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Free To Stay In Bounds

May 27, 2008

“True spiritual self-discipline holds believers in bounds but never in bonds; it’s effect is to enlarge, expand and liberate.” – D.G. Kehl

I am freer now in Christ than I ever was before I chose Him. Yet, I’ve heard so many times from people who are searching that God just isn’t for them – they don’t want to live under a thumb.

Before I gave my life to God I was one scattered person. OK, that is not to say I am not scattered still. Scattered brain, I am. But lost? Not anymore. And I am certainly under no thumb. I have learned discipline. Discipline where it matters most for me. Once where I would throw caution to the wind and not give any second thought to the repercussions, I now seek and have the guidance of a loving God who always steers me in the right direction.

Like a child who needs discipline to feel safe. They need, and want, to know where the boundaries are. Knowing the boundaries prepares and equips us to go the distance we are to travel. And it assures we are where we’re suppose to be.

That’s freedom!

Your thoughts?

*Edited to Add* realized this morning when I woke up the post I saved to publish didn’t have a link in it. Darla wrote a great post yesterday that has some of these thoughts in it too. GREAT POST!

40 Comments leave one →
  1. lori permalink
    May 27, 2008 3:46 am

    This is why I love you Tam! You are so insightful…and thoughtful.

    I think we choose which thumb to live under. You can live under the thumb of society, peer pressure, conformance to ‘mans standards’ or you can live under the thumb of the one who protects, guides and cares…if that makes any sense!

  2. May 27, 2008 4:14 am


    He puts up “fences” and “walls” and “boundary lines” to protect us from snares and traps and things that will limit our freedom.

    He keeps us out of those things so we can run freely.

  3. May 27, 2008 5:27 am

    I’ve never quite understood the “don’t want to live under a thumb” mentality, although I have several friends who feel that way. I know myself and if I’m the one plotting my course and the final authority on all things pertaining to me…well, I’m in BIG trouble.

  4. May 27, 2008 5:40 am

    We are free because He gives us good direction! When I am “lost” on the highway I feel trapped – but when I am confident of my directions, (and by the way – I am not afraid to ask for help!) I enjoy the trip much better! My trip is going great right now – got good directions!

  5. May 27, 2008 6:15 am

    This was a lively discussion in our small group a couple of weeks ago, which ended up linking self-discipline to God’s discipline of us. A sports metaphor kept coming up: what if we think about God’s discipline as though he were a demanding coach, pushing us to our limits and demanding that our lives be disciplined? Being a really great anything (runner… writer… musician… effective follower of Christ) implies that we become disciplined, that we NOT spend time/energy/resources on things that are not part of the goal.

    That’s a much more mechanical view of faith and living it out than I usually hold. But sometimes I need to think things out logically to make sure I’m not just floating along without thinking at all. πŸ™‚

  6. May 27, 2008 6:42 am


    Have you ever read “Having a Mary Spirit in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver? I think you would like it. Also, have you ever read any of the “Women of Faith” series? I really enjoy those. It is so refreshing to read your post! God’s goodness defies words! He is with us every minute of the day–even though at times it may not feel like it. I call my trials in life “tests.” We pass the test when we are able to provide a positive TESTimony to others about what we have been through as a way to keep them encouraged. Keep walking in the ight.

  7. May 27, 2008 6:51 am

    Challenging me to think on a blog – am i a bad influence on you Tam? πŸ˜‰

    Some define freedom as having the ability to do anything they choose – without limitation. To be free to make their own mistakes and not follow someone else’s rules.

    True freedom is a privilege and many abuse it.

    If we are to live successfully in a large society of individuals however there do need to be agreed upon limits to our ‘freedom’ to do whatever we choose, or anarchy and chaos would result owing to our different levels of desire and determination to get what we all want.

    Sadly, not all of us are created ‘equal’, or if we are that is only at our very beginning and we soon vary quite considerably after that.

    Just as we down here on Earth need rules and limits to live in harmony with each other we need rules and limits to live in harmony with God ( while we are able to be ‘tempted’ to not follow Him in all things because of our earthly origin and surroundings).

    Those who live without rules, or to break all of them, falsely believe there are no consequences to action. To every action there will be a consequence – that is the most fundamental limit to our freedom in this life.

    It is the disciplined person to whom the greatest rewards are given. Discipline comes from learning about your own boundaries – what you can and cannot break – and challenging and extending those as you grow in Wisdom gained from learning all about them – and yourself.

    As we understand when we form a new relationship with another human there are ‘limits’ to be in place in order to feel ‘safe and secure with them, so it is with our relationship with God. As we grow our relationship and understanding of our self and our partner we can extend those boundaries bit by bit. So it is with our relationship with Him.

    There may be some basic boundaries you never cross – but in True Love there is great freedom -including freedom to grow and evolve to higher levels of trust and understandings!

    My $0.02


  8. May 27, 2008 6:52 am

    We are free in Him. He gaves us the ability to make choices…..
    I have noticed -for myself- that we I am synched in Him, my life goes smoothly. Not under the thumb, but guided by Him.
    When my time with the Lord is thrown in the back burner, I feel the heat. I am chaos. Scattered all over the place.
    Much love.

  9. May 27, 2008 7:27 am

    Makes me think of the boys playing outside. We don’t have a fence up yet so I am CONSTANTLY on them about boundaries. AND, they get in trouble more b/c they push the boundaries and there have been a couple times I’ve found them over on the sidewalk (too far). To them, the lines are blurry. But once we get that fence up…. they can run till their hearts content! They will have freedom! πŸ˜€

    On a personal note….I need discipline. πŸ˜•

  10. May 27, 2008 7:34 am

    I respect discipline and boundaries but I love love.

    For example, in my marital relationship with Patti I do not require tremendous discipline and sharp, clear boundaries simply to remain faithful to her. I suppose I would need that in the absence of love but this is not the case. I love her and that love frees me.

  11. May 27, 2008 7:38 am

    Great thoughts, Tam. You’re full of great quotes.

    I wonder if the Lord is doing a similar work in our hearts…you’re writing an awful lot on “living” and “discipline”…the very same things we’ve been talking/praying/thinking/making changes about. I’ll have to write about it soon. Thanks, as always, for sharing such amazing thoughts.

    (Your last two posted quotes are on my fridge!)

  12. ramsey72 permalink
    May 27, 2008 7:40 am

    When I worked with juvenile delinquents, one of the things that inevitably came up in conversation was about rules. They were where they were because they broke the rules of society. We had some pretty strict rules at our place and the girls most of the time did not like them. I tried to explain to them, that if you put a fence around a yard, it is to keep kids in the yard, but it is also to keep danger from getting in the yard. That is how I see it with God, while he puts these things there to keep us in His will, because He knows what danger waits for us, it is also to keep danger out. When we step outside those lines, then we are stepping out from under His covering and that is a scary place to be. That helps keep me in bounds most of the time.

  13. May 27, 2008 7:41 am

    First, I love title ;o) Discipline, I love that you took the negative connotation away. With God, there really is no negative. His ways are best, He loves best, He gives best.
    Nothing we “give-up” or “don’t do” for God is as good as the peace we feel when we seek His guidance and obey.

  14. May 27, 2008 8:14 am

    When I have been disciplined by the Lord it has been very painful…feels a bit like a beating sometimes. But I know He does it for my benefit that I may live in righteousness. (Hebrews 12:3-13)

  15. May 27, 2008 8:16 am

    love the quote, thanks! good stuff!

  16. May 27, 2008 8:50 am

    I’ve heard someone say that true freedom isn’t the right to do what you want but the ability to do what you should.

    Living in Christ gives such amazing freedom because it’s not a bunch of rules that tells us what we should do. Rather, it’s a relationship with someone who is so amazing that we want to do everything we can to be more like Him.

    Brad Ruggles //

  17. lazrus2 permalink
    May 27, 2008 12:04 pm

    You said,
    “Like a child who needs discipline to feel safe. They need, and want, to know where the boundaries are.”

    and ramsey72 said,
    “if you put a fence around a yard, it is to keep kids in the yard, but it is also to keep danger from getting in the yard. That is how I see it with God, while He puts these things there to keep us in His will, because He knows what danger waits for us, it is also to keep danger out. When we step outside those lines, then we are stepping out from under His covering and that is a scary place to be. ”

    Brandy’s ‘fence’ comments also confirmed that we’re made to feel safer (and ARE) when we have those boundaries.

    Though I don’t have experience with kids myself, I have seen it with my dogs =), though with some temperaments, more discipline is needed to ‘make the point’ about what’s ‘safe’ and what’s not.

    One of my dogs feels very insecure more than 10 yards away from me. The other can just bound across the street oblivious to whatever danger there might be. Even though a lot of it has to do with their energy levels and ‘bents’, it’s understandable since the ‘home body’ one got his face smashed by a truck when he was 8 mo. old (while following his rebel-spirited mom who was much more ‘street wise’ than he was). Maybe that’s why he started trusting me to be his ‘mom’ more than his real one (?=)!

    Our other dog is slowly beginning to learn her ‘boundaries’ better now that we have a ‘hotwire’ around our vegetable garden. I can easily tell when she’s hit it by her reluctance to even get out of the doghouse unless she can be with me.

    ‘Lots of spiritual parallels I think, but I’ll let each determine their own.

    I was reading in Prov. 29 earlier today and several verses there apply also I think, especially vss. 1 & 15-21

    Then there’s Heb. 12:7-11 that’s the ‘classic’ about God’s love and discipline.

    Sometimes I think adults can ‘secretly’ long for those ‘boundaries’ too, though you’d think the exact opposite by their external responses (?).


  18. May 27, 2008 12:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. The word “free” has been on my heart lately (not just because it rhymes with so much and it’s easy to stick into a worship song).

    We are so free now that we are in Christ. I have been thinking about how to let people know that they can be free in Christ instead of thinking that they need to live by a bunch of rules to be “good” and “Christian”. This post gives me alot of clarity on the issue.

  19. Deborah permalink
    May 27, 2008 3:54 pm

    This is funny. Jer and I were just talking about this about our kids the other night. Excellent post…..

    One of the hardest things for me to do was to release my kids into ‘His rules and bounderies’ because they just didn’t look like mine…not all of them anyway. There was alot of , don’t do that, it’ll hurt…..but God is so faithful in bringing them right where He wants them to be. It was very difficult to let go and let God tho….. I’m caught up now!!!! Love you!

  20. May 27, 2008 5:14 pm

    oh, Tam, I’m w/ love and brad on determining the definition of “freedom”. Indeed, definition is KEY. What is freedom to me? It’s subjectively relative to my understanding…how will it change me? Is a holy “thumb” restrictive or liberating?
    My thoughts…having His holiness near me when I’m obedient, is a joyous connection, but when I’m straying… a thumb never felt so heavy

  21. May 27, 2008 5:53 pm

    wow! I’ve been away most of the day and this is what I get to come back to.

    My head is spinning from all the wisdom here guys! I am so blessed to get to be in your company. You all sharpen me. I pray you are being sharpened too as you read through these comments!

    Morocco, I haven’t read any of those books but have heard plenty about them. Looks like they should go on my book wish list πŸ˜‰

  22. May 27, 2008 6:04 pm

    Amazing how we trap ourselves in the process of trying to break free from “rules” when really God has them in place to protect us. Freedom is so relative. Like Love said, many think that freedom is doing what we want even if it isn’t right whereas God’s idea of freedom is us doing right so that we won’t suffer. There’s one definition of freedom that says “liberty as opposed to bondage” and my does God release us from our bondage or what? For where the Spirit of the Lord is present there is liberty! God’s rules over my own ANY day if I want to have peace and joy in my life!

  23. May 27, 2008 6:13 pm

    i heart you tam.

  24. May 27, 2008 6:16 pm

    re-read mandy’s comment and hear me say “ditto”

  25. May 27, 2008 6:20 pm


    My heart is all warm and fuzzy

  26. May 27, 2008 6:22 pm

    like potato salad after the memorial day picnic?

  27. May 27, 2008 7:09 pm


  28. May 27, 2008 7:09 pm


  29. May 27, 2008 7:24 pm

    cathi, nice.

  30. May 27, 2008 7:49 pm

    i knew someone was gonna go there.



  31. TheNorEaster permalink
    May 27, 2008 8:52 pm

    “Once where I would throw caution to the wind and not give any second thought to the repercussions and not give any second thought to the repercussions, I now seek and have the guidance of a loving God who always steers me in the right direction.”

    That hit me like a ton of bricks.

    I fell down yesterday.


  32. Heidi permalink
    May 27, 2008 8:57 pm

    I always hated boundaries and I was terrible about breaking them. It actually became a stronghold because people walked all over me.
    But when I had my stroke and had no more to give, i started building fences some of them with barbed wire and cement others picket fences knee heigth. See where I am going. Today some 7 months later, I am freer and I am dwelling where God tells me too and not feeling guilty about it. Then if I cross that boundary, He taps me on my shoulder and urges me back in His loving arms.

  33. May 27, 2008 8:57 pm

    Hey Tam, I have been loving your posts lately. You have so many commentors and I feel like I need to read all of them or I might repeat something and feel more stupid than I normally do after I leave a comment. But, I was thinking about this and don’t you think we ideally should love being with God so much that we want to be as close to Him as possible and not WANT anything else?? We were talking about kids and dogs and sometimes I get frustrated because everywhere I go in the house I normally have three kids and two dogs following me. I just realized I should count it a blessing that they want to be with me.

  34. May 27, 2008 9:13 pm

    Great point Tawny! yes. i agree.

    everyone of you have knocked my socks off with your comments to this post!

    i have to comment quick. we’re having a little storm go thru and my internet is in and out… πŸ™„

  35. May 27, 2008 11:18 pm

    it wasn’t a storm, Taminator, it was me…coming w/ my potato salad!

  36. May 27, 2008 11:31 pm

    i was wondering why i got hungry!

  37. May 28, 2008 12:13 am


  38. May 28, 2008 4:03 am

    So true Tam. I’m living my life just running in the freedom that my identity in Christ gives me. I now have the freedom to actually become the man God has created me to become!

  39. May 28, 2008 5:24 am

    Judifree said “….how to let people know that they can be free in Christ instead of thinking that they need to live by a bunch of rules to be β€œgood” and β€œChristian””

    That hit the nail on the head! Before I was a Christian, I was constantly told “you are in sin, you are sinning, God is not pleased with you, you need to turn from your sin and turn to God”. But because the Holy Spirit had not yet drawn me to Jesus, there was no “conviction”, only condemnation from people. I really used to think about Christians like that “you are a prude who makes people feel awful about themselves, why do I want to become so mean and restricted under stupid rules like you?” Whereas the LOVE of the Father leads us to wide open freedom….freedom to choose life over death, blessing over cursing. And in the light of His love…who would even want to choose sin and darkness? Law says to me “you shall not”, Love leads me to say “I don’t want” …no fences necessary

  40. extracruem permalink
    May 28, 2008 8:16 am

    I have been writing on this topic for a couple weeks myself and I just appreciate your takes here. Thanks for sharing this piece. Augustine would confer—“If you but love God you may do as you incline…” Ken

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