His Purpose

“To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”-Acts 26:18 (English Standard Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

We have here a very interesting passage of scripture. One in which hopefully we can all relate to. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.-Acts 26:2. That was the Apostle Paul’s plea to King Agrippa who gave him permission to speak and defend himself against all the accusations of the Jews. What was the accusation and why was he on trial? “Because of my hope in the promise made by God to our Fathers,” says Paul. -Acts 26:6

First, he defends himself by reminding them of his past. Paul was a Jew and he belonged to one of strictest parties of Judaism being a Pharisee and he was convinced that he ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. He says, “And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.-Acts 26:9-11.

Yet, Praise the Lord! For then Paul testified about his conversion. For he heard a voice on the road to Damascus, “Why are you persecuting me?” Paul says that he asked, “Who are you, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, “to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.” -Acts 26:15-16

What a Savior! How merciful and gracious! For we aren’t saved by our own strength, family lineage, education or wisdom but we are saved by the power of God and His alone.  Paul said on another occasion to his understudy Timothy that “the saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. -1 Timothy 1:11 Do you believe? Would you like to see your life changed for the better?

I’m not talking about material things, but I’m talking about the Spiritual. You were made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27) Fearfully and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:14) And it’s not about who you were but it’s about who you are becoming that God is most interested in. If we will allow him, God wants to mold us into the image of his son Jesus Christ who loved you and gave his life for you. For the Bible says, “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.-2 Corinthians 3:18 You can make progress but it is a process.

2 Corinthians 3-18 with unveiled faces

Oh! The Believer may possess an intellectual knowledge of Christ and salvation, yet prayerlessness, failure to attend church consistently and carnality all indicate a failure to surrender to Christ totally. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that one is changed inwardly—not sincere educated progressions wrought by human strength or self-will.

If you have not already, why don’t you try giving Christ first place in your life? I assure you friend, that by the willingness of your obedience to him, by his power, you will fulfill his purpose for your life which is the best purpose! 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.

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Breathe Into Me

Ezekiel 37:5- This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

When your mind hurts, your heart aches. When your heart aches, your body shivers. When your body shivers, your whole demeanor is compromised, which ultimately affects the daily routine of your life. Thus, we search for a panacea. A proverbial cure-all elixir to take away the pain. We search within the darkness, grasping for a fleeting hope that something might help prop ourselves up. “THERE IS NOTHING LEFT,” we cry out, as the quiet solitude grows deafening. There is no more vitality left in our cheeks, as hope forged within the glint of light escapes our eyes. We are finished. Although, what is this light peeking through the doorway? What is this resurgence of hope and courage? What is this essence breathing life back into our bones? Well, that is the Lord giving back what the world sought to take from us.

Amen #HBSr

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.   

Blessed, Blessed, Blessed

Psalm 119:1- You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. (Message Bible)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Let me hear you say blessed, blessed, blessed, for we are blessed in the city, blessed in the fields, and blessed on our jobs (Thank you Fred Hammond). Wherever we go we are eternally blessed. For our footing remains solid on that narrow road, which lies ahead of us. Our footing does not buckle under the pressure of temptation. Moreover, our footing regains its balance after a slip, because we know if we were to fall, God is right there to pick us back up. Thus, our ankles might hurt and our tendons might ache, but we ultimately will regain our strength to move with the bold confidence God has given us. Therefore, may we seek reconciliation over chaos, hope over despair, purity over impurity, kindness over cruelty, and love over hate. In essence, if you’re looking to walk/run without tape or a brace, cling to some of these traits and you too will walk without any impediments.

Amen #HBSr

Read more of the blessings depicted in Psalm 119. 

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.   

Nothing But Symbiosis

Matthew 13:26- When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Weeds, barnacles, and leeches all have one thing in common: they prey upon the vitality of their hosts. Thus, these parasites construct a symbiotic bond to form a relationship detrimental to the overall health of its keeper. Like most, we seek to sever the connection in hopes to preserve our strength. However, every attempt to pull, discourage, or rid ourselves of this problem seems to make it worse. For the weeds multiply in number around our crops, while the barnacles fasten themselves to the hull with immense strength, leaving the leeches to take what little we have left through disorientation.

So, let us take another approach of working side by side. For if we “let both grow together until the harvest, we will sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, burn them, and put the wheat in the barn” (Matthew 13:30). Therefore, may we seek a strategy to secure our crop, while leaving the weeds/enemy spurned.

Amen #HBSr

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.   

Beyond #BlackLivesMatter: Gracism

Gracism book coverUndoubtedly, the #BlackLivesMatter grassroots movement has gained tremendous traction with national media and various members of the public since its launch in July 2013. A movement birthed after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Black teen Trayvon Martin—yet still without the desired changes to dismantle structural racism. A book I read recently along with my personal beliefs on the issues has prompted me to invite you and others to think beyond #BlackLivesMatter and embrace gracism for a chance at real change and healing.

Read our ministry founder’s Gospel Today article “Beyond #BlackLivesMatter: Gracism.” 

Why Kim Davis Is in Error

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

When is a supposed “hero” not a hero? Such a scenario is playing out in Kentucky. This past week, the supposed “heroic” actions exhibited by Rowan County Clerk and Apostolic Christian occurred when Kim Davis refused to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. This is after the Supreme Court decision passed in July makes it lawful for same-sex couples nationwide to marry. Davis rather, chose to stand on “principle” and her Christian faith by not issuing the marriage license (Davis is asking to have her name removed from their marriage license issued via a state amendment but at this stage would still be in violation of the law).

In response, Davis has been jailed for not honoring the law. She is also being sued by couples she disenfranchised/infringed the rights of. The county has proceeded to issue the marriage licenses that Davis denied. Davis will defiantly remain in jail, believing she is standing on principle. Many Christians near and far have rallied behind Davis, encouraging her to continue standing her ground in this contentious battle we daily wage of man’s law vs. God’s Law in a fallen world.

As Believers, we clearly see it: the contrast between dark and light is so palpable in our society and world. Good is bad, bad is good. Our fallen world is in a perpetual state of moral decay. One could wonder why God would allow such immorality to continue. In addition, when Believers confront darkness with light, truth, virtue and morality, we are often met with hostility by those who choose to continue operating in lawlessness.

Getting back to Kim Davis: I recently began grad school with Regent University (Christian-based educational institution) to pursue and obtain my Master of Public Administration. Considering myself a Christian public servant prior to classes by virtue of how God has equipped me to lead this ministry, I am being equipped even more to understand the wisdom and discernment one must constantly embody as a Christian serving the public, in public office, etc.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, talks with David Moore following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, talks with David Moore following her office’s refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

In this, here is why Ms. Davis is not heroic, but is in fact, in error:

Believing that she was standing on principle and doing what was right, Davis stepped on other citizens’ rights. While I support traditional marriage between one man and one woman, Ms. Davis swore an oath before God as a public servant. As the founder and leader of Voices Against the Grain, a ministry that “advances God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing’ society,” I understand not compromising God’s Word to gain favor with the world. In doing so, as Christians, in sharing God’s Truth, we are also to show love and compassion to those who have views that contradict God’s Word.

Our goal is to remove the veil that blinds them. To deliver truth in love that brings restoration. As Christ’s Ambassadors, we are asked to “deal gently with those ignorant or misguided since we ourselves are subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:2). This is even more true in Davis’ role as a Christian public servant.

We must use wisdom and operate as critical thinkers in all situations. We must trust that God is indeed Sovereign over all things, even in this situation, as God’s law is Supreme even when we exercise free will. Davis has minimized the greatness of God to overcome even this. Davis is in error by violating the law and worse, missing an opportunity to show Christ’s love. God is God all by Himself and doesn’t require us to help Him. None of her actions have shown these people Christ. Certainly the laws have changed since her being elected to the job 27 years ago. She should now consider if morally, she can still fulfill this role.

Is it possible for Christians and Christian public servants to operate as vessels of light, truth, morality and virtue in a fallen world? Yes, absolutely. By sharing God’s light, we help bring clarity to confusion and hope to darkness in our fallen world. By not doing so, we’ll continue to see moral decay and the tragedies manifest and proliferate our communities due to our silence and absence from these influential spaces. In order to transform such spaces, we need to be a light in the room and a voice of truth at the table. But there is a right way to do it. 

First-Peter-4-8
This is the call for those who truly yield to the Holy Spirit and are not swayed by self-interest and emotions. This is the call for those who choose not to acquiesce in being a vessel of truth, virtue and morality when it is unpopular to do so. This is the call for those who are committed to serve in love, to operate in wisdom and deploy truth in the right tone at the right time while not inflicting injustice upon others. This is the call for those who choose to decrease self and increase Christ.

This is the call of a Christian public servant. I pray as the Body of Christ that we come into unity in this understanding.

-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 here.

Loaded Promises

Leviticus 26:6- “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Whoa, that is a loaded scripture. In fact, it reminds me of a song entitled, “It’s Working,” by Will Murphy. For “this is my season for grace and favor, to reap what I have sewn.” Thus, everything is working together for our good to make us stalwart in the face of fear, strong in the debilitating afflictions of weakness, and humble in the beauty of victory. We are now conquerors equipped with keen insight to recognize that sometimes in order to move forward in life, we must stop and then turn around. Hence, we didn’t waste our time. We just know more now than we knew then. Thus, as we grow we become more attuned to the striking similarities found within bees, as we look to mimic their process of open pollination to strengthen every flower/person we come into contact with.

Amen #HBSr