Tag Archives: Wisdom

Boundaries, love, sacrifice

Personal boundaries are essential to all relationships; our relationship with our spouse, friends, co-workers, job, possessions, school, government, church and our God. Boundaries define the limits of our expectations, rights and responsibilities. Boundaries are necessary in relationships like skin is to our body. If I meet someone who claims to not have boundaries, who claims to have no rights and always shares everything, I run! Boundaries are an essential part of relationships.

Many popular psychology books have written on this topic but this topic is really ancient. In the Bible when God says, “You shall not,” this is a boundary. The concept of boundaries has received some bad press because of books that fail to teach the balance of self-care with self-sacrifice. And Christians may not appreciate teaching on boundaries because it seems opposed to Biblical emphasis on selfless sacrificial love. If we begin our study of boundaries with an understanding of God’s character and with common sense understanding of nature, we will see that God does have boundaries when he gives commands and that self-care is basic to all biological life.

Self-sacrifice and sacrificial giving is also an essential element of God’s character and of nature. We see sacrifice as an essential part of our physical world in many ways; every human child born into this world is born with the sacrifice of a woman who carried and gave birth to that child. When I watch birds care for their chicks there is an incredible amount of sacrifice involved to continually feed those hungry mouths. When a human parent goes to work every day to provide for his children there is sacrifice. We also see deep within our Creator the character of self-sacrifice, “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16). Boundaries are compatible with both self-care and self-sacrifice.

Boundaries actually help to establish the balance between self-care and self-sacrifice because when we truly care for ourselves in a healthy way, then our giving is intentional. Many of us who grew up in families where boundaries were violated will spend a lifetime trying to learn healthy love. The first boundary is a physical one; do not touch me without my permission, and do not touch others without their permission. I believe sexual purity and physical boundaries are healthy. Emotional boundaries are less easy to define but very important. We must learn the difference between our own problems and those of others. In advising Christians how to love Paul says in Galatians, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ…But each should also bear his own load” (6:2,5). This is a great balance passage teaching us what healthy love is.

Jesus as an example of balanced healthy love said, “No man takes away my life, but I lay it down of my own choice.” When our lives are being consumed by the demands of life we grow resentful. When others make demands upon us we grow resentful, we resist and we rebel. But when we truly love, we may choose to sacrifice. Most of the great things in life require self-sacrifice.


prey or pray?

“People are to be prayed upon, not preyed upon”

“We tend to use people and love things. But the rightful design is that we should use things, and love people”


Serenity prayer- uncut

SERENITY

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

 the courage to change the things I can,

 and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

Taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it;

Trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will;

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

 and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

Amen

Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971


O my dog!

Kind of a poem, sort of;

I tried to put my dog in a box, a cute little box,

But he would not go in, just wagged his tail, wanted to play.

I tried to put my dog in a bigger box,

Do ya know what that dog said?

Now way I won’t stay.

Tried to put my dog in a big box, as big as my house,

but he ran away, would not stay.

One day I tried to get my dog into a huge box, big as my church.

He just turned away.

I tried to put my dog into the world’s biggest box, big as the sky!

I cried and said, “Why, won’t you please stay in my box?”

He just laughed at me and said,

“You silly boy, you can’t build a box big enough for me!

And I just will not stay, no way!”

Then my dog said to me,

“Welcome to my house, There’s plenty of room for you here!

Won’t you please come in?” So I did.

Mark a 2001


Worship, a metaphor

A sunflower in the field was gazing upon the sun. I walked up to the sunflower in the field and said in my most authoritative voice, “What are you doing just standing here gazing at the sun all day long? Can’t you get a job, or go to school? Can’t you prove yourself? What good are you?” Funny thing, the sunflower just ignored me, and kept on gazing at the sun.


As sunflowers are meant to gaze at the sun so we as people are created to have relationship with the creator. There are many voices that seem to carry a lot of authority that tell us that this is not important, but we can learn from the sunflower and maintain a steady focus on what is real. There are accusations against us that seem to carry a lot of authority but the one authority that really matters is the creator of the universe. We find acceptance with this creator through our savior Jesus. Speaking in another metaphor Jesus says, “I am the vine you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus guarantees that if we abide in him, or “gaze upon the Son”, we will bear much fruit. The fruitfulness comes out of the relationship. As a man there were many noble things that Jesus could have done with his life but look what he chose, love.

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple”.

Psalm 27:4


Poem-Trust

Aint gonna trust

no more

Hide my fear

deep inside

Trust

no more.

Aint gonna show

my hand.

Hide

my hand,

Play my cards,

Faces down,

show no one.

Aint gonna trust

no more,

Hide my fear,

Deep inside,

Trust

no more

No more,

Silly soft heart

Dark world,

shark world

Aint gonna trust

no more,

Hide my fear

deep inside

Trust

no more.

Light of life

lift me up

Help me trust

Don’t need

this pain.


surviving church

We can think of church as something that should bring us close to God. But how often do we experience a conflict and church seems to create an obstacle to God? Many of us even grow resentful towards church and flee from it. Young people may depart from the church and faith of their parents. These are typical of a growing faith where God may be calling us to look to Him beyond church.

For me to survive church I need a fiercely independent spirit that is more dependent upon God than people. I realize this is a paradox, that I am created with a need for people and community. To grow healthy my needs should be aligned under God’s authority.

To survive church I need to have healthy boundaries. I cannot let other people’s expectations become my rule of conduct.

To survive church I need a generous spirit towards others as they also struggle with these issues.

To survive church I need to keep focused on my Lord.

Eclipse

My mother’s religion hurts.

You’re greater than my mother.

I see you in her shadow.

She should be in your’s.

Tried to set my shadow free,

tripped up over my feet.

Guess I’m destined to misery,

as far as I can see.

A shadow hangin’ over me,

wets my spirit down.

See you through another’s eyes,

distorts the purest light.

For more on issues of dependency in relationships see the poem “Glow”


Individuality

In America where we prize our individuality like a medal of honor, we seem to actually under value it. We often even abuse it, going along with an endless chain of fads, conforming in many ways to the draining expectations of our peers. How many of our career choices, financial choices, other major life choices are made through ignorant submission to the values of others.

Social norms are part of every society as a gift for the preservation and safety of people. Whether you believe these social values came through social evolution or as a gift from our Creator, either way they can help protect society. So I am not really against the basic frameworks of society, it’s how we get along without destroying each other. However, the freedom of individuality is also an incredible gift, and I believe from God.

In many cultures the pressure for conformity is immense compared to our western culture. In Japan they have a proverb; “the nail that sticks up, must be hit down”. This is their sentiment about non-conformity. This is how society is kept in order, through social obligation.

But in our Western culture, wherever there is a Bible heritage, we shake hands with each other as equals and bow only to God. Our first allegiance is to God and second to society. We can allow God to direct our life above the demands of society. This is an incredible heritage and an incredibly under rated gift!


2 quotes on risk and courage

Still the last, sad memory hovers round and sometimes drifts across like floating mist, cutting of sunshine and chilling the remembrance of happier times. There have been joys too great to be described in words and there have been griefs upon which I have not dred to dwell; and with these in mind I say climb if you will but remember that courage and strength are not without prudence and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.

Edward Whymper

This writing obtained from the ranger station at Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal… lock it up safe in the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket… it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable… The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

C S Lewis


Sex, culture, morality

Often atheists will rant against the oppressive Christian morals inflicted upon our society. This reveals an ignorance of other cultures historically and currently. Many ancient cultures especially in Asia are very conservative morally and politically. Possibly the ancient cultures have learned through experience what America is playing around with like an adolescent. In Korea about 85% of all people, male and female are virgin when they marry. They learned that sex is a powerful force and is not to be toyed with.

Often humanists and atheists claim, “I don’t need a bible or god to help me be a good person” Well ok then please follow through on this! Please don’t use lack of religion as excuse to rebel against those values that really do preserve society. Looking over history we do in fact see that families really are the backbone of any society. Any evolutionist should see this plainly. And Christians often promote this polarizing effect when they claim to have sole ownership of family values. Many family values are aligned with Christianity but not exclusively. Looking again over history and other cultures we observe that most cultures embrace something similar to the Biblical 10 commandments. Most cultures teach things like; respect your parents, don’t steal, don’t murder, don’t have sex with another person’s spouse. But the Bible does add uniqueness saying, “Don’t make idols or have other gods”. My point is that as a society we may have a long way to grow in our maturity towards sexual purity.

A friend asked once, “Why does the Bible forbid fornication, sex outside of marriage?” I answered that I didn’t know why but accepted God’s authority on the issue. Over the years having time to struggle personally with the issue and when I was reading some psychology books on boundaries I came to some personal conclusions. I realize now that boundaries are a basic issue of healthy relationships and of personal mental health. The first basic boundary is physical, don’t touch another’s body without permission, don’t hit or abuse. That same boundary principle applies to mental and social issues. In sex we move profoundly into another’s physical and mental space. But unless this is rape we do it by mutual consent, right? So is this a violation of boundaries. Yes, I believe so. If people are not aware of or choose to ignore the potential damage, the boundaries are still defiled.  They don’t make condoms for the heart!

Applying boundaries is just the negative aspect of purity. What in the positive sense do we have to look to for fulfillment? We have as an ideal the goal of a lifetime commitment, a covenant, with a friend and lover. Again the ancient cultures show us the beautiful picture of elderly couples caring for each other through their whole lives. We have the positive image of a relationship of safety, safe to expose ourselves to each other because we have created an atmosphere of safety by our commitment to each other.

And finally we have the opportunity to honor our Creator by showing respect for an aspect of life that is given to us as a special gift. Even in the movie “Avatar” by James Cameron there is recognition that mating is a sacred bond before their deity. This is returning to some very ancient roots of our society. Jeremiah the prophet of Israel declares, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls”.