Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Easy Microwave Brownies

If you like chewy brownies you'll love this recipe.  It's easy, super fast to mix, and cooks for only 10 minutes in the microwave. 

Spread on some Betty Crocker chocolate icing and you can't go wrong! 


In a pyrex mixing bowl measure:

1 tbsp. water
2 squares unsweetened (or semi-sweet) chocolate
1/3 cup butter

Cook this for 1 minute in the microwave on high.  Stir, then cook for another 30 seconds, or until completely melted.  Be careful not to over cook and burn the chocolate.

Stir in 1 cup white sugar.
Beat in 2 eggs and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
Add 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Stir until mixed.

Add 1/2 cup nuts (optional - I make it without)

Spray an 8" x 8" glass pan with Pam.  Pour batter into pan.

Cook in the microwave at 70% power for 10 minutes.  (This assumes you have a turn table.)

Cook 2 1/2 minutes on high, turn 1/2 turn, cook another 2 1/2 minutes on high.

If the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan it's done.  If it's not done, put it in for another 2 minutes.


DO NOT keep cooking until the brownies look nice and dry on top, like a cake baked in the oven.  If you do this you'll be chiseling a chocolate brick out of your pan that you can use to stucco the outside of your house!

Remember you're using the microwave.  The
brownies continue to bake after they're removed from the microwave.  They may be pulling away from the pan but still look a little sticky on top.  This is OK.

Let them cool to room temperature, slather on the icing, and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Trusting Enough To Let Go

Do you have a hard time trusting God with everything in your life?
Trusting God to run your life can be a scary endeavor.  Sometimes I wonder if I really want to put my life in His control.
What if He wants me to give up my personal agenda?  What if my plan for my life doesn’t correspond to God’s?

Can you relate to these fears?
I’m in the process of working my way through a study called, “Power Praying” by Pastor David Chotka, the Senior Pastor at Spruce Grove Alliance Church.  I want to share a message Pastor Chotka delivers early on in the study.  Understanding this message will help you in your struggle to turn control over to God.

Think about this scripture…
“Therefore He (Jesus) is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him.  He (Jesus) lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”  Hebrews 7:25 (NLT) (I’ve added the italics)

“…to intercede with God on their behalf…” means that Jesus prays for us.  Picture it, Jesus in front of the throne of God in Heaven constantly praying for you.

Do you think no one’s ever said a prayer for you?  Do you think no one cares enough to even bother?  The truth is Jesus cares and He’s praying for you right now, even as you read this.  Regardless of the absolute worst thing you’ve done in your life, Jesus is praying for you right now!

Pastor Chotka makes this comment,
“Jesus was resurrected into glorious, magnificent authority and power.  Jesus was seeing reality from the perspective of eternity.  There were no barriers to His perfect knowledge.  He could see the start from the finish.”  (Power Praying, David Chotka, Page 32)

What does that mean for you? 
Jesus not only knows how your life started and how you came to be where are you today; He sees the bigger picture.  He knows the stuff we can’t understand.  He knows the struggle you’re facing today and sees ahead to the very best outcome for your situation.

Now consider this…
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”  Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Let’s put this all together…
  1. Jesus knows what’s going on in your life and is praying for you right now. 
  2. He’s got “jumbotron vision”.  He’s able to see your situation from all sides, from beginning to end. 
  3. Jesus is one with God, His Father.  His prayers are always in line with God’s will for your life. 
  4. When we believe in Christ, God takes every situation in our lives, good and bad, and in time, makes something good come out of them.
To summarize…

Jesus is praying God’s will and God’s will is always the very best we could possibly have.  So there’s no reason to be afraid to trust God in every part of our lives.  We can turn our fear of trust over to God.  He’s a safe haven.  We can rest in His presence.

What’s your biggest fear about trusting God?  Share your thoughts by clicking on comments below.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fiery Guidance Part 2

Last week I posted part 1 of “Fiery Guidance”.  I commented on how encouraging it would be to constantly see visual proof of God’s presence.

One reader, Nicole, left a thought provoking comment…

“I don’t know if I would trust a visual presence – isn’t that strange?  It is so outside my experience of God that I would think I was losing my mind.”

It’s a great observation.  And the Israelites are proof that visual presence of God doesn’t guarantee faithful followers.

The Israelites DID have proof.  Day in, day out, right in front of their noses.  The cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.

And they still messed up!

They worshiped other Gods (Exodus 32), they rebelled against their leaders (Numbers 16), and they accused God of trying to kill them after He saved them (Exodus 14, Exodus 16, Exodus 17, Numbers 14).  Keep reading through the books of Exodus and Numbers and you’ll see all the times the Israelites didn’t get it right.  And God was right there in front them!

Why is that?

Maybe they were so accustomed to seeing the cloud and fire that God became an “every day” god.  He was just part of their daily routine…

Get up in the morning, look at the cloud.  It’s not moving today, guess we’re staying in camp.  Get up at night, see the fire.  That’s convenient.  Something to light the way so you don’t trip on the path to the outhouse in the middle of the night.

God became convenient, normal, common.

And guess what?  We’re no different than the Israelites.  Even if we each had our own private fiery pillar floating along in front of us we’d still mess up.  We’d still doubt God, just the same as we doubt the GPS when it tells us to make a turn we don’t agree with.

“Oh look, the fire’s turning left up here.  That can’t be right.  God wouldn’t take me into a nasty neighbourhood where I’ll have to talk to homeless people.  I’ll keep going straight for a few more blocks.”

All the while the fiery pillar blazes in front of you calling out, “Make a U turn, make a U turn, make a U turn.  I want you to go and help that person.  You’ll be blessed because of it.”

But we think we know better.  We continue on our straight path and miss the blessing God intended for us.

This raises two questions:
1.  How do we go through our daily struggles but continue to trust that God is with us?
2.  How do we prevent God from becoming ordinary to the point that we ignore Him?

The answer to both these question can be found in two places: 
  • Our daily time in the Bible
  • Our daily time in prayer.
As we read through the Bible we find reassurance of God’s presence. 
  • He never deserts us. 
  • He carries us in times of trouble.
  • He loves us. 
  • He can take the most horrible situation and make something good and godly out of it.
When we spend time in prayer we enter into relationship with God.  You can’t hear someone speak if you never slow down long enough to listen.  God is no different.

When we stop talking to God and start listening we hear Him whispering to us.  Our hearts soften and we become more aware of what He wants for this world.

If you’re going through a hard time right now please be assured that God is with you.  In the midst of your pain you may not feel or see God, but He is there.  He knows your struggle and loves you deeply in the midst of it.

Do you make time to stop and listen for God’s voice?  Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.