Entering 2017: Shifted and Lifted

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Nicole D. Hayes, VATG founder (l) and Destiney Bishop, VATG Digital Media Coordinator (r).

Wow—2016 is nearly out. From devastating floods, numerous earthquakes in diverse places, race riots and heightened tensions to shocking celebrity deaths and the presidential election, the events of 2016 have kept many of us in prayer like never before. We’ve had to encourage ourselves and others.

Many people, including some Believers, have felt great despair this year. Some of you have been surviving consecutive months and years of unemployment, or overcoming health challenges or grieving the passing of loved ones. What has occurred to-date is still a fraction of the trials to come before Christ’s return.

The events of 2016 most likely took you into some uncharted and unfamiliar territory. This was the case for us this year too. Entering new territories and spaces requires us to trust God EVERY step of the way. The process can also fortify our faith.  In such times, we are reminded of Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  When we step in courage and trust in Him, it emboldens us for the next leg of the journey. Rest assured that God will show us His faithfulness.

In John 16:33, Jesus reminds us that we will indeed go through trials in this life but we will overcome those challenges in Him! He says 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.”

In writing you this message, the words that the Holy Spirit has encouraged us with for today and the days ahead is to be “shifted and lifted.” We are being asked to shift our focus onto Jesus so we may operate in peace and courage and be lifted out of our human default positions of despair, doubt and fear. Praise God!

We don’t leave you without hope: This year, many of us experienced unprecedented favor and prayers answered as we pressed the throne of grace boldly in prayer, in faith and with praises lifted! We saw God move mightily and we most certainly foiled some of the enemy’s plans. God is truly moved by the faith of His People!

We pray that these words and all of God’s Word comforts and reassures you in our challenging times. One of our objectives in presenting Holy Spirit-inspired content is to equip you to remain steady in unsteady times. As the Body of Christ, we will be challenged. We will suffer trials. We will endure war wounds. But God is preparing His Church to stand in these last days. So, take heart! Our victory is secured! Remain focused, in peace and steady! The gates of hell shall not prevail. We know how the story ends! God in His precision is watching over His Word to perform it and fulfill it as told to us in Jeremiah 1:12.

2017

As we close out 2016 and prepare to enter 2017, we at Voices Against the Grain encourage you in these points as you become shifted and lifted:

  • Allow God to lead. Be divinely persuaded (that’s what faith means—the Greek word is “pistis”) that God knows the best path for you and will lead you to it if you listen to Him. Walk in courage in what God has told you.
  • Place your hope in Jesus Christ alone and His Kingdom—not the kingdoms of this world. Do not place your hope in man, in government, finances, systems, etc., for these secondary sources will surely fail you. Take hold of the hope offered to us in God and be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf (Hebrews 6:18-20). Be shifted and lifted.
  • God is equipping you to respond to and serve those crying out and seeking direction. Pray to be more attentive to these cries and seek the Holy Spirit’s instruction on how He wants you to help them. Yield to carrying out His will and not your own.
  • In serving others, take the time to “steal away” to recharge; to have your cup refilled so you are able to pour into others again.
  • Pursue more intimacy with the Lord and seek to be Holy Spirit-led in all that you do. Knowing how the Holy Spirit wants to lead you is strengthened through spending more time communing with the Lord. Spending time with the Lord also enables you to abide in His Peace.

We love serving you and serving with you! We pray God’s blessings upon you, your family, your health, your ministries and everything He has called you to put your hands to. Go in courage, His confidence and peace. Thank you for supporting us and praying for us. We are excited and prayerful for how God will use His People in 2017. May we continue to be salt and light Christians to lead the world out of darkness and to the Cross.

God bless you and Happy New Year!

Love,

Nicole & Destiney

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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…

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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

VATG in Photos: Joyful Fellowship Within the Body of Christ

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Gratefully, God created us to fellowship with one another. Whether family, friends, spouses, children, colleagues, neighbors, classmates, customers or others, we can enjoy relationships based on shared interests or pursuits. Yet, I’ve experienced through the years (and perhaps you have too) a deeper, unexplainable joy shared among Believers when in fellowship with other Believers. What’s most striking is when such unity is felt across miles, time zones, geographical boundaries, through phone calls, emails and social media—perhaps never having met one another face to face. Such joy! Sometimes when speaking with my brothers and sisters in Christ I’ve said, “Can we do this all day, every day?!” While here on Earth, we’re experiencing a snippet of that joy of which we’ll taste fully and eternally one day.

Such joy was experienced during a recent surprise trip from her home in California to Washington, D.C. made by my/our dear sister in Christ and Voices Against the Grain ministry team member, Ana Martinez. A quick, 12-hour stopover with her family allowed Ana and I to meet for the first time in person since Ana joined our ministry team in August 2013!! A blessing to fellowship face to face! We’ve shared many phone calls and emails encouraging, sharing words of wisdom, praying with each other. We’ve hosted radio shows together separated by West Coast/East Coast time zones but joined by technology and united in Spirit.

Thank you Lord for the joyful fellowship you have created within the Body of Christ! Separated by miles but united in Spirit, I look forward to when all six of us ministry team members can fellowship face to face!  I also look forward to meeting other brothers and sisters in Christ who God has connected us to since launching the ministry in May 2013. I hope in reading this, you too have enjoyed that special and joyful fellowship experienced among Believers. Christ Jesus truly is our joy!

Photos below!

-Nicole

Nicole and Ana enjoy time at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Ana caught up with Nicole in D.C. (where Nicole resides) during a quick trip.

Ana Martinez (left) and Nicole D. Hayes (right) enjoy time at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.  Ana caught up with Nicole in D.C. (where Nicole resides) during a quick trip. (Photo courtesy: Ana’s sister “Milli.” Thank you Milli for capturing our moment!)

More smiles! A great time in fellowship!

More smiles! A great time in fellowship! (Photo courtesy: Ana’s sister “Milli”)

Fashionably fabulous ladies in the cold! VATG Digital Media Coordinator Destiney Bishop and Nicole D. Hayes enjoy a time of fellowship in November 2014 prior to Destiney's move from Maryland to New York. So much fun!

Fashionably fabulous ladies in the cold! VATG Digital Media Coordinator Destiney Bishop (left) and Nicole D. Hayes (right) enjoy a time of fellowship in November 2014 prior to Destiney’s move from Maryland to New York. So much fun!

More VATG team member photos here.

Meet the Team: Q & A With Ana Martinez

She’s a pastor’s daughter who felt God’s call early on her life though admits she strayed from it. Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding. Today as mom of three, she is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the Lord’s will. Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the Kingdom of Heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana wants hurting people to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Our dear sister in Christ who has courageously shared her testimony of how Jesus has redeemed and restored her, learn more about Voices Against the Grain devotional writer, Ana Martinez, in the Q & A below. 

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Where are you from? Michigan born and raised! Proud to be an American and blessed to have roots in Puerto Rico. Viva Puerto Rico and God bless America!

When is your birthday? October 5

How did you come to join the Voices Against the Grain team? Through my dear friend and fellow blogger Herbert Bowen, Jr.

What is your favorite childhood memory? My favorite childhood memory is going to cut down our family Christmas tree. The ground was covered with snow and on the car ride home my sisters and I sang songs with our Mother trying to convince our Dad through music to stop at a fast food burger joint called Hot n’ Now. Together we united forces and chanted, “We want Hot n’ Now! Hot n’ Now! Hot n’ Now! We want Hot n’ Now Hot n’ Now NOW!” Either we were very persuasive or he was just sick of hearing us sing. Nonetheless, it worked and he stopped. Yum!

As a Christian, what is your understanding of why God allows trials/ temptations to come into our lives? I truly believe God allows trials and temptations to come so that our character can be molded and strengthened in Christ. Through my personal struggles I have become more dependent on Him and recognize my own strengths and weaknesses. Where we are weak He is strong. Praise God!

What do you do in your spare time? As a mom of three, spare time is limited. So currently, I check emails, lol.

What is your favorite bible verse? Jeremiah 29:11

What does having a relationship/ walk with God mean to you? To me, having a relationship/walk with God means spending time in His presence, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus and asking Him to direct your steps. Daily submitting your will and desires unto Him and aligning yourself with His will for your life. It’s not easy but so worth it!

What is your favorite food? I have so many favorite foods. #1 anything my mom and dad make! Puerto Rican food of course. Also homemade Italian and French food along with everything in New York!

If you had a superpower what would it be? It would be awesome to be able to fly!

Is there anything else we should know about you? I’m head over heels in love with Jesus and a supporter of Israel!

Learn more about Ana Martinez 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.

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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. 

Overcoming Sexual Assault: The F-Word That Produces Our Victory

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

1 in 4. Statistics suggest that 1 in 4 college women will be raped, sexually assaulted or a victim of attempted rape in her lifetime (although we believe the numbers are higher). The numbers are hard to comprehend. Often, it’s not the boogeyman jumping out of the bushes or dark alley. Hauntingly, the perpetrator is someone you know and trust, and allow in your space (2014 statistics indicate that 2/3 of sexual assault victims know their assailant). Forty-four percent of victims are under age 18. Eighty percent are under age 30. Every 107 seconds. We pray for God’s amazing love to heal the broken places. We pray for God’s justice to be rendered. We pray healing for victims and perpetrators.  rape

Why are we talking about this? April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Our devotional writer Ana Martinez has courageously shared her story and video message on several occasions of overcoming assault, which we re-posted this month. We’ve also shared the work of our ministry partner PureHOPE in restoring purity and justice in a sexualized, broken culture. Sadly, we’re still having the conversations because the issue is not resolved. The fact that we are made in God’s image, man and woman He created us (Genesis 1:26-27), some do not hold such reverence for God’s most beloved and wondrous creations.

Sexual assault: you, me and many others too. Part of me debated on whether to share this aspect of my life, but how else could I obtain victory or empower others to do the same?  Because at times I’m a private person, sharing this has taken me out of my “comfort zone.” Believing that our testimonies can bless, empower, free and heal others, I will share my story (thank you Ana for encouraging me).

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: In the Presence of Evil

It was December 1992. I was well into my freshman year in college and preparing to break for Christmas. I had finished the last of my classes for the semester and looked forward to leaving school for a while. I lived on campus and didn’t necessarily appreciate the craziness of people and college life. Nor was I the party animal many people tend to become once they are away at college and out from under their parents’ radar. Instead, earlier in that semester, I joined a Christian on-campus youth group. I also met a guy who sang in the campus gospel choir. Awesome! He was talented with a great singing voice.

By that fall, we were dating. I gravitated to his straight-laced, gentleman-like nature. We shared similar musical interests in R&B and gospel. As boyfriend and girlfriend, we ate our meals together, watched movies. A no-pressure, easy-going relationship in which I felt comfortable—especially because he was Christian. By all accounts his actions and behavior displayed toward me were non-threatening—even with him belonging to a fraternity. Yet, I was 18 and still “green” in my perceptions about the world. I was naive. Though I considered myself quite observant and perceptive, there were areas I had never been exposed and protected from.

With finals finished, many students had begun packing to head home for the holidays. Some would return after winter break and some would not. That night, he phoned my room and invited me to his dorm room to watch movies. This would be our last time to hang out before break since he was from another state. Though bitter cold outside with fresh snow on the ground, the thought of snuggling to watch movies appealed to me. I made the brief journey from my dorm to his. Again, because of who he was and how he had presented himself all along never gave me cause for concern. That changed the moment I entered the room.

As I removed my heavy coat, I looked about the room and realized how stark it appeared compared to the previous times I had been there.  Then, that’s when I noticed: the TV was gone. I asked him, “Where’s the TV?” He replied that his roommate, who was not returning the next semester, had taken the television and other belongings. I was dumbfounded. I asked him how he thought we were going to watch a movie. I don’t recall what reason he gave.

We sat on his bed reviewing a poster he had produced. Though I realized we wouldn’t be watching a movie, it was disturbing that he had invited me over with the intent of watching television without the TV. What was up with that??

Atmosphere Shift

Like a spring storm that suddenly rushes in with its dark thunderheads, covers the bright sun and ushers in a swift change in atmosphere, this is how quickly the scene changed in his room. Prior to that moment, I’d never clearly understood the meaning of “spiritual warfare” or what it meant to encounter a demonic presence. In an instant, the person I saw before me was no longer the same person. It was as if he “put on” a new persona. I didn’t recognize this person who had swiftly and forcefully gone from pleasant to violent. Without notice, I was no longer in the company of a friend, but that of a predatory, ill-intentioned, dark, demonic spirit. His once brown eyes behind his glasses were now dark black. With me pinned on the bed underneath his weight, his intent was certain. His weapons: his weight, graduation gown cords and a demonic spirit driving him. While he sputtered threatening words, I struggled against the strength and will of his flesh. The pulling at and away of my clothes, his hands going where they were not authorized; feeling in some ways I gave in only to avoid further harm. In my distress, God intervened…

… I must have prayed to God, because I don’t know how else I would have overcome without the Lord.  Before the ordeal escalated to rape, I believe the Holy Spirit gave me the words that saved me and possibly him. I calmly and politely spoke a few words to him that I do not recall to this day. As quickly as the storm came in, it blew out. He rose up off of me and wore a look of confusion and repentance on his face. I was shocked but I did not stick around for him to change his mind.  I gathered myself, quickly left the room and headed back into the cold, winter night in a daze. All the while I wondered, “What in the world just happened back there?” It didn’t seem real. But it was.

God knows just how much we can bear.

Anger Rears Its Ugly Head…and My Hate Toward Black Men  

As the years went by, I truly believed I was over that incident. Or was I? Did I really have victory over it? I thought I did. But not so. I still harbored anger and hate in my heart. Though the years had distanced me from the event, the emotions were as raw as that night. Had I laid eyes on him, I would have inflicted him with bodily harm. Because of his actions (he was Black), I generated a strong hatred toward most Black men (this didn’t include the Black men in my life who had proven themselves trustworthy). Also, the incident played a role in my poor academic performance that year in college. Disappointed by my performance, I took several years off from school. Through the encouragement of a dear friend, I enrolled in another college and completed my degree.

I realized that I needed to get this straight in my life before God. I got honest before God and asked Him what I should do with this. I asked a trusted friend to pray for me and that I would receive an answer from God, a breakthrough; how to release these feelings and get to the other side of it. I wanted my victory.

Getting to the Other Side of It: My and Your Victory—The F-Word

Barely a day after my prayer request, I was at work when a distinct, familiar feeling pricked my spirit. The Holy Spirit was talking to me. God was answering my question. He literally “zinged” me in my spirit. I felt the sharp sting on His answer and when I received it, I was not happy. Honestly, I was downright ticked with what was being asked of me. Essentially, I had to learn a lesson in forgiveness. Upset, I internally challenged God with questions like, “Forgive who??!! Forgive what??!!” I didn’t understand why I had to step up to the plate. I didn’t do anything wrong!

But in the same moment I surged with anger, it was the same time God lovingly revealed His plan for me and why He called me to that specific action: Because He asks us to forgive one another. He commands it. Mark 11:24-25 reads: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” 

The main message is in verse 25, but I am providing you with verse 24 as they are both equally important. In my desire to be obedient to God, this was going to be another area. He forgave others and commanded that I do it too.

forgive

Like it or not, we are accountable to God for our actions. We are accountable to Him for how we respond to situations, whether they are bad or good. In addition, God does not want us to miss out on all that our destiny holds because of unforgiveness and holding onto our past. Forgiveness produces our victory! If you have been through such a situation or someone has wronged you, as difficult as it seems, choose to forgive. If not, your victory will be delayed.

I have since forgiven this person. God also removed the anger I harbored toward him and Black men in general. In exchange, He has provided me a peace that exceeds what I expected to feel about the whole situation! Only God! Victory is mine!

Often times when we are going through tough times or experience wrongdoings inflicted upon us by other people, we ask, “Why me, God?”  Furthermore, we may ask, “Why does such a loving God allow bad things to happen to good people?”

Both questions are valid yet, they manifest as part of our selfish human nature that struggles to understand God’s ultimate purpose for our lives.

In all of it, be encouraged. KNOW THAT IN TRIALS, OUR POWER COMES FROM OUR ABILITY TO BE PROCESSED FOR SUCCESS.

Such an example of being processed is described in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12-

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our bodies.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

While the statistics, raw emotions and setbacks around such injustices are real, the victories are also real.

-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. 

Hear in 3 Minutes What Satan is Up To

counterfeitSatan has done well to deceive the world. Unfortunately many have played into his hands. They thought they were pursuing paths of happiness, greater freedoms, quicker paths to prosperity and love, only to find themselves broken, empty and enslaved. What counterfeit schemes is Satan unleashing next? How do we stop this?

Listen to our 3-minute message on how you can successfully navigate around Satan’s counterfeit schemes and walk confidently in God’s Truth.

Wise Insight from a Seven-Year-Old

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

While driving my 7-year-old son to his little league baseball game we were talking about Palm Sunday. He began telling me that on that day as the people were greeting Jesus riding on the donkey entering Jerusalem and shouting, “Hosanna!,” many in the crowd that were shouting “Hosanna” did not believe Jesus was the Son of God. They were pretending. How profound was my son’s statement.

It got me thinking about how many of us at times in our lives have declared the name of Jesus Christ—yet we doubt how powerful He truly is? How many of us have proclaimed the name of Jesus but behind closed doors it was a different story? My son commented that in their hearts, they did not believe. What resides in our hearts matters the most. This little 7-year-old came to the conclusion that it is a matter of the heart! So I ask you today: Where does your heart stand? If you are struggling in your faith, I encourage you to reflect on who Jesus is as Easter Sunday approaches.

Little boy praying
John 12:13 New International Version
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Matthew 18:3 New International Version
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of
heaven.”

-Ana

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana’s Story: Our Treasures Within

Ana's storyShame and fear about dark, past moments can keep us from recognizing treasures within that God wants to use. Ana Martinez, our dear Voices Against the Grain ministry team member, shares in 2-min message how Jesus gave her the courage to lay aside childhood sexual abuse and rape to truly see her treasures within. God bless you, Ana! Please view and share so others might be freed from their past.  https://vimeo.com/114402583 (Video produced by Mariners Church)