God Doesn’t Need You

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*Just a warning: today I’m going to step on some toes.

I’m beginning to see a trend in modern Christianity that is very alarming. It seems that people are starting to lose sight of who God is. I’m seeing so many people, especially millennials (and yes, I am a millennial too), putting on the mindset that God somehow owes them something.

I try my best to keep up with other Christian blogs and vlogs and I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve read a blog or watched a video just this week and it was said that we shouldn’t worry about fitting in time to read the Bible and pray into our schedule because God knows what’s in our heart and He understands us. Yes, God does know our hearts and when we don’t make reading His Word and praying to Him a priority, He understands that He isn’t important to us.

And this ideology has created the notion that when we do pray and when we do read the Bible we’re doing God a favor. We go to church on Sunday morning, clap during praise and worship, nod our heads a couple times during the sermon, and then figure that should be enough to hold God over until next week. It’s like he’s our pet or something. You know how when your dog really wants attention so you play with him for a couple minutes so he’ll leave you alone? That is how we’ve started to treat God; like he’s a dog desperate for our attention.

But God does not need us. God loves us and He wants us but He does not need us! It’s time we lose this mentality that we are somehow doing God a favor (because there is nothing that we could ever do that would put Him in debt to us) and start recognizng Him as the holy and righteous God He is.

I don’t want you to think that I’m completely blasting people who do this. I used to do this. I never read my Bible or prayed. I just went to church on Sunday mornings and figured that was enough; but it was never enough because God doesn’t want just a moment of our life, he wants our whole life. God opened my eyes and over the last year and a half I’ve been making Him a priority in my life. Through the time I have spent studying the Bible and talking with God, I’ve began to learn who He is; holy, righteous, loving, merciful, powerful, wonderful, jealous, just, forgiving, faithful…

Most of all, I’ve learned that God does not need me; I desperately need Him.

Sierra

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What Happens When You Read Your Bible Everyday?

How often do you read your Bible? Up until about a year ago, I only cracked my Bible Bible-2515open for the Sunday morning service at my church. There were some days when I would read a passage or two, but usually I just came up with reasons not to: I’m too tired, there isn’t enough time, I don’t understand it, I have a head ache, etc.

It was during this period that my life was pretty much in shambles. I was suffering from anxiety and minor depression, I got stressed out about everything, and I got mad at everybody for no reason. I realized that I needed a change in my spiritual life but it felt like I was never able to stick with any devotional, Bible reading plan, etc. It was then that I resolved that no matter what, I would read my Bible every single day even if it was just one scripture.

Here’s what happened:

I Stopped Stressing

Before, I would stress about every little aspect of my life: what I was going to wear, what I was going to eat, when my school work was due, when I was going to be able to actually do my school work, etc.

However when I began reading my Bible everyday and seeing all of the ways that God provided for His children and all of the ways He promises to provide for me, I realized that I don’t have to stress or worry; I just have to trust God. If God will provide for the ravens then He surely will provide for me (Luke 12:24)!

I Found True Joy

The joy I receive from simply delving into the Word of God is unreal. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” The more time I spend with God in His Word, the more joy is infused into my spirit. As I read and learn about who Jesus is my soul just gets happy; and it’s a happiness that world cannot take away!

I’ve Gained Confidence

Since I’ve started really reading and digging into scripture I’ve started to learn all of the promises God has made to me. Promises of a future of hope (Jeremiah 29:11), promises to work all things together for my good (Romans 8:28), and promises that I can do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13).  I now wake up ready to face the day with my Savior rather than being tempted to hide away under my covers with dread.

 

The Bible is a powerful weapon. When we do not spend time in it everyday we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to attack from the enemy. Most importantly, it is literally God’s Word; it has everything we need to know about life and God, and Jesus all written within it’s pages.

So today I challenge you to start reading your Bible every single day whether it be for five minutes or even just one verse. I challenge you to see the difference that spending time in scripture can make in your life.

-Sierra

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Identity Crisis: Who Does the Bible Say I Am?

identity crisis

Identity, or one’s sense of self, is one of Satan’s favorite areas of life to target. He loves to twist your perception of yourself until you see yourself as so messed up that you believe nothing positive could ever come from your life; his goal is to distract you from who God has created you to be.

But Satan is a liar (more on that here) and today I am going to share the truth of who you are in Christ!

You Are In God’s Image

Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

Satan may try to convince you that you are a mistake; that you are completely messed up and can never be fixed. This could not be further from the truth! God literally created you in his image and because of this, you are able to reflect God’s character, His love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, etc.

You Are Chosen

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

You are God’s chosen! God could have chosen any species (both on the earth and not on the earth) to call to be His children and yet HE CHOSE YOU! Think about that! Our God is all knowing which means he knew every mistake, every sin, every mess up you would make before you even came into existence and He still chose you!

You Are Forgiven

Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

You are forgiven. Every mistake, every mis-step, every mess up; God will forgive if you ask. Do not let Satan convince you that you have messed up too many times. Jesus died on the cross so that you could be redeemed from all sin; believing that you cannot be forgiven is believing that there is no power in that precious blood He shed.

You Are Loved

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

You are loved. Let me say it again, YOU are LOVED! When Jesus died on that cross He saw you and He thought of you and He loves you! Never lose sight of this love!

 

The Bible tells us many, many other things about our identity. It tells us we are powerful, we are redeemed, we are strong, etc. Whenever Satan starts to bombard you with lies about your identity, open your Bible; the lies of the enemy will never be able to stand against the truth of the Savior!

-Sierra

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Dealing With Difficult People

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Let’s be honest, we all have that one person in our life who can ruin our day by just breathing the wrong way. You know, that person who can make your blood start boiling with just one quick glance, the person that makes you want to do and say things that Jesus definitely would not be proud of.

We all have that person and if you don’t then you are probably that person (just kidding. Kind of). For me, that person just so happens to be my brother. My brother and I do not get along at all; our discord goes way beyond any normal sibling animosity.

For a while, I blamed him for the entirety of our squabbling. He was too controlling, self-centered, selfish, and he didn’t have any respect for anyone, etcetera, etcetera. I chose to ignore my own misgivings and justified that he deserved every stinging word and dirty look I could throw his way. This went on for years which only allowed our anger towards each other to turn into bitterness and thrive.

I will never forget the day all of this changed (for me at least). I had started getting more serious about my relationship with God; I was tired of the mediocre- I wanted something passionate. It was early one morning and I was praying after my daily devotion. I had felt very unsettled in my spirit which led me to asking God to reveal any areas in my life that I needed to work on. I’m not even joking when I say that the words had barely left my mouth when I heard that still-small voice in my mind whispering, “apologize”.

I immediately knew what God wanted. The day before, my brother and  I had gotten into a huge argument. I can’t recall what it was about now, but I do remember that it had been explosive. I also know that he had really hurt my feelings and now God wanted me to apologize. Me! Why should I apologize when my brother was the one who started the whole thing? When he was the one who hurt me? God was quick to remind me that I had said some hurtful things too and after a little more resistance, I finally swallowed my pride and apologized to my brother.  I wish I could say that it was some huge, heart-felt apology but it really, really wasn’t. I won’t lie, a part of me got a lot of satisfaction from seeing the dumbfounded look on my brother’s face when I said I was sorry (I’m not perfect, okay).

After that I began studying scripture, trying to find how I could prepare my relationship with my brother; mostly because I knew God was disappointed with my behavior and partly because I never wanted to apologize to my brother again (like I said, I’m not perfect).

God helped me with my search and I was able to identify four areas I needed to work on if I wanted to improve my relationship with my brother:

  • I needed to control my anger
  • I needed to control my tongue
  • I needed to learn to forgive and love
  • I needed to pray… a lot.

Controlling Your Anger

When dealing with a difficult person, you need to keep your anger in check.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV), “In your anger, do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foot hold.”

The Bible doesn’t tell us we shouldn’t be angry. Anger itself is not the problem; the problem is how we handle our anger. We can either control or react to our anger. When we choose to give our anger free-reign, we are actually giving Satan a foot-hold in our life and we can bet he will jump at the chance to take it. When we do not vent our anger properly, our anger can hurt and ruin relationships. When we keep our anger bottled in, anger causes bitterness that festers and infects our heart and mind. It is best to let go of our anger and give it to God. He is just and faithful and will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

Controlling Your Tongue

James 3:6 (NIV) says, “The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

If left uncontrolled, the tongue can become a violent weapon at Satan’s disposal. Idle and hurtful words spread destruction quickly and once spoken, the damage cannot be undone. Of course you can apologize, but those hurtful words will still be out there in the open.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV), “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” DP 2

Words have the power to either build someone up or break them down. With every word we speak, we need to consciously consider if we are pleasing or disappointing God.

Forgive and Love

Romans 12:21 (NIV), “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

When someone hurts us our first reaction may be to get revenge rather than to forgive. However, if we want to love someone the way Christ loves us then we should be willing to forgive. Once we experience God’s grace we should want everyone to experience it. A common misconception is that by forgive someone, we are excusing their wrong doings. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Our God is just and by forgiving others we loving them despite their mistakes just as Christ has loved us and trusting God will take care of everything else.

Pray

And I have saved, perhaps, the most difficult for last: pray.

James 5:16 (NIV) says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

When dealing with a difficult person we need to pray for ourselves. Almost every day (and multiple times a day) I am asking God to grant me the patience and grace to deal with my brother in a pleasant manner and to help me to control my anger and my tongue.

We also need to pray for our difficult person and I do not mean that in a negative way (you know, like the country song where the guy prays his ex-girlfriend will get knocked in the head with a flower pot.) We need to pray peace, comfort and healing over our difficult person (because chances are the reason they are so difficult is because they’re dealing with something difficult.)

My relationship with my brother still isn’t perfect and some days I lose control and say hurtful things  (those are usually the days that I forget to pray and ask God to keep my anger in check.) However, little by little, God is helping me repair years worth of damage between my brother and I. Hopefully, one day, my brother will become that person to me; you know, the one you can always depend on and will never let you down.

-Sierra

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Lioness Arising Book Review

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I am an avid reader and Christian literature is my favorite- fiction and non-fiction. I thought it would be fun to start reviewing the books I read here for you guys.

The first thing I notice about a book is its cover. I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I cannot deny that the cover is usually what draws me in and leads to finding out more about the book. Lioness Arising by Lisa  Bevere definitely has a captivating cover. Everything from the sleek, powerful lioness stalking through the high, golden grass to the bold proclamation of “Wake up and Change Your World” catches one’s eye. The cover of this book feels like a foreshadowing of what may happen if you dare to read the pages within.

Excerpt from back cover:

“The lioness rises from her slumber, a magnificent image of strength, passion, and beauty. Here mere presence commands the landscape, protects her young, and empowers the lion. In groups, lioness become a creative and strategic force to be reckoned with, acting as one to change the world around them.”

Lioness Arising is based on a dream Lisa Bevere had which she claims was given to her by God (I am not saying I believe or disbelieve God gave her this dream.) In this dream, Lisa saw a beautiful lioness along with a mention of Numbers 23:24 and God told her a lioness was going to awaken. After this dream, Lisa began researching the lioness and studying the Bible to reveal how God’s daughters are to be likened to the great and mighty lioness.

This is the first book by Lisa Bevere that I have ever ventured to read and therefore I was not familiar with her style of writing.  I’m not going to lie, at first I found the book very dry and I had to force myself to read it. There seemed to be a lot of talking and not much being said.  However, whenever I read a book I always try to invest myself and learn something so I buckled down, asked God to reveal himself to me through the book, and kept reading. I am happy to report that the further I journeyed into the book the more interesting it became. I do wish the author had spoken more about the lioness than she did about herself, however I am now reading Without Rival (also by Lisa Bevere) and I am seeing that this is just part of the author’s writing style; Lisa Bevere uses a lot of examples from her own life to get her point across which can make it seem like her books are more of an autobiography than they are Christian Living.

The one thing that I absolutely did not like is that Lisa often used the Message Bible translation to quote scripture and I’m honestly just not a fan of the Message. I made the habit of looking up the passages of scripture she quoted in my ESV Bible which was a tad time consuming.

Overall, I think how much you enjoy this book will depend on what season of your life you are in.  I really enjoyed the chapters on being passionate, bold, and unified. However, the chapters on parenting and being a mother were not as appealing simply because I am not a mother. This book has sparked a passion within me; I am becoming more bold in my faith.

I would rate this book 3/5.

Have you read Lioness Arising? Do you have any book recommendations?

-Sierra Smith

Praying With A Purpose: Developing a Prayer Strategey.

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I am sure many of you are familiar with the movie War Room and also the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. Several months ago I watched the movie which then led me to hunting down the book (I was way too impatient to wait for it to arrive via online order.) I was floored by the concept of “strategic” prayer; it was something I had never heard of. Before, my prayer life was dismal at best and non-existent at worst. My prayers were mostly “Good morning God, I need….. (insert a long list of things I didn’t need but wanted.)” After devouring Fervent (and then re-reading it slower and taking notes so I could really absorb the content), I realized that I needed to make a change; I knew I needed to start praying strategically if I ever wanted to see spiritual growth in my life.

What is a prayer strategy?

A prayer strategy is taking God’s word, His promises, and praying them over each of the needs in your life and in the lives of others. For example, someone close to me struggles with depression and anxiety so when I pray for them I use the scripture “Cast all your cast-anxietyanxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 and pray that this person will learn to give their anxieties and fears to God so they can experience peace. When I am praying for the strength to stay pure I use the scripture “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galations 5:16 and I pray that I will learn to walk in and obey the Holy Spirit so that I will not give into my impure desires.

How can you develop your own prayer strategy?

There are probably hundreds of ways to go about forming your own prayer strategy so I am just going to share what personally works for me:

  • Identify how Satan is attacking your life and the lives of others

Satan is a manipulator and his main goal is to keep you as far away from God as possible. Learn to identify how he is attacking the different areas of your life and the lives of those closest to you so that you will know what to pray for. I have a separate post, Profiling the Enemy, that discusses several ways that Satan attacks.

  • Write your prayers down

For each need in your life and the needs in other lives you are praying for, write it down a long with your chosen scripture(s). You do not have to write them down everyday (though I occasionally do), but this way you are not struggling to remember all of the prayers and scriptures and you can also look back and see the prayers that God has answered. I keep all of my prayers in a three ring binder so that they are together and protected (if I had a dollar for every time I’ve spilled coffee on something I would be rich!)

  • Create a schedule

Pray for specific needs on specific days so that you are not scrambling to fit a ton of stuff into your prayer time. I find it best to divide my prayers into categories (prayers for myself, prayers for others, and prayers for my country/world. You can divide any way you see fit.) Each day I pray over a specific section so that I am not rushing to include every single prayer and therefore, I am able to truly focus on what I am praying.

 

What scriptures do you use?

You can use any scripture that applies to the situation you are praying over. I’ll include some scriptures applicable to various ways Satan may choose to attack. (All of these scriptures are ESV translation)

Passion:

  • Mark 12:30, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
  • Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
  • Ezekiel 36:26, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Family:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
  • Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
  • Romans 14:19, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.”

Past:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”
  • Ephesians 2:1-5, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. By God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ- by grace you have been saved-“

Fear:

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  • 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
  • John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

 

Purity:

  • 1 Peter 2:24-25, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
  • 1 Corinthians 11:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Forgiveness:

  • Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
  • Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

Relationships:

  • Hebrews 10:24-25,” And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Recommended resources:

  • War Room movie
  • Fervent by Priscilla Shirer (lead actress in War Room and a wonderful woman of God.)
  • Battle Plan for Prayer by the Hendrick Brothers (directors of the War Room movie.)
  • War Binder Facebook Group – this group has a ton of tips for creating a binder of prayers and developing strategy.

Since I have started praying strategically and with a purpose, my relationship with God has completely changed. I am stronger in my faith and I feel more connected with God. For a lot of my years as a Christian I felt like I wasn’t really close to God and I can now see it was because I wasn’t praying- not really. I hope this post inspires you to seek a more fervent prayer life!

-Sierra

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Top Five Affordable Beauty Products

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I love makeup. There’s is hardly anything better than finding the perfect shade of lipstick, foundation, or blush- especially when it comes at an affordable price. Though I occasionally indulge in a luxury beauty item, I prefer scouring the aisles of my local drugstores to find that special “wow” product.

I’ve compiled a list of my five absolute favorite affordable beauty products:

1. Say Yes To… Moisturizers

I am an avid believer that good skin care should be a priority in everyone’s beauty routine and the Say Yes To line has some amazing (and organic) skin care products. I am in love with the Say Yes To Grapefruit moisturizer. It keeps my face soft and smooth while soothing any redness along my cheeks and nose (I strongly resemble Rudolph at times.) Also, it smells yummy. Of course, everyone’s skin is different so you will need to pick a product that works for you.

2. Rimmel Kate Contour Palette

You would have to be living under a rock to not know about contouring. I enjoy this palette because it has a contour shade, highlight shade, and a blush all conveniently together. The contour shade (at least in the palette I purchased) is a tad too warm to be a contour and is better suited for bronzing. I mostly use this palette for the gorgeous blush and highlighter.

3. Maybelline Better Skin Powder

better-skin-powder-2I can appreciate a full face of makeup but most days I just don’t have time for that. I like this powder because it has enough coverage to mask my Rudolph nose and it keeps my oily skin matte. This powder is very light coverage but you can easily achieve medium coverage by layering it over a BB cream.

4. CoverGirl TruNaked Palettes

pp-3The TruNaked palettes are CoverGirl’s version of the Urban Decay Naked eye shadow palettes which are priced at $54 a piece. I have the Nudes, Goldens (pictured left), and Roses palettes, all of which I like but the Goldens is my favorite because I feel like it has the best pigmentation and blend-ability.

5. CoverGirl Katy Kat Matte Lipsticks

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I am not a fan of  Katy Perry, nor are these lipsticks matte; however, the colors and pigmentation of these lipsticks are very nice and they do not break the bank price wise. My absolute favorite shade is Sphynx, a pretty pink nude (middle shade on right.)

 

 

What are your favorite affordable beauty products?

-Sierra

(P.S. The Glam Gala (watermark on photos) was my old beauty blog which is no longer in existence.)

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