Pleasant Boundaries

Pleasant Boundaries

A friend once asked me about the concept of having boundaries.  She didn’t know if it was a scriptural concept since you don’t see the word ‘boundaries’ too many times in the Bible.  Her comment spurred me on to do an in-depth study on this topic.

Psalm 16:6 says that the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for David.  What boundaries was he talking about?  In verse one, we see that one of those boundaries was using God as his place of refuge.  Another boundary was walking in the realization that apart from God, David had no good thing in him. (verse 2)

David says in verse 3 that he delights in God’s people.  He realizes that fellowship with the world is crossing the line of pleasant boundaries.  Next we find the boundary of only following the one true God, for crossing that boundary line will cause our sorrows to increase.

In verse 5, David has discovered that he can have a secure boundary by trusting in God.  He sees in verse 7 that there is a boundary of following godly counsel, rather than crossing that line and walking in the counsel of the wicked. (Psalm 1)

Since David has set the Lord always before him, he knows that he won’t be shaken. (verse 8) Walking in the boundaries that God has set forth causes David to rest secure. (verse 9) Some people may perceive God as a cruel dictator who won’t let you have any fun.  They think of Him as a God who gives you a huge list of things that you can no longer do.  David sees those same boundaries as a pleasant thing. That is why he was able to say in verse nine that he could rest securely.  The results of staying in God’s boundary lines leads to being filled with joy and finding eternal pleasures. (verse 11)

Are you staying in the boundary lines?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Spiritual Landmines

Spiritual Landmines

My nephew served several months in Afghanistan.  One thing he said they always had to watch out for was landmines.  They were everywhere.  With each step they took, they had to be consciously looking for those landmines.  Failure to do so could be deadly.

In our walk with the Lord, we need to be careful what steps we take.  If we veer off the course the Lord has set before us, we may find ourselves stepping on a spiritual landmine which can seriously injure our testimony or destroy us spiritually.

For instance, perhaps we start having too intimate of a conversation with a coworker of the opposite sex.  Before we know it, we are caught up in an emotional or physical affair.  The spiritual landmine could easily blow up and destroy our marriage.

Another example is by emotional eating.  I have struggled with this issue, so I can speak from experience.  When we fall into the trap of emotional eating, we set food up as our “god” of choice when we should be running to the Lord for all of our needs.  Too much of this spiritual landmine can cause us to literally “blow up,” as in, our body expands and we no longer fit into our clothes.  This cycle is a hard one to break too.  The clutches of the enemy go deep and are hard to loosen.

Another example is when we veer off course by refusing to forgive others.  There are so many “landmines” that can explode in our lives when we choose to hold onto bitterness and resentment.  Medical science has shown that doing so can lead to colitis, heart attack, panic attacks, high blood pressure, and a myriad of other conditions.

By being cautious of our steps, and daily keeping our spirits in tune with the Lord, we can avoid stepping on spiritual landmines.
© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

Guarded Boundaries

Guarded Boundaries

 

Do you ever feel pressured to do things that we know are not God’s best for you? It seems that we are constantly facing people who are trying to get us involved in activities or commitments that we just don’t feel good about, yet we have a hard time saying ‘no’ to them.

 

We must be careful to guard our hearts, not allowing them to be swayed emotionally, taking us across a boundary line that God has put into place in our lives. We need to guard our boundaries!

 

Even Jesus felt the need to guard His boundaries. In Matthew 13:36, we see that Jesus left the crowd and went into the house. Notice that the crowd didn’t leave, but Jesus did. There were times that He knew He needed to pull away.

 

In Matthew 14:22, Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, then He dismisses the crowd so He could pray. It had been a mentally exhausting day because his cousin had just been beheaded. Jesus knew that He needed to come apart or He would end up ‘coming apart.’ He needed to find that place of solitude to pray through His grief over the vicious death of His beloved cousin. He needed God to refill Him with some fresh oil so that He would have something to offer those who sought Him. Sometimes we need to dismiss the crowds in our own life. We need to send the children to their room, turn off the phone, turn off the TV, the computer, and get alone with God.

 

In Luke 4:42-44, Jesus is praying and the crowds come after Him once again. They were pressuring Him to stay there with them. Jesus had His priorities in order, and He knew that if He stayed there, He would be crossing a boundary line. He told the people that He was to be preaching the good news to other towns. He wasn’t persuaded to stay, no matter how much they pressured Him to do so.

 

It’s the same with us – we will be pressured to sign our children up for activities because ‘everybody else is doing it.’ We will be pressured to get involved in more church activities than what is feasible for us. Keep in mind that when you overstep the boundaries and get involved in too many activities or you take on too many charity cases, you may end up not being able to do a good job of taking care of your husband and your children. And guess what? If YOU don’t do it, no one else will! Why? Because God has called YOU to do it!

 

Even commercials bombard us, pressuring us to spend more money. If we don’t have the money, it’s no problem, just call the 800 number for a quick and easy loan! We must guard our boundaries! One of the best ways we can guard those boundaries is by simply guarding our hearts for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23) If we don’t guard our hearts, that wellspring of life will run dry very quickly. We will have crossed a boundary line that leads us to a very dry and parched land.

 

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Dynamite

Dynamite

 

Dynamite has been used in very positive ways. It has opened paths in mountains to make roads on which we can travel. It has also been used in the mining business. Old buildings have been brought down so that progress can take place in that location.

 

On the other hand, dynamite can be used in a very negative way. Many stories have been told of bridges being blown up, as well as railroads and buildings. In these situations, the people behind these atrocious acts are bitter and angry, out to seek revenge.

 

One use of dynamite brings very positive results; the other leads to destruction and devastation.

 

Computers can be like dynamite in a spiritual sense. One person can use the computer to help further their education. Another person might use it to start an online ministry. Both of these uses are done in a positive manner.

Yet, someone else becomes addicted to online pornography or online gambling. Another person may connect emotionally with a stranger on the Internet, leaving behind a devastated spouse and children to pursue a sordid relationship.

 

It is amazing how something with so much potential to make life easier and more productive seems to be at the root of so many problems!

 

Paul said that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. (First Corinthians 6:12) I think we would be wise to evaluate our own computer usage. Is it helping us to be keepers at home? Is it helping us to be more productive in our work? Is it fueling our passion for the Lord? Is it spurring us on toward love and good deeds? (Hebrews 10:24) If not, perhaps our computer has become like dynamite in its most destructive form.

 

© 2008, Stacy R. Miller

Boundaries

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Boundaries

Is it scriptural to have boundaries in our lives? I did some research in my Bible to see what I could find on this topic.

While the word ‘boundaries’ isn’t used frequently throughout scripture, I do believe that the concept is there. God gave us the 10 Commandments. Those are definitely some boundaries of things we should and shouldn’t do. Saving sex for marriage is another boundary, but it is a very good boundary. You don’t risk catching a sexually transmitted disease, and you don’t run the risk of feeling guilty or dirty for having given your most precious gift to someone outside of marriage. You won’t end up bombarded with dreams over a sordid past if you keep yourself pure, saving your virginity for your husband.

In Ephesians 6:1-3, children are admonished to obey their parents. Staying in this boundary line has a wonderful promise connected to it – that it may go well with them and that they may enjoy a long life.

In Titus 2:3-5, women find some boundaries that tell them to love their husbands and children, to be busy at home, being self-controlled, kind, and pure, and being subject to our husband. What is the result when we choose to stay in this boundary line? The word of God will not be blasphemed. Again, we see another good boundary line.

In I Peter 3:7, we find a boundary line for the husband. He is to be considerate of his wife, treating her as the weaker partner, yet still an heir with him in God’s grace. What is the benefit of not crossing this boundary line? His prayers will not be hindered.

In James 4:7, there is another boundary line in submitting ourselves to God. The result of not crossing the boundary line is that we will be able to resist the devil, knowing that he will flee.

In Philippians 4:6-7, we have a boundary line regarding an anxious heart. Instead of being anxious, we can stay in our boundary lines by praying with a thankful heart. The end result is that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds.

In Philippians 2:14-15 we are admonished not to cross the boundary line and start complaining or arguing. If we stay in the boundary line, and conduct ourselves without giving into the fleshly tendency to complain and argue, we will shine like the stars in the universe.
People will notice when we begin to shine brightly!

Do your boundary lines cause you to shine like the stars?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Balcony Seating

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Balcony Seating

When our high school girls’ basketball team went to the state finals several years ago, we bought tickets from some fans of the losing team so we could sit closer to the floor for the evening game. When we arrived, someone else was sitting in our seats. We showed them our ticket stubs, proving the seats were ours and they moved to higher seating.

We allow people who are close to us to take a front row seat into our lives. We discuss personal things with them because they have earned that privilege. Occasionally, we will have individuals who expect front row seating in our lives. Yet, we see the need to put up some boundaries and quickly send them to the balcony of our lives.

For instance, I know a lady who feels the need to frequently tell me that I need to have more children. This woman has a proven reputation of being a busybody, so I quickly move her to balcony seating. The Word speaks against the behavior of being a busybody. (Second Thessalonians 3:11) I choose to stay away from her so that her bad company does not have a chance of corrupting my character. (First Corinthians 15:33)

I had a close friend who began to make foolish choices. After investing a lot of my time and energy on her, I saw she was choosing to continue in her foolish choices. After confronting her on the issues, I chose to move her to the balcony, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)

If you are trying to watch your words, you may find it necessary to move some people to the balcony in your own life. If we continue to hang out with those who are given to obscene language, foolish talking, and coarse joking, we will have a much harder time breaking that cycle in our own lives. (Proverbs 4:24; Ephesians 5:4)

Perhaps you have a friend who is constantly speaking negatively about her husband. It is so easy fall into the trap of adding your own negative thoughts. Yet, by doing so, you will find it difficult to respect your husband. (Ephesians 5:32) Rather than doing him good, you will likely resort to nagging. (Proverbs 19:13; 21:9, 19) It is time to move this person to the balcony so you can focus on developing the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. (First Peter 3:4)

Because I know several women who struggle with setting boundaries, I want to give one more example that may hit very close to home for many of you. Sometimes we need to move extended family members to the balcony. If we have extended family members who cannot respect the way we choose to raise our children, and they continually belittle us in front of our children, perhaps it’s time to move them to higher seating. I recently had to do this with a family member. It has been very hard because I thought I had a very close relationship with this person, and often shared very intimate details of my life with her. However, she made it quite clear several months ago how little she thinks of me. I was devastated by her behavior. I have had to do much praying to be able to handle this situation in a godly fashion, especially knowing that my young daughter is closely watching because she was there when all of this transpired. The result has been that I no longer make the weekly phone calls to her, nor will I visit her. However, when there is a need to inform her of something, such as an upcoming clogging performance for my daughter, I will tell her, but I choose to keep the conversation very short. When there are family get-togethers, I attend, and I will speak to her, but refrain from engaging in any in-depth conversation. I still treat her with respect, yet at the same time, I have moved her to balcony seating.

Do you need to move some people to the balcony in your own life?
© Stacy R. Miller

Moving the Boundaries

Moving the Boundaries

I have discovered that many women are ‘rescuers.’  When they hear of a problem, they automatically want to jump up and help.  While that can be a very good quality, it can also cause us to jump over the boundary lines that God has in place for us.  When God tells us to sit still, but we continue to jump up and help, we may end up trading God’s best for something less.  When asked to do something, I have learned to tell the person that I need to pray about it first.  Sometimes I know right away that there is no way I can do it, and I will say so.  Yet there are other times when I can get caught up in the excitement of the moment and want to commit to doing something.  If I signed up and committed myself, and it wasn’t God’s will for me to do it, I’m going to quickly feel stressed, overburdened, grouchy, angry, and I’m going to sense a lot of discord in my spirit.

At the time I’m writing this, I just attended a children’s worker’s meeting.  It was so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the youth pastor and want to do more!  Yet, at the same time, I realize that God is calling me away from that ministry since I am now teaching a class for ladies on Sunday morning and on Wednesday nights.  As hard as it was, I had to let our youth pastor know that I would be stepping down from helping once a month to only helping about four times a year when they do their ‘fun day.’

I’ve been helping in children’s church for about three years now.  I’ve never felt ‘called’ to that place of ministry.  Rather, it was a convenient place to serve because it didn’t require that I take my daughter to a sitter so that I could go ‘serve God.’  She was even allowed to attend the quarterly meetings with me.  At the same time, I kept having dreams from the Lord of being used to teach women’s ministry.  I knew deep down that my time in there was coming to an end, yet it was still hard to give it up because our church is without a pastor right now, and attendance is drastically dropping.  They really need the help in that department because the workers are few.  Yet, if I continued on in that ministry, it was going to be a distraction to where God is taking me now.  My passion is to teach and encourage women, so it’s time to allow God to move my boundary lines in a different direction.

I share this personal example with you to get you to evaluate your own life.  Does God want to move some of your boundary lines?  Are you holding Him back?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller