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The outline below is from the book Boundaries by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend (pictured below) highly recommended read as these lessons are key to making necessary, effective, positive changes in ones life.

Accepting other people’s boundaries increases of capacity to love others. 




Weak boundaries can be the result of withdrawal of love or from inconsistency.

Adolescence - boundaries from knowing when to say "yes" and when to say "no". 

Boundaries happen in  3 phrases;  Hatching, Practicing, Rapprochement

No  Spiritual principles = poor boundaries. Natural Laws - are in place whether or not we realize them.

Boundary-less people feel empty and unfulfilled.

His grace will cover failure but can't make up for passivity.  We have to do our part.

Initiative= God given ability to propel ourselves into life.

Internal Boundary Conflicts.

 Look humbly at ourselves.

 Eating- over-eating, poor food choices -using food as a false boundary.

 Money- Struggle with impulse spending.  Careless budgeting.  Where is our love of money the root of our evil?

 Time Management- Are we poor planners, Do you need to do things ahead  and plan better.

Task Completion- Great Starter, poor finisher

The Tongue- Are you pleased with how often you use your tongue to bless or are you a non-stop talker and a conversation dominator. 

Are you a gossip or out of control, sarcastic and threatening

Sexuality-porn, masturbation, affairs, gay.

Alcohol/Substance Abuse-Addictions




Self boundary problems worsen with increased alone-ness because needs go unmet!

 We are responsible for- not just to the person with the problem when we are that person.

Due to shame, tear our own self- sufficiency we tend to withdraw from relationships and accountability, when it comes to dealing with situations like these.

We try to use will power to solve our boundary problems.

We have personal boundaries- God respects our boundaries.

Special note about Anger: People don't make other people angry. The anger comes from inside you. 

If you have a want you need to own it and take responsibility with it and address it. 

To establish clear boundaries in a relationship use self control. .

Identify the symptom: Recognize or own the problem.

Identify the roots of the symptom try to meet the need or fear and face it ??" work it out.

Identify the boundary conflict- understand the conflict.

Identifying who needs to take ownership in the situation and the need that drives the conflict and get the need met.

Take in the good- God is willing to meet the need through his people if we humble ourselves.

Practice setting limits with safe people- you will grow in your ability.

Avoid hurtful situations say no to the bad people who have abused and controlled you stop want something form them

We must grieve over disappoints not punish other for them, respond and receive love. 

Mature Boundary Development Signs

Resentment-in the beginning hurt and anger.  Remember truth is our friend examine your heart.

Change of taste you will find that you like others with boundaries.

Join the boundaried family.

Grace and truth are good taking responsibilities is good and valuable.  What you value in life make a list of how you want your treasures treated.



Expose boundaries to the light you can’t break laws forever without there being consequences.

Take ownership of your problem!

Matt 7:5


Setting boundaries with ourselves.  We deny ourselves certain freedoms to say or do whatever we like in order to achieve higher purpose.


We must submit to the same rules.  We want our spouses to submit to a mutual relationship. 


We need to free our spouse to grow and change when we set limits on ourselves. 


Be truthful instead of controlling.


Our boundary responsibilities and our own character issues and how we relate to our spouses character issues.



Setting Character limits


Playing God instead of seeking God

Denial or not admitting the truth about who we are.

Withdraw from relationship


Self centered-ness

Judgmental-ism -Major sources of hurt.


Controlling our Partners


Guilt messages intended to make our spouses feel responsibly for our welfare.

Anger our basic protest against the fact that we are not God and we cannot control reality. 

Persistent assaults on our spouse’s boundaries, arguing, wheedling and pleading until the other is worn down.

Withholding love, disconnecting emotionally until the spouse changes to suit us


Give up attempts to control your partner.



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If you're not sure say "no". Learn to just say "no".

Boundaries give us freedom to say “no” and set limits.


It the physical world- boundaries are easy to see in the spiritual world they are hard to see.  We need to set boundaries for our lives in the areas of physical, emotional and spiritual.


Failure to do so can be disruptive.  We have to take ownership of our lives.  Setting boundaries will help us do that.

Past hurts and poor models can result in weak boundaries as adults.  Our boundaries need to be clearly defined.  Boundaries help keep out what isn’t ours. 


God wants us to have wisdom to know what we should take responsibility for and what we shouldn’t.


We have choices- Freedom that comes with knowing boundaries leads to love.




Law 1- Sowing and Reaping. - Cause and effect- Remember rescuers have no boundaries and they are co-dependant. The law of cause and effect is a basic law of life.  The Bible calls it the Law of Sowing and Reaping.  If you smoke cigarettes, you will most likely develop a smoker hack or get lung cancer.  If you overspend you most likely get calls from creditors, and you may go hungry cause you have no money for food.  On the other hand if you eat right and exercise you will get fewer colds and bouts with the flu.  If you budget wisely, you will have money for the bill collectors and the grocery store.  Sometimes people don't reap what they sow because someone else steps in and reaps the consequences for them.  The Law of Reaping can be interrupted.  It is often people who have no boundaries who do the interrupting.  Just as you can interfere width the law of gravity by catching a glass tumbling off the table, people can interfere with the Law of Cause and Effect by stepping in and rescuing irresponsible people.  BUT rescuing a person from natural consequences of his behavior enables him to continue in irresponsible behavior.  A person that continually rescues another person is a codependent.  In effect, codependent, boundaryless people "co-sign the note" of life for the irresponsible person.  They end up paying the bills, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.   Establishing boundaries help codependent people stop interrupting the Law of Sowing and Reaping in their loved one's life.  Boundaries force the person who is doing the sowing to also do the reaping.   Confronting doesn't help because confronting an irresponsible person is not painful to him; only consequences are.  If the irresponsible person were wise they might change their behavior when confronted but usually people caught in destructive patterns are not wise.  Proverbs 9:8 says "Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;rebuke a wise man and he will love you".  Codependent people bring insults and pain onto themselves when they confront irresponsible people.  In reality they just need to stop interrupting the law of sowing and reaping in someone's life. 

Law 2- Taking Responsibility. We are to love one another not be one another. Gal 5:13-14 -We are responsible for ourselves.  I can't grow for you and you can't grow for me.  Phil 2:12-13

The Law of Responsibility includes loving others.  The commandment to love is the entire law for Christians.  Anytime you are not loving others, you are not taking full responsibility for yourself; you have disowned your heart.   Problems arise when boundaries of responsibility are confused.  We are to love one another NOT BE one another.  I can't feel your feelings for you.  I can't think for you.  I can't behave for you.  I can't work through the disappointment hat limits bring for you.  In short, I can't grow for you, only you can.  Likewise you can't grow for me.  The biblical mandate for our won personal growth is "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for  it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Phil. 2:12-13).  You are responsible for yourself.  I am responsible for myself. 

The Bible says that we are to treat others the way we would want to be treated.  If we were down and out, helpless and without hope, we would certainly want help and provision.  This is a very important side of being responsible "to".

Another aspect of being responsible "to" is not only in giving but in the setting of limits on another's destructive and irresponsible behavior.  It is not good to rescue someone from the consequences of their sin, for you will only have to do it again.  You have reinforced the pattern (Prov. 19:19).  IT is the same principle spoken in child rearing; it is hurtful to not have limits with others.  It leads them to destruction.  (Prov.23:13).

A strong strand throughout the Bible stresses that you are to give to needs and put limits on sin.  Boundaries help you do just that. 

Law 3-Power

The Twelve Steps and the Bible teach that people must admit that they are moral failures. Alcoholics admit that they are powerless over alcohol; they don't have the fruit fo self-control.  THey are powerless over their addiction, mush like Paul was.  "I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do  I do not do, but what I hate I do... For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do... For what I do is not the good I want to do; no m, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing... waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members'. ( Rom. 7:15, 19,23). This is powerlessness.  John says that we are all in that state, and that anyone that denies it is lying (1John 1:8)

Though you do not have the power in and of yourself to overcome these patterns, you do have the power to do some things that will bring fruits of victory later:

1.  You have the power to agree with the truth about your problems.  It;s called confession.  To confess means to agree with.                   

2. We have the power to submit to your inability to God and turn your life over to Him, the Doctor who can do what you are unable to do: Bring about change. You have the power to ask for help and then to yield.  You have the power to humble yourself and turn your life over to Him. If you do what you are able - confess, believe, and ask for help- God will do what you are unable to do-bring about change.  (1 John 1:9; James 4:7-10; Matt. 5:3, 6).

3. You do have the power to ask God and other to reveal more and more about what is within your boundaries. 

4. You have the power to turn from the evil that you find within you (repentance). This is called repentance.  This does not means that you will be perfect; it means that you can see your sinful parts as aspects that you want to change.

5. You have the power to humble yourselves and ask God and other to help; you with your development injuries and leftover childhood needs.  Many of your problematic parts came from being empty inside, and you need to seek God and others to have those needs met.

6. You have the power to seek out those whom you have injured and make amends.  You need to do this in order to be responsible for yourself and your sin, and be responsible to those you have injured.  Matthew 5:23-24 says "Therefore, if you are offering your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."


One the other side of the coin, your boundaries help define what you do not have power over; everything outside of them!  Listen to the way the serenity prayer (probably the best boundary prayer ever written) says it:


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change , the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

In other words, God, clarify my boundaries!  You can work on submitting yourself to the process and working with God to change you.  You cannot change anything else: not the weather, the past, the economy and especially not other people.  You cannot change others.  More people suffer from trying to change others than from any other sickness.  And it is impossible. 

What you can do is influence others.  But there is a trick.  Since you cannot get them to change, you must change yourself so that their destructive patterns no longer work on you.  Change your way of dealing with them; they may be motivated to change if their old ways no longer work. 

Another dynamic that happens when you let go of others is that you begin to get healthy, and they notice and envy your health.  They may want some of what you have. 

One more thing.  You need wisdom to know what is you and what is not you.  Pray for wisdom to know the difference between what you have the power to change and what you do not. You have the power to forgive those who have hurt you.  You do not have the power over things outside your boundaries.

You do have the power to work with God to change you.  I have Freedom: I am not limited by circumstances or other people. 

Law #4 The Law Respect.

One word comes up again and again when people describe their problems with boundaries: they. "But they won't accept me if I say no" "But they will get angry if I set limits"  "But they won't speak to me for a week if I tell them how I really feel".

We fear that others will not respect our boundaries.  We focus on others and lose clarity about ourselves. Sometimes the problem os is that we judge others' boundaries.  We say or think things such as this;

"How could he refuse to come by and pick me up? It's right on his way! He could find some 'time alone' some other time".

"That's so selfish of her not come to the luncheon.  After all, the rest of us are sacrificing."

"What do you mean, 'no"? I just need the money for a little while."

"It seems that, after all I do for you. you could at least do m e this one little favor."

We judge the boundary decisions of others. thinking that we know best how they "ought" to give, and usually that means "they ought to give to me the way I want them to".

But the Bible says whenever we judge, we will be judged (Matt. 7:1-2).  When we judge others' boundaries, ours will fall under the same judgment.  If we condemn others' boundaries, we expect them to condemn ours.  THis sets up a fear cycle inside that makes us afraid to set the boundaries that we need to set.  As a result, we comply, then we resent, and the "love" that we have "given" goes sour.

This is where the Law of Respect comes in.  As Jesus said," So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you? (Matt 7:12).  We need to respect the boundaries of others .  We need to love the boundaries of other sin order to command respect for our own.  We need to treat their boundaries the way we want them to treat ours. 

If We love and respect people who tell us no, the will love and respect our no.  Freedom begets freedom.  If we are walking in the Spirit, we give people the freedom to make other own choices.  "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom"(2Cor. 3:17).  If we are going t to judge at all, it need so be by the "perfect law that gives freedom" (james 1:25).

Our real concern with others should not be "Are they doing what I would do or what I want them to do?" but "Are they really making a free choice?"  When we accept others' freedom, we don't get angry, feel guilty, or withdraw our love when they set boundaries with us.  When we accept others' freedom, we feel better about our own.

Law #5 Law of motivation;

Life works best with freedom is 1st and service is 2nd.  Matthew 20:26

Hurt and Harm

Hurt and harm are different.  Things can hurt us and not harm us; in fact they can be good for us.  Things that feel good may harm us and be very bad for us.

Things can feel good and harm us, but they can hurt us and not harm us.

Law #6 The Law of Evaluation-

To have boundaries is to have a purposeful life.

It is easier to go through the broad gate of destruction because we don't set boundaries where we need them.

Honest and purposeful life clearly defined by boundaries leads to good fruit.

We cause pain by making choices others don't like we also cause pain by confronting people when they are wrong.  If we do not share our anger with another bitterness and hatred can set in.  We need to be honest with one another about how we are hurt, as iron sharpens iron we need confrontation and truth from others to grow.

No one likes to hear negative things about themselves,

Hearing those things will be good for us in the long run.

Law #7- The Law of Proactivity;

For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.  Love is what happens after you react.  Reactive stage is necessary but it is just a stage.

The bible says: If we are wise we will learn from confrontations.  Use the freedom you gained from reacting to love, enjoy and serve others. 

Law #8 The Law of Envy-

                  Take responsibility instead of spending time envying others.

                  Envy is the based emotion we have- Envy defines good as with I do not possess and hates the good that it has.   Envy was Satan???s sin, and the result of the fall, envy guarantees               that we will not get what we want.  It keeps us perpetually and insatiably dissatisfied, because if we are focused on what others have or what they have accomplished we are neglect   ing our own responsibilities, ultimately we will have an empty heart.


Ask God to help you understand what you resent why you don???t have what you are envying and whether or not you truly need it.  Ask that he show you how to get there or to help you grieve things you can???t have and be content with what you do have. 

Law 9-The Law of Activity-

People are responders and initiators; we respond to invitations and push ourselves into life.  Passivity never pays off.

God will match our effort but he won???t do our work for us that would be an invasion of our boundaries and freedom.

We are to be assertive, active and seeking knocking on the door of life. 

The sin God rebukes is not trying and failing it is failing to try; passive shrinking back is intolerable to God. 

Remember the phrase ???Just do It???

Try and failing and trying again is called learning.

We are to actively work to preserve our soul. Passivity can become an ally of evil.

Set healthy boundaries.

Law #10 The Law of Exposure.

A boundary defines where we begin and where we end.  We exist in relationship with God and others your boundaries define you in those relationships. 

Boundaries mean Love.

The law of exposure says this- Boundaries need to be made visible to others and communicated to them in the context of that relationship.

Relationship fears give us secret boundaries; they can be guilt, not being liked, loss of relationships and people approval.

Being honest means being in the LIGHT.  God is in the light be in the light with your boundaries.


An excerpt from the book Boundaries, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr.  John Townsend (pgs. 83-102), (copyright 1992 Zondervan Publishing House)


Love – Love what is best about the spouse.


Do not control your spouse.  We all need freedom.  God gives us freedom we need to give others freedom. 


That is why a loving God must be the first priority.  He empowers us to change and tells us how to change and most of all God keeps us from being ultimately in charge.


Agape – Is love that seeks the welfare of the other person.  It is love that has nothing to do with the other person.  It is love that has nothing to do with how someone is gratifying us at the moment it has to do with what is good of the other.


Love your spouse as you love yourself means that you so deeply identify with your spouse.


Loving your spouse as your self means that you think of making your spouses life better.


Loving your spouse as yourself means you want the best for your spouse even when your spouse can’t see what that is.


Agape love is based on commitment, covenant and security. 









What is a Boundary?


Something that marks or fixes a limit or extent.

Boundaries show where we end and someone else begins.

Boundaries define us – they say what is me and what is not.




Learn not to make promises.



Boundary MYTHS


Myth # 1- “IF I have boundaries, I am being selfish”

              Boundaries increase our ability to care about others.

              Setting healthy boundaries is a matter of healthy stewardship of the life God has given us.

              Selfishness is a fixation on our wishes and desires to the exclusion of our ability to love others.

Myth # 2- “Boundaries are a sign of disobedience”

Lack of boundaries is a sign of disobedience- sometimes we have to disobey an unbiblical authority in order obey God.

We must always say “yes” out of a heart of love.

Myth # 3 “If I set boundaries, I will be hurt by others”

Others may be angry at our boundaries and attack or withdraw from us. 

We can’t manipulate others into swallowing our boundaries by sugar coating them.

People in our lives that respect our boundaries will accept our options, choices and our separateness.

Myth # 4- If I set boundaries, I will hurt others.

Appropriate boundaries don’t attack or control or hurt anybody.

They are not an offensive weapon but a defensive tool.

Myth # 5 – “Boundaries mean that I am angry”

Quite often when people begin telling the truth – setting limits and taking responsibility the angry cloud follows us around for a while.

Boundaries don’t cause anger.  Anger is a signal.  IT is a sign that we need to move forward to confront the threat.  One of the things anger may be telling us is, that our boundaries may have been violated OR that we do not have a boundary. 

People with good boundaries are less angry than people with weak ones or no boundaries because they are in constant state of being violated.

Anger presents us with a sense of power to solve a problem- it is an ally.

Myth # 6- When other set boundaries it injures me.

When others boundaries hurt me I say I don’t want to hurt anyone like that, it can feel hurtful, rejecting, and cold.

Myth # 7- Boundaries cause feelings of guilt. 

Obligation – what do we owe our loved ones and what is appropriate biblical and what isn’t.

Myth # 8- Boundaries are permanent and I am afraid of burning my bridges.

Boundaries are subject to us – we own them they don’t own us!



Trust, depend, and believe in your partner. 

“Faithful with your bodies but not your heart”

Do what you promise! Doing chores faithfully!

Careless- rest in the knowledge that you will be taken care of, by God first and your partner next.

Compassion, tender hearted consist for a number of things:

Identification with sin and failure – humility.

Identification with weakness

Willingness to become vulnerable again

Willingness to repent,



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