“This Must Go”

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it too. As Christians, there are times when we distinctly hear the Holy Spirit tell us that something in our life “must go.” As we grow in Christ, the Lord purges us of things that ensnare; things that hinder our promotion to the next level; things that prevent our effectiveness in God’s Kingdom. Ultimately, the purging and “this must go” is designed to transform us more into Christ’s likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When you hear God say “this must go,” how do you respond? Do you immediately obey given your love for Him, or are you reluctant to lose the thing or an activity you’ve enjoyed?

The “this must go” items could include removing secular music from your playlists, abstaining from alcohol, not going to the dance club (particularly if your growth is still immature and unable to handle fleshly temptations often present in club environments), distancing yourself from certain people who are not aligned with your Kingdom calling, not watching movies or TV shows because of their cursing, violence or overtly sexual content, etc. It could be bad habits, foul language, thoughts or deceptions. More items could be listed but you get the point. For some, our devotion to the Lord enables us to say “bye bye” to whatever it is, realizing it will impede our spiritual growth. However, sometimes when the Holy Spirit tells us that “this must go,” it can be like prying the favorite toy from a crying toddler. Yikes!

toddler tantrum

One of my “this must go” items was dumping the R&B music I previously enjoyed. Primarily, R&B music with overtly sexual overtones produced by such artists as H-Town, Jodeci, 112 and a HOST of others! For a while it was difficult to rid myself of these songs that I liked dancing to. Not so much for the lyrics but the beats. Soon after, my playlists became more infused with Christian music, gospel music and my appetite for the previous went away. If I hear it today, it’s like “yuck” and I have a visceral reaction to it. My body, mind and spirit are fixed on godly things!

Clear out clutter

What I know to be true is this: If you struggle to let go of something that the Holy Spirit has said to you “This must go,” I understand. Flesh wants what it wants. On the flip side, if you desire to grow in Christ, you have to clear out the clutter. Clearing out the clutter makes room for the new things God wants to pour into you. You can’t put new things in a jammed closet. Clear out the old and clutter from the closet. The clutter will indeed hinder you, despite Satan’s lies telling you that “you can have a little.” Our goal is to be more and more like Christ;  to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” as told in Hebrews 12:1. The more we fall in love with Christ, the more we lose an appetite for the things of old and gain an appetite for the desires of Christ. 

When God asks us to do something, He gives us enough grace and forgiveness to accomplish the task. God works with us even in our flaws. God gives us grace, forbearance, forgiveness, gifts, to support His objectives. Without His grace, we’d never achieve His objectives. We never go at it alone. He is with us.

When God tells you “this must go” it’s so you can go forward.

God bless you,

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.

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Your Future Is Increased in Christ

I can from Philippians 4-13You’ve had multiple successes. Then you experience a big failure. Do you think your future is now diminished? Do you think God has changed His mind about you? Our ministry founder shares her story of success and failure and why your future is not bleak but INCREASED in Christ Jesus! Read “Your Future Is Increased in Christ.” 

Hard to Control

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. – Proverbs 30:32

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. Just because I know it, doesn’t mean I should say it. “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” –1 Corinthians 10:23-24

How many times have we said something out of our lips that we wish we could take back? Maybe we put down another by way of slander or maybe we revealed something of another’s life told to us in secret that was not meant for the recipient’s ears. For we know it is bad in itself to think ill but we know that it is much worse to speak it. For speaking it implies an approval to the evil thought and a willingness to infect others with it.

You say, “But that’s my right! I’m not going to let anyone censor me!” Yes, my brother or sister, it is your right. It is lawful. However, if you profess to be a Christian, we ought not merely consider what is lawful for us but what is beneficial, and for the use of edification. The Christian ought to be concerned about his neighbor’s welfare considering his own conduct in order not to hinder their neighbor’s holiness, comfort, or salvation.

We ought to say to ourselves, “Today I will control my tongue and not let it control me. Exercise a Holy violence over yourself if necessary and put your hand on your mouth! “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. –James 3:7-10. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. –James 3:2

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Those who take care to consciously choose to control their tongue demonstrate a sign of true grace. The word “perfect” in James 3:2 doesn’t mean he is literally perfect as in will never make mistakes again but it means that man or woman is upright. Is not uprightness a characteristic of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in which we are aiming to become more like? For the wisdom and grace which enable us to rule our tongues will also enable us to rule our actions.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 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.

We’re Losing By the Mouthful

burger and fries platterWe pray at the church altar to slay a number of sins. Afterward, we return to our seats like victorious conquerors. But in all of our praising and shouting “Hallelujah,” one sin in the Body of Christ continues to punch us in the gut: gluttony. If your health is compromised, read our ministry founder’s four tips on how you can begin restoring your health so you can effectively run your race and bring God glory in your body in her GospelToday.com article, “We’re Losing By the Mouthful.” 

Should Christians Go to War?

Evil can’t stop itself. And it must be held accountable.

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

The voracity of evil happening in our day is sobering and difficult for the human mind to process. Each shooting, killing, slaying, beheading, other acts of violence and deception have hit many people like a punching bag over and over. Like the boxer pummeling his opponent in the ring, too many of us have taken hit, after hit, after hit, slumping in the corner and hoping we’ll be saved by the bell to end this brutal round of seeming defeat. Many have become numb to the pummeling at their spirits and peace, and have accepted the evil as the new normal. Regretfully, they’ve adopted a normalcy bias. Indifference has set in as the new normal is embraced and this allows evil more reign, more territory. Who is holding evil accountable? Who will stand up to evil?

In pursuit of my Master of Public Administration, this semester in my Christian Foundations of Government class, this past week we were asked “What does Christianity say about war and peace? Is it ethical for Christians to be involved in war since it could cause loss of life?” The quick answer to the second question is “Yes, Christians can be involved in war.”

No one should enjoy war or recklessly incite war. Though there are times when war is necessary to bring about justice and to preserve/restore peace. Many times in the bible we see how God, after giving multiple instructions, warnings to rebellious people and showing his mercy, he released war to stop the flow of evil to preserve the righteous who remained in that area. Moral outrage about evil is not enough to stem the spread of evil and wickedness. This is NOT the opportunity to “turn the other cheek” as noted by the advice of early Christian theologian and philosopher, Augustine. “For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained,” per Augustine. Particularly those who are truly a menace to society, steeped in their sins and operating in a reprobate mind (unwilling to repent or seek God), otherwise we’re assisting in evil. Per Augustine, “For nothing is less prosperous than the prosperity of sinners which nourishes and strengthens the evil will.”

In what we’re seeing in our world today, we as Christians, as God’s Elect, as Ambassadors of Christ, must go to war—particularly this war.

This is not a war with guns, missiles and tanks, but a spiritual war that requires our arsenal of prayers and praise. We armor up as prayer warriors and we unite on one accord in the Body of Christ. (Note: While I am focusing on spiritual warfare, we also recognize the evil we’re seeing is God’s judgment pouring out as the world has rejected Christ. The chickens of mankind’s rebellion and wickedness have come home to roost. We will continue to see more evil until man humbles himself before God and repents. Let’s pray for that too.)

Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-18 clearly informs us the type of war we’re in, the makeup of our enemies, and how we must fight this war:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (New International Version)

Though we know Christ Jesus has already won the war and given us the victory, it doesn’t give indifferent, lazy, passive and tepid Saints the permission to only be pew warmers on Wednesdays, Saturdays or Sundays while the rest of us box our enemy on our knees day and night. We need all of God’s People to suit up, armor up in prayer; to serve as the spear on the end of the sword that will inject truth, light, love and hope into darkness.

I pray as the Body of Christ that we come into unity in this understanding. Who’s with me? What say you?

-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.