excluded from our diets (such as processed, refined, and packaged foods), we focus first on the choices which should be included, beginning with raw fruits and vegetables, also nuts, seeds, and grains, and water.

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

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C02

Sanctification: The Exchanged Life Miscalculation

The new birth, apart from sanctification, does not make possible our healing, no more than access to water makes possible our hydration apart from drinking it.

I appreciate much of the Exchanged Life teaching, but not the aspect of it that we who have trusted the Blood of Christ for salvation can also experience the Abundant Life by just calculating or confessing it to be true (positive thinking).

Understood in the strictest sense, the Blood of Christ removes the judgment of God against us (which is separation from him because of Adam’s disobedience), but the resurrected Life of Christ, birthed in us by the Holy Spirit, is the effectual power (dynamic) that accomplishes our healing and recovery (sanctification and holiness).

Again, the Blood of Christ removes the barrier of judgment and makes it possible for God to provide the Living Water, but it is the Living Water itself that effectually accomplishes our healing. For example, water may be available to you in the room, but your thirst is not quenched by the merit alone of water’s presence on a table before you or even your appreciation for its value, but only by its presence in you so that it can do what water does.

This means, strictly understood, that, although we are healed because of the Blood of Christ (in the sense that his Blood makes it possible), we are not healed by his Blood (in the sense that the Blood of Christ, rather than his Life, heals us).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10C01

Since Jesus Came Into My Heart This Morning

I sometimes find myself singing this old song from my past…

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought,
Since Jesus came into my heart;
I have light in my soul for which long I have sought,
Since Jesus came into my heart.

Also, the lyrics say that, since Jesus came into my heart, floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll, that I have ceased from my wand’ring and going astray, that no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure, and that I’m happy, so happy as onward I go, and so on.

It is just a great song. But in the days of my legalism when I sang it, usually in church, I understood it to mean that as a born again Christian, the testimony of this song should be my reality. But it was not! I did not really have all that much light in my soul, or joy like the sea billows roll. I had not ceased from my wandering and going astray, nor was I happy, so happy as onward I went.

So I was confused, also very discouraged. I did not doubt my salvation, but understood why some did after listening to the song.

Oh, but now I understand! Jesus coming into my heart is not the same as the Holy Spirit placing me in Christ. The one (me in Christ) makes possible my going to Heaven when I die, the other (Christ in me) makes possible my sanctification and healing from brokenness. Also, the Holy Spirit immersing me into spiritual union with Christ (the new birth) is a one-time experience, but my experience of Christ in me is an ongoing, renewable experience, like drinking water or eating bread. There’s a difference. It is the reason Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It also helps us to understand the meaning of "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone will open the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20).
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B26

Why You? Broken Health, Not a Random Outcome

A heart attack victim called his pastor to ask, “Why me?”

“Why not you?” was the pastor’s best answer.

But health and sickness are not random outcomes which have no cause and effect (sowing and reaping) explanation; rather, each is the outcome of the choices (or failed choices) we make to include God’s provisions in our lives which support healing. These choices are for diet, exercise, and lifestyle (sleep, safety, etc.), also for supportive relationships in the home and church and even workplace.

But especially, the choice is to be renewed daily in our experience of Christ. If the choices we must make for health were represented by a 100-foot hole, maybe 90 percent of the hole would be our need to experience God through intimacy with Christ. Of course, I would not know the percentage, but I use the statement in our counseling to help make the point that, without “who Christ is” renewed in us daily, we are left with only a superficial interest in health (for example, so that we can look good or maybe even feel good), but without the passion for health which Christ births in us that motivates and enables us for making the follow up choices which support health and happiness.

“Without me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

It is God who works in you both to desire and to do according to his redemptive plan for your health.” (See Philippians 2:13.)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B25

Authentic Christian Living: Christ in Us, Making the Peformance Effectual

Some people are funny. I mean as in comedian. I have a dry sense of humor, but I am not funny. I have been told I was "funny," but I don’t think it was meant as a compliment.

Sometimes I can report a story that's funny and get a grin. But I am not gifted to tell a story in a way to make you laugh.

But not to worry! A funny story doesn’t need any help. Funny can stand on its own. One does not really need to be a comedian to tell a story that is already funny. The same is true about singing or acting: Either the performance is gifted and enabled or it is affected, meaning it is asserted and artificial.

That is the point I try to make about Truth. Truth is who Christ is. He will be in us who he is. He will also communicate through us to others who he is. He does not need to be packaged in sensationalism. He just doesn’t.

This means, we do not need to "perform" the Christian life. Christ will live his life in and through us to make our Christian lives authentic and our service to others effectual.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory (gr. n. doxa: the character and ways of Christ manifested in and through us into a dark world).” – Colossians 1:27

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B24

A Primer on Sex, Eating, and Worship

Every one of God’s provisions is redemptive. This means they were given to establish us in health, and then ultimately to enable us in our service to others. This means also that God did not provide food, or sex, or even our experience of Christ just so we could feel good or be superficially comforted in our pain.

Explanation: God’s purpose for the husband (man and his seed) is redemptive: It is for him to serve as a resource to propagate/reproduce life. By his sowing into his wife and by her union/connection to him to receive his seed (in the act of sex), the woman is served by God to fulfill his calling and purpose for her life - that is, to bear children and for her and her husband to parent them.

The act of sex is a gift from God. He could have chosen a different plan, but was kind to ordain such a delightful way for his plan to be fulfilled. We cherish the gift. It was not intended to serve lustful desires, but rather the health needs of another. Only as it is experienced in the way God intended does it remain beautiful and meaningful, also enjoyable.

God’s purpose for providing food to us is also redemptive: It is to sow life into our bodies. By God’s sowing his life into the earth, and by our union/connection to receive the seed (the act of eating), we are served nutritionally to fulfill his calling and purpose for us in redemptive service to others.

The act of eating is a gift from God. He could have chosen a different plan, but was kind to ordain such a delightful way for his purpose to be fulfilled. We cherish the gift. It was not intended to serve our base, fallen appetites; instead, it was intended to support our health in behalf of others. Only as it is experienced in the way God intended does it remain redemptive and beneficial.

Also, God’s purpose for giving his Son was redemptive: It was for him to serve as a resource to which we have opportunity to connect (the act of worship) in order to receive enablement for living out God’s calling in redemptive service to others.

Don Loy Whisnant/TheGrace Perspective 10B23 

"15. Don: I am having a hard time making a schedule. The hard part is making one that I can follow." is at QUESTIONS: Miscellaneous

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B22

Obedience: Understood in Grace Context

Brides no longer include the word “obey” in their marriage vows. But that’s because the concept of obedience is generally understood only in the context of legalism.

Legalism is behavior to keep rules (for example, to tithe, attend church, study the Bible, witness, and also compliance to a long list of "thou shalt nots") in order to win God’s favor and acceptance with the hope that (just maybe) it will result in a blessing or two, or at least help to stay out of trouble with him. Worse, it is religious rule-keeping without a support system to enable or motivate it, except for guilt, fear, and pride, which means it is deadly because it makes a demand upon us greater than our strength to meet that demand.

But obedience means simply to receive/connect to God’s resources for the flow of his provisions into our lives for health. For example, taking quiet time daily to read the Scriptures (in order to hear God) is obedience. Eating adequate servings of raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole grains is obedience. So are drinking water and exercise.

This is exactly the message of Romans 6:16:

“Do you not know that when you are obedient to receive God’s provisions, it leads to health?” (GracePoint summarized).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B19

An Open Letter to Counselees: Advancing Past Personal Counseling Needs to Providing Organic Ministry to Others

Dear Counselee,

You and I will soon reach one year for our counseling relationship, and you have indicated an interest to enter into a ministry role with GracePoint. If you do, there are grace concepts/principles we should talk about which guide relationships in an organic ministry. They include:

1. Organic/grace ministries invest in those they serve, then set them free to live out God's calling for their lives.

2. GracePoint's influence may be only one among many others that God will use to prepare you for redemptive service to others.

3. I have passionately taught certain concepts, but I am not an apostle. In fact, I may be a quack! You must be true to the convictions and understanding that the Holy Spirit is giving you personally through his Word.

4. Issues regarding your own counseling needs have priority. Although you can expect to grow in your experience of healing throughout life, there is a point in time when you can be established well enough in good solutions so that you are able to move forward incrementally in service to others.

5. You should seek/investigate to learn if there is another organic ministry to which you can connect for leadership support in living out God's calling for you. Or God may call you to found a ministry as I have.

6. You can expect in an organic ministry to which you connect that, while there will be no organizational hierarchy of power positions to impose will or concepts, there will be an organic/vine leadership influence which flows from the fountain head, so that if God is preparing and calling you into a leadership relationship with that ministry, it will be with shared/mutual convictions since every member is connected to the same source. This means God would call you into a leadership relationship only with a ministry where you can find support consistent with the principles he has given you.

7. The confessions you make in our sessions (also your writings) will be a good index. If they are mutual with the concepts which guide the counseling I do, you may want to consider if God is calling you into relationship with GracePoint.

This is not all there is to talk about on the subject, but the main considerations that come to mind.


Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective/10B18

God Our Father: Compassionate to Comfort, Also to Correct

God, in his relationship to us, is a compassionate Father who comforts (supports) us in all our troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3). This means he holds us in his arms to comfort us in our pain. How often in our grief have we experienced him in this way!

God is also a Giver of provisions which heal.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good (Gr. adj. agathos: beneficial) to those who ask Him!” – Matthew 7:11 (NASB)

See also: James 1:17; Psalm 104:28.

But God is also a father who trains/disciplines us. This means his love is not only demonstrated by his holding our hearts in order to support our emotional needs, but also by his instructing and guiding us in order to meet our information and decision-making needs. This is exactly the teaching of Hebrews 12:5-13.

Read it again for the first time:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline (training for health), and do not lose heart when he rebukes (admonishes, reproves) you, because the Lord disciplines (trains for health) those he loves, and he punishes (allows to suffer adverse outcomes of unwise choices) everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline (training for health); God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined, as all sons are, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit (connect, give opportunity for influence) to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good (benefit), that we may share in his holiness (be set apart and made useful in service to others). No discipline (training for health) seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace (peace from doing what is right) for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen (lift up) your feeble arms and weak knees (as a runner would do). Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed (straighten/schedule the track of your life, so that your lameness may not become worse, but instead may be healed).” - Hebrews 12:5-13

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B17

Helping to Secure Health in the Storm: Faithful Leadership Support for Those We Serve

The challenge of ministry is not only to attend to the wounds of hurting people but to also identify the unmet needs which are the underlying cause for the injuries.

I have had some opportunity to think on this during our stay at the old farm house this winter. Not only do we need to take care to heat the 75-year-old home, but at the same time, we must be alert to openings that allow the warmth to be lost. So we investigate to find every place where the heat gets sucked out of the home by the cold outside air. Also, we have learned that storm winds can almost blow the storm doors right off their hinges – that is, if they are not securely latched. So part of the care we must give to the house is to follow behind everyone who comes and goes to double check the storm doors. It is extra work, but much easier and less expensive than repairing the damage.

This illustrates one of the important concepts that guides our counseling - that it is better to invest for good health than to deal with broken behavior. So in our sessions we trace brokenness to the resource systems where counselees are connected. We explain to the parent who brings us a misbehaving child to fix that God places children in the home to have their support needs met, that when those needs are not met, children react to the pain. Also we explain to husbands that God’s redemptive plan is for him to support the health and happiness needs of their wives. We also take every opportunity to say to church leaders that their faithful ministry helps support those they serve from loss during the storm.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B12

Health and Holiness Lost to the Contemporary Church

In my early legalistic ministry, there seemed to be a lot of interest in my performance-based message. This was during a time when I was gaining some recognition in the church growth/numbers game. But I became weary and heavy laden attempting to live out the Christian life according to legalistic concepts. Like the song, I set out to be a hero, but turned out to be a zero, becoming one of the early fatalities of the "Be a Champion for Christ" nonsense. But God called me out of the rubble and gave me renewal through intimacy with Christ and his Word. It was such a significant life-changing, message-changing experience that somehow I got the notion I had discovered grace concepts which the dying church would want to know about. But I discovered instead that the half-dead church had opted for a loud, entertaining, feel-good church experience (calling it contemporary), which artificially stimulated performance (superficially motivated movement to mimick Christianity), but with the end result that it barricaded their hurting hearts to the quiet voice of God calling us to healing and holiness through Christ.

So now, while we still have some opportunities to minister to the lost and broken, it is more underground than mainstream and may be represented by the words of Christ that “broad is the way to fun and destruction, but narrow is the way that leads to healing and happiness.”

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B11

"14. Don: You say take care about where we connect. What are the resources that can hinder more than help?" is at QUESTIONS: Miscellaneous

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B10

Losing Lunch: A Lesson Learned

After eating rich foods at a restaurant earlier in the day, my friend said he did not feel well, so I prayed for God to renew his health. Within hours, he was vomiting.

“What’s up with this?” he asked.

I said God is renewing your health.

“But I vomited!” he said.

I said the bad food did that.

“But you prayed for me! Could God not just heal me?” he asked.

"He is doing that," I explained.

“I mean without vomiting?” he pleaded.

“I guess not,” I answered.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B09

Grace: No Need Missed, God's Perfect Plan

God cares about our nutritional needs and has provided for them in creation (the soil and atmosphere). He also cares about our relationship needs and has provided for them in community (the home and church). But our deepest need, by far, is
  • for deliverance from the judgment against us (separation from God) because of Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden and
  • to experience God - his love, joy, and peace, also longsuffering, gentleness, goodness (generosity), humility, faith, and temperance (support for decision making and impulse control).
This is the reason why God provided Christ - his Blood shed for us for going to Heaven, and his Life lived in us for health, holiness, and happiness.

"For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son, how much more certain and unfailing will we be saved (sanctified/made holy) by his life." - Romans 5:10

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B08

Identifying Resources for Healing: The Work of Grace Counseling

Our counseling is challenged sometimes when counselees welcome our support to empathize (as a friend) but resist us pointing them to God's provisions (as a counselor). Indeed, the confidence that someone cares about our pain is one of the deepest needs of our hearts. In fact, the failure of supportive/leadership relationships in the home and church to meet that need is one of the leading reasons why people come to our counseling. However, the power of friendship support, within itself, is marginal for healing: It does not have, in my opinion, the same value as our need to experience God's Love flowing into our hearts through our intimacy with Christ.

Grace counseling is not too much unlike the work of an emergency room doctor. While we may want to be empathetic and caring, our immediate goal is recovery for healing. The Samaritan in Luke 10:34 may represent what counseling does. He went to the half dead man (who had been failed by others), bandaged his wounds, poured on oil and wine, put him on his own donkey, and took him to an inn for extended care.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B06

Hope for Healing Hindered by Addictions

No power can prevail against God provisions for our healing. But powers do exist which can barricade us from the door through which God’s provisions for healing are received. Sometimes we illustrate this principle with light which
  • has the power to dispel the darkness in a room,
  • but only if it is received,
  • and can be barricaded against by boarding up the windows.
The most prominent barricade against receiving God’s provisions may be addiction to alcohol and drugs (including prescribed pain and mood altering pharmaceuticals). For this reason, of course, we would not attempt to provide counseling support to an alcoholic or drug addict until after detoxification.

But there are other addictions, some more subtle, which also barricade against healing, including addiction to money, power, sex, recognition, or even entertainment. This entertainment may be video games, music, or movies - actually any feel-good experience which superficially relieves pain, but does not support healing.

Counselees who hope to experience healing but who, at the same time, hold on to their addictions, soon walk away from our counseling, usually in search of counseling support (Plan B) which allows them to manage their pain, rather than find healing.

This is the reason the Holy Spirit gives, and calls us to, faith (conviction), repentance (a change of mind concerning our needs and also God’s provisions to meet them), confession, and conversion (turning away from the world’s offerings to receive/trust God’s provisions).

“(Having laid) a foundation of repentance from (a changed mind concerning) dead works (choices that do not produce health) and of faith (conviction to enable trust) toward God (his provisions), let us press on to maturity.” – Hebrew 6:1

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B05

Grace: Who Christ is IN us FOR us CALLING us to Health

The New Testament message points to the Blood and Life of Christ as God’s provisions for our salvation (justification and sanctification/healing). We note, though, that God's provisions for our healing through creation (diet, exercise, lifestyle choices, and supplementation) and through community (supportive relationships in the home and church) are not given the same emphasis. The obvious reason, I think, is that our deepest and greatest health need, by far, is met through relationship and intimacy with Christ. He is the indispensible foundation to support whatever else may follow (Matthew 7:24-27; 1 Corinthians 3:11).

Also, our very first experience of (and the first manifestation of) “who Christ is” within us will be his love and compassion in us for us calling us to give attention to our health. In our quiet time, he will guide us to pray “Give me again this day our daily bread (that which is absolutely indispensible for our health.”

This helps us understand Paul’s message that, “physical training (gumnasia) has some value, but godliness is profitable for all things” (1 Timothy 4:8).

And also why Jesus said,

“Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B04

Healing: A Cause and Effect Outcome of Choices

1. Healing is the assured sowing and reaping, cause and effect outcome of including God’s provisions in our lives.

2. These provisions flow to us through resources in creation (soil and atmosphere), community (leadership support in the home and church), and especially Christ.

3. Healing is not an event, but a process, sometimes long and slow...

4. as we remain connected to the resources through which God's provisions flow (John 15:4-5; Galatians 6:9).

5. Measures of our broken health may be generational sowing and reaping – that is, inherited or rooted in the missed choices of our parents for diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplementation.

6. There are conditions which are not reversible - for a simple example, a lost arm or leg. I suspect there are other conditions which no diet, exercise, lifestyle, or supplementation regimen would reverse.

7. Compliance to God's redemptive plan for healing might be so radical that some would not consider it practical or realistic.

8. Sickness and health must be understood in terms of cause and effect outcomes which have a scientific explanation, and not in terms of God pounding on (punishing) our misbehavior or blessing our performance to make him smile.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B03

Too Stubborn to Compromise Convictions Concerning The Scriptures

One of my favorite cartoons is of a donkey sitting down and resisting the pulling on him from a rope leading off the page somewhere. The caption reads, “I am not stubborn, I just have convictions.”

Sometimes we who seem to resist embracing the teaching/writing of others, and also insist on coming to our own conclusions concerning God and his redemptive plan for us, make ourselves subject to the accusation that we are prideful, that we have a high need to be right, to know more than others, or at least to know something no one else knows, and also to know it first.

But what are we to do? Instead of reading books or perusing the tv channels and internet world, we sit quietly before God daily with an open Bible for extended periods of time in order to hear the Holy Spirit communicate Truth to us through his Word. The convictions which he births in our hearts concerning Truth are what they are! (See GRACEPOINT DISTINCTIVES) Where else are we to go!

We do not celebrate, but grieve, that we are not mainstream in our understanding of The Scriptures. So while we do not insist that we are right about our convictions, we are committed to be true to them.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B02

Talking to God, Missing the Opportunity to Hear Him

Attorneys are aggressive to argue their case before the Supreme Court until the Judge opens his/her mouth to speak. Mid-sentence or mid-syllable, the attorney abruptly stops talking and is quiet the instant the Judge begins to speak. This is the protocol of appealing to win opportunity for influence. It is also God’s protocol for winning our favor.

The Grace Concept: We are not called to win God’s favor; rather, he seeks to win our favor.

Grace theology holds that the favor to be won is ours by God, that it is he who makes the appeal. This means, we are given the role of the Judge, and that, whatever may be understood about our future experience before God as the Righteous Judge, for this Age of Grace, God relates to us, not as a powerful judge, but as the gentle persuader. The critical decisions to be made are not God’s (his have already been made), but ours. This is the reason we are called to be quiet before God - because when we insist on talking to him, we risk not hearing him speak to us. Indeed, it is the very reason many do not hear God. So we learn to wait and to sit quietly before him with an open Bible.

This is the grace protocol also for parents, husbands, and ministers. The information we offer flows freely to guide and support the decisions of those we serve, but it is not imposed. We do not assume to speak except the door of opportunity is open.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B01

Sanctification: God's Enablement for Obeying the Rules

My friend insists that God gave his Law and expects us to obey it – period, bottom line, end of story. I asked if the unsaved were also obligated to obey. He said they were not, that God expected only the saved to obey. I asked why. He said because the unsaved do not have the Holy Spirit to enable them. I asked which aspect of salvation did he mean – was it salvation for going to Heaven (justification) or salvation for holiness (sanctification)? He became confused. So I explained that
  • the new birth experience alone does not enable obedience, but only makes possible our sanctification,
  • it is sanctification which enables obedience,
  • the bottom line is, God knows we have no power to obey his Law, and
  • every instruction, command, and call he gives assumes our enablement (sanctification) to obey.
Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A29

Identifying and Evaluating Resources: The Critical Goal of Grace Counseling

Maybe the most missed understanding about grace counseling is that its goal is not primarily to provide support for superficial pain relief or for managing broken behavior, but rather to
  • trace pain and unhappiness to the unmet needs which are at the root of the brokenness,
  • identify the resources through which God’s provisions flow for meeting those needs, and
  • support choices that increase personal health awareness and transformation.
This means, unhappiness and broken behavior are not the problem, but only the symptoms of the problem. The problem is unmet resource needs. The even deeper problem is dysfunctional resources.

Wives, who come to us for counseling hoping for support to make their husbands happy or for learning how to better cope with them, discover the goal of our counseling is to support them for focusing on their own health before focusing of the health of their marriage.

Also, parents, who present their misbehaving children to us as the problem, learn the problem is not their children’s behavior, but the system they are connected to.

Ours is a different kind of counseling. Our goal is to identify and evaluate systems/resources. This means, our interest is more in the health of the leadership in the home and church than in "fixing" the failed children, wives, and parishioners, and more in the counselee’s relationship to Jesus Christ than in his/her performance to be a good rule keeper.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A28

Losing Life Attending to Addictions

We are called to health (food choices, exercise, rest, and, especially intimacy with Christ) by the Holy Spirit through his Word, but away from health by the world, Satan, and our own fallen sinful natures, particularly by our addictions.

Attention to his addictions is the reason my friend

• finds it difficult to sit quietly each day to read the Scriptures for an extended time in order to hear God, and also

• neglects his health and the health needs of his wife and family.

He is an addict, not to drugs and alcohol, but to computer video games. Whatever might be said in behalf of computer simulated experiences, I am deeply concerned they call us away from essential connection to the truest resources which support life, and that any upside will be offset many times over by the downside of addictions and broken health.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A27

Drilling Down into Trouble

I suspect that most of cyberspace is up to no good. (Did someone say 70%?) We do know that Satan and the world system are conspired against our redemption. The Bible says so (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15; 1 Peter 5:8). That is the reason Christ calls us to remain connected to him and to his provisions (John 15:1-8), to "separate yourselves from anything unclean” (2 Corinthians 6:17), and to “resist the Devil” (James 4:7).

I discovered an online warning about “drilling down” into sites that pop up on our computer screens which open the door to harmful computer viruses.

At one level, antispyware programs help protect our computers from the pop ups that invite us to the world from which God calls us away. At another level, antivirus programs protect our computers from the malicious mess that can be downloaded onto our computers once we are at a website. But the surest protection is to resist clicking on to pursue the invitation.

“We have an obligation, but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” – Romans 8:13

The Psalmist wrote, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.” – Psalm 101:3

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A26

Mister Abraham

Abraham put Sarah at risk on several occasions, yet she called him “Lord.” Sometimes husbands want to use 1 Peter 3:6 as Scripture proof that wives should honor their husbands regardless. But we don’t know that she called him “Lord” at the time he offered her to his enemies as his sister because he was afraid for his life. I suspect it was at a better time in their marriage, either before or after. I may be wrong - someone else can do the research for that - but before husbands hope for the response from their wives that Sarah gave her husband, they may need a little more time to have a history with God which Abraham had.

I have no problem with a wife honoring her husband, even to the extent she seeks to meet his needs, gives him extraordinary reverence, or calls him Lord or Mister or whatever. But only because he has a long history caring for her and has won her confidence that, to him, investing in her health and happiness needs is what his world is all about.

Certainly The Scriptures call wives to submit (give opportunity for influence) to their husbands, even to those who may not be the best among men, but it is never with disregard to his care for her as his wife.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A25

Grace: Weak and Sometimes Dumb, God’s Support for His Sheep

God has ordained the law of sowing and reaping to govern his creation. It is as sure as the law of gravity. Still he sometimes intervenes circumspectly and in measure to accomplish his redemptive purpose for our health and happiness.

The Bible teaches that God relates to us as a faithful father to little children, appropriately holding our hands to guide us toward health. He is also a watchful shepherd caring for dumb sheep who are prone to wander. This means, we can trust him (Psalm 91) to protect us against the evil that exists in a fallen, dangerous world, over which we have no control, and which may also come against us even though we are doing our best to make wise choices for our lives.

For simples examples, we may misstep and fall, but without serious injury. Also, our vehicles may break down, although we have taken every precaution we know for maintenance. But somehow (It’s God!), it happens at a safe place where we always manage to find support within reach.

We read about this in The Old Testament Bible when God’s people, like sheep, wandered about in the wilderness as they journeyed toward the Promised Land. They were ignorant and sometimes rebellious, but God did not forsake them. In this same way, during our own journey toward health, God cares for us, holds us and helps us, guides and provides for us according to his plan for our redemption.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A22

The Need to Feel Valuable: Normal, but a Plan B Set Up for Shame

We think we want to hear that we are good, and also that we should tell others they are good. But we are not good, none of us is. There is only One who is good (Matthew 19:17) and anyone who tells us we are good is a false friend. A true friend will speak the Truth to us in love.

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – Proverbs 27:6

The Truth is: We are fallen (Romans 3:10-18). The very best about us is as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). But God loves (values) us anyway (unconditionally). His love for us has nothing to do with how valuable we are. Indeed, we might be valuable (an asset) to many people. And to know that we are valuable to people is a normal human need, but it is not our greatest need.

Again, it is normal for us to want to feel valuable to our families or to others we serve. But our greatest need is the deep conviction/confidence (faith) that we are valued unconditionally by our resources, especially by God - whether we are valuable or not.

Also, we have an opportunity to either confess our sinful condition or to suppress/deny it, but by denying it, we

1. mask our need for God,
2. set out to try harder and do better (more Plan B), and
3. expose ourselves to the accusations of Satan which are at the root of our feelings of shame.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A21

Set Free for Service: Advancing Through Counseling for Association with GracePoint

One of the core concepts that guides our counseling is that we invest in others for the purpose of setting them free. That is the meaning of the word “redemption” and exactly how Christ relates to us. Our service to others is never with expectation for our personal or organizational needs or goals to be met in some way.

Of course, sometimes God works to call those we serve back into relationship with us for the purpose of helping us serve the needs of even others. I have learned not to anticipate who specifically these persons might be, but only to invite, at the appropriate time, the few who 1) advance through our counseling phases toward their own recovery to health and 2) indicate an interest. This gives those we have invested in an opportunity to find in GracePoint, not only a resource for their ongoing support, but also a ministry partnership through which they can serve others in the same way they have been served. I thank God for the two opportunities like that which I had earlier in my own life.

Always with this consideration, we take special care to note that we can give only what we have received. This means, the support for health we give to others must come out of our own health. So we especially take care for our daily quiet time, that we stay deeply rooted in Christ through his Word - also that we stay connected to the ministry resources which God providentially brings into our lives.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A20

The Pursuit: Christ of Us, We of His Holiness

Our counseling does not make much of “followers of Christ” to represent our relationship to Christ because it is almost always presented in the context of humble, obedient slaves/soldiers following their master/general into battle. But that is not our relationship to Christ. Whatever may be said about who Christ is as King during his future 1000-year Kingdom reign on earth, he is today, specifically in this Church Age, the Age of Grace, Husband to his bride, Shepherd to his sheep, and Servant to the fallen. This means he cares for, pursues, carries, and nurtures us.

Indeed we follow Christ, but it is only in the sense that we pursue the health and holiness to which his Spirit calls us. Jesus called to his disciples, “Follow me (my call to health and holiness) and I will make (cause) you to become fishers of men (effectual in evangelism)” (Matthew 4:19).

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection (that raised him from death)” – 1 Corinthians 1:10

“I press on to take hold of that (the health and holiness) for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” – 1 Corinthians 1:12

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize (health and holiness) for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 1:13

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A19

Don: What do you teach about spiritual warfare?

In a statement or two, Satan is at war with us, and our unmet health needs result in pain and brokenness and make us vulnerable to his attacks (Ephesians 6:10-18; James 1:14; 1 Peter 5:8).

To illustrate, we thirst because we disregard God's provision of water to hydrate us (sin, when defined as a behavior, is the choices we make in an attempt to meet our needs with disregard to God's provisions for meeting those needs). In our fallen, weakened state (dehydration), we are left exposed to the adversity of Satan (which is limited, I think, to his wiles to tempt and deceive us with regard to making wrong choices for dealing with our pain).

This is not the explanation our charismatic friends would offer - which is to stand in faith upon the Word of God to wage a heroic verbal battle against the powers of darkness. But the problem is not the presence of adversity; rather, it is the absence of provisions. They miss understanding that we take authority over thirst / wage war against Satan simply by drinking water (including God's provisions for health in our lives). No brokenness can prevail against God's redemptive plan/provisions/power to heal (John 1:4; Romans 5:15-21; 1 John 4:4).

"Submit yourselves to God (open the door to his provisions for health). Resist the devil (his provisions), and he will flee from you." - James 4:7

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand (receive his provisions for health), so that in due time he (his provisions) may lift you up." - 1 Peter 5:6

"For by grace (God's provision) are you saved (healed) through faith (to receive them)." - Ephesians 2:8

But this is not to say the adversity goes away, only that it cannot prevail against God's provisions (grace) to which we remain connected. For example, the potential for thirst is always present, but we are not conscious of it really unless we are dehydrated. Also, we have no power to control storms or lions den experiences, or to remove the presence of steep inclines along our path, but God has made provisions so that we have opportunity to be sustained.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A18

Our Experience of Christ, a Taste of Heaven

Central to grace theology (deep root theology as we have begun to call it sometimes) is the concept that God accomplishes his redemptive plan through resources which he appoints and prepares - and to which he gives us the opportunity to connect for the flow of his redemptive provisions into our lives.

Christ, of course, is our most essential resource. By our connection to him (us in Christ), we have assurance of Heaven and also opportunity for holiness and healing (Christ in us). God has also provided resources in creation (soil and atmosphere) to which we can connect for the flow of his provisions into our lives to support our physical health, and in community (supportive relationships in the home and church) to which we can connect for the flow of his provisions into our lives to support our psychological health (to meet our inborn information, affection, and decision-making needs).

God’s provisions are good. “Taste and see!” the Psalmist wrote. The food he provides to support us in health is good. Supportive relationships in the home and church are powerful and meaningful. And our experience of Christ is deep, intense, and satisfying. Through these provisions we experience a little of what Heaven is like. It is the reason Paul said,

“My experience of Christ makes me long to go to Heaven.” - Philippians 1:21-23 (Gracepoint digested and paraphrased).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A17

Don: I am not sure how to move on with my life. Waiting as the days and weeks go by is hard. Is there something else I should do?

Days and weeks go by anyhow. You cannot stop that. But what you can do is: Each day, throughout the day, faithfully/tenaciously make wise, scheduled, investment choices for your life which build health and character. This is the message of James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:4-5.

Then trust that the outcomes will be good because God is the explanation for them.

Also take advantage of whatever opportunities God gives you to invest in the lives of others. If those opportunities aren't there, it may mean God still has you in the critical phase of your recovery.

Consider also that God may be purging/detoxifying you of your high need for quick fix outcomes (addictions). It is a long, painful process, but part and parcel to healing.

Fitness running provides an excellent opportunity for us to learn this lesson. When I run, I am seldom having fun, but it doesn't matter. That is why I always concentrate only on the next step, and while I know my destination, I refuse to think about how far away it is, or what the journey may be like. The healing experience is indeed one moment at a time.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A16

Build a Fire and Keep the Door Shut: A Simple Concept for Staying Warm in Winter

We do not under appreciate our need to protect ourselves against the adverse elements in the world which put us at risk for injury or harm – for example, we take care to drive on the right side of the highway and to wash our hands frequently, also to keep them out of our mouths – because, we are told, hand to mouth transfer is the number one way cold and flu viruses invade our bodies. For this reason, also, we take care to keep the door shut in winter - because the cold air outside can suck the warmth right out of a room in a hurry. It is the reason also why we take care about going to the movies or turning on the tv – because the experience can suck the warmth right out of our hearts.

But, our greatest need, by far really, is not to give strict attention to exclude from our lives that which may be hurtful, but to take very special care daily to include in our lives that which we know is helpful to support increased health.

This means: Where we go or what we eat is more important than where we don’t go or what we don’t eat. Jesus taught this concept when he warned about casting out the evil from one’s life, but then taking no care to fill it with good, so that when the evil returns “it finds the house swept clean and put in order, but also unoccupied, so along with seven other spirits more wicked than itself, it goes in and lives there, with the result that the final condition of that man is worse than the first” (Matthew 12:43-45).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A13

Staying Connected: The Quiet Call of God

God calls us by the Holy Spirit to each of his provisions for our lives. He calls us to our quiet time for connection to him. He calls us to supportive relationships in the home and church. He calls us to educational opportunities. He calls us to wise choices for diet, exercise, and lifestyle (a healthy sleep schedule, for example). He also calls us to ministry connections which support our vocation in service to others.

The world and Satan also call. But that call is loud. It is also a lie. The lie seems more appealing because of our pain and high need for a quick fix, especially if we have made those choices before and have become addicted to their outcomes.

The call of God is always a quiet call. Satan and the world conspire to surround us with noise and busyness so that we do not hear it. So God must sometimes allow our world to crumble in order for us to have an opportunity to hear him. Someone has said God allows us to be on our backs so that we have no other place to look but upward. Also, the resources to which God calls us always sets us free, making no demand upon us except to stay connected.

“Abide in (stay connected to) me…” – John 15:1-8)

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A10

Textbook Study of Scripture Not a Substitute for Hearing God

Our counseling presents a plan for reading the Scripture which is different than how we might, for example, study a textbook in order to pass a test. It supports counselees for taking time daily to simply read the Bible as they would read a letter or listen to a phone message - that is, without setting out to dissect or decode the meaning of every word or phrase hoping to dig up a spiritual nugget to meditate upon.

Some have suggested that we discourage Bible study. Actually we do not, but Bible study is not a substitute for our greatest need, which is, by far I contend, to hear God communicate to us daily during our quiet time concerning his faithful love and care for us and also our desperate need for him. (That may be the reason why seminary, as it turns out, is one of the most at-risk places for becoming spiritually cold.)

Some have also suggested that our counseling plan for reading the Scripture encourages mysticism. But reading the Scripture in a manner which surrenders responsibility for our understanding to the Holy Spirit is no more mystical than our drinking water with the trusting expectation that it will accomplish the purpose for which God created it.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A09

The Hunt for a Husband with Hollywood Looks: A False Hope for Hurting Wives

When a man's movie star looks and hot shot personality are important to a woman, it may be because she suffers from the pain of her unmet need for a godly man in her life. But she may not understand that because the chances are enormous that she has had no opportunity to experience such a man. Her dad had an opportunity to teach her about godly men, but he may have failed. Also, her husband may have known mostly only how to use her. Even her church leaders may have failed, having a form of piety, but not really knowing how to serve others without expectation of return.

Our call to men is for them to grow in their experience of Christ, so that, who they are, will be “who Christ is” deep within them, also so that their wives, in relationship to them, can have a husband who they are in awe of - not of what is superficially true about his looks and worldly ways, but of "who God is" manifesting through him in health and holiness.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A08

Confessing Ignorance and Brokenness

I don’t think I have ever known a really informed person who thought s/he was all that gifted or smart. It seems to me, the more we know, the more we know we don't know, that every door to information we pass through enters into a room full of more doors leading to information in more rooms filled with even more doors. So the most informed among us, it seems, are the most willing to confess the limits of their knowledge, while the least informed find their ignorance too painful to confess.

This denial is really a problem that works against our understanding the meaning of Scripture. That's because our only hope to understand Truth is for the Holy Spirit to supernaturally reveal it to us as we sit quietly and humbly before him with an open Bible in full confession of our need.

Also, I don’t think I have ever known a holy person who thought s/he was holy - for example, humble. That is because the more we experience Christ, the more we are conscious of our arrogance and rebellion and need for him.

Speaking of holiness (defined as "usefulness in service to others"), there are certain behaviors and attitudes - lying, cheating, and anger, for easy examples - which are obvious measures of our disregard for others. There are also other behaviors and attitudes - for example, laziness and gluttony - which are more subtle to index our self-centeredness and brokenness. It is in this context we understand the message of Scripture that: He who loves (invests in) others, loves (invests in) himself, and also loves (connects to receive from) God who enables the investing.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A07

Plan A : “Ask not what you can do for God; ask what God can do for you!”

None of God’s resources is his provision to circumvent the painful outcomes of foolish choices. Instead, each is given to provide essential needs which build enablement for making the wise choices that support good outcomes.

Otherwise, the resource is Plan B - everyone of which exists, not for the purpose of providing support for healing, but to relieve pain, create dependence, even addictions, and gain control as well as wealth.

JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country” addresses addiction to Plan B government. God's plan, "Ask not what you can do for me - ask what I can do for you" establishes us in health and sets us free.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A05

Learning Protocol for Protecting the Lady

I think I understand that ladies are first, especially for our attention to their well-being. But while I follow my wife ascending the stairs, I go before her when descending. A gentleman will certainly open the door, but I am concerned about the hazards that may await if I usher my wife onto the street through the door ahead of me, so I go first when leaving the building, and last when entering – depending, of course, whether it is a public building or a dark house. I also go first when we drive two cars back home over a two lane road at night. It seems to me I should run interference against a drunk driver or even a dashing deer. I also lead through a crowd, especially when exiting an event, and blaze the trail while walking through the woods. Still I fret that she might be snatched away from behind while I proceed ahead.

Then the matter is also whether I should walk beside her on her left or on her right. Well, I walk on her right, of course, so that she is can hold to my left arm with her right arm, which frees my right arm to defend her with my sword.

Still she seems at risk! But God gets it right. The Psalmist wrote:

“You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me (to help and to hold me)." - Psalm 139:5

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A04

Grace Counseling: Indeed Relevant Only to a Few

“Your counseling is relevant only to a few,” the detractor said to me hoping to marginalize/dismiss the need for our counseling, “because it reflects a narrow perspective limited to your own unfortunate personal experience of failure and brokenness (paraphrased).” It was to suggest that most people are not broken.

But most people are broken. In fact, I suspect that everyone is broken and that maybe ninety percent of us are really broken. The “few” to whom "only" our counseling is “relevant” are those not in denial of it.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A03

Truth Supported, Error Exposed: An Invitation to Search The Scripture

This may be the year in which God establishes the Institute for Studies in Grace Concepts. But I don’t know: I try not to predict or anticipate God’s timing or to concern myself with his business. Also, I have no personal goals or need for outcomes except for excellent health which is always being challenged.

But this we know:

1) If what we hear/read about God’s redemptive plan is not clearly rooted in The Scripture, we have reason to wonder if we are hearing/reading Truth.

2) More important than the counseling we do is a verse by verse examination of The New Testament Scriptures - which will either support the concepts we present or expose them as quackery.

3) Error can be a tale of deceit woven with just enough traditional thought so that even conservative, evangelical church people won’t know the difference.

4) Solomon warned (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25): “There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.” Also, Paul warned (1 Corinthians 1:21) that the world through its wisdom cannot know God.

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, (in context, "pray that God will open the door of your hearts") so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.” – Colossians 4:3

“The message of God’s grace in all its truth is bearing fruit among you who have heard and understood it.” – paraphrased from Colossians 1:5-6

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A02

Our Holiness: The Goal of God’s Grace

Grace Living has no goals which represent our performances to achieve stardom or win championships, but only that index our growth in grace. That’s the reason we do not set out to be first or best, or break records, but only pay attention to outcomes for the purpose of monitoring health.

Holiness and health is God’s first goal for us. The Bible clearly says so.

“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her in order to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water (Christ the Living Water) through the Word, and to present her to himself a radiant church without stain or wrinkle, or any other blemish (evidences of broken health), but holy and blameless (not having made poor choices).” – Ephesians 5:25-27

The heroic goals we set for ourselves to build religious empires and edifices (monuments, actually tombstones, to our egos) are carnal, rooted in our unmet needs to feel significant. But the plan to rescue/save the world is God’s plan, not ours. It is not a plan we can accomplish. Our only appropriate goal is to remain connected to (worship) Christ (John 4:23) in order to allow for the flow of his Life into our hearts with the assured outcome that we will be made holy and useful in his redemptive service to others according to his plan.

"This one thing I do, forgetting what is behind, and reaching forward to what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize (holiness) for which God has (effectually) called me heavenwardly in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:13

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10A01

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