What Time is It? Our Greatest Opportunity

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

This week…there have been few words to be offered other than those spoken to comfort, encourage others and commune with God in prayer. We continue to pray for the families affected. All of us have been affected one way or another by the back-to-back traumas. Our hearts are grieved. The successive acts of violence committed against Black men and White police officers has left us heartbroken, angry and in search for answers. Many have asked, “When is this going to stop??!”

Sadly, we’ve yet to witness evil’s capacity. Yet, the times should indicate to Believers and unbelievers that the answer to “when is this going to stop” is beyond the implementation of traditional, temporary, external solutions. This indeed and always has required us to surrender our human arrogance to offer up Band-Aid solutions to curtail evil’s appetite with counterfeit solutions only to dismiss the true answer, which is Jesus Christ.

Dallas police makeshfit memorial

Michael O’ Mahoney, a former police officer, places his patch on a makeshift memorial at the Dallas police headquarters on July 8, 2016. Photo courtesy: AP

So what time is it? 

As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to remain vigilant in prayer and fasting. It is our greatest opportunity to display unity and true freedom to a world that is fractured, broken and seeking life and healing to no avail. It is our greatest opportunity to be salt, light and truth when people offer textbook solutions and seek not the heart of God for answers.

As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to stop being led by others who aren’t plugged into the Vine, who aren’t yielding to the Holy Spirit, who aren’t in their prayer closets, and to walk in the instructions the Holy Spirit gives us on how to push back the darkness.

As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to become unshackled from false doctrine and legalism and be transformed by Christ in our thinking so we can move with clarity, unhindered. As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to boldly and confidently move in our callings where God has placed us, particularly to challenge broken, traditional processes and systems that continue to churn out temporary remedies in our communities.

As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to share with those who are crying out for answers and relief; to joyfully and lovingly share Who is our Greatest Hope, and not be afraid of offending someone or seek to be politically correct.

So again, what time is it?

To the Believer, there should be no question as to “what time it is.” Everything is telling us “what time it is.” Question is, how will you respond with this insight? Should you choose to move as Light against the darkness and as described in the aforementioned paragraphs, you will certainly be met with opposition. But even so, do you dare to use this greatest opportunity to allow God to show you all that He is and all that you are in Him?

light of the world

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)

Praying for bold warriors. Prayers for vigilance in the Body of Christ. Prayers for the Body of Christ to continue to be salt, light and truth in a world that pursues other methods for solutions rather than pursuing God. Prayers for those seeking answers in these dark times to find Jesus Christ, Who is our Answer and Greatest Hope.

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.” 

Mourning a Loss

Psalm 77:11- But then I recall all you have done, O lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

W.E. you are in our prayers as we mourn your loss with you.

Remember the life lived and not the life lost. Remember the times of joy and not the present sadness swelling within your heart. Remember the conversations that will last an eternity within the caverns of your mind, for celebrating the memory of all the great things done will stretch farther than any amount of tears could ever accomplish. However, we are human and when the burden becomes heavy know that WE will be there to pick you up. For you will never see 1 pair of feet in the sand, but many, as we walk alongside you to aid in completing the journey with you. WE will be there every step of the way. WE will be the strong foundation needed to keep you stable amidst the storm. Thus, when the rain falls, WE will be the umbrella to keep you dry. Why? Because WE are a body of believers under God, who care about you. Amen

 

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

 

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the pureHOPE advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.Finally, Herbert through the will of God 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. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management.

 

The Body of Christ: Come to Church

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” –Psalm 122 (New Living Translation)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

This scripture marks the excitement a Christian could potentially experience when coming to a worship service i.e., church. One might not see the importance of going to church regularly but it is absolutely essential and crucial to growing in Christ. At church you have the opportunity to witness and experience Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit through the fellowship with other Christian believers. For the Bible says, “If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”–Matthew 18:19-20 

Somebody said to me recently, “There’s a bunch of hypocrites in the church. I’m looking for the perfect church.” Well friend, the truth is if you’re looking for a perfect church you will never find one and miss out on wonderful blessings. If there was a perfect church, it would stop being perfect the moment you and I walked in. Instead we must do our part and seek to join the body of Christ (Church) in the process of maturing and becoming more like Christ ourselves. Then over time, although not perfect, that church will be perfect just for you.

We are all in this together. We ought to help one another. The gifts that God gave to you are needed for the body of Christ to continue functioning properly. No person is more important than the other in the church. “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, everyone of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” –1 Corinthians 12:18-26    

Friend, your presence is needed in the church. You are very important! Whatever you can do to further the Kingdom of God, he will honor you for it. The janitor’s position is no greater than the Pastor’s position! Serve out of a love for Christ and his people and you will find unspeakable joy and find the difference in a church experience than a staying at home worship experience. Amen. God Bless you!

-Jason M. Alexandre

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born on November 29, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York. However, at two years old he and his family moved to Philadelphia, PA. Later, Jason moved to Limerick, PA where he now resides. Jason is currently working toward obtaining his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the great commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the gospel to be spread from nation to nation. On a yearly basis, Jason primarily goes to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year Haiti Christianity visits different cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothes, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly evangelization takes place. Jason is currently their public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to be spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively.

Remain Faithful in the Strange

Increasing violence from city, to countryside to nations.  Corrupt leadership at all levels of authority. Immorality plays out on our television screens permeating the walls within our homes, schools and other structures. An uptick in natural disasters. Given this, who is surprised at the destruction we see in our world? These events have been a long-time coming. Certainly the events are unnerving and can bring feelings of despair.

Sad_ManAs Jesus shared at the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24:6-8: 6-“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7-Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8- All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Birth pains? Women who have birthed a child know birth pains/contractions may begin hours apart, and increase to minutes apart as the baby is delivered. Such is the case in the events we are witnessing. The events are certain to intensify to bring about the final act: Jesus’ return and Satan’s demise.

Before this day and the days to come, God told us this would happen. But do not fear, be not confused nor consider it “strange.” God desires for his chosen to walk in faith, peace, love and clarity with “eyes wide open.” Throughout His holy scriptures, He tells us the signs of our changing environment. Signs that signify an increase in the wickedness and usher in Jesus’ return.  But who is listening? In Isaiah 65:2-3, God says, 2- “All day long I have held my hands out to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—3- a people who continue to provoke me to my very face.”

How long will God’s grace and mercy strive with unbelievers? With the immoral? With the wicked? Why does man continue in his arrogance that he can do his own thing without consequences?

In these “birth pains,” it is irrelevant whether we are in the first trimester or nearing the last. One thing is certain: time is running short. The birth pains are accelerating with common words exchanged by onlookers such as, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” The events are not coincidental. While the enemy is unleashing scheme after scheme, God is stretching out His arms to those who will hear. He is making every effort to get our attention (even in tragedies) to pierce our hearts, to humble the proud, to cease the works of the wicked as the end nears. He is raising up an Army of bold believers who will share His Word and truth to wherever He instructs.  This is ever more a time for the body of Christ to be united; moving on one accord, and not divided by denominations and doctrine. Remain faithful to what He has called you to do.