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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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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Let’s Talk About It… Temptation

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Let’s Talk About It… Temptation

            I started this blog because I felt God leading me to create a safe space for young women and teen girls to be able to talk about the “real stuff” without fear of condemnation or embarrassment. For a lot of my walk with God I felt completely on my own. I thought something was wrong with me because I seemed to be going through things that no one else was. However, as I matured (both in age and in faith) I began to see that what I had experienced was normal, people just didn’t talk about it.

I will be starting a new blog series called “Let’s Talk About It…” and then discuss a subject that I have struggled with or am still struggling with (you guys can feel free to share a subject you would like discussed.)

First in the series is temptation. If you have read my post on Profiling the Enemy then you know that Satan is a no good, rotten scoundrel and one of his favorite things to do is trip up Christians by tempting them to do something that isn’t Christ-like. Satan will use anything and everything to tempt a child of God, however, you should know that the devil isn’t stupid; no, he’s quite smart. Satan knows you and your weaknesses; his attacks are personal and are meant to hit you where it hurts.

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Everyone is tempted by different things in different ways (i.e. what tempts you may not be able to tempt me.) I have always struggled with lust and Satan constantly tries to exploit this. However, if he were to try and tempt a greedy person with lustful thoughts it wouldn’t work as well as tempting them with money.

I used to be embarrassed to admit that I was tempted because no one else seemed to be going through it but then I discovered even Jesus was tempted. Hebrews 4:14-16 (Amplified) says, “Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted on every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].”

Jesus is the only human in history not to give into sin and temptation which tells me that everyone else has been tempted and has sinned. You are not alone and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you (I wish I had realized this when I was younger!)

We’ve established that being tempted is normal. Now let’s talk about what you can do to fight back against Satan’s attack. Well, verse 16 from above is a good starting point. I know the Amplified version of the Bible can be a lot to swallow, but I chose it specifically for this post because of how it included the original meaning of the word “grace” (“God’s unmerited favor to us sinners.”) The above verse says that we must “approach the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners” and seek His mercy and unmerited favor.

If there is one thing I have learned about temptation (other than that it is something that everyone faces) it’s that I cannot resist it on my own. I need God’s help. James 4:7 (ESV) says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I didn’t find triumph over temptation until I admitted that I need God’s help and then gave Him complete control over all areas of my life. In other words, the more you try to fight on your own, the more you’re going to fail; let God do the fighting for you! (P.S. I love reciting James 4:7 in times of weakness!)

Ephesians 6:13-17 (ESV) says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” God has literally given us everything we need- an entire suit of armor- to withstand Satan’s attacks! We have the built of truth to stand against Satan’s lies, the breast plate of righteousness to protect our heart from deception, the gospel of peace so we need not fear where we step, the shield of faith to defend against everything Satan throws our way, and the helmet of salvation to protect our minds which have been transformed into a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:17.)

As I close, I encourage you to let go of any guilt or embarrassment you may harbor over being tempted (I know I had a lot.) Instead of worrying, start focusing on dressing yourself in the full armor of God!

God, I pray for each and every person who reads this. Touch their hearts Lord; let them know that they are not alone in this struggle and that You too have once been where they are. I pray that You will give them the strength to submit their lives to You, to let You start fighting for them. Let them be dressed in the armor you have given them!

In Jesus’ holy name,

Amen!

Thank you guys so much for reading! Is there anything you would like me to discuss in my next “Let’s Talk About…” post?

-Sierra

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Choosing A Bible Translation

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Choosing the Right Bible Translation for You

Reading and studying the Word of God is vitally important to the Christian walk; it’s what connects us to God and His promises. Reading the Bible may seem easy enough however it can become difficult if we are reading a translation of the Bible that is difficult for us to comprehend. I want to make it clear that this post is not saying one translation is better than another, nor am I intending to bash a particular translation. I simply want to provide information on various translations so you can choose what will work best for you! I will also share what translations I use and why!

There are countless translations so I am only going to cover some of the most popular. I will be also be explaining the different types of translations: word for word, thought for thought, and paraphrase.

Let’s start with the different types:

  • Word for Word: A word for word translation, or a formal translation, is considered to be more accurate and literal because each word from the original text is translated into a language used today (in the instance of this post, English.) Word for word translations are often used for studying because they stick closely to the original text. In most case, formal translations have a higher reading level than other translations.
  • Thought for Thought: A thought for thought translation, or dynamic translations, is translated phrase by phrase and often use a more contemporary form of language. Dynamic translations are great for every day reading because they are written in a way that is easy to read yet they do not compromise the meaning of the text.
  • Paraphrase: Paraphrase translations focus on the readability of their text rather than the accuracy. In some cases, paraphrase translations may sacrifice the original meaning of the text in order to make it read more smoothly. For this reason, paraphrase Bibles are mostly used for devotional reading and not studying.

 

Popular translations:

  • Amplified: The Amplified Bible is a word for word translation that attempts to be as literal as possible. This version includes added context by including the meanings of the original Hebrew and Greek words in parenthesis and clarifying text in brackets to help break down the language barrier.
  • English Standard Version: The ESV Bible is a word for word translation. It is modeled after the King James Version, but is much easier to read and comprehend. It is well noted for its word for word accuracy.
  • King James Version: The KJV Bible is one of the most popular word for word translations. It is translated well but can be hard to understand because many of the words used (this Bible was first printed in 1611) are not found in today’s English language.
  • New International Version: The NIV Bible is a phrase for phrase translation and is one of the most popular translations is history. The NIV Bible balances word for word and phrase for phrase translation so that the text is easy to read but stays true to the original meaning.
  • New Living Translation: The NLT Bible is a phrase for phrase translation. The goal of this translation is to have the same impact on people today as the original text would have on people in biblical times.
  • The Message: The Message Bible is paraphrase translation. This version was designed to encourage people to simply read the Bible rather than to encourage studying. No verses are used which make it difficult to look up specific passages.

 

With all of this being said, I would like to share the three Bible I use the most:

  • Amplified: I use the Amplified Bible (specifically Joyce Meyer’s Every Day Life Bible) every day for the deep studying of scripture. I love how it includes the original definitions of the Hebrew and Greek words right there beside the English words. This Bible has an added depth that helps me to understand exactly what God is saying. However, this Bible can be difficult to read (especially aloud) because of all of the parentheses and brackets.
  • English Standard Version: I use my ESV Bible for both studying and memorizing scripture. I usually use this Bible for lighter studying because it is highly accurate while being easier to read. I use it to memorize scripture for the same reason.
  • New International Version: I use the NIV Bible for reading and journaling purposes. I love this translation because it is so easy to understand. I am currently reading through the Bible in a year and NIV is the translation that I am using. I also have a journaling Bible in NIV.

I would again like to state that I am not promoting one version of the Bible over another. The Bible versions that work well for me may not work well for you. I recommend praying earnestly and asking God to reveal what translation you should be reading and studying. You can also visit a website like Bible Gateway or Bible Hub and read through different translations (for free) and get a feel for what you like the best. Also, don’t be afraid to have more than one Bible for different purposes.

What are your favorite Bible translations?

-Sierra

 

**Information on the different translations of the Bible from Family Christian.**

God’s Not Dead

You guys know the God’s Not Dead 2 movie where the teacher is prosecuted for talking about Jesus? Something similar is going on in my community.

My county has offered an optional Bible class to elementary and middle school students for 75 years, a class completely funded by outside sources (not the school board.) On January 18th, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a law suit against Mercer County Schools and want these classes removed.

I ask that you please stand with me and pray that my county decides to fight to keep these classes rather than give in to the FFRF’s demands. In a community overcome with drug addiction and alcohol abuse, the  Mercer County Bible in the School’s program is an amazing thing and needs to be preserved!

Please pray with me! I will update as things progress!

Here is a link to the article released by the FFRF: FFRF Sues Mercer County Schools

-Sierra