You Can’t Hold Me

John 14:27-I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

It is an honor to be back after many asked, “Where are Herbert’s devotionals?” (In addition to Voices Against the Grain audiences, Herbert shares his devotionals to a growing reader list of 3,000+)

You didn’t make us, but God did. Hence, fall back into the dark pit from whence you came and be incinerated by the selfishness that was ignited through your flame. You can’t stop us, but God can. So, cease and desist your demands and decrees ‘cuz with God on our side our victory is guaranteed. You don’t understand us, but God does. Therefore, when He sees our spirits He blesses the path we tread, for we know that HE has already walked the journey ahead. You can’t break us, but God will. For He used you to bring us closer to HIM, before our lives became lost with the light in our eyes growing dim. So please remember that you helped us, which was constructed through God’s design. 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.
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My Brother’s Keeper

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – Genesis 4:9

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ –Matthew 25:44-45 May each day we have breath in our lungs remember Cain’s question to the Lord and answer it with for ourselves with a resounding, “Yes! I am my brother’s keeper!” This pretension is indeed true. For we are not that different from one another. One similarity we share is that we were made God’s image.

For the Bible says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” –Genesis 1:27 Some may say, I am just too busy to help anyone! I have problems of my own! Another similarity we ALL share. For the Bible says, “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” –Job 5:7 No fault of our own that trouble often finds us for it is inherent of our fore parents who disobeyed God and sinned and we therefore followed in their example.

man helping man

Sin is still immanent and if we have the means to remove a burden from our fellow man, our brother or sister, may we lovingly do so as if it were God almighty requesting our assistance himself. If they are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them a drink. If they need a coat, find them one. You help them, you please God. You turn your back, you displease God. If we are going to give of ourselves, may it be from the heart otherwise we sin by giving begrudgingly. Our attitude may be as Cain’s in that we try to hide this sin from God but he knows. While we may not be the direct cause of someone’s detriment as Cain was to Abel, our lack of response to help when we have ability to is not great either. God showed his great love and mercy in forgiving us of our sins. We didn’t deserve it but “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8  DIGITAL CAMERA

May we remember the focus of the parable Jesus gave in Matthew 25 to love every person and serve anyone we can. Such love for others glorifies God by reflecting our love for him. In us, one who has yet to know Jesus Christ and accept him, may come to know him through our godly concern and actions for their well-being. Amen

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.

Ana’s Story: Our Treasures Within

Ana's storyShame and fear about dark, past moments can keep us from recognizing treasures within that God wants to use. Ana Martinez, our dear Voices Against the Grain ministry team member, shares in 2-min message how Jesus gave her the courage to lay aside childhood sexual abuse and rape to truly see her treasures within. God bless you, Ana! Please view and share so others might be freed from their past.  https://vimeo.com/114402583 (Video produced by Mariners Church)

Strive to Trust Him

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.

STRIVE TO TRUST ME in more and more areas of your life. Anything that tends to make you anxious is a growth opportunity. Instead of running away from these challenges, embrace them, eager to gain all the blessings I have hidden in the difficulties. If you believe that I am sovereign over every aspect of your life, it is possible to trust Me in all situations. Don’t waste energy regretting the way things are or thinking about what might have been. Start at the present moment—accepting things exactly as they are—and search for My way in the the midst of those circumstances.

Trust is like a staff you can lean on, as you journey uphill with Me. If you are trusting in Me consistently, the staff will bear as much of your weight as needed. Lean on, trust, and be confident in Me with all your heart and mind.

Trust-in-the-Lord-Proverbs-3-5-6

Accompanying Scriptures: Psalm 52:8 “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD  with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” (New International Version)

How to Give and Receive Instruction

CFE Image for Jan 14 2015 podcastWe can’t prosper in God’s things without honoring the instruction He gives us. What elements are essential to giving and receiving instruction? One, is having a teachable spirit. Listen to our founder’s six tips shared in this 8-min Church for Entrepreneurs podcast. Thank you to Church for Entrepreneurs founder, Amos Johnson Jr., for inviting Nicole to share a message on this great platform. We hosted Amos on our October 2014 show entitled “Starting and Doing Business God’s Way.” Listen here for “How to Give and Receive Instruction.” 

Protect This House

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. -1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (New International Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Some of us have been enjoying the exciting National Football League playoff games the last couple of weekends. Both the away and home team has a single goal in mind, which is none other but to win. Though the question raise is: which team has more of a chip on their shoulder? In other words, which team feels the most pressure to win at that particular game? Let me suggest the answer is the home team. I noticed a home fan holding a sign that read “PROTECT THIS HOUSE.” For the fans expect their team to produce a win at home which also means that if the team is successful in winning, then they protected their home turf from outsiders coming in and getting glory.

If we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our personal savior, the Bible tells us that God now resides in us through the Holy Spirit and our bodies are a temple for Him that we must love, honor, and protect. How we use our bodies is extremely important to God. Our minds, hearts, and other body parts he urges us to offer them to him as a living sacrifice each day. For the Bible says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 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.” – Romans 12:1-2  1Cor61920 Glorify God with your body

So where do we start in protecting our bodies? For the unbeliever, it starts with a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s wrath is still on you because of your sins if you have not trusted in his loving sacrifice of his only Son on the cross. For the Bible says, “very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:7-8

My friend, to reject that love and his gift for you is a tragic mistake. For the believer, we start protecting our bodies, God’s temple by the renewing of our minds in reading His Word every day. The Bible is alive and relevant in every way for every circumstance or situation today. I’m so glad that God gave us this precious gift! For it helps us see through the deceptive and subtle half-truths and falsehoods floating around in the world. His Word is a true guide for us. What we feed our minds will be planted in our hearts and what is in our hearts we will inevitably act out. It is my prayer that our minds and hearts reflect the Word of God empowering us to live our lives and honor our bodies in such a way that is pleasing to him. –Amen.

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.

Shape Up Your Prayer Life

prayer_by_arius_xanatos-d3d7pulHello 2015! You’ve indulged in holiday treats both sweet and savory. You’re ready to get your physical self in shape through healthier eating and exercise coupled with fasting. But in what shape is your prayer life? If you desire to shape up your prayer life for 2015 and beyond, read our Gospel Today article that provides four key elements to enhance your approach to prayer. One tip: want what God wants. http://www.gospeltoday.com/blog/2015/01/11/shape-up-your-prayer-life/#sthash.jOtUbmXR.dpuf

Lord, Establish the Work of Our Hands

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17, New International Version)

Happy New Year!

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

To ask God to “establish the work of our hands,” it means we pray that He will bless and prosper the work in which we’re engaged. In advancing the work God has called us to, we can expect great joys. We will also encounter challenges—external and internal. If we’re unsure how to conquer those challenges, we’ll continue to miss our next level. The following tips will help you acknowledge your progress made last year and provide strategies to bring fruitfulness in 2015.

1. Overcome the Siege.  You are winning in some areas of your calling and in other areas, your activity has been hindered. The issue: you might be under siege. Say what? A siege is designed to interfere with you receiving instruction, to cause confusion and to hinder your forward movement. A siege will cut off your instinct to move forward so you remain stuck.  A siege is not always produced by external enemy forces. It can also stem from our negative thoughts. A “siege mentality” will suggest that “you can’t do it” or “how do you know if God is really in this?” Satan may remind you of your past failures or shortcomings to infer that you don’t deserve what you’re seeking. As instructed in 2 Corinthians 10:5, we must, “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” To overcome a siege mentality, you must counter the negative thoughts with God’s Word and move forward.

2. Uncover Your Blind Spots. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken or aren’t willing to acknowledge. Blind spots refer to aspects of ourselves we’re not aware of but is observed by others. An example of a blind spot could be engaging in different relationships with the same negative results. Everyone has blind spots and some of us are more self-aware than others. With unaddressed blind spots, you will continue to miss the mark. Uncover the blind spots with a teachable spirit (rather than narcissism). Ask God for courage to help you make the necessary course corrections.

3. Quit What Isn’t Producing Fruit. The word ‘quit’ isn’t a bad word, according to Amos Johnson, Jr., PhD, founder of the God Idea Lab and his ministry, Church for Entrepreneurs.  “You need to quit some things to gain the success God has for you,” says Johnson on his recent God Idea Lab podcast. He further says, “When you quit something that is no longer producing fruit it opens up margins in your life to pursue what God has or you.”  In our work with the Lord, He desires that we bear fruit (John 15:1-8). He will cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit and prune other areas to grow even more fruitful. Our close relationship with Christ Jesus is necessary for this process to occur. Spend time in His presence to discern what items He desires you remove and pursue. (Amos was our October 2014 radio show guest as we discussed “Starting and Doing Business God’s Way.”)© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporation

4. Lay the Fundamental Bricks. Two years ago, I asked God to help me better exercise the nine fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Each morning I prayed the Lord help me extend to others greater levels of faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control, regardless of the situation. These were the fundamental bricks I knew God was leading me to lay upon my spiritual foundation. Developing these fundamentals at a deeper level is essential as my ministry, service to and engagement with others enlarges. God may be asking you to lay down fundamental bricks to progress in your 2015 journey.

5. Applaud the Growth You’ve Made. Reflecting on Tip #4, I praise God for the growth He’s enabled me to experience in these areas! While the prayer for development began two years ago, I’ve noticed tangible and consistent growth in the past eight months. Others have witnessed the growth in me as well (particularly patience).

What growth have you made up to now? Celebrate it and praise God for the progress made! This progress will position you to successfully carry out the work God has established for you in 2015 and beyond.

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 amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Clean Hands, Unclean Heart

And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” –Matthew 15:16-20 (English Standard Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

In the preceding verses of this chapter we find Jesus being questioned by the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they asked him, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” –Matthew 15:2  And you recall during those days, humanly speaking, these Pharisees and teachers of the law were great respected men among the people of Israel. For they could quote the scriptures easily, they attended the church (synagogue) regularly, spoke eloquently, gave money to great causes, and other things of that nature. To a blind eye observing these men, one might say there are the men I want to follow and be like for they are close to God! Yes! They are the true leaders of Israel!

Well not so to Jesus. He retorted to their question sharply saying, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” –Matthew 15:3  For Jesus is God and he knew the condition of their hearts. He knew that externally these men looked very godly but internally, their inner man, was unclean. It’s like some people today. They come to church every Sunday, they’re involved in ministries, give lots of money to foundations and some even preach and seem to have gained a large following of people that respect them. “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” –Matthew 15:7-9

Jesus sought to teach the Pharisees that it isn’t outward ceremonial traditions such as the washing of the hands (traditions) that makes one clean and pleasing to God but it is a changed heart and keeping the commands of God that God approves.

You and I recognize our sinful nature and realize that sin exists in a fallen world. How is it then that one’s heart can be changed? We certainly can’t do it by our own strength. We’ll fail over and over again. The answer is, we must be born again. Jesus said, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” –John 3:5-6 Only the pure in heart, a heart that is changed by Jesus Christ, the incarnated God, through the forgiveness of sin believing on the saving work that he did on the cross for you and for me will see God face to face in heaven. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. –Matthew 5:8clean heart

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? (Be in his presence) The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bride against the innocent. –Psalm 15:1-5 Amen

Lord, create in us a clean heart.

-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.