Setting Godly Boundaries for Your Marriage

Boundaries are well-defined and clearly identified in land deals. This helps owners to know their limits of ownership. Respecting the limits allows neighbors not to encroach into other’s space. In any organization, job descriptions, rules and regulations have the same effect. Effectiveness and productivity of the organization rest upon respecting each other’s boundaries of space and work.
311af-th1.jpgIf respect of the other is the basis of functioning within the set boundaries in the above instances, growing in love with each other is the basis for setting boundaries in marriage. Or to develop oneness in spirit, mind, and body is the goal rather than controlling each other or to force the other into your mold.


In the first stage of marriage, namely romance, even when boundaries are not well defined, this stage will care for itself as the newness the couple enjoy, may cause them to focus on loving each other. Here the couple ignores each other’s faults thus getting along and pleasing each other become their priorities. Brain also comes in our aid as it releases chemicals like Oxytocin, Phenylethylamine and Dopamine which set one’s heart thumping thus feeling similar to being “high on drugs.”


However, it is necessary to set boundaries in Romance stage itself. Just like all other stones in a foundation will be set in reference to the cornerstone in a foundation, some key patterns of words and deeds set during this stage will further guide couple’s life. Setting of boundaries may not naturally evolve. It needs deliberateness from both partners but either of the two can take the initiative. Thus it is neither an autocratic process nor just the interest of one person. Even in the midst of enjoying each other’s company both husband and wife can create a list of boundaries to steer their life together. This may not be an exhaustive list but surely it is the cornerstone.


As there is an urge in pleasing each other during Romance stage, the couple may be willing to do anything for each other. This is the stage in which they have certain high ideals about one’s marriage. Thus it is easier to set boundaries during this stage. One limitation may come from the fact that couple sees each other only through the beautiful, rose coloured glass which can create fuzzy vision. Yet with little effort realities can be brought to one’s perception. Besides this is just the initial attempt, the beginning of listing boundaries of their married life.


Boundaries can be set during any stage in marriage. Yet newlyweds have an added advantage. From the beginning itself they can avoid causing damage to their relationship and others. Yet for others who have been married for some time, it is better late than never. If the couple has the intention of creating oneness, let a new chapter emerge in life with clearly defined boundaries. While past issues are to be resolved they can avoid creating further damage in and through them.


What are some common boundaries that couples usually set? Family will pray together twice/once a day. Settle all disagreements before sleep. Always sleep in the same bed even when there is disagreement. Discuss disagreements not in anger. Not to use words like “divorce” and “suicide” in family discussion. Not to hit each other or use foul language. Not to discipline children in anger. Family will have at least one meal together. The family will visit their parents once a week/month/year. Never tease each other before others. Never to place one in a vulnerable situation where one is mentally/emotionally/physically attracted or attached to someone else other than one’s spouse. Take money from each other’s purse only with mutual understanding.

The list can go on. It is to be tailored according to context of one’s family but with the aim of growing in oneness in spirit, mind, and body. One life to live, why don’t we live life to the fullest and enable others to do so!

photo courtesy http://www.ladiesflight.com

First posted May 2, 2014

Home Sweet Home,

Home sweet Home
Where I lived as a child, where my siblings and l laughed, played and argued
Where we cried and laughed together
Whose walls echoed our shouting, rooms
witnessed our deeds.

As the needle moved
My second home appeared where my husband and I, made our home,
Where our children were born,
We share our joys and sorrows,
Where our kids laugh, play and argue
Whose walls have their fingerprints and rooms have stories to recite.

As the needle moves they will move to their own homes
And they and us, joined with many others will go to our eternal home-
Our home with Jesus where others and us,
Will laugh, play and sing
Where the walls will echo our praises and rooms behold His Glory
We never have to switch the home again
Home Sweet Home

Written 1998

Taking Risk to Build Our Homes

Hannah is a unique woman in the Bible. She was dearly loved by her husband Elkanah. Yet she also lived with his other wife who provoked her to irritate her. This misery intensified during the family visit to the house of the Lord. The reason was her childlessness. Her response to this dilemma was not quarrel, jealousy, retaliation, or gossip but just tears. Her husband tried to comfort her through words and action. Yet none of these could not pacify her. This scenario went on for years.


Hannah could have been content by her husband’s love, yet she turned to God who could meet her need. I do not know why Hannah waited for many years before she decided to bring this issue before God. During one of their visits to the house of the Lord, she did something which made a difference in her life. In the midst of her weeping and prayer with bitterness of soul, she made a vow to the Lord: she would give her firstborn son to the Lord for all the days for his life. This was a risky decision as no mothers have done this before. Also she did not know whether she will have other children or if God would accept her son.
Hannah’s prayer was first of this kind! Samuel was God’s reply for her prayer and rest is history! She bore other children as well. She is a woman who was not willing to be buried in her misfortune and tears. She built her home with her trust in God. Besides, by giving her son to the house of the Lord, she decided to build God’s house with her gift. She transformed her bitterness to bless the entire Israel from Dan to Beersheba. And all Israel recognized Samuel as the prophet of God.
Many mothers want a son like Samuel, but only to a Hannah a Samuel will be born. Only in Hannah’s home Samuel can be raised. Only a mother who makes risky decisions on behalf of their children can build God’s house.
What is special about Hannah and her home? Hannah’s was not a perfect happy home that one dreams of. Hannah had a resident rival in her home who would cause irritation and tears. Yet this did not result in fight neither with her husband nor her rival. Besides, this was not a hindrance to her to express her devotion and trust in God. Also she could have tried to forget her misery in her husband’s love. Yet, she decided to end her misfortune by turning towards God-a bold step towards building her home. Thus the key to unlock the door towards the answer to her problem was in Hannah’s hands and not in anybody else.
What are somethings that bother us about our home? Are we trying to live with it thinking that it would never change? Are we waiting for some others to take a step towards the change? If change is needed, what can we do towards it?
One cannot build home alone. God is the One who builds, yet he gives us an opportunity to partner with him in building our home which necessities us to take risks with prayer, courage, wisdom, and perseverance.
Photo Courtesy: http://www.unhcr.org
March 19, 2014

Women Who Cared for Their Child by Passing on Their Sincere Faith (II Tim 1:5-6, 14-15)

The grandmother Lois and the mother Eunice are mentioned in relation to their child Timothy. In Lystra Paul’s, the great missionary and Timothy’s paths crossed (Acts 16:1-2). Paul was greatly impressed by him. Brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him to Paul. He came to know that Timothy was a son of a Jewess who believed in Jesus and his father was a Greek. Timothy became Paul’s companion in his missionary journey. Thus began a strong bond between them. Paul saw in Timothy a faithful minister of God and entrusted many responsibilities to him.

Paul calls Timothy his “true child in the faith” (I Tim 1:2). He enjoyed Timothy’s company that Paul asked him to come to him (II Tim 4:9). Paul wrote two letters to Timothy to encourage him as a leader. His name is mentioned in 6 books of the New Testament.

How did Timothy, a half Greek, who lived in a Roman city become a Christian and later a prominent leader of the church? The answer is in II Tim 3:14-15 which shows the role of his mother and grandmother in his life. From his infancy he knew the Holy Scriptures. Who might have taught him? I believe it is his mother and grandmother. Thus they left a legacy- a legacy of “sincere faith” (II Tim 1:5). Sincere faith was his inheritance.

Even in an unfavorable environment, a devoted Jewish mother and grandmother built a strong foundation for Timothy’s faith by teaching him Scriptures from his infancy. They were not influential women, yet simple ordinary women. But their gift for the Kingdom of God was precious-A great man of God.

Timothy’s mother and grandmother gave him God, scriptures, and sincere faith. Some of us are mothers and grandmothers. What have we given to our children? What do you like to give them?

We may have properties, treasures, bank balance and many other good gifts for them. These are temporary. Yet these good things will aid in their well-being only if they fear the Lord and serve him. Giving all the good stuff without God will not enable them to enjoy the gifts. With God they can enjoy the blessings of God and these gifts. 

We really need to ask the question along with John Westerhoff, the Christian educator -Will the children in my home, my church have faith? Faith comes from hearing the Word and experiencing Christ in the faith community. How diligent are we in caring for our children by teaching the Word of God? We may be busy helping children to be knowledgeable with their school subjects but what about the Word of God? How diligent are we to take our children to prayer meetings so that they can be with the faith community? Many of us in India prefer special tuition to worship thus allowing children to skip Sunday worship.

Now think about children in our churches. Who will teach them Who will pass on the faith to them? Can we take time to pray and introduce them to the Scripture through Sunday school? Can we encourage them by a phone call when they are troubled? Can we let them know that we care for them when they are away for studies or job?

Lord, let me not be engrossed in many limiting life situations. Let me not overlook my role in God’s plan for children around us.

 

 

 

Blessing the Children Around Us: The Woman Who Blessed The Child by Witnessing about Him

This is the second blog in the series on women who blessed children around them. This woman mentioned in the Gospel according to Luke.
Anna is an unusual aged woman in the Bible. As a widow she might have faced m\nany years of loneliness in her life. Number of years she lived as a widow was much more than the total number of years she had lived with her husband and with her parents. It is not clear whether she had children. If she had children most probably she would have been living with them. Any how, she decided not to dwell in these sorrows and misfortunes. She turned her from a life of misfortune to the life of a prophetess.
They are waiting for you
Another factor is her decision to take up the journey to live in the temple. She traveled a long way from her tribal territory of Asher to come to Jerusalem. We do not know for how long she had been living in the temple without leaving that place. We read that she was a worshiper, a never ending worshiper of God. She worshiped day and night. She had a life of fasting and prayer. This shows she is a adherent worshiper of Yahweh.
Anna’s worship and devotion came to a climax as she saw the child of Joseph and Mary who is the fulfillment of all she believed and practiced. She blessed the child by her words and action. When she came to know in her spirit that Messiah had arrived in the temple, she came to him. She not only she came to him but also gathered all those who were waiting for the Messiah. She spoke about the child. She gave thanks to God for sending the Messiah. Thus she praised God and became a channel to lead others to praise. Knowing all the unusual qualities of this aged widow, I can guess that people noticed and listened to her words about the baby. She became the third woman to believe that Jesus is the messiah next to Mary and Elizabeth. Yet she became the first woman who publicly announced the truth that Jesus is the Messiah. And she did so in the temple.

What a source of blessing she became to Joseph and Mary and also for the child! Many had a questions regarding the father of this child. Neighbours of Mary and Joseph might have had a lot of unanswered questions before he was born and after he was born. Yet Anna brought joy to the life of this family by affirming that this boy is the Messiah. She indeed blessed the baby.

Can you imagine living a life of misfortune as Anna lived? How many of us are willing to lift up our eyes from our sorrow to God to wait upon Him in prayer? How can we turn our misfortunes to be a life of blessing to children who may not be accepted by others? There are many women among us who live in their past sorrow. Unlike many, Anna decided to enjoy her life by being a worshiper who sought the coming of the Messiah. Thus she not only saw the child but also blessed the child.

Jesus took children in his arms and blessed them whom his disciples thought were not worthy to be touched by Jesus. How many of us notice children as they walk through the doors of our churches? Or are we immersed in our own sorrows and joys? Or in our own private spirituality? How many of us recognize the need of affirmation in the life of the children we see? Or are we busy with our own credentials as a prophet or worshiper of God? Take time to bless a child.
Written Oct 18, 2013

Blessing the Children Around Us: Women Who Saved the Lives of Infants

For next couple of blogs I would like to look at a few women who have blessed the lives of children around them. Many of us might haven’t heard much about them. They are not in the limelight of many of our sermons. Yet what they did for children were so unique that their names are mentioned in the Bible. This blog is about two women who blessed many children by saving their lives.

Imagine living in a country where the king has decided to eradicate your race. With the help of his advisers he found that you are the key person to accomplish his plan. You were invited to his court. He shared his plan to recruit you to a cruel plan of killing innocent boy infants as soon as they are born, on the birth stool itself even, before the mother sees the baby. Your heart began to beat fast. The king did not expect your consent, once said it is a command.

I can imagine Shiphrah and Puah, (Exodus 1:15-21) the Hebrew midwives walking out of the court discussing what to do. They believed that they have an option which is to disobey the king and let the boys live. The simple reason was that they feared God. Their fearless acts saved the life of many boys who lived to see the deliverance of God during Exodus. These women indeed lived up to their names. Puah means “splendid” and Shiphrah means “brightness” in Hebrew. Together these splendid women brought brightness into the lives of the children and their families in the midst of danger. Thus they became part of God’s plan for the nation of Israel.

They are waiting for you

What did their actions say about them

  • When the king decided to kill these innocent boys, these women decided to let them live.
  • When the king’s deceleration meant death of the boys, these women’s decision was life.
  • When the king decided to bring sorrow to the family, these women decided to be a channel of happiness.
  • When the king expected these women to fear him, they chose to fear the king of kings, their God who is the giver and sustainer of life.
  • The king expected them to be a curse to infant boys, but they decided to be a blessing.
  • When the king wanted them to be part of his scheme to eradicate God’s people, they wanted to be part of God’s scheme to make the people numerous.
  • These women rejected the kindness of the earthly king and became a vessel who received kindness from the eternal king. He established a family for them.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, God wants us to be a channel of blessing to children who are destined to die. They may be living in poverty with regards to money, education, love, security, and care. If you look around there are hundreds of girls and boys who suffer injustice from the hands of those who should be protecting them: parents, teachers, family, neighbors, and community. Many see them as nuisance and a burden. But you and me are the ones who are there to change the destiny of these children.
Let us step out of our comfort zone. God only expects our readiness. He will do the rest. Be like these fearless women who blessed many children who were not even their own.

Written Sep 21, 2013