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 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.

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

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.

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

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

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.