Frank Viola, who is a best-selling author, A-list blogger, writer, podcaster, and consultant to authors and writers, recently interviewed us regarding our book, The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself. In case you haven’t heard of Frank, he has written over 20 books, including his most recent one, co-authored with Mary DeMuth, entitled, The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels. Frank’s writings have been particularly helpful to us, personally, in our efforts to understand our role and the role of the church in the bigger story of the Kingdom of God on the earth today. His mission is to “help serious followers of Jesus know their Lord more deeply, gain fresh perspectives on old or ignored subjects, and make the Bible come alive.” His blog currently has over 80,000 monthly readers.
For centuries, Christians have had a difficult time reconciling paradoxes and messages that emphasize different aspects of a truth.
For instance, there’s been a long-standing debate that Paul and James preached messages that contradicted each other. The book of James emphasizes works, even stating that we are saved by works, while the book of Galatians emphasizes grace, stating that we are saved by grace through faith.
This apparent discrepancy clears when one realizes that James was writing to libertines who turned God’s grace into a license to sin. In Galatians, Paul was writing to legalists who were making works the basis of salvation. However, both authors agree that true faith works by and is manifested through works of love. So understanding that each apostle was writing to two different audiences causes the contradiction to clear.
In the same way, I’ve written a lot about the practical application of the cross and Jesus’ many exhortations about self-denial, which are counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. I’ve also written and spoken on the fact that sin is essentially selfishness, and by nature, we mortals are born selfish. As Paul says in Ephesians, no person ever hated his own flesh. Self-preservation is among the greatest of our fallen human instincts.
On the other hand, there are people who — due to environmental factors — hate themselves. And they can’t accept that God loves them because they don’t love themselves, feeling incapable of receiving His love. I’ve counseled people who couldn’t seem to get over condemning themselves even though the blood of Jesus Christ has fully dealt with their sense of condemnation.
So the message of “deny yourself” and “love God even as you love yourself” are not in contradiction.
And this is where Jerry and Denise’s new book, The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself, comes in.
I caught up with Jerry and Denise to discuss their new book.
If you’re someone who has trouble accepting yourself and forgiving yourself, as God has accepted and forgiven you, you’ll be particularly interested in this new title.
Instead of asking, “what is your book about,” I’m going to ask the question that’s behind that question. And that unspoken question is, “how are readers going to benefit from reading your book? Why should they spend their time and money on it?”
Jerry and Denise Basel: Over 20 years ago we started working as Christian counselors to help people who wanted to love God with all of their hearts and to love others in the same way, but struggled to do so. We became aware that there was a critical piece missing—that being the ability to love themselves the way God does.
In our book we establish a process to help people begin to identify the reasons why they struggle in living out the fullness of the Gospel, and we provide a clear path to bring healing and freedom to their lives.
How is your book different from other books that seek to minister to people who struggle with not loving themselves, and may not even realize it, but yet have symptoms that indicate that this is occurring (i.e. performance-driven, critical of self and others, difficulty trusting others and God, difficulty identifying and expressing feelings, needing approval from others)?
Jerry and Denise Basel: As we read as well as researched many books in our Christian counseling education and years of experience, we were unable to identify resources that addressed this topic of “loving ourselves” from a Christian worldview.
In addition, Christian resources often focus on our need to love God and love others and may address a few of the topics that are identified in our book, but the call to love ourselves in the manner that God loves us and to follow that with a path to obtain true heart change and transformation has been missing.
It is our intent in writing this book to provide a process whereby individuals are able to identify the ways they do not love themselves (and possibly do not even realize it), understand the reasons this occurred, and enter into a healing process of finally beginning to love themselves and live from that place. The lack of an existing comprehensive healing resource with this focus is one of the main reasons that we chose to write this book.
Give us two or three insights from the book that would be helpful to Christians who struggle with loving themselves.
Jerry and Denise Basel: First, the negative or sinful issues that manifest in our adult lives often are the result of childhood wounds to our soul and spirit. However, these wounds are not only the result of overt abuse. Many times the lack of what we needed in our development as children by well-meaning parents can be just as negatively impacting in how we function as adults.
As a result, we must be willing to allow God to walk back with us, show us what He intended for us as children, and allow Him to bring healing to those places.
Second, when we have “negative fruit” manifesting in our adult lives (see Gal. 5:22-23), this is often the result of “toxic shame” that started very early in our lives.
This type of shame—that says that there is something inherently wrong deep within—is built on a core of lies that cause us to learn to protect ourselves (wear masks), build walls around our hearts that keep others (and God) out, and perform to be approved by others (and even by ourselves).
Third, we have a Father who knows us, sees us (even in our struggles), loves us and invites us to come as a child into His presence. It is this child-like identity that He placed within us from the very beginning that He is working to restore, so that we can fulfill the destiny He has for us.
What has been the response to the book so far?
Jerry and Denise Basel: We have been excited about the response to our book, as both men and women have shared that It has been deeply impacting and life changing.
The personal stories as well as the letters contained within the book have been especially powerful. Many have passed this book on to numerous others in their families, churches, ministries and spheres of influence.
Along with a companion DVD and Study Guide, the book has been used by classes and small groups in churches and ministries as well as a recommended resource by Christian counselors, pastors and others.
Although we are very grateful for how it has been embraced by many up to this point, we know that so many more of God’s children are in need of healing and could benefit from this resource.
Here are some reviews by early readers:
I have known Jerry and Denise for the better part of three decades. These two academics-turned-well-trained-counselors know suffering hearts and the heart of God like few others. In The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself, they place emotional and spiritual health on a solid foundation of love–for God, for others, and for self.
– Gary W. Moon, MDiv, PhD, executive director, Dallas Willard Center for Christian Spiritual Formation; author, Apprenticeship with Jesus
Jerry and Denise Basel are living out in a profound way what a growing movement of authors, songwriters, theologians, and everyday people have been daring to express, believe and try on. It is the Original Good News, aimed at the lies we’ve been telling ourselves about us. The Basels are displaying, with winsome confidence, the astonishing love of the Father; which alone allows us to love ourselves honestly, deeply and wonderfully.
– John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall, bestselling co-authors of The Cure, Bo’s Cafe, and The Ascent
Jerry and Denise brilliantly uncover the issues that are hiding in the dark corners of our story. This book will give you permission to love yourself the way that God loves you–though it may feel selfish, it’s the most unselfish thing you can do.
– Pattie Mallette, New York Times best-selling author of Nowhere but Up
When you read The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself, you need to be ready for open-heart surgery. As I read, I felt the invisible hands of grace soothe the pain and numbness out of my heart. If you want to live from the whole of your heart and feel Jesus living through and in you, then this book is a must.
– Pablo Giacopelli, professional tennis coach on the WTA Tour and author of Holding On Loosely
I am so excited about this book that words fail me. I don’t think I’ve read anything like it: personal and didactic at the same time in a very easy flow. I felt like I was sitting in the counseling room talking to Jerry and Denise. Their easy style of talking yet getting to the heart of the matter came through so well. I thought of my clients in the addiction center and knew just how much I can use this book. I can see it transforming lives, and I can’t wait for it to come out because I’ll buy it in bulk.
– Bill Curnow, L.I.F.E. Coaching International, Wyoming, Michigan
[End of Interview]
If you would like to read this interview directly on Frank Viola’s blog, you can click on either of the following links:
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We also welcome your comments here as well (see below).
Jerry and Denise
(NOTE: The Book, Study Guide, DVD and MP3 Audiobook CD are also available at www.jerryanddenisebasel.com. An Audiobook digital download is available at Gumroad.com (special reduced price), Amazon.com and iTunes.com.)
NOTE: If you or someone you know is in need of finding a safe place for emotional and/or spiritual healing and restoration, please contact us at The Father’s Heart Intensive Christian Counseling Ministry through our website at www.fathersheart.com or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
We are located in the North Georgia Mountains in a retreat-oriented environment and have established opportunities for ministry to individuals or couples for time periods as little as a few hours to as long as five days.