Is Your Living Inside/Out?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

For those in relationship with Christ Jesus, the experience should extend beyond ourselves. It should impact those around us. In addition to The Great Commission, how are you transforming the culture around you through your Christian living?

According to the book How Now Shall We Live?, co-authored by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, every decision we make either “expresses a false worldview and thus contributes to a disordered and broken world, or expresses God’s truth and helps build a world that reflects His created order.”

As Christ told His disciples and in essence us as Believers in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (New International Version)

 

Romans 12 1-2 be transformed

As we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, and in Christ calling Believers to The Great Commission, we should be impacting those around us—family members, friends, co-workers, strangers, etc., to help them discern between falsehood and truth; right and wrong, to bring clarity to confusion, to bring light, hope, joy and peace where darkness, discouragement and anxiousness reside. Now that we have been freed from the law of sin and death through our new life in Christ Jesus, we should be motivated to see others set free; to be restored to their original purposes, distorted by the veil of sin and death. The transformation we’ve experienced and continue to undergo is a gift that we’ve been blessed to receive and would be lost without.

The Holy Spirit as the  Light, new life and living waters flowing in us can effectively restore and rebuild what is broken and has been stolen in a society/culture or family by the enemy. Though it is the Holy Spirit that transforms hearts, we’ve been invited to take part in that great work. As Colson and Pearcey write “transformed people transform cultures.”

Society has long been clamoring to have it their way. Now after having it their way (aka, alcoholism, drugs, sex outside of marriage, sex and pornography in movies, music, everywhere, abortion, various ideologies that advance one’s personal agendas), some now see how this full access to darkness has advanced the destruction and demoralization of our decaying society. Morass abounds and people want quick solutions. Those solutions are in essence a humbled, contrite, repentant heart turned to Christ Jesus. A heart and mind that recognizes they have exhausted all avenues of what they considered effective only to be emptier and more disheartened than before. Christ is humanity’s greatest hope and solution.

As the Body of Christ, when we truly yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him full access and reign in every area of our lives, we’ll be in awe of the inside/out transformation that can occur in us and others. Salvation is an experience for us and others. As author and Pastor John Piper wrote, “Who wants a Jesus who is so nothing that all he can produce is a people who mouth religious platitudes but think, feel and act just like the world?”

At Voices Against the Grain, we have served as change agents of God’s Kingdom prior to and since our ministry launched in May 2013. We will continue to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, sharing His Truth to help restore hearts of those prepared to receive Him. We will not conform to the status quo. Lovingly and boldly, we will continue to “advance God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing’ society.” We will continue to serve as the tip of the sword, rightfully dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). We will continue to be salt and light in places of darkness and territories the enemy thinks he owns.

I ask again: How do you impact the culture around you? Are you a change agent or conforming to the culture? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to do an inside to outside work within and through you? Through your speech and actions (or lack thereof) are you advancing society’s destruction and further bondage or are you sharing the true freedom found only in Christ that will break every chain? Is your living inside/out?

-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.

 

 

We Are Grateful For…

Gratitude rockA spirit of gratitude makes you acutely aware of how much we truly have to be thankful for. From dear people the Lord has brought into our lives, to relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to enjoying fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, to being able to carry out daily functions sometimes taken for granted, or being treated to coffee or a meal, the list is endless. As Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” Another word used for “follow” is “to chase after.” For those who love the Lord, His goodness surely chases after us even in times we don’t immediately see it. In the messages below, the Voices Against the Grain ministry team share what we are grateful for. We are grateful the Lord has provided us this platform as an opportunity to fellowship with and bless you.

Jason is grateful for…

Jason Alexandre photo

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

I am grateful first and foremost for my salvation in Jesus Christ. With my birthday around the corner this Sunday, I’ve been reflecting on my fulfilled need for a Savior. It seems like the older I get, the more apparent the condition of my soul becomes to me. I thank God every day that Jesus made it possible for me to be justified and sanctified before God through Him. I am also very grateful for my wife and our families. Life on earth would be meaningless to me without them. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

 

 

 

Ana is grateful for…

Ana Martinez in blue dress

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

I am grateful for my family—to have my three precious children and parents who love the Lord. I am grateful for my two amazing sisters, two fantastic brother-in-laws and wonderful nieces and nephews. I am thankful for Christ’s redeeming love and the friends He has blessed me with. I am grateful to be an American. Grateful for the sky above, the trees I see and the love I share with those around me.

 

 

 

Destiney is grateful for…

Destiney in pink

Destiney Bishop, Voices Against the Grain Digital Media Coordinator

I am grateful for my health, well-being and peace of mind. I am grateful that God has provided me with a sense of direction in life. Though I am not fully aware of His plan, I know He has something great in store for me. I am grateful to spend another Thanksgiving with my family. Grateful that my sister returned home safely from deployment. I am also grateful for growth, specifically over the past year.

 

Jill is grateful for…

Jill profile pic

Jill Tomlinson, co-founder of Transcend Ministries and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

There are too many things to mention, but I will start with the people I love. I am incredibly, beyond words thankful for my family—the ones God chose for me to walk through this life together with every day…a priceless treasure to me! Even greater still is the gift of knowing they are living lives set apart unto the Lord. As a mom, knowing my kids are hidden in Christ brings me joy unspeakable.

The intangible things are sometimes overlooked when we give thanks to God, yet these are the things that have no end. What we can see, feel, hear, taste, and touch are good gifts from God, but those things we only know and possess by the Spirit of God are the most amazing of all. Today I am thankful for those precious gifts that cannot be shaken or taken from me such as salvation that is secure, peace beyond all understanding—even in the most violent of storms, joy that cannot be measured with things or changed by circumstances, love that never fails and knows no bounds, favor that surrounds me as a shield, and the goodness and mercy of God that follow me wherever I go.

These are just a few of the blessings of the Lord that I thank Him for today. He is good and His mercies endure for all of time! Happy Thanksgiving!

Nicole is grateful for…

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, founder, Voices Against the Grain

I am grateful for the relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Since coming to Christ at age 12, He still keeps me in awe of Him. I thank God that He chose me before the earth’s foundations were laid and that He has a purpose for me to lead, serve and teach others. He’s concerned with everything in my life, great, small and in between. I am grateful for a deepening relationship with Him and the joy, love and peace experienced in His Presence. I am THANKFUL for His Holy Spirit, wisdom and words that transform me more like Christ, enabling me and others to see the changes (a work in progress). He reminds me in many ways that He is with me. I am grateful for family, friends and friends like family and for colleagues. I am grateful for health with the function of all of my faculties. I am grateful for blessings and protections seen and unseen. Grateful for clean water, access to food and ability to purchase food. Much to be thankful for.

I am grateful forWe hope our messages shared have got you thinking of what you’re grateful for. What are you thankful for? Please share with us here, via Twitter or on our Facebook page.

A blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Sincerely,

Your Brothers & Sisters in Christ at Voices Against the Grain

Unshaken and Not Stirred: A Believer’s Position in Chaos

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

The words “shaken, not stirred” sprung to mind in developing this post. I’ve heard the term used by those ordering a martini, but there may be other drinks associated with that term. I have no idea.

But I use the phrase “unshaken and not stirred” in this quick post today to encourage the Body of Christ to remain steady in the horrific and sobering events happening in our communities, nation and world. We remain in prayer for those in Paris affected by this past week’s terrorist attacks. We mourn for all lives lost and affected by violence.

Evil seems unrestrained and fear is gripping those without relationship in Christ and those unsteady in Christ. Darkness looks like its winning and those who trust not in God’s Sovereignty, think he has put His “Out to Lunch” sign up, displaying an ill-regard for the chaos unfolding. But God is in control. Yes, the events are unsettling though necessary to usher in Christ’s return, per scripture. There is no other way. God’s Word has prepared us for these events and the tragedies still to come. We’ve not yet witnessed evil’s capacity.

Yet, in all of this, as Believers, we must remember OUR role: to remain steady, staunch, unmoved, fixed and not stirred by the events. We must remain faithful, being salt and light in darkness, and that by Christ’s light and peace living in us, those without Christ will see it and be drawn to know Him. As Believers, this should be our position and stance in chaos. We are to remain steady.

 

Keep calm and keep steady

Until they are completely humbled and broken, the discouraged and lost will run to all counterfeit forms of escape, solace and stability (ex: alcohol, drugs, New Age beliefs, belief in self, etc.) in which these items will fail and only offer false relief. No rest will be found in these items. Only true peace, rest and security is found in Christ Jesus.

May we remain unshaken and not stirred. May we remain in peace, joy and love. May we operate and display the rest that we have been given through our relationship in Christ Jesus. We already have the victory. On Christ the Solid Rock we stand. All other ground is sinking sand. May we be comforted by the Lord’s promise said here in John 16:33-

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

-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.

 

 

 

The Fight of Your Life

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Are you spending time in prayer, in God’s Word, in His Presence to prepare yourself and others for the trials coming? Are you loafing or preparing for the fight of your life against our enemies? Sharing the following devotional written by Ohio elementary school teacher, Debra Neal. This is part of a free, Monday thru Friday devotional service of The Christian Public Servant, a publication sponsored by the Regent University Robertson School of Government. To receive their daily devotionals via email, contact  epatterson@regent.edu

 

 

Reading

Daniel 12:3 (NIV) Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Reflection

Being a mother and a teacher, I’ve wondered about the mother and teachers in Daniel’s life.  We know little about them, but we do know a lot about their living legacy—Daniel.  And the same with Timothy. We know little about his mother and grandmother, but much about their living legacy—Timothy.

God fully equips us to serve as we walk through the doors of our current mission field. But I am concerned with the trend of many Christians—forgetting morning devotions/scripture and time at the altar for prayer. Instead, we seem to fill our minds, and our children’s minds, with worldly particulars: TV, video games, social media. We are quick to prepare meals, but we are slow to give spiritual nourishment to face the “lion’s den” or “the race” encountered each day. What will it profit if you or I gain the whole world but lose the soul?

The-Lions-Den1

Imagine the impact if you and I begin with purpose of heart to train for the fight of our life: facing the lion’s den or that marathon race.

God’s mission for me is to prepare souls for that fight. I will pray and inform parents and coworkers of our spiritual responsibility. Maybe that means removing things from our homes, or at least from our morning routine, and replacing them with God’s word and prayer.

How about you? Will you do the same? And are you prepared for the fight of your life?

Are you eating the Bread of Life and drinking Living Water? Are you praying for protection over your family and co-workers so that when they face their den of lions, or their race, they will be fully equipped to shine like the brightness of heavens or stars that will shine forever and ever?

Today at work, and everywhere you go, be a living legacy. Be dedicated to the fight of your life—just like Daniel and Timothy. Let your mother and grandmother, sons and daughters, say: you fought a good fight, you finished the race, and you kept the faith.

Yes. Today, prepare for the fight of your life.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, I bind the enemy from wasting my life with useless information. I ask You for help in managing my time in such a way that I am prepared for that lion’s den and that marathon, which I will certainly encounter today and every day!  In the precious name of my Lord, I pray! Amen.

 

 

 

What’s Next for the 100-Yr-Old Christian?

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

The official word is “centenarian” for someone who has lived to age 100 or older. Praise be to God, for earlier this month, 175 family members and friends who traveled near and far, gathered to celebrate my grandmother, Thelma F. Hayes, on her 100th birthday. Truly a blessing!

A sweet-spirited woman, she has jokes and likes to laugh. A sports enthusiast, she enjoys watching KU men’s basketball (GO Jayhawks!) and Kansas City Chiefs football. She also stayed up into the wee morning hours to watch the Kansas City Royals take the crown as 2015 World Series champions!  She reminisces on the times she played baseball with her children when they were younger.

In the years I’ve been blessed to lovingly call her “grandma,” and her children who have called her “Momma Hayes” and dear friends who know her well, we can attest that she daily lives out 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: 

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1Thessalonians5_18

I’ve honestly never heard a foul word or grumbling from her lips. She birthed eight children, losing two shortly after birth. Of the six children that remained, one son passed a few years ago. She suffered a serious illness in her early years and nearly died, but recovered. She has witnessed the cruelty of human rights denied to Blacks; enduring the Jim Crow laws of racial segregation, not being considered equal to her White peers. She watched as her fraternal twin sister Zelma Bell daily took the train from Topeka, Kansas to Lawrence, Kansas (about a 30-minute trek one way) to attend classes on the University of Kansas campus. Because Zelma was black, she was not allowed to live on campus like her white classmates enjoyed. Thelma encouraged her sister Zelma, as she obtained her bachelors and masters degree.

She has witnessed technology’s evolution, yet not overcome by or attached to it like most of us. She has seen triumphant and tragic world events, lifting up prayers and praises respectively for each. She’s prayed fervently for the salvation, healing, comfort and mercy for others, witnessing God’s favor as she has interceded for many. As told in James 5:16, “the prayers of the righteous availeth much.” The last living sibling of her family and seeing her husband, loved ones and friends go before her, whatever sorrows she has she doesn’t visibly wear them. Neither do those sorrows disturb her peaceful countenance. Still able to do for herself, she usually wears a smile and raises her hands in praise to the Lord…the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Redeemer, who has proved Himself faithful, loving and trustworthy over and over again.

For all that my grandma Thelma Hayes has seen and been through in her 100 years of living she says, “I have a lot to be thankful for. I cannot tell it all. Praise His Holy Name. I give all the praise and glory to God. I won’t complain.”

Grandma Thelma F. Hayes, 100th Birthday Celebration, November 7, 2015 in Topeka, KS.

Grandma Thelma F. Hayes, 100th Birthday Celebration, November 7, 2015 in Kansas.

So what’s next for the 100-year-old Christian? Is there a spiritual conquest? Is there more to learn? Are there still areas to grow?

Whatever God’s plans for my grandma and those who are now centenarians, it’s certain that like those of us in Christ Jesus, the future is good. She won’t lack any good thing. She will continue to be blessed and her family will call her blessed. She will remain unmoved by disturbing events, as she has seen it all and her faith has carried her through. She is secure in her salvation and eternal home. And within her small frame stirs the power of a mighty prayer warrior that brings relief to those who seek her prayers.

She will continue to start her days as she as for many years, in prayer for others. She’ll continue to thank God for His goodness and faithfulness. And knowing her, she’ll still eat a cheeseburger and slice of apple pie.

-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.

Be Encouraged

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. –Numbers 6:26 (English Standard Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” Psalm 4:6. Like the smiles of a father upon his child, so it is with the Lord who looks upon his children with an inviting countenance. Bless you all you people in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And what is a blessing? It is none other but God’s favor and protection. His sanction and support. He blesses us directly by way of common grace or blesses us through his appointed and anointed ministers. Such was one of the responsibilities of the Lord’s appointed leader of the Israelites, Moses. He was to lead, encourage and bless his own people.

For the Bible says, “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” –Numbers 6:22-27

Child of God (insert your name within this blessing): It is for you! For when we bless God it is only our speaking well of him; his blessing us is doing well for us. What business do we have worrying constantly when our Lord Jesus Christ already commanded us on this matter? Three times he commanded us in chapter 6 of Matthew, “Do not be anxious. “We ought to take Jesus’ exhortation to examine the birds of the air: “they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” –Matthew 6:26

Numbers 6 24-26 sunset

Are you discouraged because you’re unsure of how you’re going to pay that next bill? Are you worried about that upcoming exam you have to take? Are you concerned about the prospects of your unknown future? Take courage! Your Heavenly Father knows what you need “but seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34

Christian man, Christian woman realign your thoughts! “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 For the Bible says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” –Isaiah 26:3 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Yet, my heart pleads with the unbeliever. For he or she can never have this peace and encouragement. His or her life is fleeting seeking to be filled from one accomplishment or material thing after another. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

There are only two kinds of people in this world. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12 It’s my sincere prayer that you would seek Christ. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

Be encouraged and be blessed!

-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.