Where Is Your Advice Coming From?

Proverbs 15:22- Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Never let success go to your head and never let failure go to your heart. Have a perfect balance of humility and grace mixed in with determination and understanding. For success is a God-ordained allowance entrusted and secured by few. These few surround themselves with a cadre of advisers, to usher in the right dosage of perspectives to produce unique ideas toward their mission. These few have learned through many experiences of failure: where each blow suffered left them weak and distraught; where each impediment detoured their way, thus delaying their journey to reach their final destination. Hence, success must be taken with precaution, for the one that giveth is also the one who can taketh away. Therefore, may we not live in fear of what could be lost, but rather in hope of what could be gained. For the plan has finally been put into motion and God has allowed us to see it through.

#Godsway

Herbert 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. He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He is also the founder of B.T.E.P. (Bringing Together Extraordinary People), a Charlotte, N.C.-based nonprofit with a mission to unite professional athletic organizations in accordance with their neighboring counties in the Greater Charlotte area, and to improve underprivileged athletic programs and share in the duty of empowering disadvantaged youth within their communities.
Learn more about Herbert Bowen, Jr., here

Voices Against the Grain Turns 2!

“Do not despise small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10, New Living Translation)

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Mixed with some trepidation but more exhilaration and freedom, I hit the “publish” button on May 28, 2013 to share with the world our first blog post. I was now “out there” with a bold message that would show everyone for sure who I was and where I stood on life issues. No going back. No retreat. I was living and speaking from my authentic self. No longer afraid of being politically correct or concerned about whose toes I might step on in the process of lovingly sharing God’s Word, I still remember that day as the Holy Spirit stirred in me. I stepped out of the shackles of worrying what others thought and boldly began sharing about Jesus Christ in hopes to free and embolden others. That was two years ago!  In this daily journey of yielding to the Holy Spirit’s promptings/instructions and putting our faith in action to share His Word, our ministry team has been AMAZED and HONORED to witness the consistent growth. All to His Name and Glory!! Since our May 28, 2013 launch we’ve:

  • Published 292 blog posts
  • Received nearly 16,000 visitors to our site (15,946)
    • Launched online 1-hour weekly radio show on September 4, 2013
    • Hosted nearly 30 shows with more than 30 guests
    • Transitioning from online-only radio network to a DC-based radio station w/wider reach
    • Have exponentially grown our social media reach
    • Became monthly faith columnist for GospelToday.com (since June 2014)
    • Gained ministry partnerships
    • Secured ministry events with select colleges

Praise God for how He has used our ministry platform as a vessel to equip and empower Believers; to bring clarity, truth and restoration through His Word to unbelievers walking in confusion, deception and brokenness caused by Satan’s counterfeit schemes. We are grateful to be in His service! With a continued mission and mantra of “Advancing God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing society’,” we are excited for what the Lord has done, what He is doing and will do through us and others.

birthday cake 2

I am grateful to God for each of our team members who He has gifted with talents, messages and their own ministries: Ana, Destiney, Herbert, Jason and Jill. Thank you for our ministry partners PureHOPE and The Family Hope Line who have blessed us with support. Thank you for each of our radio show guests who’ve brought excellent messages of truth and restoration to our audience since the show’s launch on September 4, 2013. Thank you to my amazing and dearly loved prayer partners, mentors, family and friends whose godly words, counsel, prayers have guided me on this journey. Blessed to serve and love in truth those who we are reaching through written content, messages from radio show guests, etc.

How did Voices Against the Grain start? What were my feelings about it? Read my first blog post from our May 28, 2013 launch. Thank you for your continued prayers and support as we grow and disperse salt, light, love and truth into the territories God has called us to! Love and Blessings to each of you and yours.

-Nicole

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.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes and the VATG ministry team here. 

A Bedrock Penchant

But he answered, “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4 (English Standard Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. –Deuteronomy 8:3.

A very hungry Jesus, the Savior of the world, once referenced an Old Testament scripture when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’- Matthew 4:3-4

This same scripture is just as applicable to us today as it was to people who lived thousands of years ago. It is the WORD of God (Bible) that grows our faith! Feeds our Spirit! Encourages us! Blesses us! Teaches and corrects us! For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

John 1 the word was God

The WORD of God should be our bedrock penchant. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “bedrock” as the fundamental principles on which something is based. Likewise, it also defines “penchant” as “a strong liking or inclination.” The WORD of God is the summation of what the Christian faith is all about! It is what points to our Savior Jesus Christ who is the Word of God! For the Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. – John 1:1 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full grace and truth. –John 1:14

Why then, do some people avoid opening their bible? I think Bishop J.C. Ryle was on to something when he said this:

“Be very sure of this—people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it. They understand it only too well; they understand that it condemns their own behavior; they understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgement.”

bible openIt’s worth considering that Ryle’s statement may be a reason why we often neglect to read our Bibles. May we be as wise as the Psalmist and meditate on the Word of God day and night and I guarantee that you will be blessed! For the Bible says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. –Psalm 1:1-3. Amen

-Jason

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.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.

Meet the Team: Q & A With Nicole D. Hayes

A March 2013 spirit-led conversation shared with her dentist while getting her six-month routine cleaning planted the seed to the ministry the Holy Spirit would lead her to birth on May 28, 2013. Committed to serve as a vessel of compassion, instruction, love and truth for Jesus Christ, learn more about Voices Against the Grain founder, Nicole D. Hayes, in the Q & A below. 

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Where are you from?  Topeka, KS

When is your birthday? June 14 (Flag Day/ U.S. Army Birthday)

How did you come to join the Voices Against the Grain team?  Founded the ministry in May 2013.

What is your favorite childhood memory? So many! Most involved how my younger brother Bryan and I would scheme to get out of trouble with mom and dad! Some of the schemes worked and some didn’t.  A scheme that worked: playing Nintendo Super Mario Brothers after school while we were grounded and then quickly putting it up  when mom got home. We had a long gravel driveway which gave us time to see the car coming! A scheme that didn’t work: My grandma had made fresh blueberry muffins. She, my mom and dad left to run a quick errand while my brother and I stared hungrily at the muffins. Overtaken by temptation, instead of eating a whole muffin, we picked the edges of each one. When parents and grandma returned, my grandma saw the pinched off muffins and screamed to our mom, “Get the kids! There must be a rat in the kitchen!” To calm my grandma down, my brother and I had to tell her there was no rat nibbling on the muffins. We were the “rats.”   😦

As a Christian, what is your understanding of why God allows trials/ temptations to come into our lives? To purify, perfect us, to make us more like Jesus so we may also equip, empower and encourage others on their journey.

What do you do in your spare time? Read, enjoy time w/friends and family, dancing!

What is your favorite bible verse?  Jeremiah 29:11, because I know He has a great future designed for me! A close second is Proverbs 3:5-6.

What does having a relationship/walk with God mean to you? EVERYTHING! He is at the forefront of all that I do. He has proven His faithfulness to me over and over. I love Him with all that I have and desire for others to know His love too.

What is your favorite food? Avocados, Mexican food, TAMALES and breakfast any time of day!

If you had a superpower what would it be? To warp through time (past or future).

Is there anything else we should know about you? My colleagues nickname me “The General” because I am a leader who gets things DONE!

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

VATG in Photos

VATG devotional writer Herbert Bowen, Jr. (black shirt) and  founder of B.T.E.P. (Bringing Together Extraordinary People), poses with his BTEP team and partners, Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo and 14-year-old Charlotte race car driver Matt Murphy IV (purple shirt) to host their first annual fundraiser on May 14, 2015 to purchase new equipment and uniforms for a disadvantaged high school baseball team.

VATG devotional writer Herbert Bowen, Jr. (black shirt) and founder of B.T.E.P. (Bringing Together Extraordinary People), poses with his BTEP team and partners, Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo and 14-year-old Charlotte race car driver Matt Murphy IV (purple shirt) to host their first annual fundraiser on May 14, 2015 to purchase new equipment and uniforms for a disadvantaged high school baseball team. (Photo courtesy Ken Bebe)

VATG devotional writer Herbert Bowen, Jr. (black shirt to right of sign), and founder of B.T.E.P., poses with his team, Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, coaches and players of the Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology baseball team at B.T.E.P.'s kickoff event on May 14, 2015 to raise funds to purchase new equipment and uniforms for the baseball team in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo courtesy Ken Bebe)

VATG devotional writer Herbert Bowen, Jr. (black shirt to right of sign), and founder of B.T.E.P., poses with his team, Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, coaches and players of the Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology baseball team at B.T.E.P.’s kickoff event on May 14, 2015 to raise funds to purchase new equipment and uniforms for the baseball team in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo courtesy Ken Bebe)

VATG founder Nicole D. Hayes and VATG digital media coordinator Destiney Bishop, enjoy a perfect weather day, brunch and fellowship in DC on May 22, 2015.

VATG founder Nicole D. Hayes and VATG digital media coordinator Destiney Bishop enjoy a perfect weather day, brunch and fellowship in DC on May 22, 2015.

The Mission Launch

Mark 16:15- And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

The mission, the mission, the mission. It’s a sobering thought to realize that your calling is in line with God’s direction. It’s even better to realize that your aim has minimal impediments, which speaks to God’s approval. It’s no surprise that you’re overjoyed by the outcome of your success, because through it all you looked to satisfy God’s will, instead of your own. Hence, you smile, for the hardship endured to reach your destination was a rocky one. The hardship endured to find direction created many obstacles to deter you from your true potential.

The hardship endured to make you a complete specimen, first has to be tested in the fire of the kiln to harden the exterior of God’s creation. Upon exit you stood, as the steam rose from your head. For it was there that you were perfectly made, and it was there that God implanted you with a unique mission that would magnify His Name.

#Godsway

Herbert 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. He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He is also the founder of B.T.E.P. (Bringing Together Extraordinary People), a Charlotte, N.C.-based nonprofit with a mission to unite professional athletic organizations in accordance with their neighboring counties in the Greater Charlotte area, and to improve underprivileged athletic programs and share in the duty of empowering disadvantaged youth within their communities.
Learn more about Herbert Bowen, Jr., here

Serve Without Outrageous Nonsense

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

As Christians, shouldn’t our “God talk” be followed by “God acts”? Yes. We likely know people who talk the talk but their promises aren’t kept or followed up by actions. Unfortunately, we see this most often in public office. The candidate campaigns, promises to take certain actions to help the public once they’re in office and then…actions fall short. Is there anyone who will not only say God’s Word but carry it out to serve others?

This fall, I will pursue my Master of Public Administration (MPA) with Regent University’s Robertson School of Government. While I already consider myself a Christian public servant by virtue of being Christ’s hands and feet on this earth, I desire the additional knowledge and undergirding to lead effectively our Voices Against the Grain ministry and in other areas of public service to which God is calling me.

If you are a Christian, layperson, minister, business leader, etc., you are also a public servant wherever you are, wherever you go. Delighted to share the following devotional written by fellow Regent University Robertson School of Government student Matt Whitman. The Christian Public Servant is a Monday through Friday devotional service written by Regent University Robertson School of Government faculty and students, offered to anyone who wishes to subscribe. Following the devotional is information about the The Christian Public Servant and how you can receive their devotionals.

May 18, 2015 – Monday

Reading

James 2:14(b)-17 (The Message) do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

ReflectionJames 2-14 work your faith

When public servants campaign for office, they try to convince the voting public how they will govern. If elected through the faith of the public, the citizens will actually get the chance to see that faith in action…or not.

Too often, promises made are not promises kept. Talk of future action is never realized. After the election, too many forget to walk the walk. And that means not just knowing what’s right, not just saying what’s right, but doing what’s right.

As Christian public servants—elected, appointed, or employed—we have a daily obligation to practice our faith. To translate God-talk into God-acts. To keep promises for the good of those we serve. To proclaim what is right, and then to do what is right. To do as Jesus would do.

Today at work, put your faith into action. For His sake, serve without outrageous nonsense.

Prayer

Lord, in Your name, I step up and accept the responsibility of putting You into my action. Today I serve without outrageous nonsense. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Matt Whitman

City Councillor

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Canada

What is The Christian Public Servant?

Issued Monday through Friday since 5 November 2012, The Christian Public Servant is sponsored by the Robertson School of Government at Regent University (Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA). It is dedicated to public servants world-wide in all areas of government, non-profit management, health care, social work, faith-based service organizations, public safety and defense, k-12-college education, and church management. For the glory of God, it affirms the public servant on six continents by offering morning devotionals and by receiving prayer-requestsRegardless of faith-path, all are welcome to join us!

If you are blessed by this devotional, forward it to others so they may also be blessed. Encourage them to subscribe!! No cost to subscribe. The sending and receiving of this devotional does not constitute SPAM, based on U.S. federal law. It is in compliance with the 2003 Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act. To subscribe, either (1) send request to jslack@regent.edu or (2) click here to subscribe. Link will open to a message “quiet subscribe”. Press send. To unsubscribe click here or send request to jslack@regent.edu.

To Whom It Points

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. –1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (English Standard Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

“I can’t stand preachers! Nobody is perfect! What do they have to tell me about my life?” If you haven’t heard anyone say something like that audibly, just keep on living and you will. Yet, consider that many have already said this in their hearts. What is the Gospel anyway? It is the message in which the apostle Paul was reminding the Corinthian people. It is that God, in His great love, decided to intervene in our lives by sending his only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins and on the third day he rose from the grave with resurrection power and defeating the power of death.

It’s a great point to make that yes: No one is perfect so why should you listen to anyone that preaches or attempts to teach you? Think of your most beloved friend. Imagine yourself coming from a road that you know state authorities have yet to put a sign up of the great danger that lies ahead of a deep cliff that is on the end of that road. You know that you would do all that you can to stop your friend from traveling on that road to avoid your friend’s vehicle from going over the cliff, therefore saving their life.

The Gospel

This is likened to the Gospel message. No, those involved in the ministries of Jesus Christ are not perfect. In fact, God saved us WHILE we were still sinners! – Romans 5:8 Christ opened our eyes so that we might see and relay the great mystery of God’s love to others. Jesus once said to Martha who was distressed about her brother’s death and puzzled about Jesus timing in showing up to help, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

Ministry work should always point to Jesus Christ. He’s the glue that holds the message together. Every work which is done for God is not necessarily the work of God. Doing something for him is not enough. The real question is, who is doing it? Only those who have been born again of the Spirit and led by the Holy Spirit should be doing the work of the Lord. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. John 3:6 Much progress is being made in sharing the great commission, an imperative mission given by Jesus himself. –Matthew 28:19-20 But woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Isaiah 5:20-21

Look to Christ Come to Christ Live for Christ

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. –Romans 1:18-20

Ministry leaders are not righteous in themselves but we point to, “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”Romans 3:22 It’s my prayer you don’t look at the man preaching the word but look to the God-man in whom the man is preaching about. Amen

-Jason

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.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.

Meet the Team: Q & A With Herbert Bowen, Jr.

You’ve read his devotionals: short, excellent use of word imagery to create that vivid mental picture to easily grasp concepts; messages crafted with a particular lingo and passion to reach our young people. He’s Herbert Bowen, Jr., our beloved Voices Against the Grain devotional writer and “Kingdom Connector.” Herbert was the first member to join our ministry team in 2013. He’s played a significant role in bringing on other ministry team members and ministry partners. What is his favorite food? Favorite bible verse? Learn more about Herbert in the Q & A below. 

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Where are you from?  King of Prussia, PA

How did you come to join the Voices Against the Grain team? I first met Ms. Hayes at the February 2013 “Going Against the Grain” conference in Charlotte, N.C., where we were both speakers, held at the Central Church of God. From there we exchanged information with my intent for connecting for a show idea, but spoke more in depth about writing as Ms. Hayes began creating VATG in May 2013.

What is your favorite childhood memory? Being with my grandmother at church as she shows her immense zeal and fervor for the Lord. It was an experience that was both embarrassing and entertaining all at the same time.

As a Christian, what is your understanding of why God allows trials/temptations to come into our lives? I think my best interpretation would have to be Romans 5:3-5, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5, New Living Translation)

What do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I run a startup organization called B.T.E.P. (Bringing Together Extraordinary People) where we make sure that no child is mentally defeated before stepping onto the sports field, due to lack of equipment or athletic gear.

What is your favorite bible verse? 1 Timothy 4:14-16, but specifically verse 16- “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.”(1 Timothy 4:16 New Living Translation)

What does having a relationship/walk with God mean to you? My relationship with God is simple. He loved me first, which in turn taught me how to love, which we didn’t deserve. So all in all, to be undeserving creatures who garnered His love, is fascinating. A trait I try to extend to everyone I meet.

What is your favorite food? Chicken Parmesan

If you had a superpower what would it be? If you have ever seen Justice League, Alien Manhunters powers I would fancy to have for myself. It’s an amalgam of different ones, such as teleportation, phasing, shapeshifting, telepathy, etc…

Is there anything else we should know about you? Not really, only that I believe in reciprocity and unity to create a change that will inspire and move millions if utilized correctly.

Learn more about Herbert Bowen, Jr. here.

Are You Ready?

Philippians 2:13- For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Were you ready two years ago for the plans God had for you? Were you ready three years ago for the blessings God is bestowing upon you? Is it possible to fathom that the fruits of your endeavors would begin to ripen? Thus, “he will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

This is the reason we are given things in allotments at different periods of our lives. These allotments are to be used and not saved for a later date. For these blessings have a purpose, which is to multiply, instead of being cached away. Therefore, may we shield ourselves in the cloak of humility to handle the limelight, because now the world is watching. May we protect ourselves with the helmet of strength to thwart the onslaught of negativity and doubt that seeks to seep into our minds. Hence, the sword pushes back the enemy and our journey continues step by step.

#Godsway

Herbert 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. He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He is also the founder of B.T.E.P. (Bringing Together Extraordinary People), a Charlotte, N.C.-based nonprofit with a mission to unite professional athletic organizations in accordance with their neighboring counties in the Greater Charlotte area, and to improve underprivileged athletic programs and share in the duty of empowering disadvantaged youth within their communities.

Learn more about Herbert Bowen, Jr., here