Tag: Kingdom of God

eight twenty eight: a story of unconditional love

Wow. Have you heard the story of Ian and Larissa Murphy? These two demonstrate unconditional love in marriage.  When Ian’s brain was damaged in a life-altering automobile accident, his then-girlfriend, Larissa, didn’t give up. Watch their update here:

If you are interested to read their book or learn more about their story, visit their website here.

Taking a “Heart Shower”

What is the first thing you do to get ready for your shower? Well, you need to take off all your clothes. Ok, before you think I’m a crazy Californian wanting to talk about getting naked during a short devotional message, just bear with me. We’re actually going to talk about taking a spiritual shower. I felt so grateful to be asked to share this message a couple of months ago at a Ladies Luncheon at my church. The community here in Arkansas has welcomed my husband and me with such warmth and we’re glad to be here.

Regardless of where you are and at what life stage you are in right now, I hope this brief devotional refreshes and challenges you. Every time you take a shower, you can be reminded that our heart needs a good wash too!

Key Points to Remember:

  • Open yourself to God. (Get naked)

Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

  • Be cleansed. (Take a shower)

Psalm 51:10-12

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your

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salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

  • Train your heart. (Get dressed)

Proverbs 3:3-6

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.“

At home:

  • Read the whole chapter to soak in the full context of the verses above. Savor the words by reading them out loud, memorizing a verse or passage that caught your attention, or writing them out in your journal.
  • Take a spiritual shower. For those of you who have put your trust in Christ, go through these steps in prayer, letting the Holy Spirit highlight areas that aren’t right and need cleansing. Let Him teach you ways that you can train your heart to willingly submit to Him.
  • For those of you haven’t taken that first step of faith in Jesus: taking a spiritual “heart shower” is a great place to start.

Guest Post: Enough Without

Last night my husband and I were talking about the Winter Olympics and remembering how much we liked the movie, Cool Runnings,  as kids.  Earlier in the evening we were having a more serious conversation about how we needed to remember that what God thinks of us is most important… and that that is enough. It was a tearful conversation because it was a reality we needed to embrace.  This morning, my friend, Loren Thornburg, sent out a devotional message that drives this message home!  Loren gave me permission to share this beautiful reminder with you all. – Cristina
“A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without the medal, you’ll never be enough with it.” ~Irv Blizter from Cool Runnings
I love the stories of the Olympics and all that many overcame to achieve their dreams.  I am also struck by all of the disappointments of those who felt they came up short.  Whether or not we are contending for a gold medal we all face the same battle: to be enough without.  There is nothing wrong with dreams and desires, unless you are waiting for your arrival at them to become enough.  If we don’t have security inside we won’t find it outside.  It’s an inside out thing.  Some people chase after it for years, jumping from one success to the next on an endless cycle that leaves them with the same emptiness.  It’s a mirage of thinking that the next thing will bring us to the place of security.  Yet, the truth is you are already enough.  It’s not in the next thing or even the last thing but it is now, because you are already enough.  What freedom to chase after your dreams knowing you don’t need them to be enough.  Whether it’s gold, or promotion, or marriage, or title, or money, or fame…you are enough without it.
“How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ.”
Ephesians 1:3 NLT
You are enough, because God says so.  You belong to Him not because of anything that you have done, but simply because you are His.  He has blessed you with every spiritual blessing, not because you are super great, had lots of successes or served really well, but simply because He chose to.  He chose you and that makes you enough for the God of the universe.  Can you hear Him speaking it to you, “You, my child, are enough for me, Your Heavenly Father.”  It’s true, but it’s not something easily comprehended.  We have to sit with it, away from the messages of the world telling us all the things we need to have or do to be enough.  Yet, that’s the miracle of God: He loves you because you are His.  He doesn’t need you to be more, He just needs you.
Enjoy the Ride,
Loren Thornburg
Check out her blog: http://lorenquinelle.blogspot.com/
If you would like to receive Loren’s devotional emails you can email her at: lorenquinelle@gmail.com.


the daily feast

Every day we sit down at the table of our lives. 24 hours tick by moment by moment and we decide what we’re going to feast on: the people we allow into our lives, the influences we let in, the voices we listen to, what we commit our energy to, and on the list goes.IMG_0779

When you wake up, are you intentional throughout your day about seeking God and listening to His voice or are you in reaction mode since the time the alarm goes off till it’s time to crawl under the covers again? Or do you see yourself as a steward of the resources God’s entrusted to you?  Do you recognize that every moment is a gift?


When you go through your day, how do you interact with the people around you? The ones who are sitting across from you in your day to day life:  family, friends, co-workers, roommates, significant others?  Is your conversation meaningful and edifying?  Or are you just “shooting the breeze” on a regular basis?  What would happen if you weren’t “at their table” anymore? Let’s say you got a new job or moved to a new house and your routine changed. How would they remember you?  What would they have learned from you or missed about you?

Let’s make an intentional effort today to be a blessing to those “sitting at our tables.”


What about dessert?  How do you reward yourself in life?  What are some ways you seek comfort or consolation for life’s daily stressors?  Are they healthy, productive, God-honoring incentives?  Are there any destructive outlets that you run to for solace?

Always remember:

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10, NIV

Celebrating the women who are Beautiful Bricklayers

My favorite thing about being involved with this ministry is simply getting to know some phenomenal women (who are actually featured in this short clip).

One particular friend, Laura Vencill, is one that blesses me on a regular basis.  This ministry actually started in my home when we were both single, yearning to learn what it means to love the Lord with our whole hearts and seeking to prepare on purpose for marriage.  We finished with a prayer get-together with one other girl and the three of us looked up at each other and knew God started something special through that prayer time.  Beautiful Bricklayers was conceived.

Over the past three years, Laura has been a faithful cheerleader of my writing, speaking, and development as a person. I’ve learned a lot about true friendship from this sweet sister in Christ and it’s with joy that I present to you another video you can share with your friends when you are trying to explain a little better what is at the core of this ministry.

You’re always welcome to contact us here with any prayer requests, questions, or anything else you’d like to share with us.  We’d love to hear from you.

without chocolate

Spring 2011 043
one of my chocolate-free desserts during singleness

Several years ago, a dear friend of mine gave up chocolate.  She was like an older sister to me. I thought she was crazy for forgoing chocolate.  She decided that she was going to fast chocolate until she met her husband.  This girl loved her chocolate, and she would feel the sacrifice.  She was going to use the desire to eat the yummy treat as a reminder to pray for her future husband.  I probably tapped her on the back and said, “Good for you. I hope you feel like it’s worthwhile when all is said and done!”

A couple years later, I helped her pack for her honeymoon the night before her wedding. She was giddy and overjoyed to marry the man she loved so much.  I had met him for the first time at the rehearsal dinner (since we lived states away) and I was amazed by how God answered her diligent, persistent prayers.   She totally prayed for this man and I was amazed at how specifically God answered in her husband to be.

At the marriage ceremony the next day I sensed the Holy Spirit pressing upon my heart to do a chocolate fast of my own.  I wanted to plug my spiritual ears and pretend that I didn’t hear that divine instruction (because I really liked to be able to eat chocolate)!  However, I was curious to see how God might use this fast in my own life.   The chocolate cupcake served to me at their wedding reception was the last taste of chocolate I had before I got married.  I was one month shy of going 5 years without chocolate.

date #3 when the chocolate fast first came up in conversation

A funny little side story takes place at a picnic at the beach near the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach.  My husband and I were on our third date.  He had prepared a pretty sophisticated dinner using his backpacking stove.  When it came time for us to have dessert, I could tell he was especially excited.  He pulled out fresh strawberries and chocolate.  I was cringing inside because I knew I needed to hold to my fast, but I already really liked him and didn’t want to be rude.  He proceeded to melt the chocolate in fondue fashion and as he prepared the strawberries for dipping, I had to tell him.  I said that I was on a chocolate fast and I would normally be ecstatic about the dessert he made, but I can only eat the strawberries.  He looked at me intrigued.  Of course, he asked what I didn’t want him to ask, “Why are you fasting chocolate?”  I told him that I didn’t feel at liberty to share, but that I was excited to have some yummy strawberries.   Fast forward about a year.  We were driving somewhere and he told me that he still didn’t know why I was fasting it, but he told me that he wanted to join in and pray for me as I continued my fast.  Several months later, he proposed and asked me about the fast.   I finally told him and he was, of course, delighted.  We broke the fast together the day after we got married… with chocolate dipped strawberries on the balcony of our hotel room.

I share these stories with you to share my own experience of God answering prayers and I share to encourage you to take up the discipline of fasting.  The main point is to not feel condemnation or pressure to fast a certain amount of time or way.  Be gentle with yourself as you learn and grow in the fasting discipline. The goal is to grow in your yearning for the Lord and to be drawn into His presence even more often than normal because of the repeated reminder that we need Him.  Whatever it is that we are fasting: food, time, finances, talking, media, whatever it may be – we are meant to draw near to Him with a sincere heart.

As you seek to dig deeper into the discipline of fasting, here are some resources that might be helpful to you:

I would encourage you to read all you can from the Word (search fasting at www.biblegateway.com) and meditate on His Word.  Remember this is not a legalistic exercise; it’s a relationship strengthening discipline.  His love is so GREAT towards us!

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousnesswill go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”  Isaiah 58:6-9

Preach it!

During the month of June we will be talking about many of the principles mentioned in the video below. Voddie Baucham shares a COMPELLING and EXCELLENT message.

If you or your friends haven’t signed up yet for the Bricklayers 101 Summer Series

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class happening in June, please either RSVP on our homepage or on our Facebook Page.