Boundaries

When I was younger, I loved to push the limit and see how close to the line I could come. I used to resent boundaries and consider them a challenge to overtake. Can you relate? Amazingly enough, I have kids who do the very same thing. It must be a part of that sinful, human nature.

I have learned many difficult lessons in life because I overstepped boundaries, didn’t enforce boundaries, and ignored boundaries. I am still learning, often the hard way. Boundaries are important in marriage, parenting, friendships, work relationships and are more than just a benefit.

Boundaries are a blessing.

Consider that God has placed boundaries around you for your protection–He tells you to stay away from certain things so you will be pure. God wants you to be safe from sin and danger and He helps you to do that by telling you things to avoid. He wants you to heed His words, for your blessing and benefit.

And wouldn’t it be great if we had no boundaries for God?
Allowed Him access to every dark corner of our lives?
Recognized that He supersedes physical boundaries by being omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent?

Psalm 16

1 Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

God’s boundaries are good!

Setbacks

“Sin will take you farther than you ever intended to stray, It will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay and cost you more than you ever intended to pay.” Author unknown

Have you ever found yourself in a frustrating place of sin and thought back to when that particular stronghold may have started? Definitely a sobering thought. Recently we had a local school principal arrested for shoplifting at Kohl’s. She was in her early 50’s. There was a lot of newspaper television coverage and she no longer works as a principal. Wow. Who knows when that all started for her.  This sin took her on an ugly journey.

Sin is just like that. We justify and rationalize our behavior and get defensive when it is brought to our attention. But later we find ourselves repeating that same stinkin’ scenario over and over again and trying to get free from the grip of sin. What can we do? Here are some actions that can help:

  • Confess
  • Seek Forgiveness
  • Have an accountability partner
  • Surround yourself with Scripture
  • Pray
  • Change your scenery or routine
  • Forgive yourself

Be open to insight from more seasoned Christians who may have the ability to see you are headed down a dangerous path. Sometimes those rebukes come from someone who has walked a similar road and desires to save you from the pain and consequences they experienced. Sometimes we are so blind to current or future consequences of our sin that we are shocked when a concerned friend brings forth a warning. Be approachable.

As long as we are human we will have setbacks. Will you allow a setback to give you an excuse to go further down a dangerous path or will you allow it to help you see your vulnerabilities and give you the chutzpah to forge through temptation the next time?

Yield ~ Give Way

We most often see the term yield in reference to driving on an on-ramp or at an intersection where we must ‘give way’ to another vehicle. Some countries use the phrase “give way”.

Give Way. I like it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if those types of signs would pop up during relationships?

  • You are about to make a strong point with your spouse or friend, teetering on the edge of really saying something hurtful and a yield sign pops up to remind you to give way to a better way of speaking.
  • You are about to make a direction change in your life that requires some other pieces to fall into place and instead of going “full-speed ahead”, a yield sign pops up and warns you to let something else come first.
  • You are busy telling Go your life plans and He calls you to yield to Him one step at a time.

There are many times you will find yourself in situations calling for you to submit, consent, surrender or accept. Sometimes God is the one requiring that of you.

“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” Joshua 24: 23 NIV

Those “foreign” gods can really worm their way into my heart and mind. I find it unfortunately easy for other desires and distractions to move into first place. That is a clear indication that I haven’t been yielding to God’s wisdom and way.

Are there areas in your life God is asking you to yield for a season?

Pondering takes Time

Ponder: 1: to weigh in the mind 2: to deliberate about 3: to muse over, to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply. Webster, 1965.

With all of the communication and noise and business of the day, we actually have to be intentional about pondering anything. It seems like we don’t have any time. But it is important to set aside time to ponder, particularly the things of God. I have included several Bible verses to get you started though you may already have some you are in the midst of pondering. Write them on an index card and keep them close by so if you have a moment to think, they might be available to you. I chose the New International Version but feel free to look at several translations to get a larger sense of the meaning of the passage. This is all a part of the pondering process.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-5 NIV

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19 NIV

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 NIV

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12:2 NIV

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:5-9 NIV

Ponder. Savor. Mull it over. Let God imprint it on your heart. How might God be speaking to you today through His Word?

One of my favorite things about God is when I am reading a Bible passage I have read a bunch of times and a word or phrase strikes me… it’s as if God bolded it to get my attention.  That doesn’t always happen, but there are times it does. And if I am in a hurry or I am tackling Scripture like a job, I can easily breeze by those words or phrases He just might want me to ponder.

Is there a particular verse you have pondered and would recommend to others? Please consider adding it as a comment to this post. There is so much wisdom in Scripture it is often hard to find a starting point. Sharing Scripture is a way to cement it in your mind as well as encourage a fellow traveler on the journey!

State of the Union

Our family gathered around the television last night to hear the State of the Union. It was another great reminder to pray for our country and for those who are serving and leading our nation!

Christians have many differing views on where our country is headed and the best way to get there. It is important to be informed on the issues, prayerfully ponder them, seek God’s heart on the matters, and vote when given the opportunity.

Members of US government would benefit from our prayers. We have city, county, and state government officials who would benefit from our prayers as well. Please consider praying specifically for those serving in all levels of public office that God would:

  • guard their marriages and families
  • protect their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health
  • safeguard them against the schemes of those who intend to harm or lead them astray
  • defend them when they are in the correct course of action
  • convict them when they are not
  • unveil the eyes of those who do not believe in Him
  • surround believers with others who will encourage spiritual growth
  • surround unbelievers with opportunities to engage in healthy spiritual conversation with Godly men and women

Ask God to give you other prayer areas to add to this list. You can even pray for your local, state, and national leaders by name! Don’t get too bogged down in the details–start by praying in general and ask God to direct your prayers through His Word.

Here is a link to an organization offering many different angles and opportunities for prayer. Check them out when you have a chance!!

http://presidentialprayerteam.com/index.php

The Quiet

Have you ever noticed it is really hard to find a quiet place to be with God? There always seems to be some level of sound; the furnace fan, the hum from an electronic device, a drip, drip, drip from a faucet, or a bird chirping. Sometimes our minds have a difficult time finding quiet because so many things call for our attention and we mentally run through to-do lists. Distractions are everywhere but are reduced significantly if we at least find a quiet place.

Not too long ago, there was a time when stores weren’t open on Sunday. Youth sports events were never held on Sundays. Families stayed home and had a day of quiet. Sunday was a day of Sabbath rest.  How quickly it happens that every moment we have is filled with busy-ness and noise. Are we so busy that we don’t have time to take a break?

Let me encourage you to take some time today to be still with God. Just you and God and your Bible. It is hard to steal away those moments, but it can be such a time of refreshment, honesty, insight, and peace. Let God speak to you through His Word. Let Him shed a new light on your circumstance and breath His Spirit into your soul.

Remember, we are human beings, not human doings….take time to be with God! Be refreshed, renewed, and encouraged. Take refuge in Him!

Psalm 16 is a great Psalm to ponder!

Copy Cat

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5: 1-2

The term “copy cat” isn’t typically a compliment, but I know things would run much more smoothly in my home if I would walk in the way of love and imitate God instead of reacting to the circumstances and attitudes around me.

When I think about walking in Jesus’ love, of course I want to be an imitator of Jesus for the people I love in my life. But I can’t give what I don’t have so I must first allow Jesus’ love, sacrifice, and forgiveness extend to me. Sometimes that takes a while to sink in as deep as it needs to.

God always gives me an opportunity to practice what He wants me to learn. The more I “copy” Him, the more natural His type of actions will become. I want to copy the way God loves, cares, encourages, blesses, sees, sacrifices, etc. So I must read and study His examples of that behavior. Digging into Scripture is a great way to really see God’s love in action.

If you have children in your life, tell them you want them to be a ‘copy cat’. See how they respond to that statement. If they are in school or have any siblings, I bet they already have a negative impression of that term.  Ask them if there is ever a good time to copy someone. Who could they copy and be doing the right thing? Make a list of things you can do to copy God’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, etc.  Be a Copy Cat!!!

Cicus loves to sit on our copier/printer!!!