Are You Prepared to Pivot?

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Five seconds left on the shot clock. Who do you pass to? Who’s open? Or do you take the shot? Tick-tock goes the game clock while you stand frozen and ponder whether to stick with your coach’s prescribed plays or do you pivot—and make the unscripted play necessary to win the game? Somehow in all your years of training it has left you unprepared to perform in this critical, game day situation.

It’s game day folks!

A youth contemplating suicide right where you stand. Spiritual warfare in your home or work environment. A frantic call from someone desperately asking you, “Please pray for me now.” None of these game day scenarios allow you time to go to or call your church to ask how you should approach. In addition to using prayer as our weapon, in 2 Timothy 4:2, we’re instructed to “preach the word” and “be prepared in season or out of season.” Satan hasn’t given us the luxury of pondering. Satan doles out counterfeit schemes and lies like a deck of cards, one after the other, faster and more cunning than the one before, in hopes of trapping someone. As depicted to us in 1 Peter 5:8, we are warned: 8-Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Some have solely relied upon the Church to educate and equip them in their relationship with Christ. Many have become slothfully accustomed to Sunday services as a touch base with their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Then they don’t seek the Lord beyond this. They don’t know the Lord’s voice for themselves. Where’s their prayer time? Where’s their study of God’s Word?

In basketball terms, “pivot” means “to turn, spin or shift with one foot firmly planted/one foot keeping contact with the floor; an offensive position to relay passes or shoot.” Basketball players on a team (whether high school, college, professional or not) are gifted with natural abilities that also come under a coach’s direction. Game plays and strategies direct their steps to victory, anticipating their opponents’ next moves, outwitting and driving past them to sink the ball into the basket. But sometimes certain plays require us to pivot—to go against game day traditional plays—to break away from patterns so we can make unanticipated moves, pivoting and rising to the game day situation presented to us in that very moment.

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 6: Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the Indiana Pacers grabs a rebound against the Washington Wizards at Conseco Fieldhouse on November 6, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2009 NBAE  (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – NOVEMBER 6: Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the Indiana Pacers grabs a rebound against the Washington Wizards at Conseco Fieldhouse on November 6, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

While many in the church embrace traditions and formalities, I wonder how many within the Body of Christ are ready for “game day,” however that game day scenario may present itself.

Churches are great for fellowship, hearing a Word, using our gifts and connecting with others in the Body of Christ. Though I urge you that even in attending church, to seek God’s Presence daily, hourly, regularly for yourself—to learn and apply His Word.

Pray/commune with Him regularly to hear His instructions for how He wants to equip you to serve the needs of today and tomorrow. His instructions may require you to break out of traditions, form and fashion, but this is the type of “peculiar” people He is seeking: bold, equipped, fearless, obedient, prayerful/know His voice, can pivot and at the ready.

Have the pews made you too comfortable for “game day?” Have formalities and traditions made you unable to pivot to the Holy Spirit’s leading? When the LORD says “GO,” do you hear him and are you prepared to respond to the urgency of this generation’s 11th-hour challenges? To serve unencumbered?

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. 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.

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Instinctual Habits

Jeremiah 8:7-Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people! They do not know the LORD’s laws. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

May God be placed at the forefront of our decision making, while our instincts stand still within the rear view mirror. What does this mean? It means that we are quick to be angry, fast to speak loudly, and hard of hearing. It means that our man-made solutions are nothing but a tawdry excuse to rely on our own understanding. It means that our self-control is linked to what and how we feel based on the freedom God afforded us. Thus, does our freedom entitle us to be without restraint? Are the instinctual habits attributed to humans so strong that reason is an ancillary option to ignorance? If this is the case may we look toward the birds in the sky, for they know when to leave and when to return. A feat guided by direction to which we must follow. 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.

Blueprints for Success

Proverbs 16:3- Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

In life there are many challenges. Each challenge is a reflection of a God-ordained lesson that will derive an experience for your life. These challenges will be the calling card to test your spirit and faith as you proceed through life’s journey. Therefore, when the smooth road turns into unpaved gravel don’t seek to turn around, but continue the path that is in front of you. For those experiences will build your character to stay the course as life throws their abandoned cars, tires, and debris your way to deter you from God’s vision. Thus, we are human. We make mistakes and become discouraged. We seek pity, while groveling in the solitude of our own denial. We revert back to our instincts to seek out a way we believe is correct. We fail, for our vision had more holes than Swiss cheese. It was here that we decided to commit ourselves to God’s will and it was there that we located the keys for success. (#Godsway)

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.

Our Greatest Prayer Warrior

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” – Luke 22:31-32 (New International Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

What comes to mind when you think of the apostle Peter also known as Simon? Denied Christ? Quick-tongued? Hasty? Impulsive? Over confident? These might be some of characteristics often associated with Peter. Throughout the centuries he is often remembered as the one who was fervent and zealous for Christ but denied him when Jesus was seized by the religious leaders and led away to be crucified. That sounds like some of us today. Oh, we don’t mind sharing our faith and serving the Lord during peaceful times but when times of persecution, danger, and mocking comes, how many of us do not stand firm for Jesus and instead shrink in fear denying him?

I suppose that Jesus found it extremely necessary to remind his disciples of Satan’s design and his schemes. For in the preceding verses of our text, a dispute arose among the disciples as to which of them would be considered the greatest. –Luke 22:24

The disciples had it all wrong. They were interested in worldly power instead of loving service to their brothers. Their pride had blinded their eyes to the spiritual warfare that was taking place and indeed would take place later on. Satan probably taunted Jesus and said, “Look at them, give them to me. Especially Peter so that I might try him.”

warrior-angelHowever, Jesus demonstrated His great love by warning and praying for Peter so that his faith would not fail. I am convinced that Peter later remembered Jesus’s warning about Satan. For Peter exhorted us in saying, “Be alert and of a sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8 The Bible cautions us earnestly to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. To put on the full armor of God, so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. For there are dark and evil spiritual powers lingering around in our fallen world. – Ephesians 6:10-12

I’m so glad that Jesus made a way for us to be with him one day in his Holy Place (Heaven). For although like Peter, we can strengthen our brothers and sisters by praying for them, the truth is that we are human beings who are susceptible to forget praying for our family, friends, and ministers. Yet Praise the Lord! We do have ONE prayer warrior named Jesus who will never forget us, NEVER stop praying for us until we meet Him face to face. Christians are in a continual process of being sanctified and will indeed sin at times. Satan will try to trip us up and condemn us, but Hallelujah! The Bible says, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding (pleading, petitioning, praying) for us. –Romans 8:34

(Read John 17:6-25 where Jesus prays for His disciples and Believers)

Take a moment today to thank Him for his grace and protection from the evil one. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust Who?

Proverbs 25:19- Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

“My trust is in you dear friend. My trust is in you dear family member. My trust is in you dear partner.” Does anyone notice a pattern? For the same phrase, “my trust is in you,” is being recited in repetition, while the latter part of the phrase changes. In each scenario “my trust” was being directed toward the wrong person. Hence the latter part of the phrase, but be dropped and replaced with “dear God.” Then and only then will we find consistency in a disagreeable world. Then and only then will our confidence be cemented in the foundation that erected the fortified walls of our Spirit. Then and only then will the pain subside so we might feel the joy of living. Therefore, may we utter the phrase “my trust is in you, dear God” to usher in an unshakable faith that will never be vexed, never be replaced, and most importantly never be broken. 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.

Endurance is From the Lord

Revelation 2:3-You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Our experience tells us that endurance is a vital learning tool for life. For endurance is the brainchild of our physical, spiritual, and mental sense that supersedes our wants and desires to quit. This in fact is the glue that holds our spirit intact when the world brings us heartache. Hence, endurance is nothing more than the sweat traveling through our pores to cool our bodies from a strenuous workout.

Endurance is nothing more than the focus needed to forgo tomorrow’s worries, to tackle the tasks of that present day. Endurance is nothing more than the gut wrenching conviction that enlivens our soul to proceed forward and to never turn back. With these attributes we run with the swiftness of gazelle and speed of a cheetah. We run with a consistent stride unencumbered by lactic acid that seeks to slow us down, for God has slowed man’s feeble attempts to impede our success, while simultaneously directing us home.   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.

Discipline From a Loving Father

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.–Hebrews 12:5-7 (New International Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Son? Daughter? “I disciplined you because I love you. I don’t want to see you harmed in the future and I don’t want you to hurt yourself so it was best that I correct you now.” A loving parent might utter these words after disciplining their child. It’s not easy for a loving parent to discipline a child, but it is necessary. Parenting is a great responsibility the Lord gives to parents to guide and nurture their children.

Today, it is becoming increasingly difficult for loving parents with good intentions to discipline their children. These days, if a child is disciplined physically as opposed to verbally, that parent may be questioned by authorities for child abuse. Yet, God originally intended for children to be disciplined even if it meant, physically. For the Bible says, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” – Proverbs 13:24

Lack of discipline might raise the question of whether a parent truly loves their child because it shows a lack of concern for the character development of their children.Father disciplining son

Parents have years of experiential wisdom in living that in disciplining their child today it will help avert the possibility for future disaster. So it is with God who has infinite wisdom. Those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal savior, through God’s great pleasure and will have now been adopted as sons and daughters of God. –Ephesians 1:5

Some thought that when they became Christians that hard times would never come again. They questioned God’s love in times of suffering and confusion, whether through sin or not their fault. Yet, remember that God loves you. No discipline seems pleasant at the time. However, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11 Those he loves, he rebukes and disciplines. – Revelation 3:19

I don’t know what you’re going through friend, but I do know you are a child of a loving Father who knows you and your future completely. Jesus Christ knows your plight and shares in it with you. For the Bible says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”– Jeremiah 29:11 (New Living Translation) 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.

The Lord Did What? Let’s Praise Him

Psalm 90:15- Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Today is a day the LORD has made and we will surely be glad in it. Glad to the point of exhaustion for the Lord guides our steps and stabilizes our walk. Glad to the point of peacefulness because God has brought tranquility to a landscape of destruction. Glad to the point of immense respect, for The God Who Is has shaped our lives into a mold of His own, so we might correctly identify our Creator. Are you glad today? For the manna that fell out of the sky fed us, the water that sprung from that Rock quenched our thirst, and the cloak of mercy and grace clothed us. Therefore, who is glad today? Who can speak to the wonderful blessings brought to your life? Who can remember the tragedies, negative outcomes, and immense pain that transformed you into the person you are today? Through good or bad you are loved and welcomed into HIS arms—a notion that should bring a grin to all of our faces. 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.