Monday, November 2, 2009

God Cares About the Little Things



Last month my wonderful husband told me that he just loved it when our daughter wore a bow in her hair. Her haircut is very plain and having her hair put up with colorful ribbons draws attention to her beautiful face and carefree smile.

This was the beginning of a dilemma for me.

At the time we only had a few very small bows and some sad, worn-out ponytail holders to decorate her crown. Feminine hair accessories are rather expensive but they would definitely be put to good use. I set my mind to work and used some extra grocery money to purchase three very sweet hair accessories. But two headbands and one clip would not be able to be used for every outfit and every occasion. She would soon wear them out or get them dirty and I would be in a pickle.


I assured myself that I could make bows for her very inexpensively. But the costs began to accumulate in my head. "All the ribbon, clips, wire...if we did this slowly we could have a nice selection," I reasoned.

This is where I always get myself into trouble. I plan before I pray. It's a weakness and God is working on me. I find myself so full of great ideas that I often think I can figure things out on my own without consulting Him or anyone else. How foolish! God loves it when we trust Him enough to bring our every desire, complaint, and dilemma before Him. He delights in this type of interaction because as we draw closer to God, He draws closer to us.

But God already had His own perfect plan on how to answer my prayer before I prayed it. He had already seen our "need" and found a way to meet it. He also knows my frugal ways. He understands my desire to live according to His provision, trying to be content with simple living. With all this in His view, He is always in the business of lavishing us with every good thing.


I am happy to purchase most of our clothes at two of our favorite thrift stores. We also get very good used books, sports equipment and toys there for super, bargain prices. "Perhaps I could find the ribbon there," I planned with myself. "I could even keep my eye out for clips that could be transformed into something lovely."

The next thrift store trip I made I couldn't believe my eyes. God did not give me what I thought I needed to make things happen myself. He led me to find something even greater. He is truly amazing in all the ways He treats His children to the best gifts!

There laying among all the stuffed animals and stacks of baseball cards was a huge plastic bag of mint condition hair bows, headbands, and clips. I would never have been able to make anything comparing to this variety and quality.


The entire bag was $2.50. I almost started crying right there in the store. Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow!

I believe that God cares about princesses and ponytails and pink ribbon, too.

And He cares about me learning to pray before I plan...and to ask believing that I will receive. Nothing is too small for God. If we can't trust Him with all the little things, then how are we ever going to trust Him for the big things?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Leaders? Part II

This is an article that I wrote for World Shapers Ministry. You can check out their website here. I have reprinted this article in agreement with their requirements. You can find where I reprinted Part I here.

Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Leaders? Part II
In Part I of this article we discussed steps to avoid having your children develop as leaders. In Part II we will consider the biblical mandate to encourage leadership characteristics in your children.

The world would have you keep your child in a mindset of childhood long after it is suitable. I Corinthians 13:11 (AMP) tells us that “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.”

Unless you plan on heaping adult thoughts and responsibilities on your child on their 18th birthday you might consider easing them into this way of life even today.

Consider the following suggestions:

Decision-Making - Let them be a witness to Godly decision-making and priority ranking. Children will not simply know how to honor God with their time and treasure. They must learn it from being submerged in it as their lifestyle.

Gifts & Abilities - Romans 12:6 says that “We all have gifts and they differ…” Your child is not just another brick in the wall. They are a unique and distinct part of God’s plan with unique and distinct gifts given by their Father to fulfill His wishes. Train the child according to their bent, according to their skills and giftings, and you will encourage them to seek God’s will over their own. He knows best what is desired from your son or daughter. Teach them how to focus on His best for them by learning the talents that He deposited in them.

Responsibility - Giving them opportunities to build trust and gain responsibility will teach them to be faithful with little. Servant attitude in their daily chores/responsibilities show them how we are daily to serve others with a spirit of excellence. Love in all activities will teach honorable actions when they are to choose on their own how to behave toward their spouse and children. If they never have anything to do at home, not only will they not feel a valuable part of the family, but they will have nothing to offer as far as servanthood outside of the home.

Commitments - Don’t be a thief. Be prompt. If you believe that God has led you to make a commitment to something then you are gathering in His name. You wouldn’t show up late if you really thought Jesus was there waiting, would you?

Authority - Respect, honor and obey your authorities. If you want your children to rebel against you then you should model rebellion in the way you speak about your boss, your pastor, your parents or your children’s teachers. Hold everything up to the Bible but don’t be disrespectful in your attitude. If you leave your child in someone’s care then you have chosen that person to carry authority. Honor it.

Priorities -The 12 tribes of Israel lived in locations assigned around the tabernacle. Their lives revolved around God. He is our center. If we make Him second or third so that our children can look more like a well-rounded child of this world then we are robbing them of the opportunity to live a God-centered life. When they hear you model decision-making that puts God at a lower priority than anything else you are insuring that they follow in those steps as they make their own decisions.

Prayer - Your children need to hear you pray so that they can rejoice with you and stretch their faith with yours. If you come together in agreement with your children it shows them that they are integral and effective in moving the heart of God.

The Bible - God’s word never returns void. It will always achieve its purpose. When you immerse your children in a living, breathing Word-saturated atmosphere they will thrive and the enemy will have no defense.

Civic Responsibility - God’s people are to be active in this world just as God is. Though we are strangers in this world we are also called to be salt to a dying world. We are to “cure” the rottenness of the world by involving ourselves and our God in everyday affairs.

Roles - Seek God’s will for your family dynamics. This holds true for families with one parent or two. A woman can only be a great mother. She can never even be a mediocre father. The same concept holds true for men. When mothers are great mothers and fathers are godly fathers then the Lord is glorified and the home is at peace. The value of our different roles should be cherished and stressed as glorifying our Lord with everything that we choose to do and NOT to do.

Friends - Direct their paths toward righteous choices by asking questions. The Holy Spirit will spark their hearts toward the right answers for friends and friendly activities. If you see your child with an influence that boldly or subtly changes who your child is in Jesus then strengthen their walk by discussing their changing attitudes and remind them that the Rock on which we stand never wavers.

Service - Allow them to serve in and out of the church with you. One of my young friends told me her definition of a leader. She says that, “Leaders are servants who help others even when they don’t feel like it.” Let your kids live in this Christian life that you profess. Don’t just let them hear you talk it. Let them walk it with you.

Beth Klongpayabal
www.wsmworldshapersministry.org
Klongpayabal@wsmworldshapersministry.org

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Leaders? Part I

This is an article that I wrote for World Shapers Ministry. You can check out their website here. I have reprinted this article in agreement with their requirements. I will be reprinting Part II in the days to come.

Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Leaders? Part I

Being a leader is about influencing people. In Mark 16:15 Christians are called to go into all the world and share the good news with everyone. This would definitely influence people. This should, at the very least, leave a distinguishing effect on our schools, communities, and places of employment. Christians are called to be leaders. Even though this is understood, there is no scripture that defines the exact age at which we are called to be a leader to those in our sphere of influence.

If you believe that leadership is too much pressure to place on your child then I suggest you follow these easy steps to avoid having your children develop as leaders:

Decision-Making - Don’t burden children with decision making. It will just make them grow up too fast. They’ll have to learn soon enough when they start to earn a living and have to make their own choices of how to spend their time.

Gifts & Abilities - Don’t hurt their self-esteem with skill or gifting assessment. We’re all winners. Tell them they are gifted at everything they try even when it’s not really true at all. This way they will not really know what they’re good at and they won’t have the added pressure developing in one direction.

Responsibility – Teach you children to take responsibility by having them clean their room. Make sure that you remind them every day to do this and do it for them if you have to. This way they will learn that someone has to take responsibility.

Commitments - Make judgments based on how you feel moment by moment. Allow them to break commitments and be late when something comes up.

Authority - Question everything. Make sure your child understands that they do not have to obey their teachers or coaches if they think that you might allow the child to do something differently. It’s best to always believe your child over anyone else without question.

Priorities - Keep the kids well-rounded. Carve out prime chunks of time for friends, school, work, sports and arts. Enroll them in every conceivable class because they’ll make loads of friends. An overly full schedule means you are involved and much more important.

Prayer - Pray in private. Bedtime and mealtime prayers will suffice for now. Children just don’t have the patience for long adult prayers they don’t understand.

The Bible - Keep them in their child storybook as long as possible. They just won’t understand the real Bible.

Civic Responsibility - Separation of church and state isn’t just for politics. Don’t mix God with current events.

Roles -Men and women do whatever works best for your family as far as gender roles and responsibilities. The roles established in the Bible were for a different time and place.

Friends - Don’t interfere with their friendships. They need to learn to choose their own friends and deal with their own problems.

Service - Make sure to tell the children when you serve the Lord so that they will know that you are doing good.

If you have been challenged by these comments I encourage you to read the second part of this article. We will look at a path which will ask much of the parent and produce much in the child.

Beth Klongpayabal
www.wsmworldshapersministry.org
Klongpayabal@wsmworldshapersministry.org

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Perspective


I was recently inspired by a friend (thanks, Rea) to consider the time I spend with my children making them feel like the blessings they are. I want my children to feel loved and valued as individuals. I want them to be secure in who they are and the love my husband and I have for each of them.

As much as I endorse this concept, it is difficult to make a reality in day-to-day interactions. There are so many interruptions and distractions from this grand undertaking that it almost seems impossible. I am often overwhelmed by the mucous-covered, dirty body parts and the bickering and the little screechy voices…It just makes me want to give up some days.

But I am not to grow weary doing good. And so I find the joy of the Lord to be my strength in this mission. He loves my kids more than I do. Surely, He’ll be willing to help me show how much I care in a way that is meaningful to their little hearts.

I have found that it is the joy of little moments with these precious people that adds up to a tremendous atmosphere of love in my heart. If I can focus and live in each moment as they come, this dismantles the lie that it’s too hard to love each kid the way they need to be loved. And we all grow closer together and stronger in our bonds. This makes tomorrow’s challenges just a minor puddle to hop over instead of a waterfall to cross.

Today was a good day for our bonds to grow. My oldest son and I shared a private joke with each other over a dozen times throughout the day. And we both thought it was funny the thirteenth time. I made a yummy, over-the-top dessert with my daughter beside me helping with each step. Our family worked on a huge project together to prepare some animal bones and skulls for display (very stinky work, but we did it together). My husband chuckled and encouraged our youngest son to make giggly, piggy faces against the mesh walls of his play yard. I was able to cuddle with our 5 year old son as he explained to me all the cool features of his favorite video game. My husband and I taught our oldest son to play Yahtzee tonight.

I know that these don’t really sound like monumental or important moments. But they were huge to me. I am not promised tomorrow. So what a joy it is to relish my blessings today!

All of us can brush off opportunities now and then to seize the moment with our children. But I need to overhaul my thinking so that I see my days as abundant in blessings instead of loaded with bothersome irritations.

Here are some reminders to me to keep my perspective in line with reality:
  • My children are not interrupting my housework. They are the reason I came home.
  • My children are not ruining my perfect school lesson plans. They are teaching me every day.
  • My children are not crowding out my dreams. They are giving me a legacy.
  • My children are not a nuisance or an annoyance. They remind me of God’s goodness and patience.
  • My children are not sent to punish me or make my life hard. They are sent to help me think of others as greater than myself.
  • My children are not insignificant or unimportant because of their youth. They are blessings with a spirit and a soul that need to be directed to God.
Leave me a comment below to let me know how the Lord has allowed you to take advantage of moments with your kids. How do you keep your perspective in line with God’s truth about your children? Is there something perhaps that you can suggest to frustrated young mothers who want to avoid seeing their children as a burden or a bother when the days are long and the children are under your feet?

Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Communicating in Thirds



In my quiet time this morning I was led to these notes in my study Bible:

**************

From The Woman’s Study Bible New King James Version

Communication: Exchanging Ideas

Communication is the exchange of ideas and information by talk, gestures, or writing. It is an active process present in all meaningful relationships. Communication is not talking but also listening, looking, and feeling. Though individuals have different communication styles, spiritually mature believers are to seek continually to improve their communication with other people and with God.

Speech is powerful. The spoken word can either encourage or discourage. Scripture teaches believers to control the tongue (James 3:1-12) and speak only words of kindness (Ephesians 4:29, 32). The Book of Proverbs discusses the importance of listening with understanding to others who speak (Proverbs 11:12; 18:2; 29:20).

Words alone cannot fully express meaning. Body language, facial expression, tone of voice, and other means of nonverbal communication are essentials for effectiveness. Those who study communication patterns have concluded that two-thirds of the intent of a message is communicated non-verbally, while only one-third of the message is communicated through words.

Obviously, communication is more than conveying information. Women especially use communication to express feelings more than facts, to establish rapport more than to give a report.

Paul underscores the significance of communication and gives advice on verbal behavior (Ephesians 4:25-32). Christians are to:

  • speak the truth in love (v. 15, 25),
  • control angry words (v. 26),
  • speak words of encouragement and healing (v. 29),
  • avoid unkind or bitter speech (v. 29),
  • speak words of forgiveness (v. 32).

Mature believers realize that clear, loving communication is important in conveying the message of salvation effectively.

**************

This led me to consider how only one-third of my message was coming across in my conversations throughout the day. We all know that so much is lost when you talk on the phone. Gestures and facial expressions are invisible. Even more is missing from the written words we share online. When we read something on a computer screen instead of having a live conversation, vocal inflection and stresses are lost. How does this affect our intended message?

I am not always clear in what I write. I do not always take the time to measure my words to make sure that they consistently encourage others. I can fall into negative speech that is not profitable for anyone. What a waste of words that is.

I find this dilemma to be multiplied when I am attempting to communicate by typing in real time. Chat rooms and instant messaging systems add urgency and remove some of the luxury of being able to choose your words carefully when putting your thoughts in writing. I find myself getting caught up in conversations that are not profitable for building up others or possibly being so silly that my message is completely lost in foolishness. I recognize that this is not glorifying to God.

It is at these times that it is best for me to step away from the keyboard and remember that it was my Creator who gave me the ability to speak and reason in words. Since all of my words are from Him shouldn't all of my words point to Him? I do not mean that we should only speak theology and eschatology and all-kinds-of-ologies. But shouldn't I always be mindful that I represent Christ in my attitudes, word choice and manner of speech?

We as believers are called be diligent to use our words (verbal or written) to “impart grace to the hearers.” Would you label your words as encouraging, healing, loving, kind, forgiving and full of grace? I challenge each of you to ponder these thoughts as we improve our communication with God and with each other.

Please leave a comment below to share with me your thoughts and wisdom on communicating effectively online. I look forward to learning more on this subject through your comments and insights.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

We All Have Gifts


Romans 12:6-8 NIRV
We all have gifts. They differ in keeping with the grace that God has given each of us. Do you have the gift of prophecy? Then use it in keeping with the faith you have. Is it your gift to serve? Then serve. Is it teaching? Then teach. Is it telling others how they should live? Then tell them. Is it giving to those who are in need? Then give freely. Is it being a leader? Then work hard at it. Is it showing mercy? Then do it cheerfully.

I love the New International Reader's Version of this scripture because it is the translation my oldest son memorized when he worked through Romans 12. I can still hear his voice reciting these powerful phrases. He is definitely a talented speaker who is passionate and enjoys talking to people.

All children have talents and abilities that make them special. Some are exceptional artists and others have a quick mind for puzzles, some gravitate toward building things and others are gifted at math. Even better than talents they might possess, if they have repented and put their trust in Jesus, they also have at least one of the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12. But how do we know which gifts each child should be developing? How can parents encourage their children to use their gifts to benefit the church?

I found this great blog post that helped me in my thinking about this topic. It even features a Spiritual Gifts Survey for Kids that I can't wait to give to my oldest son.

Let me know how you have discovered your children's spiritual gifts. Please leave a comment below.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Critical Spirit



It is bittersweet to end my Bible study, Draw Me Near by Nancy Douglas. God has taught me more than I could have dreamed was possible from one 10-week study. He really means it when He promises to give us good things when we ask. (Luke 11:9-10)

Now the Lord is moving on to His next great work in me. I am beginning to study about having a critical spirit. I am interested in God's view of our critical spirit, the lies that cultivate a critical spirit, healing a critical spirit and operating in wholeness after a critical spirit. God has opened my eyes to many biblical examples and several ministries' views about the subject.

Do you know someone that operates in a critical spirit? In what circumstances have you found that you are unlovingly critical of others? What Bible passages have helped you heal this attitude? Have you been hurt by a critical spirit? How did you approach the offender in love? Is there a published Bible study that has helped you understand critical attitudes in God's people? Please post a comment below or e-mail me at heartstirredwithwisdom@gmail.com. I hope that God's wisdom in you can help me further my study in this area.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude


Recently my 10 month old baby boy woke up from his afternoon nap about 30 minutes early. My immediate thoughts were of the basket of laundry that had not been put away yet and the school lesson I still had to complete with my 5 year old son. But the Lord quickly reminded me to focus on gratefulness instead of all the plans and activities my baby had “ruined.” I was moved to be thankful for his waking because some children do not wake from their afternoon naps early. They do not wake from them at all. This thought led to a flood of gratitude in my heart for the many benefits the Lord has heaped on me and my family. They are too numerous to list but they lifted my heart and left me singing as I greeted the baby in his crib. My attitude of gratefulness transformed my day to one of profound joy and peace instead of a pile of disappointment and self-pity.

Please share with me what are you grateful for?

Colossians 3:12-17
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

If you would like further study on gratitude please read this wonderful series of radio broadcasts by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Zucchini Brownies


Zucchini Brownies

These are very moist and great for snacking. I prefer them after they have completely cooled for a sweet treat with lots of nutrition. At around 100 calories and less than one gram of fat per brownie these are a smart choice instead of your usual chocolate indulgence.

Ingredients
3 cups zucchini -- grated
1-1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup fat free plain yogurt
3 tsps vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup wheat bran
½ cup wheat germ
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
2 tsps baking soda
½ cup carob powder
2 T flaxseed

Directions
Preheat oven at 350. Prepare a 9X13" baking pan with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, combine zucchini, sugar, yogurt, and vanilla.

In another mixing bowl, combine all the remaining dry ingredients.

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Makes 24 bars.

Cover tightly and store in refrigerator.

Approximate nutritional value per brownie Calories 108; Total Fat >1 g; Protein 3 g; Total Carbs 25 g (including 3 g dietary fiber, 14 g sugar); Vitamin C 3%; Thiamin 10%; Riboflavin 7%; Niacin 7%; Vitamin B6 10%; Folate 5%; Vitamin B12 2%; Pantothenic Acid 5%; Calcium 5%; Iron 10%; Magnesium 8%; Phosphorus 14%; Potassium 4%; Sodium 12%; Zinc 8%; Copper 11%; Manganese 39%; Selenium 19%

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins


These muffins are full of superfoods to promote cardiovascular health, brain health and all-around well-being. Enjoy these fresh from the oven for best results.

Ingredients
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
½ cup wheat bran
¼ all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk
2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute
¼ cup oil
¼ cup fat free yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon extract
1-1/3 cup blueberries (if using frozen, thaw first)
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 12 2-1/2 inch muffin pan cups with paper baking cups. Spray the cups with non-stick spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine wheat flour, oatmeal, wheat bran, all-purpose flour, flaxseed, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well with a spoon.

In a small bowl, combine milk, egg, oil, yogurt and lemon extract. Mix well.

Add wet mix to dry mixture and beat until well blended. Fold in blueberries.

Pour an equal amount of batter into each cup until cups are about 3/4 full. Sprinkle sugar evenly over muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out dry.

Each muffin provides approximately 177 calories; 6 g fat ( >1 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 3 g polyunsaturated fat, 713 mg Omega-3 fatty acids, 1343 mg Omega-6 fatty acids); 0.5mg Cholesterol; 241 mg Sodium; 27 g Carbohydrates( including 3.5g of Dietary Fiber and 10g Sugar); 5.5 g Protein. Daily Values Provided by one muffin are: Calcium 11%; Iron 18%; Magnesium 13%; Phosphorus 25%; Potassium 4%; Sodium 16%; Zinc 10%; Copper 17%; Manganese 53%; Selenium 15%.
(Nutrional information was calculated on nutitiondata.com)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quiet Time Part IV


This is a continuation of my promise from God described in Quiet Time parts I, II and III.

Everything my God and my husband were revealing to me lined up with my understanding of God’s statement to me about how I was offering Him my bare minimum. Remember I was requesting a personal promise from Him when this Quiet Time journey began. Yet I didn’t even fully comprehend what His Holy Spirit was already doing in my life according to Ephesians 3.

For God to fulfill my greatest desires He wants me to perceive that with which He has already blessed me. For me this means that when I operate in His power that works in me I will see Him do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask or think.

I need to fully give Him all my time, talent and treasure to see Him working. He is not asking me to give to Him so He can destroy it and make a burnt offering. He doesn’t desire for me to live a life of poverty, lack and boredom. He just wants to be entrusted with managing and directing the use of all of my time, talent and treasure.

The width and length and depth and height of His love is big enough to encompass my days plans and my hearts desires. But He doesn’t just want to surround my life. He desires to be intimately involved in my every moment. He is not interested in setting up a perimeter around the width, length and height of my life to love me from the outside. His Holy Spirit dwells in me to operate through me. That is why He designed me with talents and provides me with treasures to be used while operating in the fullness of God.

He wants to be the overseer of my time and daily schedule. He wants to supervise my talents, skills and abilities for His glory. He wants to control my treasures so that they don’t control me. When all things are in His hands they are perfectly balanced.

I thank God that He gave me this promise. And I give Him all glory and praise for encouraging me to submit this word to be held up to scripture and godly counsel. I thank God for developing my understanding of this word so that I might seek Him and know His fullness.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Quiet Time Part III


“Give Me the bare minimum of what I want and I will give you the bare minimum of what you want.”

This is what I heard from God as a promise to me. (You can catch up on this in Quiet Time Part I and Quiet Time Part II.)

Michael reminded me of Paul’s exaltation in Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

How could our amazing limitless God who works beyond our imaginations be anything that could be called bare minimum?

I immediately knew that I could find something in scripture to talk about a blessing being removed or the requirements for living the blessed life. But it served me well to study what leads up to Paul’s amazing proclamation about God’s gift of salvation which no man can work to earn in Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV.

Paul prays for the Ephesians to be blessed by God Himself. He requests for them to be strengthened in their inner man and rooted in love. He prays for them to understand and know the fullness of Christ’s love. This part of his letter to Ephesus is about the amazing gift of salvation offered to us all through Christ Jesus. But Paul does not stop at recognizing God for salvation. He goes on to encourage the church that there is a blessing in comprehending the “fullness of God.”

The fact that he prays for these things to be granted them means that these benefits are not automatically perceived by believers upon salvation. Even though these blessings are available to us at the moment of salvation we may not immediately take hold of them. Paul was obviously not saying that we had to do anything to earn Christ’s love nor strength from the Holy Spirit nor the bounty of His riches in glory. He was simply praying for us to perceive, comprehend and understand the fullness of God that is available when we are in Him. This will allow us to see what God is doing as His power works in us.

God revealed these truths to Michael in a word picture. It blows me away as I imagine it.

“God's fullness is always being poured on us. Only when we fully open ourselves to His fullness are we able to see it more and become more aware of it. It's like when Elisha [our 9 month old] is sitting on the floor playing and we are standing over him watching him. We are there the whole time, but he is not aware that we are there. So to him, we are not present. But soon he sees our shadow on the ground next to him and then he becomes aware of the shadow and it excites him that something else is there. Then he turns and sees a foot; he is more aware of our presence. Then he looks up and sees us looking on him and smiles really big at the realization that "Oh, hey, where have you been this whole time?" To him, we just appeared. We were there all along, loving him and watching him the whole time, just reveling in his beauty. With each advance of his perception, he becomes more and more aware of us. Our love and affection were there in full the whole time, but it wasn't until he looked up and saw us that Elisha became aware of that love and affection."

In Part IV, I will apply my understanding of these revelations to my promise from God.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Quiet Time Part II


After my pathetic attempt to listen to God’s promise for me (Quiet Time Part I) the Lord was faithful even in my weakness. He answered my prayer. This was His promise to me as I recorded it in my Bible study notes for that day:

“Give Me the bare minimum of what I want and I will give you the bare minimum of what you want.”

This was not a threat. This was not a punishing, menacing voice of domination. And it sure didn’t sound like a promise in the way I was expecting. God was simply stating a fact about my submission to Him.

God revealed to me that I was withholding all of myself from His care. It was mostly a mental block on my part. I was not affording Him the trust that He had earned to tend to all my needs and desires. In keeping myself from Him and giving Him my bare minimum I was robbing myself of the completeness of what He wanted to give me. I did not trust Him to take care of me so I took matters into my own hands which are obviously not as capable as those of my Good Shepherd. I was receiving God’s bare minimum not because He withheld his best from me but because I did not live and breathe in the knowledge of His fullness and love.

At this point, my husband prompted me to test my word from the Lord against scripture. He is very wise to test things against God’s word. He brought to my attention Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Michael further clarified his questions:

“To me (and I could be wrong on this) God will and can do what he wants in my life whether I am a participant or not. Yes, if I give myself fully to Him, I will receive fully from Him, but it almost goes towards a "works" practice, rather than grace….I absolutely get what you are saying with this, ‘We limit the work that God is able to do in our lives.’ In a sense, that's what I got out of it. I think that is true, but I want to lock it in to scripture because of the simple fact that it appears to limit God, who is limitless.”

*I thank God for my husband who keeps me seeking the Lord and His truth.

I agree that God can do what He wants with my life whether I participate or not. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I have ever planned for myself. Let us always remember that God does what pleases Himself. He is sovereign and holy. He chooses who He uses and how.

In Part III, I will lay out for you the beauty of what God showed Michael and me as we tried to understand how I could be experiencing the bare minimum of a limitless God. I was brought to tears of joy by the loving and tender kindness of our Lord who does not tire in revealing Himself to us.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Quiet Time Part I


One discipline the Lord is developing in me is the skill of listening to Him during prayer time. I have never spent much time practicing listening to God. He is usually pretty clear about His desires for me. He has been good to reveal His will to me through His written Word and promptings of the Holy Spirit followed swiftly by words of confirmation.

While working on my current Bible study, Draw Me Near by Nancy Douglas, I was reminded that God has some covenants with all mankind, some with selected groups of people, and still more promises that He makes to individuals. This morning as I completed my lesson I felt that the Lord desired to have me actively listen and wait for a word from Him. This is how that went with the parenthetical comments being my inner thoughts.

“Lord, I am dedicated to listening and waiting for Your promise for me today.

You are so good to speak to me throughout my day. (I can stop sitting here now and go about my day’s work. He’ll probably speak to me while I’m doing dishes or folding laundry.)

I know that you, God, can give me answers in dreams and visions. (Maybe I should go back to sleep and get my answer that way. God knows I’m tired and He gives peaceful rest to those He loves according to Psalm 4.)

*A total of 30 seconds has elapsed since this “quiet time” began.

You really want me to wait, don’t You?

Lord, please clear away anything in my heart that is keeping me from hearing Your voice clearly. (I am trying to give it all over. This is hard. You know I should really blog about this because my thoughts are getting in the way and it’s pretty funny to think that I can’t shut up long enough to listen to the Creator of the universe.)

(Just stop talking. Don’t plan out how this is going to be a great story. You asked Him a question now let Him speak.)”

He did speak. And that is a post for another day. But I pray that my pitiful example of listening will inspire you to consider if the Lord is asking you to listen for a change.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Creaking Door No More


I have recently begun doing my Bible study in the early mornings after my husband leaves for work. I know that most people already understand to start their day off in prayer and worship but I am stubborn and I like to sleep as long as the children will let me. But no more.

I was convicted by the following verses to change my drowsy ways:

Proverbs 26:14 NKJV
As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.

Psalm 5:3 NKJV
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up.

I will not be the creaky door. I will be the upturned face with voice calling on my Lord.

I now enjoy going to bed early as a part of my worship and honorable service to God. It is good to be able to focus on the Scriptures I am reading and process each phrase or thought as the Lord leads without the children interrupting me. I now cherish the quiet of the morning as I tune my ears to hear the Holy Spirit’s teachings. God is so good to meet with me daily as I seek Him.

I also believe that it encourages my husband to see me up and cheerful in the mornings preparing to keep his home all the day until he returns in the evening. My husband works so that I can homeschool and be a diligent, God-honoring keeper of the home. He does not go to work so I can sleep in and ignore God’s promptings. And I know that honoring my husband is honoring to God.

This is a new form of worship for me, to seek God's face in the morning, and it is already changing my perspective on many things.

Turkeys in an Oat Coat


I’ve found myself privileged to be able to experiment with some dietary changes for my husband. He was diagnosed with severe hypertension and I quickly researched some nutritional suggestions to help lower his blood pressure and improve his overall health. We are attempting to find a balance between reducing bad foods and increasing good foods. For example, we seek to reduce his fat intake while increasing whole grains. This recipe for Turkeys in an Oat Coat is my healthier alternative to pigs in a blanket. The turkey sausage is much lower in saturated fat than pork and the fortified baby cereal has oats which are great for heart health. This is not to mention the whole wheat flour which is a whole grain that is easy to gobble up!

Turkeys in an Oat Coat

Makes 28 wrapped sausages (You can easily half this recipe but I make the entire batch and freeze them for easy breakfasts for one or for many.)

Ingredients:
2 - Jenni-O Turkey Breakfast Sausage Links – 14 links each 14oz. package
3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp molasses
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp salt
2 pkgs regular or quick-acting active dry yeast
2 1/4 cup very warm water (120 to 130 degrees)
4 cups Gerber Oat Baby Cereal

Oat Coat Instructions:
Mix whole wheat flour, molasses, honey, oil, salt, and yeast in large bowl. Add warm water. Beat on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough of the oat cereal, 1 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle. Depending on the humidity in the air you might also need to add in more whole wheat flour to reduce the stickiness of this dough. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray; spray the top of dough with non-stick cooking spray. Cover and let rise in warm place 40 to 60 minutes or until double.

Turkeys:
While the dough rises cook the turkey links on the stovetop until golden brown and thoroughly cooked to appropriate internal temperature. Remove from pan. Drain on paper towel. Immediately place sausages into freezer until needed for assembly.

Assembly:
Dough is ready when indentation remains when touched. Lightly flour a rolling surface. Roll out half the dough into a rectangle until dough is about ¼ inch thick. Use pizza cutter to make 14 strips of dough. The rectangle and the strips do not have to be perfect. Just try to evenly distribute the dough. Remove sausage from freezer. Roll up links in dough strips until completely covered with dough on all sides and ends. Smooth dough slightly to evenly distribute dough and close all seams. Place on cookie sheet. Cover and allow to rise 20 minutes. Prepare the other half of the sausage and dough. After the first set has risen 20 minutes preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake: Bake one sheet at a time for 15 minutes or until bread coating is light golden brown.

This dough is a modification of my all-time favorite honey whole wheat bread recipe which I will post at a later date.