Ferguson and All: Meet the Restorer of Our Streets

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Viewing this past week’s events of protests, rioting, vandalism and violence displayed in Ferguson, Mo., and nationwide upon learning the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the August 9, 2014 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown,  we know some things to be true: violence does not bring about justice. Hate does not bring about peace. None of these actions restores our streets or our dwelling places. None of it restores our lives. No such actions are fruitful in any way.

The following passage spoke to my spirit in considering the healing we want restored in Ferguson, in our nation and our world. Isaiah 58 shows how God will move mightily on our behalf when we fast, pray, humble ourselves to seek His will, His way. Instead of exhibiting peace one day and inflicting violence upon others the next, the Lord asks us to move in righteousness and 8- “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9- Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

Think about it. I encourage Ferguson, those of our nation and world to meet the Great Restorer of our streets.Isaiah 58-12 restorer of the streets

58 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

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

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

 

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.

 

 

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Remember the Time

Hebrews 13:1- Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Sometimes it takes the words of 1 person to change your perspective. Sometimes it takes the same person to display tolerance, in order to illustrate a concept that you may have forgotten. Sometimes that person can provide a new vantage point from an angle that was previously unseen. Maybe that person reset your clock back to a time where you were stumbling through the world in order to locate solid footing. Your mind has now been altered to see the reflection of your former self. Whether destitute, lascivious, or pious you have seen yourself grow from experiences of hardships, judgments and/or failures. Therefore, that 1 person has illuminated a life once trapped behind the shutters. For we’re not called to live within our hypocritical glass houses to peer out and condemn from afar. No, we’re called to shatter the facade that held us captive, in order to reach others who can now benefit from our God ordained tutelage. 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.

pureHOPE News & Notes, Bill Cosby, Rape Culture

original_boys-will-be-boysFrom the Bill Cosby scandal, to nationwide campus rapes, sex trafficking to sexual violence anywhere in our world, we are beyond proud of our ministry partner pureHOPE for sharing these articles that address our oversexualized culture that continues to take and does not give love or security. As their note states, “God has a better story of sex.” Thank you, thank you. If you are interested in stemming the tide, read the below “News & Notes.”

http://purehope.net/news-notes-week-43/

This excellent article by A Holy Experience shared by pureHOPE hits all the right notes. “Real men don’t pressure but treasure.” Read “35 Things We Better Tell Our Sons About Harassment, Assault & Boys Will Be Boys.” 

The Land Already Scouted

Judges 18:5- Then they said, “Ask God whether or not our journey will be successful.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

At first our belief wavered, but then we sought out council for our belief to be restored. We lived in fear, but God assured us that if we “Go in peace,” that “the lord is watching over our journey” (Judges 18:6). Therefore, we follow HIS lead, while walking within the faith to succeed. We now take another step out into this unknown domain, to trust in the Lord always as he goes ahead to scout out the rugged terrain. For two steps is what was needed to remove ourselves from the lagoon of skepticism, to begin our inhabitants in the well-spring of joy and good tidings. Hence, our lives have been placed through the kiln in order to be hardened into the mold God formed us to be. Thus, when cooled, no rain, nor intense heat will be able to crack our inner shell. Hence, the reason we approach our task with immense confidence for the Lord is our shield and with HIM our victory is imminent. 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.

ETA: Grateful in the Wait

Grateful-WomanDoes it seem like everyone else is getting blessed but you? You’ve been faithful, obedient, waiting on God to move. How can we remain thankful in the wait? Read our 5 tips shared in this Gospel Today article! We pray it blesses you. http://www.gospeltoday.com/blog/2014/11/21/eta-grateful-in-the-wait/

When the Blind Refuse Sight

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Who wouldn’t want to see? It seems strange that a blind person would willfully pass on the opportunity to receive their sight. Prior to considering this concept, I couldn’t imagine who’d make such a choice. But these people exist. I’ve met them.

No, they aren’t using a walking stick or guide dog. Nor are their eyes concealed by protective eye wear. Bumbling, fumbling and stumbling, these blind people walk with their eyes wide open but lack sight. When opportunities, life lessons or people present sight to them, they choose not to receive it. Instead, they choose to keep bumbling, fumbling and stumbling on the poorly lit path they tread. Proceeding with no sight and partial light, they dismiss the signs directly ahead and guides alongside them lighting the way. They prefer getting banged up and stumbling into a caution open ditch signditch…repeatedly. Ego, pride and a false perception of self have kept them ignorant, obstinate and afraid to see what they don’t want to see. They will also lead the unwise into the ditch. Hence the saying, “the blind leading the blind.”

I recall the 1999 movie “At First Sight” starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino. Sorvino’s character is girlfriend to Kilmer’s character who is blind. They enjoy their lives together, yet in desiring to improve her boyfriend’s quality of life, she informs him of a new but risky surgery that could restore his sight. He resists the treatment for some time, but eventually proceeds. Not to spoil this 15-year-old movie if you haven’t yet viewed it, but upon receiving his gradual sight, the couple endures various challenges. His restored sight is a gift but is he prepared to handle what he sees/what he is shown?

The same scenario occurs when we’re blind to something we’re doing, involved in or contributing to, and then someone tries to tell us the truth about it; to shine light on it so we’re no longer walking into the ditch. We may not like what we see/what we’re shown. It takes humility to receive it and courage to make the course corrections with the information shown. Otherwise, be prepared to bumble, fumble and stumble. “Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105, English Standard Version)

I used to invest significant time in people who I desperately wanted to help “see.” Oh, how my heart pained for them when an opportunity to receive sight presented itself and they preferred to stumble in the dark, because it was comfortable. Witnessing this scenario repeatedly with the same and different people, I realized I had to let them stumble.

I’ve shifted my efforts to preparing people who want to be prepared; people who want to see. I learned some people are not prepared to receive the sight I’m offering them. As they continue stumbling in the dark, I pray for them to see the futility in their thinking. I’ve also been liberated from their liability by saying this one, two-syllable word: “Ok.” “Ok” doesn’t mean I agree. It simply means I’m steering clear of the open ditch they’ve chosen.

In Matthew 15:14, Jesus shares these wise words: “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both fall into a pit.” (New International Version)

-Nicole

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.

 

 

Riches Untold

Luke 16:9-Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

A life lived with a lesson learned. A generous heart with no money to burn. A cheerful giver who left no one spurned. It’s the belief that money held closely leads to more money gained. That the less money spent will gather interest to help double the riches that God provided you. However, “we came into the world with nothing and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.” (1 Timothy 6:7). Therefore, why should we trust it? For money has many forms, such as the snake that slithers away from the just to the hands of the unjust. The bomb that is passed from those responsible to those who wish to strike terror in the hearts of individuals. Perhaps, it’s the tool used to fund life-saving research. Hence, money can’t be our life’s goal, but rather the favor of God and the blessings of good friendships. 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.

Mourning a Loss

Psalm 77:11- But then I recall all you have done, O lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

W.E. you are in our prayers as we mourn your loss with you.

Remember the life lived and not the life lost. Remember the times of joy and not the present sadness swelling within your heart. Remember the conversations that will last an eternity within the caverns of your mind, for celebrating the memory of all the great things done will stretch farther than any amount of tears could ever accomplish. However, we are human and when the burden becomes heavy know that WE will be there to pick you up. For you will never see 1 pair of feet in the sand, but many, as we walk alongside you to aid in completing the journey with you. WE will be there every step of the way. WE will be the strong foundation needed to keep you stable amidst the storm. Thus, when the rain falls, WE will be the umbrella to keep you dry. Why? Because WE are a body of believers under God, who care about you. 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.

 

True Freedom

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” –John 8:31-32 (New Living Translation)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. –Psalm 119:45 If someone were to ask you, “Are you free?,” could you answer them honestly? On what basis is freedom found? The truth is we can never be truly free until we are spiritually free. Many people are hurting deeply inwardly. Though we’d like to think optimistically about our world and communities, the truth is we are living in a depraved society faced with daily uncertainties. And my friend, if you are living with uncertainty today then you know that it’s not real freedom, its bondage.

There is a solution. It’s a solution that more and more of the world is coming to know. His name is Jesus Christ. He said, “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” –John 10:9-10 The truth that sets us free begins with the cross.

It is a deciding choice that we make that sets our spiritual position in order. Will we choose to trust in Jesus Christ or not? He came to earth to seek and save the lost. He came to set those who are in spiritual captivity free. Money, accomplishments, or people can’t save you but a personal relationship with the living God, Jesus Christ, will set you free.ManCross300_7k

And for those who have come to trust in Christ, we know that God has given us his nature. He’s provided everything that we need to live a godly life. The Bible says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. -2 Peter 1:3-4

I pray that the spirit of God will release us from emotional bondage such as unforgiveness, bitterness, insecurities, prejudices, anxieties, and many more emotional hindrances. I pray that the spirit of God will release us from evil habits such as lying, deception, sexual immorality, drunkenness, drugs, slothfulness, profanity, and whatever it might be that is keeping us from truly engaging in an intimate, loving, purposeful, and thrilling relationship with Jesus Christ. Friend, he loves you unconditionally and wants the best for you. He is the great stabilizer in our lives and my prayer is that we start seeing things from God’s point of view rather than our own. Only then, will we start getting free. God bless you. Amen

-Jason M. Alexandre

 

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born in November of 1989 in Brooklyn, N.Y. His family later moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and he now resides in Limerick, Pa. In May of 2014, Jason obtained his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Professionally, Jason counsels persons who are homeless, parents, veterans, and others who suffer from various kinds of abuse. 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 person-to-person and nation-to-nation. Annually, Jason travels primarily to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year, Haiti Christianity, Inc., visits cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothing, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly, evangelization takes place. Jason is currently the organization’s public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

 

What Lives On?

1 John 2:16- For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

One and done. Satisfied with a pep in the step to go about our day. Joy, immense joy for the happiness we attained bore no consequences. Comfortable, real comfortable in the life we have provided ourselves. Haughty to a degree of narcissism for if everything is about us, how can we appreciate the nuances of anyone else? Hence, who cares! If our appetites are now satiated, then why crave more? Perhaps the reason lies in what we have eaten. In that our stomachs have begun to rumble, our countenances have changed and our bodies are now queasy. With food rising like a geyser, we picture the spew of unsightly material exiting our negatively affected bodies. But God…provided us the Pepto with a piece of Daily Bread to settle our stomachs and keep us from ever feeling sick again. 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.