Wants and Needs: God Is Above All

Luke 12:15- “Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

I want vs. I need. Hope vs. Despair. The ability to have much vs. The inability to have anything. Where do we begin? How about with the overarching theme that binds them, which is materialism. A noun that has become the driver behind love, happiness, and comfort. For God started out as the driver, but now has moved to the passenger seat, so that we might take the wheel. Result?

Well, our lives have become nothing more than blurred lines, etched in with the stencil of greed to create a cataclysmic masterpiece of grief and contention. Where is our hope? For those materials have rotted and those things have been repossessed. I believe my friend Diana said it best: “My life is tough, I’m away from family, friends, and I have no job, but I have a great church, husband, and shelter. Need I say more.” So may we get along with what we have and get on with the business of living.  Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 24, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Being Transformed Step by Step

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Since early 2013 to-date, I’ve witnessed transformations God has made in my life—some visible to others and some not. Some of the transformations only I am privy to, which makes the internal testimony and affirmation of His work even greater to me. The habitual planner in me has handed the reins over to Him, allowing Him to prepare my next steps.  I am already experiencing the fruit of this transformation by allowing Him to lead, trusting Him to bring it all together in His perfect way. While I like details, in this case I don’t have to know how He’s going to work it out. It’s an act of faith and trust that I am enjoying too! Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (New American Standard Bible) Believe it!

Are you ready to experience the same? You won’t regret it. Today’s post is from the daily devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Each devotional is written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to you.

LET MY LOVE ENFOLD YOU in the radiance of My Glory. Sit still in the Light of My Presence, and receive My Peace. These quiet moments with Me transcend time, accomplishing far more than you can imagine. Bring Me the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly I bless you and your loved ones.

Through the intimacy of our relationship, you are being transformed from the inside out. As you keep your focus on Me, I form you into the one I desire you to be. Your part is to yield to My creative work in you, neither resisting it nor trying to speed it up. Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Me set the pace. Hold My hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.   Let-God-Hold-Your-Hand

Accompanying Scriptures: Hebrews 13:15, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name.” 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Psalm 73:23-24, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24- You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into your glory.” (New International Version)

No Shades of Gray: White or Black

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Those of the world would love it if God’s people agreed with their deviant ways so we could stay “cool.” However, God’s Word is very clear—no shades of gray. His Word is white and black. No compromise. 

We at Voices Against the Grain LOVE the song “No Gray” by Christian recording artist Jonathan McReynolds. Read the lyrics below. Listen to it here.  Thank you to Ana Martinez for sharing his music with us. We will certainly invite Mr. McReynolds as a future guest on our radio show!

Now I know wrote this song for somebody

Cause I figure at some point in everybody’s life
We just feel like

Verse 1
Lord I’m split in two
Part of me loves the world
And the other loves You
So what do I do
I wanna be saved
But I got to stay cool too
And no I’m not a fool
I know eventually I’m gonna have to choose
And really I don’t wanna lose
My ticket into heaven
And a chance to be used by You

Chorus

And if it’s You I’m after
Then I can’t serve two masters
And before something happens
I got to turn it all around
Because I know
I can’t just have my cake and eat it too
Cause it’s real easy to stay on the fence and still do you
And it’d be cool if we could love the Lord and still go do our thing
But see it doesn’t work like that
I got to be white or black

Oh ooohh

Verse 2
Lord I’ve realized
when it comes to sin
You just don’t compromise
It’s a matter of death and life
Be weak and do wrong
Or be strong and do right
And I don’t wanna keep going to church
Singing about how much You’re worth
And then continue doing my dirt
Living as if I didn’t care if You’re hurt

And if it’s God that I’m after
Then I can’t serve two masters
And before something happens
I gotta turn it all around
Because you know
You can’t just have your cake and eat it too
Cause it’s real easy to stay on the fence and still do You
And it’d be cool if we could love the Lord and still go do our thing
See it doesn’t work like that
You got to be white or black

Bridge
We saint’s got to
Get it together
Just got to
Get it together

And if it’s God we’re after
We got to pick one master
And before something happens
We better turn it all around
Because you know
You can’t just have your cake and eat it too
Cause it’s really easy to stay on the fence and still do you
And it’d be cool if we could love the Lord and still go do our thing
See it doesn’t work like that
You got to be white or black

Cause it don’t work like that
You gotta pick white or black…

Christ’s Love Expressed Through a Child

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

The other day as my son and I were sitting next to each other, The Lord used Him to witness something to me.  For more than 16 years, I have struggled with problematic skin and the result has left scarring on my face.  I’ve visited several doctors who were  unable to reduce the scarring due to my darker skin pigment.  So the topic has always been a sensitive area for me.  However, as we both sat there laughing and playing, he turned to me and out of the blue said, “Mommy you know everybody loves you even with all these marks.” He then began to gently touch the scars on my face and said yet again, “Everyone loves you even with all of these marks.” He repeated this, letting me know I am loved. It warmed my heart, as he has no idea this was an area I have struggled.

It reminded me that’s how God loves all of us. In spite of our flaws, our minor and major imperfections, He still loves each and every one of us.  No matter our past sin, present sin, or future sin He unconditionally loves us.  As we are reminded of the love Christ has for us daily and the price He paid upon the cross let’s not take His love for granted.  But let us love Him back by bringing Him Glory, Honor and Praise in all areas of our lives.  Let us uphold the Word of God to the fullest and keep His precepts along the path of righteousness.

Romans 8:35-39 (KJV) 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ana

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative isGeorgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.

Ana resides in Southern California with her three beautiful children and seeks daily to model this scripture from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Called to Model a Better Hope

Good day, people. When I read the following devotional written by my fellow brother-in-Christ, Minister Dracy Jenkins, I was lead in my spirit to share his message with you. People desperately seeking answers, relief from their troubles, or hope for a better tomorrow may look to any and every source except God. In a society that doesn’t automatically run to God, we as Christians have a prime opportunity and captive audience in which to model the hope, the better living we have in Christ Jesus.  Read below. Thank you Minister Dracy for allowing us to share your message with others.

“The people of God are not merely to mark time, waiting for God to step in and set right all that is wrong. Rather, they are to model the new heaven and new earth, and by so doing awaken longings for what God will someday bring to pass.” — Philip Yancey
Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Ephesians 4:1-6 (New Living Translation)- Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

As Believers we are indeed called by God to present a different picture, a different way of living, a different hope, to those around us.  For we have the hope of a better, greater future.  We have the promise that all the evils of this world will one day be eradicated for all time.  And it is this hope, that we should be willing to share at all times.
I thank God for the hope of ultimate freedom from sin.  The hope of heaven and the hope of eternal rest with our Lord and Savior.
I pray that you too have this hope of better things to come.  May God enrich your lives today and may we never forget His promises to us.
Minister Dracy
After God’s Own Heart Ministries
Luke 4:18-19 …to bring Good News…

To Grow, Remove Familiar Distractions and Powerful Attachments

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

You want to grow forward but the past keeps pulling you back. One step forward and two steps back—gripped by past behaviors, some people, and familiar places. If you are a new Christian or a Christian who is deepening their walk with Christ you must realize the daily battle that will ensue between the flesh and the Spirit: “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” (Galatians 5:17, New Living Translation).

Earlier this week on the Voices Against the Grain radio show, we spoke with Christian rap artist Matthew Slyman, otherwise known as “Crucial.” Crucial shared his testimony of how God freed him from years of drug and alcohol addiction, promiscuity and other sinful behaviors. In his desire to break free from that lifestyle and live for Christ, he was surprised by how strong these bad habits pulled him back in. Old friends would invite him to parties to smoke weed, do ecstasy, and drink. The drug addictions and connections to old friends seemed inescapable, spiraling him further into this lifestyle. Finally, it was one night at a party in his apartment where a photo of Christ Jesus inspired him to witness to his drinking friends about the goodness of God. This began the separation as they looked at him like the red-headed stepchild. From his seven-track album “The End of the World,” he raps in this song “Breaking Away”:

“Once upon a time in an age where sin reigned, it mastered me like a sensei ingrained… so later down the road I let some friends go…I found another path in life and I let ’em know. Man, I can still remember pleading for them to come along, I didn’t want to leave them…But it seemed the more I spoke the truth they pushed me aside like a broken tooth…it wasn’t personal they couldn’t see the way….they didn’t know they had been deceived…they couldn’t understand how I had been redeemed…but this is all a part of how it falls apart when you leave the world behind and your calling starts, but see the One Who fixed you is the One Who strips you of everything holding you down and He lifts you…I know you formed a lifestyle and picked up some habits,  it’s hard to part with familiar distractions, it’s hard to break away from powerful attachments, but with Christ all those powers are matchless…”

Download Crucial’s free “The End of the World” album here. Listen to “Breaking Away” and other tracks. We love this album! End of the World Album Cover

He learned from 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Don’t be misled: bad company corrupts good character.”

If you want to grow in Christ, break away from the familiar distractions and powerful attachments. This may mean leaving behind behaviors, places and some people. This is not possible in our own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Have no confidence in the flesh. Fast, pray and stay in commune with God. The one you feed the most (whether Spirit or flesh) will grow the most. Don’t be surprised if the past wants to make a return. We can combat this daily by putting on our spiritual armor, found in Ephesians 6:10-18.

Listen here to our interview with Crucial. You can also read about him on our “Bold Voices” page and at http://www.crucialbeats.com/

Words from Above: Decrease Self, Increase Christ

Matthew 5:16- “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

First, thank you to Ms. Hayes for providing me with words of wisdom that have resonated deep within my soul. For too many of us need to “decrease ourselves and increase Him.” In fact, we need “more of God’s words and less of ours.” Too many times our opinions cloud our judgments. Too many times our words are riddled with discrepancies that lead us to confusion. Our VOICES are HEARD more LOUDLY than HIS. Why does this happen? Well, we are told that we hold our own futures, that we are the masters of our own fates. If this stands true, why does one bad circumstance lead us to a cataclysmic realization of our own weaknesses? Why must God silence our voice before we can hear his whisper? Thus, may we hold our tongue and speak the truth. May we configure our mind around God’s Word and purse our lips from foolish speech, for God needs to be exalted, not us. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 24, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Time Is a Trainer

We want everything NOW. Singles want the sex before or without the marriage. New grads want to stride into the senior office position without building the necessary skills to keep them there. Someone’s disappointed because they only lost 2lbs this week and not 10lbs.  Everything we want should have happened yesterday.

For those of us who’ve journeyed with the Lord for awhile, we’ve come to learn time is a trainer. Time develops our faith and trust in God and His holy Word. We’ve learned that He is not bound by time and therefore, can’t be rushed by our anxiousness.  Time trains us to shed attitudes and behaviors that are not of Him so we can be more in alignment with His will. Time trains us to develop our muscle and weight in character, integrity, credibility, competency, perseverance, love, patience, and other traits that can’t be acquired overnight. Time trains us to victoriously run the race, equipped to address life’s opportunities and challenges. Strength-Training-Moves-Help-You-Run-Faster

Today’s post is from the daily devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Each devotional is written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to you. Time is a trainer.

I AM WITH YOU AND FOR YOU. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don’t be discouraged—never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but DO remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent.

Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing headlong toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence. When you bring Me your prayer requests, thank Me for the answers that I have set in motion long before you can discern the results.

Accompanying Scriptures: Romans 8:31, “What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2- Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give  way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3- though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Luke 1:37, “For nothing is impossible with God.” (New International Version)

God’s Design: Nothing Compares

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

While vacationing in Aspen, I learned something interesting from my ski instructor besides how to properly ski.  One day as we headed up the mountain on the chair lift, he stated that a few years back there was an article on how man-made snow is different than natural snow.  Underneath a microscope, a natural snowflake looks like a piece of art.  Each one is intricately structured with its own unique design.  However, a single man-made snowflake created to copy God’s design in every way under the microscope looks like a blob.  It is not uniquely crafted and doesn’t come close to the beauty of God’s natural snowflake.Snowflake-Pictures

Who would you desire to be most like: The one who tries to copy the original masterpiece or the one who created the masterpiece?  We idolize people and things, we follow suit of what man does. We fear what people may think about us.  Though God’s Word clearly tells us in Romans 12:12 (New International Version), “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We are better to pattern our walk, our behaviors our lives after Him than to imitate the counterfeit ways of this world.

Psalm 118:8- “ It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

When all said and done, we will each stand before The Creator of All Things and give an account for how we conducted ourselves here on earth.  How great and Magnificent is He who took the time to uniquely design each snowflake.  He who knows the number of every hair upon your head.  Luke 12:7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.   Honor Him and reverence Him for He is worthy of all our Praise.  Be blessed and be encouraged my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Ana

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative isGeorgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.

Ana resides in Southern California with her three beautiful children and seeks daily to model this scripture from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Trust Your Life to an Unfailing God

1 Peter 4:19- “If you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Three key words can be found within this scripture and they are TRUST, SUFFERING, AND FAILURE. We SUFFER because we stand against the normality of the world. We are deemed outcasts and failures due to our sweet aroma of moral fiber, which repulses the mundane onlooker. We TRUST in God’s love because it is pure and given without any contingencies. Thus, may we look upon 2014 hopeful that our various circumstances will turn around. For we will not succeed under our own volition, nor can we prosper with the works of our own hands. Now many believe they have and even boast about their prosperity, but, like one strand of straw that could break the back of a camel, so is one problem’s chance of crushing our spirits. So may we must rejoice in suffering, cling to our trust in Him, and recognize that with God we cannot fail. As Christians we can be confident in this word from Philippians 1:6- “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 24, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.