Two Better Than One

Ecclesiastes 4:7- I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

When we’re alone our minds run adrift. When we’re alone our thoughts begin to multiply. When we’re alone we seek comfort in an effort to quell the echoes that ricochet within our heads. For our thoughts of being single excite us, but the reality of lying awake to the voice of nature depresses us. Our determination to succeed fuels us, but the reality of partaking in the God-given spoils by ourselves, depletes us. Our ability to witness for Christ is met with no hindrances, but after we have given our hearts, bodies, and souls to the cause of Christ, who will be there to restore the proverbial electrolytes we have lost during the journey? Therefore, let us ask a question ‘cuz if we obtain every dream, and accomplish every goal, and complete every mission in life, who will you have throwing a celebratory party for you? It’s this question that’ll lead you to uncovering the recipe for true happiness. 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.  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.

Advertisement

Preacher Teacher: Compassion, Not Compromise

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Does your pastor preach that same-sex marriage is ok? Welcomes civil unions? Are they vague on whether homosexuality is a sin, as like all forms of sexual immorality? If this occurs in your church, you might pack up. There is a disturbing trend occurring among some church leadership to bend in the area of homosexuality and same-sex marriage/unions so as to not offend anyone. In a February 2014 Pew Research Center survey conducted, “62% of mainline Protestants now say they favor same-sex marriage, up from just 34% a decade earlier in 2004.”( June 2014 Pew Research Center) Truth is, if you love someone, you tell them the truth so they are no longer blinded. If God’s truth “offends” then it offends those who view God’s Word as an afront to their chosen lifestyle. God’s Word convicts and convinces us of what is righteousness and what is sin. Some ignore it to satisfy their depravities which have been stamped as “natural.” And now they’ve asked us as Believers to accept all forms of depravity as “natural” too.

So why tackle this hot seat topic today? As you sit in your Sunday morning service, I ask that you discern what those in leadership are imparting to you. Meet it with Scripture.

When I read the headline of this July 2 Black Christian News article, “Baptist Pastor Who No Longer Believes Homosexuality Is a Sin is Obama’s Guest at White House LGBT Pride Month Reception,” I said, “Whaat??”

To explain the long story short,  Danny Cortez, who leads New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., rejected his denomination’s stance on homosexuality by deciding to accept the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community without teaching that homosexual behavior is a sin. He and his 15-year-old son, Drew Cortez, who came out as gay earlier this year, received an invitation to a June 30 White House presidential reception, celebrating LGBT Pride Month. About the event, President Barack Obama said, “This tremendous progress we’ve made as a society is thanks to those of you who fought the good fight, and to Americans across the country who marched and came out and organized to secure the rights of others,” Obama said at the reception.

 

Courtesy of New Community Church

Photo Courtesy of New Heart Community Church

In a similar Christian Post article, it states that in June “New Heart split following the pastor’s decision to transform the church into a “Third Way” church.” As a “Third Way church,” the Southern Baptist congregation would “accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgment,” says Cortez. Prior to arriving at this “Third Way” decision, the church reviewed their traditional views to determine if they should adopt a new position on same-sex marriage. 

 

Again, I reread this information and said, “Whaat??”

While Pastor Cortez properly nailed the “not cast judgment” part as how a Christian should view others, and while I have compassion for the conflicted feelings and confusion their son Drew must struggle with concerning his sexuality, and while I have compassion for Pastor Cortez and his wife as parents grappling with this news in a private and public manner, and while I have compassion and love for those in my life and community who consider themselves gay, AND while I mostly have a high regard for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, I’m led to expose the deception and problems that lie therein. Some would say, “Nicole, who cares. It’s not your concern.” Frankly, it would be easier for me to duck out on the issue and remain silent. Yet, silence and tolerance in order to “go along” have blended the wheat with the tare; blending the true with the false. God is separating the wheat from the tare to reveal who is who. As an Ambassador of Christ, He orders my steps to bring light and truth to deception so clarity can be restored.


What you need to know:


1. Feed Them Truth, Not Lies.
To God’s People, if we love the Lord, Jesus’ command to us: “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)  There is a heavy accountability and responsibility for those called to lead God’s people/sheep. We don’t take, add to, or distort God’s Word for our gain or to gain favor with others. Pastor Cortez has corrupted God’s Word to earn favor and to better cope with his son’s chosen lifestyle. While twisting God’s Word to rise in the eyes of others, these faulty shepherds are aiding in deceiving those to walk in their destruction if these sheep have not studied God and His Word for themselves. Good shepherds feed sheep the truth, not lies. They shirk being ‘comfortable’ and seek to sober a decaying world. I believe God is raising up new shepherds and witnesses to succeed where faulty shepherds have failed. As for faulty leaders, “their destruction has not been sleeping.” (2 Peter 2:3). God will handle that.

2. Compassion, Not Compromise.
 It saddened me to watch the 14-min video message from Drew Cortez sharing about his struggles with homosexual desires, not wanting those feelings, his “being confused and scared of being different and it worsened as I got older.”  (View video here).  I have compassion for Drew and am praying for him. As my friend and brother-in-Christ Hakim Hazim shared, “A Christian’s walk is often challenged to show compassion and love for those who express and promote opposing views that contradict God’s Word.”  As God’s Elect and Ambassadors of Christ, we are asked to “deal gently with those who are ignorant or misguided since we ourselves are subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:2)  We all struggle with something and none of it is new under the sun. We may have unhealthy or unnatural desires but through Christ Jesus, we ask His help to not engage in those behaviors. Spirit and flesh battle daily. The more we desire a heart of Christ, the more we will work to put those habits underfoot. The good news as found in 1 Corinthians 10:13- “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (New International Version) While Christians are to be compassionate and loving toward others in their struggle, this doesn’t mean we compromise God’s Word so we fit in and make them more comfortable. Pastor Cortez got this twisted. 

3. God Will Not Compromise His Name, Character or His Word.
 God’s Word is forever settled. I could say, “Father please compromise so I can live the way I want.”  “Compromise” means “a settlement of differences through mutual concession.” But truth is, if God compromised who He is, His Word or His promises, it would mean our defeat. His promise of eternal life, His equipping us to walk in full victory over temptation would be rendered empty, null and void. Does a good parent compromise the safety and life of their child to cater to that child’s harmful whims? No. So it is with our Heavenly Father. God’s Word is not subject to compromise, concession or vote as is a democracy. God will not compromise His character so we may gain favor with man. Clearly, in 1 Corinthians 6:9, says “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10- nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.” Then v. 18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside of his body, but he who sins sexually, sins against his own body.”

4. Same-Sex Marriage: The New Satanic Agenda.
 Too many Christians have become accepting and comfortable with the ways of the world. So comfortable, they’ve joined the party line. It is crucial for God’s people to discern the authentic from the counterfeit. The only way we can discern truth from lie is to spend time in God’s Word, in His Presence and surround ourselves with those who also walk in and instruct His truth. Satan attempts to counterfeit everything of God, including God’s design for male and female relationships, marriage and sex (yes, in that order). The kingdoms and systems of this world (including political) are being handed over to the devil. A satanic agenda is being reflected (even through some of our church leadership) as we’ve never seen before. It is in this time that true “ride or die” Christians are being called forth to deliver godly clarity, correction, direction and instruction where confusion and deception have taken root and spread like weeds.


As our brother-in-Christ and Christian rap artist, Crucial, says in his song “Homosexuals” from his Hard Truth album:
“But man, don’t you know the devil’s been in pursuit? Deception wouldn’t be deception if it didn’t seem true.”  (Hear more on iTunes, track #11.  Thanks Crucial! Catchy beats produced by a former lesbian now sold out to Christ Jesus! We’ll invite her for a future radio show to share her story.)

Your call to action:

 

God’s Word has prepared His People to endure and empower others in these and all situations. As told in 2 Timothy 4:2-5:

2-
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3- For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4- They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5- But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (New International Version)

 

1. Pray for clarity to be restored among those deceived and that faulty leadership is removed.

2. If you’re deceived, seek truth in God’s Word.

3. Pray and remain compassionate for the Cortez Family, and others grappling with this issue and that clarity be restored to them.

 

As for President Obama, he is caught up in a system that has long been given over to the world.

About Nicole D. Hayes

Nicole D. Hayes is committed to serve as a vessel of compassion, instruction, love and truth for Jesus Christ. Born and raised in Topeka, Kan., she is a member of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C.  Drawn to know Christ in her early childhood and saved at the age of 12, Nicole is a student and applier of God’s Word. She is also a successful public relations professional operating in Washington, D.C., with more than eight years experience of coordinating and delivering strategic communications and media outreach support for nonprofits and small business owners. During her career she has placed several nonprofits and small business owners in national, local and regional media spaces. She operates with a personal and business mantra of “making an investment in people.” Among many things, Nicole is also a motivational speaker. She has been invited to deliver messages to business leaders to not be misguided by the world’s view of success, to direct young people navigating through the world’s challenges, and to remind those who may have lost their way that joyfully, “God Has Not Changed His Mind About You.” Nicole’s purpose in creating “Voices Against the Grain” is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amidst confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Fear? It’s Not From God

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (sound mind).” -2 Timothy 1:7 (New International Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

We all have experienced in our lives that uneasy, dreadful, threatening, and imbalanced feeling and emotion of “fear.” Some of us deal with feelings of fear each day and we ask God, “When we will this ever end?” Maybe you’re feeling fearful about what the doctor will say about your condition next visit? Maybe you’re not sure what direction you’re heading in life and that’s causing you to fear? Whatever is causing you to fear, know that the emotion of fear is NOT from our loving God.

The Bible says that God did not give us that sort of spirit but he gave us one of power, love, and self-discipline. Furthermore, our loving Father said, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” –Isaiah 41:10.

So where exactly did feelings of fear come from? Let me suggest that it may have been a result of learned perceptions or attitudes we may have picked up as children from someone else. Often times it could be our family members and we consequently carried those same attitudes and perceptions into our adulthood. There is NOTHING good or beneficial to holding on to feelings of fear.

2-Timothy-1-7

Fear undermines our self-confidence, produces poor self-images of ourselves, stifles our abilities to think creatively and make sound decisions from an inner place of wisdom, forces us to doubt, and ultimately gives us a wrong view of an all-loving God. Sin is also deceptively crafty at inviting fear into our lives. If we blindly live in it, a series of other damaging feelings can follow such as guilt, anger, jealously, rejection and many other similar feelings toward ourselves and we’ll project those feelings onto others.

Yet, God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him (John 3:16). This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us His spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us”-1 John 4:9-13.

Friend, the next time you feel fear, stop what you’re doing, slow down and make the CHOICE to embrace the LOVE of God that is readily accessible to you at every moment.  Amen

-Jason M. Alexandre

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born on November 29, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York. However, at two years old he and his family moved to Philadelphia, PA. Later, Jason moved to Limerick, PA where he now resides. Jason is currently working toward obtaining his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the great commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the gospel to be spread from nation to nation. On a yearly basis, Jason primarily goes to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year Haiti Christianity visits different cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothes, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly evangelization takes place. Jason is currently their public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to be spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively.

He Has Earned His Trust With Me

“He has earned his trust with me. He has shown himself faithful.”  These are recent words I spoke to a friend over dinner as we shared in the goodness of God (thank you Frank Henderson for sharing how God is moving mightily through you and your community in Topeka, KS. Thank you also for inviting your daughter Ashley to read our blog. We appreciate it. ). As I’ve journeyed with God over the years, He’s been faithful in my life, never giving me a reason to doubt him.  But I have doubted. Sometimes it takes more “examples” for him to fully prove himself to us because we’re used to being failed by humans. But as reaffirmed to us in Numbers 23:19, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (English Standard Version)

God-doesnot-lieToday’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.  Enjoy and continue to trust Him! He won’t fail you.  -Nicole

LET ME SHOW YOU My way for you this day. I guide you continually, so you can relax and enjoy My Presence in the present. Living well is both a discipline and an art. Concentrate on staying close to me, the divine Artist. Discipline your thoughts to trust Me as I work my ways in your life. Pray about everything; then leave outcomes up to Me. Do not fear My will, for through it I accomplish what is best for you. Take a deep breath and dive into the depths of absolute trust in Me. Underneath are the everlasting arms!

Accompanying Scriptures: Psalm 5:2-3, “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3-In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:12, “For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, “Destroy him!” (New International Version)