Grace and Boundaries

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I have had some interesting conversations lately with various people about two different topics and yet as I have thought through these topics I realize they go hand-in-hand: grace and boundaries.  In our Christian community, many struggle with when to say “no” and when to say “yes.”  There are so many worthy causes and worthy ministries that we can devote our time to.  There are so many people that are pulling at us, and yet at the same time we are in essence pulling on ourselves.  We feel overwhelmed with too many responsibilities or feel guilty by not helping a friend in need. When we have a disagreement with family or friend, we struggle with do I give grace or do I stand up for myself.  We interact with various people that have well placed yet flexible boundaries, others who have rigid boundaries, and still others with no boundaries at all. What is the answer?  We must look at Jesus and the principles He established while on earth to guide us through this maze.

 

Questions or observations from the life of Christ while on earth to help us evaluate grace and boundaries:

 

  1. Is it sin? John 8:1-11 tells of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus did not condemn her, but He rebuked her and told her “go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 1:11).  When someone is sinning we condemn or we gossip or we judge.  Jesus did not lecture her, nor did He yell at her.  His tone from the text is one of love and compassion.
  2. Does the intrusion cause us to not spend time daily with God in His Word and in prayer? Luke 5:15, 16 finds Jesus ministering to many “But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”  No matter the demands of our lives, if we do not take the time to spend with the Father in prayer and Bible reading then we have said “yes” to too many things. We must plan for our quiet time each day and not let anything get in the way of this.  Maybe we need to go to bed earlier or get up earlier or turn our phones off…whatever we need to do must be done so this time becomes special and never missed in our day.
  3. Jesus was never in a rush. If our lives are characterized by being in a rush than we have again overcommitted.  Maybe we need to delegate small tasks to our children to help us have more time to accomplish the tasks we need to do.  Jesus delegated to the disciples to find bread in the feeding of the 5,000.  He delegated to the disciples to find the donkey that would be ridden for the Triumphal entry.  One of my favorite stories is the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:43-48.  Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’s daughter.  He was an important man with a dying twelve year old daughter.  This constitutes an emergency, but Jesus stopped and talked with the woman who touched His robe.  He could have pressed on through the crowds knowing she was healed by touching His garment, rather He took a few minutes and encouraged her, He gave her grace.
  4. We must remember who we are. We are a Child of the King.  Sometimes we must “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  It may not be a sin issue, but it is an invasion into our boundaries.  In love, with a calm and gentle voice, we must remind another of our boundaries. We need to listen to our bodies-even Jesus took a nap.  (Mark 4:38).  Sometimes our boundaries will be sacrificed for another’s boundaries.  If it is not sin, does not cause a loss in our personal time with God, does not cause us to rush and will minister to another; we should willingly sacrifice.  We must show grace to others as God has shown it to us.

 

 

This is a hard topic to quantify: boundaries and grace.  There are not too many hard and fast rules or a logarithm to follow: if this than this.  We must remember the Holy Spirit lives within us as believers.  He will help to guide us in the grey area situations if we spend time with the Father daily and allow the Spirit to minister to our Spirit. (Romans 8:16).  Again, I want to remind each of us that the Holy Spirit lives within us.  He wants to guide us through each and every situation for our good and the Father’s glory.

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Grace and Boundaries

20160531_195609

 

I have had some interesting conversations lately with various people about two different topics and yet as I have thought through these topics I realize they go hand-in-hand: grace and boundaries.  In our Christian community, many struggle with when to say “no” and when to say “yes.”  There are so many worthy causes and worthy ministries that we can devote our time to.  There are so many people that are pulling at us, and yet at the same time we are in essence pulling on ourselves.  We feel overwhelmed with too many responsibilities or feel guilty by not helping a friend in need. When we have a disagreement with family or friend, we struggle with do I give grace or do I stand up for myself.  We interact with various people that have well placed yet flexible boundaries, others who have rigid boundaries, and still others with no boundaries at all. What is the answer?  We must look at Jesus and the principles He established while on earth to guide us through this maze.

 

Questions or observations from the life of Christ while on earth to help us evaluate grace and boundaries:

 

  1. Is it sin? John 8:1-11 tells of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus did not condemn her, but He rebuked her and told her “go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 1:11).  When someone is sinning we condemn or we gossip or we judge.  Jesus did not lecture her, nor did He yell at her.  His tone from the text is one of love and compassion.
  2. Does the intrusion cause us to not spend time daily with God in His Word and in prayer? Luke 5:15, 16 finds Jesus ministering to many “But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”  No matter the demands of our lives, if we do not take the time to spend with the Father in prayer and Bible reading then we have said “yes” to too many things. We must plan for our quiet time each day and not let anything get in the way of this.  Maybe we need to go to bed earlier or get up earlier or turn our phones off…whatever we need to do must be done so this time becomes special and never missed in our day.
  3. Jesus was never in a rush. If our lives are characterized by being in a rush than we have again overcommitted.  Maybe we need to delegate small tasks to our children to help us have more time to accomplish the tasks we need to do.  Jesus delegated to the disciples to find bread in the feeding of the 5,000.  He delegated to the disciples to find the donkey that would be ridden for the Triumphal entry.  One of my favorite stories is the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:43-48.  Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’s daughter.  He was an important man with a dying twelve year old daughter.  This constitutes an emergency, but Jesus stopped and talked with the woman who touched His robe.  He could have pressed on through the crowds knowing she was healed by touching His garment, rather He took a few minutes and encouraged her, He gave her grace.
  4. We must remember who we are. We are a Child of the King.  Sometimes we must “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  It may not be a sin issue, but it is an invasion into our boundaries.  In love, with a calm and gentle voice, we must remind another of our boundaries. We need to listen to our bodies-even Jesus took a nap.  (Mark 4:38).  Sometimes our boundaries will be sacrificed for another’s boundaries.  If it is not sin, does not cause a loss in our personal time with God, does not cause us to rush and will minister to another; we should willingly sacrifice.  We must show grace to others as God has shown it to us.

 

 

This is a hard topic to quantify: boundaries and grace.  There are not too many hard and fast rules or a logarithm to follow: if this than this.  We must remember the Holy Spirit lives within us as believers.  He will help to guide us in the grey area situations if we spend time with the Father daily and allow the Spirit to minister to our Spirit. (Romans 8:16).  Again, I want to remind each of us that the Holy Spirit lives within us.  He wants to guide us through each and every situation for our good and the Father’s glory.

Tears of Blessing

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The path of life…we do not always know the way that the Lord will take us.  Yet, even when we prepare for the major events in life, there are still the unexpected twists and turns along the way.

 

On Saturday, June 11, 2016, we celebrated Denise’s graduation with a beautiful graduation ceremony with family and a wonderful open house celebrated with our many friends and family.  It was a beautiful day to celebrate Denise.  Since we home school, we have a graduation ceremony with our immediate family.  During this ceremony we have each person in attendance share something they notice about Denise, a fond story they remember about her, or words of advice to her from their own experience.  It is a very personal graduation.  It is such a special time for all involved.  Denise has been through some major trials in her life, yet she never complains or has questioned God or gotten bitter toward God.  Oh, that I could be like her.  It was a wonderful day celebrating Denise, and yet a sad day as we said good-bye to so many friends.  There were many tears.

 

On Sunday, June 12, 2016, we said good-bye to our church family.  It will never be the same.  I realize how much I take for granted seeing people each Sunday.  Now, I must be intentional in connecting with friends. Intentional.  Life passes us by so quickly and without purpose we will get to the end and wonder what we did.  The intentional relationships are the meaningful relationships.  I must remind myself not to get so bogged down with chores that I forget what matters most: People and the Bible/my relationship with God.  It’s easy for me to see all the tasks that must get done and lose sight of what matters most.

 

On Monday and Tuesday, June 13 & 14 2016, we packed up the remainder of our household possessions and moved from the house that we brought Delaney home from the hospital to.  It’s where all three of our daughters were saved.  The girls learned how to ride a bike there, it was our school, the place where family and friends gather…it was our home. I will miss the birds eating at the bird feeder while I do the dishes, the many deer that run through the yard, the occasional fox that scurried through, the tea with my neighbor, the neighbor children who played on our swing set…

 

Today, June 16, 2016, we turn over the keys.  The next chapter of our life is waiting to be written.  The relationships we made and the memories we made can never be taken away, but if I am not intentional the relationships will fade.  This has been an emotional week with so many events taking place, yet the experiences we have draw us closer to those we love and to our Lord if we allow it to happen. The experiences we have help us help others.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

 

There are still a few events that will bring tears…taking Danielle and Denise to Cedarville University as they begin another new chapter of their lives.  Saying good-bye to Lilly as she goes back to Leader Dogs for the Blind to finish her training and go on to bigger and better things.  My goal during these times is to be intentional and leave no words unsaid.  Those that I hold dear, I want them to know how special they have been to me.  My life is full because of the people I know and the experiences I’ve had.  Thank-you all for being a part of my journey these last 16 years.  If you meant nothing to me, than this would not be so hard.  So in the midst of the tears, there is abundant blessing.

What’s the prize?

 

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“Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 30:26b).  I am reading through Ezekiel for my devotions right now.  It is not a warm and fuzzy book, nor does it provide me much encouragement as I face many transitions in my life.  Yet, this is the book that is next to read on my reading schedule, so I press on.

 

I read “Then they will know that I am the Lord” a few times the other day and it struck me.  “How do I know the Lord?”  How do I really know Him?  I am continuing to meditate on this thought and answer this question in my own life.  We have the standard Sunday school answers of read the Bible and pray every day, which are extremely important and definitely have a needed place in our lives.  I feel like a part of me is missing when I do not spend time in Bible study/reading and prayer every day.  These are definitely integral to a closer walk with the Lord and needed in order to “know the Lord.”  For each of us, though, there is something more and I believe that something more may be different for each of us.

 

I love how the Holy Spirit works in our hearts in lives.  When I asked myself “how do I know the Lord” the Holy Spirit prompted me with a few thoughts.

 

  1. “Put childish ways behind me.” (I Corinthians 13:11). When we go back and consider I Corinthians 13 and list the negative qualities of love, we see a list of childish behaviors.
  2. Envy (v. 4)
  3. Boastful (v. 4)
  4. Arrogant (v. 4)
  5. Rude (v. 5)
  6. Insists on own way (v. 5)
  7. Irritable (v. 5)
  8. Resentful (v. 5)

 

These behaviors are childish.  Children are selfish and cannot see beyond the bubble of a world they live in.  We have to teach our children how to share, be humble, have good manners, and be considerate of others.  No matter our age, though, we still struggle with these negative behaviors.  The more I put these “childish ways behind me” the better I will know my Lord.  These negative qualities are a repulsion to my Savior.  He still loves me, but it is hard to know a selfish person who thinks only of themselves. It is hard to connect with someone who is only focused on themselves and their needs.  “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24).  These childish behaviors are not taught, rather they come quite naturally.  In order to know our Lord, we must deny ourselves and put childish ways behind us.

 

  1. Let go of the past and forgive. Now isn’t this easier said than done?  We have all been hurt at one time or another, but when we hold on to the weight of previous offences we are bogged down into a mire of bitterness.  We cannot focus on knowing God if we are bogged down with the past.  There is the tension of learning from the past, our past mistakes and the past offences of others, but we must not wallow in these events.  Christ died for our sins.  Why should we carry them around like a burden?  Christ paid for that burden.  The work of the past offences or past mistakes is accomplished in our lives.  When a bone is broken a cast is needed for a specific amount of time.  It is necessary to remove the cast once the bone is healed so the muscles can begin to strengthen again.  Once the events of the past have taken place we must learn from them and focus on knowing God, allowing the muscles of our faith to strengthen.

 

Knowing God is a process.  There is no perfect formula that once it is worked the perfect answer will appear.  If that was the case, only one verse in the Bible would be needed.  Rather God knew our needs and weaknesses as humans.  He knew we would need lessons, encouragement, and hope written differently to assist in our growth.

 

I pray my goal is to keep knowing God, knowing who He is and modeling my life after His perfect character.

 

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

Prayer Meeting

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Prayer meeting…what comes to mind?  I went to my last prayer meeting at the First Baptist Church of Rochester last night.  I was supposed to work in the nursery, but no babies showed up, so I debated about going home and packing more boxes or preparing grad presents.  I am glad I chose to go to prayer meeting.  There was not anything amazing or different last night.  Rather, it was comfortable.  I arrived late and found a seat quickly and listened to people share their requests.  I must admit rather than praying, I sat with my eyes closed and listened as others prayed and enjoyed that comfortable feeling of being with your church family as they brought their requests and the requests of others to the Throne of God. I know these people.  I have been attending prayer meeting with them for 16 years.

 

I have always enjoyed attending prayer meeting.  It was never a drudgery or something I felt required to do.  It may have been inconvenient at times, but my schedule was prepared around it.

 

There is nothing like meeting halfway through the week with fellow believers and praying together and being reminded from God’s Word and tidbit of truth to challenge us for the rest of the week.  It is comfortable and comforting.  It is a moment of refuge and rest.  It is not a requirement, but rather a time of refreshment.

 

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20).  God is also present during those moments at prayer meeting.  What would happen if we let that thought sink in during our time together?  Would our fervency increase?  Would our requests become bolder?  Would our prayers be more dynamic?  Would prayer meeting become everyone’s favorite part of their week?

 

I treasured those moments last night and wanted to hold onto that feeling of comfort knowing that the next prayer meeting I attend will not have the same feeling.  I will be amongst believers and we will share the same God and the same message of hope, but time breeds familiarity which breeds comfort.  As I am stretched into a new environment, a new church family, a new place to worship, I am trusting God.

 

Nothing will be able to replace FBCR.  Someone told me the other day, “I have attended a lot of churches, and this is the best one.”  As we move and begin to look for a new church, nothing will be able to replace FBCR.  Nothing will be able to replace the intimacy of a prayer meeting with a group of believers I have served with, prayed with, and loved.  God has a plan, and I look forward to seeing how the next chapter of our church life unfolds as He prepares the way for us.

 

I encourage you to attend prayer meeting.  Plan your schedule around it.  Make it a priority to your week.  Ponder as you sit there amongst the rest of the believers that God is in your midst.  May great things happen in FBCR, people’s lives, and the community of Rochester because the Power of prayer was fully realized and appreciated.