When Vanity is Not in Vain

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“I was all flesh, that’s who I was. I was so miserable the entire time that I was ‘Vanity.’ I spent so many days and nights crying and hating who I had become…I wanted out but I didn’t know how to get out because the world sucks you in.” – Evangelist Denise Matthews, Trinity Broadcasting Network interview with Dwight Thompson, August 5, 2010

Abused as a child, crack cocaine-addicted and deeply wounded, the former 80s actress/singer/girlfriend of Prince known as “Vanity,” turned away from a deadly lifestyle in the mid-90s to experience true freedom and abundant living in Jesus Christ. Shedding the image of Vanity and everything with it, she allowed the healing and powerful love of Jesus Christ to reveal her identity and purpose in Him as Evangelist Denise Matthews. Sharing with others her testimony, trials, health scares, surgeries, and miraculous healings, she said in the above referenced interview that her life was full of joy because of her relationship in Jesus Christ.

When I like most of you, learned via social media (a tweet from her dear friend and sister in Christ, Sheila E.) of Evangelist Matthews’ passing this past Monday, February 15 at age 57, I was stunned. According to news reports, Matthews had been in declining health for some time in part due to her previous years of drug use. I’d lost track of her life but was DELIGHTED to learn that she allowed the Lord to transform her heart and mind to serve Him! DELIGHTED to learn how she spent her life telling others about Jesus! God bless her and the seeds she has sown in the hearts and spirits of others!

But who was the source of her vanity?

Jesus clearly tells us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (New International Version) 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (New International Version)

If in reading this you doubt there’s an enemy, namely Satan, out to destroy and kill you, fine. You can remain in denial but you can’t deny the devastating effects of his work: Abuse. Addiction. Adultery. Anxiety. Brutality. Crime. Deceit. Depression. Evil-doing. False identity. Fraud. Gossiping. Greed. Hook ups. Human trafficking. Lying. Molestation. Murder. Pornography. Pride. Rape. Robbery. Self-hatred. Shame. Shootings. Stabbings. Suicidal thoughts. Terrorism. Vanity. Violence. Wickedness.

The list goes on. Can anything good come from this? With a life redeemed and restored through relationship in Jesus Christ, yielded to the Holy Spirit, the answer is 100% “yes.” Evangelist Matthews’ life proves this.

Evangelist Denise Matthews

“The world sucks you in.”  Evangelist Denise Matthews, formerly “Vanity”

The years the enemy stole from Evangelist Matthews to do his bidding, God restored to her. He added life to her days and years. The tools the enemy used in an attempt to destroy her, God turned around for her good  (Romans 8:28). Having turned her life over to Christ, the Lord made it so that her years as “Vanity” were not in vain. 

What Matthews said in her aforementioned quote is true: the world does suck you in, if you let it. I’ve heard more people tell me that “sin will take you further than you want to go.”

Make no mistake: There is a persistent satanic agenda at work to counterfeit the “freedoms” people desperately seek. As Satan sets the stage for his next counterfeit scheme, it is of paramount importance that God’s truth is boldly and lovingly presented to awaken people from their slumber into confusion and deception; to bring clarity that enables them to navigate successfully around the counterfeit schemes so they may equip and empower others in Jesus Christ.

For the family and friends of Evangelist Denise Matthews, we at Voices Against the Grain pray that God’s comfort and peace steadies you and rests in your hearts. We join you in celebrating the fruit produced by Evangelist Matthews through her life in Jesus—fruit that will bear out now and into eternity.

Blessings,

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.

ICYMI: Freedom from Addiction, and Sexual Justice

Never too lost to be savedAre you still believing the lies? The truth will indeed set you free. This truth reverberated in conversations held with this week’s radio show guests. On Monday, guest Chris McArdle, founder of Absolutely No Condemnation Ministries, shared his candidly transparent and powerful testimony of how Jesus Christ rescued and restored him from alcoholism’s deadly grip. Chris’s consumption of alcohol progressed from casual drinking after work to becoming necessary for daily function. One evening during a semi-conscious trip to the ER and 30 minutes from death, Chris challenged God to prove that He was real and indeed, God showed up in Chris’s life.

From there, Chris read the bible from cover to cover, tucking scriptures in his heart, believing in God’s promises. He trusted in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Today, Chris shares God’s truth, love and hope to help others struggling with substance abuse. His message is “no matter how bad your path, when you come to Christ, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). Listen to “Freedom from Addiction and No Condemnation: Chris McArdle.”  

Human_Trafficking“Are You Producing Sexual Justice or Fueling Sexual Injustice?” This was Wednesday’s conversation with guest Aszia Walker, Discipleship and Outreach Director for pureHOPE. Founded in 1983, and a Voices Against the Grain ministry partner, pureHOPE provides Christian solutions in a sexualized culture and envisions a world free from exploitation and brokenness. To counterfeit God’s beautiful and compelling story of sex, Satan continues to assail, counterfeit, disparage and distort God’s character and the things of God in hopes to deceive and destroy many. He’ll even use unwitting Christians to do it.

This conversation will equip the Body of Christ, parents, youth, mentors, faith leaders and others to live a life in Christ Jesus that advances justice and purity rather than one that contributes to injustice and impurity. On-point in her messages, Aszia said, “Sometimes the enemy can twist and pervert the image-bearing story that we are built to tell.” Listen to our important and informative conversation.

Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svgWant great nuggets from both conversations? View our Twitter feed.