Archives for February 2013

Embracing the Most Important Relationship

Jeremiah 29 11If we believe wholeheartedly that God is personally involved in our life, we would expect that He has something specific in mind for us to do while we’re here on earth.

In their book, Being Christian, Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect, authors Stephen Arterburn and John Shore address four things every Christian will have at some point in life: answers, guidance, confirmation, and inspiration.  They address a question that has laid heavy on the heart of many believers: Does God Have a Plan for Me?

He certainly does.  God’s plan is for you to accept the fact that He loves you, has always loved you, and will always love you.  God’s plan for you is to trust in the truth of who He is, and in what He has done for you.  It’s for you to open yourself up to the wondrous powers of the Holy Spirit within you.

One of Satan’s most insidious strategies to attack and influence the children of God has been to keep them too involved with challenging relationships to care about a relationship with the One who cares the most—Jesus Christ.

Clearly, God wants us to be in loving relationships, starting with Himself.  Yet relationships are being destroyed, hearts broken, and families fractured as good Christian men and women forget what God has said about the most important priorities in life—to love Him first and to love our neighbors. This is the very essence of the gospel message.

Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40.

Step One: Love the Lord Your God

It starts by acknowledging Jesus Christ as our Savior—our Lord.

Ryan Northcutt is the pastor of a small (but rapidly growing) community church in Haltom City, Texas.  Pastor Ryan talked passionately about a personal God who understands what it’s like to live in this world—to be involved with people, challenges, troubles, and trials. He said:

We can’t do it on our own.  When we trust in ourselves it’s too hard.  If we rely on only ourselves we will be left wanting.  When we are separated from God we feel it—we may not know what is missing from our life—but we know something is. When that something becomes a relationship with the Lord, it’s impossible to live the same way.  When our relationship with the Lord grows—we grow.

It’s not about what we have to do to get to God, for by grace we are all saved. It’s about what Jesus did for us to get to us.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Difficult People, Six Steps to SANITY for Challenging Relationships  by Allison Bottke © 2011. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information. 

Setting Boundaries with Difficult People

GET READY…Keeping Your Eye on the Goal!

It’s important to know our ultimate goal, no matter what we set out to accomplish. Runners who enter the annual Boston Marathon know if they want to successfully complete the marathon they will ultimately have to run an official distance of 42.195 kilometers (that’s 26 miles and 385 yards). No one enters this race unsure of the distance they are expected to run.

However, achieving this ultimate goal may require the accomplishment of several supplementary goals during pre-race training.

“After a scare with my heart, I entered the race mostly to get in better physical shape. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run the entire 26 miles, but I knew the training would help,” said one runner. “I needed to lose 60 pounds, that’s really why I entered the race. If I reached that goal before race day and never ran, I would have succeeded,” said another.

While it was important to know the ultimate goal of running 26 miles, for many the supplementary goals leading up to race day were every bit as important.

As we work toward our ultimate goal, we want to accomplish several other goals as well:  We want…

  • We want difficult people to stop hurting us
  • We want to take control and stop the stress
  • We want to become healthy and whole
  • We want to gain clarity in our life
  • We want to learn new skills to enhance our relationships
  • We want to live a life that is pleasing to God
  • We want to find SANITY

The Moment is Now

It was Palm Sunday at Harvest Church in Watauga, Texas, when Pastor Chuck Angel challenged those of us in the pews to find the courage to open the door to change and choice. I’ll paraphrase his message from the copious notes I took, when I wasn’t shouting, “Amen!”

When opportunity knocks, we need to have courage to overcome fear. There’s a difference between knowing what you should do and choosing to do it. The tipping point.

When we reach that point that takes us from “ought to do” to choosing to do it.

God will direct our path, but He won’t take the step for us. Some of us will stop on the journey. It’s not just knowing—it’s going. Often, there is a gap in the middle between knowing and going.

Life is a parade of “now” moments, not a series of tomorrows. No future moment is more significant than now.

Some of the boundary choices we face will be life-changing. Yet it’s not just about the monumental choices we make that dramatically change the course of our life, but the individual choices we make in the everyday moments of life as well. Combined they make us who we are, a rich tapestry of experience woven together with choice.

The journey to find SANITY doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t just a matter of understanding what the word definitively means, or what types of boundaries exist, although these are important things to know. Understanding boundaries really begins when we stop seeing ourselves as helpless in a drowning situation and realize how much power we have over our actions and emotions. More important, understanding boundaries is also being aware of what God’s Word teaches us about the critical aspect of protecting our heart. One of the most powerful actions we can take in life is to choose to be in relationships that bring out the best in us—that nurture our heart—and that allow us to bring out the best in others as well.

Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Difficult People, Six Steps to SANITY for Challenging Relationships by Allison Bottke © 2011. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.

Challenging Relationships

Setting Boundaries with Difficult PeopleI’d like to believe that most difficult people do not intentionally set out to be difficult, that the people who do cause us pain don’t wake up every morning and say, “Today I’m going to be as difficult as humanly possible and make life miserable for so-and-so.” Nonetheless, here’s the rub, depending on how much time we spend with this difficult person, life can range from uncomfortable to virtually unbearable, whether they intend to make it so or not.

We can and should set healthy boundaries with difficult people. Too often, we ignore the need to do so because of fear of being misunderstood, of not being a “good Christian,” and we simply wait passively. Or, we respond emotionally and aggressively, protecting ourselves at all costs. Either way, we are then put in the position of having to continually put out fires instead of preventing them in the first place.

If only we could change the difficult people in our life!

I will explore an uncomfortable truth regarding setting boundaries not only with people you love, but also with people you must interact with during the course of your life: If you’re struggling with difficult people, if you’re turned inside out and living from one crisis to the next in pain, fear, anger, or frustration because of the behavior and choices of others, there’s a strong probability that you’re making some poor choices yourself. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not blaming you for the problems you may be having with a difficult person. They may very well be off the mark and behaving in a reprehensible or inappropriate manner. But their actions, no matter how atrocious, do not dictate your response.

How you respond to them can make all the difference—and that’s what I want to address.

Could it be that God is using a difficult person or a difficult situation in our life to help us grow in wisdom and knowledge? To help us be the person He wants us to be? Could it be that we have difficult people in our life because we ourselves are difficult? Because we haven’t quite learned how to communicate effectively?

If, like me, you’ve had to deal with a difficult person for several years or more, it’s likely that even after all this time, you still have great difficulty saying and meaning two simple words: yes and no.  Other factors are also part of the equation, but these two simple words form the rudimentary basis of setting healthy boundaries.

I’ve come to realize that setting healthy boundaries is first and foremost about love – the love God has for us, the love He wants us to have for our own life, and the love He wants us to share with others.  Setting Boundaries with Difficult People will help you learn that boundaries are biblical—that in His compassionate love for us, even Jesus set boundaries.

The Six Steps to SANITY work and will help you get your life back. SANITY is possible, and I will to help you find it.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Difficult People, Six Steps to SANITY for Challenging Relationships by Allison Bottke © 2011. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.