Knowing My Boundaries

Knowing My Boundaries:

There are a lot of good ideas floated by a lot of good people. People I follow and get sufficient value from that keeps me going back to their books, webpages, and webinar’s. Time and again, I will re-listen to something older to keep my knowledge rounded out with affirmation of something I already knew, while at the same time I listen for things to add to my toolbox on how to keep moving forward.

There are “influencers” and I’ve given their material license to impact my life, my boundaries, and how I plan on living successfully from today forward. Some of these influencers are preachers, current and historical, others have been story tellers, news reporters, and teachers from a host of varied experiences. I mean, who hasn’t received a nugget of knowledge from the likes of Zig Ziglar, Charles Kuralt, Charles Osgood, Garrison Keillor, or even Paul Harvey! Good Day!

I’ll share more about these influencers another day, but for now, think about how much space you have surrounding your world, and if there was sufficient amount of time and real estate, you would not hesitate on checking out more material than you can possibly deal with in your 24 hour period.

Back in 2003, my bride and I were transitioning from Alaska, a great state we both miss dearly, to the Pacific Northwest region called Washington. Her job transferred her to a new location, so we trusted in God who knows all our plans and limits, and headed south. We were carrying our 3 huge Alaskan dogs and it was difficult to make room for them in our vehicle, and in our travel routine. They needed to stop and smell more territory than we had time for. We had a deadline. They were only interested in escape….

We were familiar with the Canadian Broadcast radio that crosses that huge country to the north of us. Along the road you will find signs telling you where their next broadcast signal would be found on your FM radio dial. We tuned in, and it seems it was just at the best time. Leaving the Yukon, headed into British Columbia, CBC began broadcasting a series of shows that we were thoroughly enjoying. Comedy. Music. News. Interviews. An assortment of non-cacophonous noise that was pleasant to listen to and follow.

But each station had a boundary. You could hardly pass by a certain point in the road without realizing you had left the boundary of said station. You could not extend the boundary without more power to the broadcasting antennae, and that was not in our bailiwick!

In modern times, traveling between British Columbia and Washington state, the boundary of the countries is real, with a required passport control funnel, an interview by border agents, AND, your phone will automatically stop working on your existing network. It will scan for something to replace the signal with, and there will be limitations on what you can do, how much it will cost, and how to acquire the new service. Regardless, there are boundaries.

Boundaries are real. They play a role in every portion of our lives. We place boundaries on our work hours, play hours, and resting time. Think about everything you do in life, and you will find boundaries. Some imposed by others, including the authorities, and others imposed by nature, and still more are imposed by our own self.

Every sport has boundaries. There is a field of play, and you can easily go out of bounds and nothing you gain past that white line will count toward your score. Each sport has rules that place boundaries on how we conduct ourselves with other players, coaches, fans, referees, and the tools of the trade.

Every job has boundaries. There are established routines, policies, and procedures you need to know in order to be successful. Step across the line, and HR will be called into a private session with you to determine if you have gone too far.

Even driving down a road has boundaries. Rules galore. Consequences can be hugely negative if you do not know the boundaries. Every law is there for a reason, even if we think they are not needed.

Every relationship. Every dinner plate. Every shopping trip. Everything has boundaries. The words we choose, the friends we make, the places we go… Boundaries everywhere. We would do well to know what these boundaries are, and how to live within them successfully.

When it comes to spiritual things, you know, your relationship with God, the Word, and Others, boundaries exist everywhere. Stepping across a line might easily be called Sin, but ignoring our  walk with God sufficiently is equally a Sin. What we think, how we act, what we say – all have boundaries. Rules. Covenants. Laws. Expectations. Limits. The consequences of us not staying within the boundary markers can be huge. It’s eternal.

A few years ago I put up a simple fence of material and plastic posts to define yard space for my dogs. They could not run through, though I’m sure they could find courage to jump over it if I gave them time to think about it. This fence has fallen into disrepair, and I’m replacing it next month. But as weeds and time bow it to the ground, the dogs still respect that boundary. They will not go past it, even when chasing the rabbits! Those bunnies seem to know all the escape places, and yet the dogs respect the fence. 

Think about boundaries for a moment.

What self-imposed boundaries have you placed in your life to ensure you do not get past the penalty line? What boundaries have others placed upon their connection to you? Have you learned to draw a line, or obey the line that is placed for your safety, or do you regularly exercise your judgement that those lines mean nothing?

Here’s my thought: Having boundaries is necessary. Knowing them is even more important. Living by them keeps us moving forward more successfully than one could imagine. We should write a book for ourselves on what our boundaries are, and then learn to live by them.

Beneath Western Wall

To some, boundaries are huge walls of defense. They are built high, deep, thick and sufficiently strong to ensure safety. In Israel, we journeyed beneath the visible West wall (Wailing wall) and saw the foundation that was a massive undertaking during a time of no hydraulic equipment… They must have felt Desperate to build such a strong wall, yet they were conquered several times in spite of the boundary.

Boundaries work, but you must build them, maintain them, and keep your understanding alive as to what those boundaries mean.

Quickly. Can you name 10 boundaries in your life?

(Listen to this blog here.)


What’s Your Wake Up Thought?

What was your first thought this morning?

Backyard Morning MusingsPart of the answer comes from the load you are carrying and were you able to set it aside so you could have a restful night. The other part of the answer comes from the heaviness of all your loads and how stressed are you by the day that is before you…

What are you waking with? Stress for the day? Worried about what’s next? Is there something good ahead that you can look forward to?

I’ve learned over time that rest time normally gives me answers for the next morning, but it also finds new opportunities I have not yet considered. Rest time is so important. If you cannot cause your brain to shut down, then you will have a restless night.

It’s probably been a quarter of a century since I’ve had a great nights sleep that I can be happy about. Yes. I may sleep all night, but there is a part of my brain that struggles shutting down. I can wake at the same time every morning for weeks, normally about 2:40 am, and struggle getting back to sleep. My mind will not shut down.

Yesterday, while having a checkup with my doc, I asked him about my sleep issues. Now, I know it runs in the family to sleep 5-6 hours and then face the day full steam ahead, but I also know that the older I get the more important good rest has become. In my younger days I could sleep 2-3 hours and then go all day long, but now a 15 minute power nap sounds really good about half-way through the day.

“So, what happened about 25 years ago?” he ponders…Oh, about the time I started pastoring a congregation… “It’s funny, “he replied, “we know God handles all the load and we can cast our cares on him, but it’s surprising how much we struggle with what we know, and what we have to accomplish.” [paraphrased conversation]

Now, isn’t this a great Doctor, or what?!!?

So, we spent some time talking about what stress load I carry, and how it might be unloaded or managed better. Then we talked about getting a handle on the weight issue, and there’s no time like the present to tackle the underlying problem, which he surmised is simply stress. Stress creates weight issues, sleep issues, and blood pressure issues…and a whole host of other problems that will wear you out and make you sick!

How do you handle stress? I’ve joked about it for years, but “stressed” spelled backwards is “dessert“… Not that I need dessert right now! Imagine for a moment the stresses you and I carry, and compare it to the President of the United States! Their load must be a million times harder. It’s not just 300 million people, it’s every corner of the globe! There have been photo shots of them at the start, and end, of their time in office. [Source] Go check it out.

So. Do you have a stress handler routine? How about sharing?

It was a famous person for some of us that gives me a deep thought about stress.

“We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday’s burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.” ~John Newton

Then, add to this thought  another deep thinkers thought:

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”  ~David Allen

Now, combine those ideas into this thought… We are loaded down with tasks and it seems like we find them lingering for days, if not weeks and months. Tasks lists become albatrosses around our neck and it is hard to move on because we struggle with finishing the one in our hands. If success is found in finishing what we started to accomplish, then we need to work better at what we are doing. This idea is found in these simple thoughts.

  • Narrow your focus.
  • Set some boundaries on your world – keep family time, down time, and personal recovery time sacred.
  • Manage your time well, and this learned process will protect you from daily struggles.
  • Delegate what you can, keep what you must, but do not let there be more tasks than what you can handle.
  • Don’t let tasks muddy the waters so that you cannot clearly see the finished line.
  • Quit looking back thinking you could have “handled that better” or differently. When the task is finished, move on.

I’ve given this some thought, and will probably adjust this list during the next few weeks. You need to have your own list. What works for me, may not work for you. Regardless, controlling our world is perhaps one of the biggest challenges we face. My world of pastoring is not dealing with “employees”, rather, it’s taking into consideration the “volunteer” that steps up and says, “Let me help.” Immediately, I think of what might be on their plate already, and how can I make sure they do not get overwhelmed like I feel sometimes. Let’s protect their family time. Make sure the spouse is okay with their help. Watch them closely for burn-out. Step in and help them see when they reach the breaking point.

I say this, because I dealt with a time back in the early 80’s when I got too involved in too many activities. I’ve blogged about it enough (and have referenced some of them with links in this blog), but suffice it to say that the day was full of the job, and the evening was full of commitment. Somewhere in between my wife and kids got so little of my time. For about 18 months. Then I crashed and burned, and learned how to say “no”.

But no one said that to me. I had to learn it myself.

Perhaps this is the biggest thing for any of us to learn. If we are not going to take advice from someone who has been there, then we must learn what to do when we slam into that proverbial wall.

And that wall will show up at the most inopportune time.

Mindset of the Day

Have You Ever Started Your Day With…

Mindset…A saying or phrase that sort of sets you up for success? It could be just as easily failure if you say the wrong thing. You know, we ask some if they woke up on the “wrong side of the bed” when they struggle with doing something right. Almost as if they actually did wake up on the wrong side of the bed and that’s the reason for their problems.

I do believe in starting trips with the right mindset. “This will be a Good trip. Everything is planned. There are no loose ends. Wait… Did I pack my shaver?” You’ve been positive right up to the point of wondering if you have everything you need. If you are not careful, then you will second guess yourself on everything up to, and after, that point.

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Who Defines You

If not who, then what?

It’s like soda… Growing up was defined often by those things we like and don’t like … No watermelon in my world and essentially no off-brand attempt of soda.  When younger, we called everything “Coke” – like, “Dad, I want an orange Coke.” I never remember using words like soda or pop… No. Everything was a Coke.  (Even my wife agrees to this memory!)

Still, there were things we recognized as different and called by their generic names. Cars. Candy bars. Cereal.

We place limits on ourselves by the words and phrases we use. Even our culture limits us in some arenas. I met a New Yorker last week who worked hard at minimizing speech patterns that puts him at a disadvantage in some arenas! He just wanted to be known by who he presented himself to be, and not by some accent that might put him in a neighborhood around the state.

We are even limited by the distance our imagination takes us, even by imposed boundaries whether they come by authority or other limiting parameters.

I take this even deeper in analysis when I consider how I act around certain kinds of people. You know, polished, professional, or intimidating personalities. I asked an intelligent friend if he ever gets tired of how others treat him.  Answer=Yes. He would like to just enjoy knowing others! Imagine, Superman… What kind of friends could he have?

Our limitations do affect those around us!

Peter and John were hauled before the highly trained religious court after a lame man was healed and they had preached to the crowds. They were not favorably viewed by the religious leaders!

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Their boldness was parametized by the perception of unlearned and ignorant. But these were two of the closest followers of Jesus. His inner circle. Loved and favored. Commissioned for great things.  Think about it:

  • Do you ever feel like someone is talking about you? How does that make you feel? Devalued? Belittled?
  • When needing to survive from a disaster, do you want a brainiac or a McGyver?
  • Are you categorizing yourself, or others, by imposed parameters that corral a person based on some internal limitation?

Is someone doing the same to you?

A long time ago I realized I need not give someone power over me. I live like that every day! I am often my own worse enemy when it comes to what and who defines me!

Re-Evaluate Yourself

With each new step on this 31 day journey…

Staircase - Stairway to the Sky - CanadaYou have a fresh opportunity to evaluate yourself. Who am I? Where am I going? Best, or right, direction? Anything left undone that needs to be addressed? What’s missing in my toolbox that needs to be added? Removed? Has my destination changed? Are there any conditions that need to be re-mediated before continuing on?

If, with every step I have firm answers to these questions, then this is nothing but a momentary pause on the journey. I like what Dave Ramsey said about today, Monday.

Monday is your clean slate. If there is something in your life that you dont like, CHANGE IT! Begin taking steps today!” ~@DaveRamsey

Change may be lengthy, and it may pause your journey. But if you have no destination in mind that is firmly ensconced in your psyche, then take the moment and begin the change! I’ve written many times that it is not about the destination, rather, it’s all about the journey.

The one good thing about having these questions is that they provide a valuable set of boundaries, a framework that keeps you surrounded by your choices. They keep you corralled. Focused. They help you analyze new circumstances.

Change, or barriers that appear, require some effort to adjust to new conditions. Whether micro-adjustments or large jumps required, boundaries show you the way!

Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” ~David Lloyd George

What do you want your life to look like? I want my daily walk to be pleasing and a pleasure. For me, my family, my God and my life. I want the ending of life to be a view of satisfaction about the difference I have made in another persons life.

“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.” (Psalms 37:23-24 ESV)

I want my steps to delight the Lord, while at the same time I know that God allows me to thread life with steps that are unique to my frame.

“He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.” (Psalms 103:14 MSG)

This does not mean I leave His framework, rather I work within his law and his pleasure. Just as I work within the boundaries of my job, construct of the law, or live within the parameters of my marriage, I must also live in the frame of God’s rule.

Where are your steps leading you today?


Join The Conversation

Is almost synonymous with….

Join the Conversation“Agree with me or shut-up!”

It’s seems to be all about affirmation – not conversation.

Perhaps it has always been like this under different historical positions, yet, social media has given us the “way” to have a voice. Some conversations are sane, with voices on both sides of a fence involved in lively debate. Other conversations are down right crazy! We’ve seen it repeatedly this year: Agree with me or you have no right to a voice!

Drawn out of their “reporting the news” shell, the news agencies have joined a side of the conversation. No longer are they neutral, they now direct the voices! I suspect they are simply following the leader of the almighty dollar, fearful they will loose advertisers and audiences.

Think about this, how many broadcast journalist have lost their position due to “speaking first, engaging brain second”? Many of them over the past 36 months or so have learned, as well should they, that many of their caricature styling should never be tolerated. But also consider that a group of owners of a ball team can FORCE the sale of one of their members team because of his racist rant? It did not leave him destitute – the going price was around 2 billion dollars! Still, this leaves me with a question: What will be the next thing FORCED against any one of us who have a different voice than the one we should have as dictated by the majority?

Well, the new owner told all the staff and players they could not have any of his prior business competitors products in their possession while playing or working for HIS team.

Consider this: The swell of affirmations have taken previously thought off-limit conversations and brought them into the spotlight. When we “join the conversation” with an opposing view then the reporting spotlight seldom gives balanced views – only the view of the loudest voice.

As the ground swell of conversations arise, the overwhelming trend is to support the extreme. The extreme is never a quiet up-swell, rather, it is often noisy and seemingly threatening to every conversation in opposition.

Though I was not focused on this very much during my younger years, but can you look back over your shoulder into history and think about hippies, flower child, free love, drugs, rock music, sit-in’s, marches, antiwar (Read this)… this list could be very lengthy. Who were these people? Babies born during WWII and shortly thereafter! Who were their leaders? Many of the teachers born between the two world wars! These voices were instrumental in changing the way we look at the world. Just as the race marches that began decades earlier finally made great strides in equality, the swell of change happened over time and not over night.

The same is true today. We have slowly accepted the edge of yester-years boundaries, and pushed them even further out. We may look at the changes occurring today and groan in a spiritual sense, but we have accepted so much that I suspect it will not be long before too many will just see any of this as being normal.

The question is: Do we join the conversation?

My view is slightly different today than it once was.

It matters little what I think, and more importantly, what does the Word of God present.

The opposition is truly against God and his word, not me. Except that, if I believe his word to be true, then I am the representative of God to this world. I have no power to judge and sentence, but I do believe I have the power to love those who are probably as far from the Father as the prodigal was from his earthly father.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul told Titus something that I believe is still very appropriate for the believer today:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

We are to live self-controlled. Upright. Godly. In our present age. Can you join the conversation and be like this?

In my favorite epistle, Paul told the church at Philippi:

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.” (Philippians 1:27-28 ESV)

Is your manner of life worthy of the gospel of Christ, or are you simply adding your voice to the conversation that is no different than those in the crowd that yelled, “Crucify him.” (Mark 15:13)

A few days ago I proposed that what we think produces what we say. (Read here) Still, it is often the framework of our words thought, and then spoken aloud, that helps us comprehend how our words sound, and what our foundation looks like. If you are going to “join the conversation” perhaps you need to do it in the comfort of your normal surroundings, firm up your thoughts long before you present them in public.

As a teen, I remember a choir trip on a bus that had a round dining table surrounded by a long cushioned seat. It was in the back of the bus. After we completed a performance, and after we had boarded for a long nights drive to our next destination, I remember how that some of us would sit around the table, and long into the night, we would search the scriptures.

Back then I was very shy, and unsure, of my position. But listening gave me a hunger to know the word in such a way that I would never doubt it’s veracity or framework. I still often struggle with joining the public conversation in such a way that my voice is heard, but I write, and re-write, my thoughts even today. I read my words aloud. I chat with friends and strangers about what is happening. I strengthen my position and make sure that today, as it was in my youth, my words fit the conversation in a Godly way. Not my way.

Perhaps this is when I learned my voice and felt the freedom to join the conversation.



Suum cuique

Oh, yeah!!! He’s Using Latin!

2014-09-12 08.32.09Of course, I had to look it up, but it’s a very popular saying – even though we do not fully believe it.  It’s from a man who died over 2,000 years ago, and it’s probably something we’ve all struggled with before he made the quote, and even through today.

Who said this? Marcus Tullius Cicero (January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC), Cicero is known as an orator and statesman from ancient Rome.

Suum Cuique means, “To each his own.”

Often we use it to defend our position. Equally often it’s incomprehensible that we do not allow someone else to use it to defend their own position. We do not want others to have their own position, but we want the right to have our own position.

And we are so frustrated with someone who has their view that we often attack them for what they believe, instead of defending their right to believe what they want!

When we are on the same page of life – religion, career, or politics – then  perhaps we are on the same side of the equation on how to live life. But just as soon as you leave the foundation of this “sameness”, then you join the other side of the equation saying, “To Each His Own.” Battles are waged on who’s right, who’s wrong, and who has a right to chose their side of the equation.

For example, we feel the right of peaceful demonstration is our right, and I would defend your right to demonstrate.  However, stay out of the street and obey the laws that we all agree are our rights and protections as citizens of our nation. Just check the news around Seattle and you will find that those who have “won” the right to demand a “liveable wage” of $15 per hour now feel like it’s their right to march  to the next city over and help them “win” the same right. There is a socialism at work, to which we must struggle to say, “To each his own.”

What this does for me is simply this – spend as little money as possible in Seattle, and any other city that causes me to spend more of my hard earned money than I am comfortable with. After all, it’s my dollar to spend, right?

Even within this framework we struggle with allowing one or the other do things their own way. Each decade of change is challenging those older generations with enjoying their local churches, or some national ministry.

Shakespearean writing says, “To thyself be true.” Perhaps this is true, but it is also  tough when you are so different than others around you! “Don’t rain on my parade.” Perhaps we want to be unique and don’t want anyone to minimize our differences – but the world is replete with examples of parades getting rained on!

When Jesus tells me that there is a framework for participation, then when I claim to be a Christian he tells me my boundaries are like this:

The WordThen said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  (Matthew 16:24-26 KJV)

When I take on the mantle of an “organization” or a “belief”, then I must obey the rules in order to have the rights within said association. Even when I feel my “rights” are being trampled on, right?

As this nation becomes more different than the one I grew up with, I find myself as one on the opposite side of the equation. I have not moved – but the majority is moving to the other side of where I stand. No longer am I in the majority. I am now in the minority.

There was a man I worked with about 30 years ago that gripped about the changes that were happening. He threatened to leave the country when he retired… To which I said, “Why wait? Go now!” Now, I find myself nearing his age and the changes that are happening are challenging me probably the same way he felt back then!

What I see these days is that the other side of the equation is not happy with letting me live within my boundaries. As this older generation gets replaced with a younger generation of voters, then the “boundaries” of our life will keep moving one direction or the other. One day this younger generation will be nearing my age and their “next” generation will move them past their boundaries. I wonder if they will feel the same way I do today, and the way my co-worker did 30 years ago?

It seems like each side of the equation does not actually believe “Suum Cuique”. They want to tear down  the ways and beliefs  of the other side and  want to “MAKEthem accept their rules.

What? Do we not believe in the rights to believe and live the way we chose? Of course not! Now, I believe in progressive change on many fronts. Many ways of our past have been found to have wronged many people and we have all changed in some ways.  But there are rule changes happening that do not allow me my “rights” and try to force me to change sides, especially when I have a religious right to be on the side I chose to be on.

That being said, I am probably equally incapable of “Suum Cirque” as much as the other side .. Hmmm… Maybe we better retire that statement!