The Apple Didn’t Fall Too Far

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Are you getting spun up? If you are frustrated by the things happening in our world, you are not the only one. However, you may have forgotten or have not understood the factors driving the “chaos.”

“It revolves around the Genesis story and the central fact of the marring of creation by human sin,” writes David K. Ryden in his evangelical perspectives in public policy book, Is the Good Book Good Enough? (2011, Lexington Books).

“Biblical revelation absolutely demands that evangelicals fully come to grips with the fact of a fallen world and accept the pervasive presence of sin and its consequences for all of creation; all that is in the world bears the consequences of that sinfulness, from the individual to governmental institutions and society at large,” writes Ryden.

adam-and-eve

What Does It Mean That Our World and People Are ‘Fallen’?

“But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous (other versions say “upright”), but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29, New Living Translation)


Maybe you forgot or didn’t know that we live in a fallen world. Many blame Adam and Eve for being gullible and enticed by Satan. The apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.  Why would your rebellion against God be any different? Yes, this began our ‘fall’ or in short, my and your rebellion against God. The fall represents estrangement from, separation from God; to be at enmity with God; to pull away from God’s will and design for our lives. It represents spiritual and moral degredation. This is in short, sin, and there are consequences to sin.

All creation is paying the price for the original sin of Adam and Eve, which continues to perpetuate lawlessness, confusion, strife, rebellion, and brokenness in our world. Christ came to restore us to a right relationship with God. Repentance and turning away from sin and turning to God to seek His will and ways through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ is how we begin that redeeming and restorative process. For a topline overview on the fall, read here.

This fact and in all that we do should draw us to recognize our own sinfulness and that of others and the limitations of justice and peace that can be acquired through human efforts. This is indeed why Christ Jesus came for our redemption. Human pursuits of justice even in our best intentions will always fall short of the measurement of what Christ will do through repentant hearts.

The Pervasiveness of Sin: From Individuals to Institutions

Don’t be fooled. Sin has found its way into every heart, every home, and every institution of society. “Sinfulness does not somehow melt away when we move from one individual to a government bureaucracy or institution,” says Ryden. “If anything, it is likely to be magnified. The corrosive effect of sinfulness amplified by power is as evident in the workings of institutions as it is individually. A healthy appreciation for the consequences of sin should generate a measure of skepticism as to what politics and government can accomplish.”

While government is an institution ordained by God to establish a well-ordered society, it is fallen, as are other institutions. It is operated by and made up of sinful humans. It is in this that Christians should have an appreciation for government while understanding that only the perfection and fullness of justice, morality, and righteousness will be attained through God’s new Kingdom coming.

Many people are seeking a “messiah” in other people or worldly institutions to fix what is happening. Then they become frustrated when the wrongdoings continue to perpetuate.

“The world’s truly inconvenient truth is the Gospel,” says Ryden. “Its narrative of creation, fall and redemption suggests that inconveniently, things are not in our control. Inconveniently, the Gospel requires us to place hope not in ourselves.” We are to place our hope in Christ Jesus, the only Messiah.

coming-kingdom-of-god

What We Can Do 

It’s good to be discontent with the status quo. But don’t get spun up in what is happening, for this world is not our home. All that is happening is fulfilling God’s purposes as we look to our eternal home with Him.

In these times of swift transitions, it is my prayer that Believers remain steady in Christ’s perfect peace (John 14:27, John 16:33) and keep our focus on Christ (Isaiah 26:3). May we continue to be transformed into Christ’s likeness and thereby share His light, love, and truth with others. Pray for rebellious hearts to be repentant and transformed by His Love. Pray for God’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). May we be the answer to that prayer in how He desires to use us to restore justice, morality, and righteousness.

God bless you and stay staunch,

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.

 

I’ve Been Reckless

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Audacious. Incautious. Reckless. Yes, I’ve been reckless. In pursuing and thirsting after the Lord, I’ve had a reckless abandon to Him. Since He called me as a child and truly more in these past five years, I’ve made choices that by the world’s standards would label me as “reckless.” In my love to serve the Lord, I’ve sidestepped worldly opportunities that would have advanced me professionally and would’ve made my credentials really shine.

In my love for the Lord Jesus Christ, I’ve purposely chosen discomfort over comfort. These choices have taken me to the edge at times, making me wholly dependent upon Him for everything, and I mean everything. By the world’s standards, I’m considered a fool. Yes, then, I am a fool…a fool for Jesus in a time when people choose to be fools for foolish things. I am a fool for the Great I AM.

I’ve been exposed and vulnerable to help others in His Name, in times when people prefer to be cloaked and preserved from being viewed as “less than.” In speaking His Truth to a deceived world, I along with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, have forgone the desire to be liked by the world, risking being falsely perceived by others as a “bigot” or “judgmental.”

Reckless Abandon

I’ve taken risks that say “I’m all in” for a God whom I’ve never seen in the flesh—but I HAVE seen Him. I’ve seen Him show up in ways that are impossible to put into words here. I feel His Presence daily. I hear Him in my spirit. He guides my steps. I’ve trusted Him when I haven’t always been able to trace Him. But I know He’s there, beside me and ahead of me, taking care of me. In going “all in” and walking to the edge in His Name, He has promised me, “If you do my work, I will take care of you.” And He remains faithful to His promises.

In Matthew 6:31-6:33, Jesus tells us, “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32- For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33- But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

There’s an allure of the world’s offerings of fame, influence, pleasure, position and power. There’s a desire to be liked by and accepted by the culture. To pursue these worldly desires, as a dear sister in Christ says, “one has to trade down” and end up with less instead of trading up to the abundant life offered through relationship in Christ Jesus. Trading up to a life in Christ will indeed cost you to lose favor with the world but gain favor in Christ Jesus.

If God is calling you for His work, your purpose in God will not be achieved without risk, without stepping out of comfort zones, without stretching, without the comfort of seeing the entire staircase before you. You’ll have to be okay when you’re labeled a “fool” or “reckless” for decisions that pit you against the security offered by this world.

In having a reckless, audacious, incautious, “all in” abandon in serving the Lord, I promise you, there is no greater joy and adventure! As our ministry turns “3” later this month, I’m all the more excited and reckless toward what He wants to do through me and the Body of Christ to awaken a slumbering world! I am grateful for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who serve Him in reckless abandon! Will you join us in being reckless for Christ?

prison-weedINVITATION: Are you being a light to others in their darkness? Are you sharing Christ as the key to release someone from their spiritual prison of deception and brokenness? If you are, how will you receive those who are freed from their prisons? Will you receive them joyfully or reluctantly? Whether you need to be empowered in sharing God’s Truth or renewed in your compassion to embrace others seeking a way out of their spiritual prisons, or simply want to hear our message on this topic, I invite you to listen to this week’s Voices Against the Grain radio show, “Consequently.”

God bless you and continue to be a voice against the grain for Him,

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.

Thank You Jason!

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”- Isaiah 52:7 (New International Version)

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

A couple weeks ago, our devotional writer Jason Alexandre shared with me and our team that the Lord had been leading him to serve in other areas and no longer with Voices Against the Grain. We support Jason in this move and continue to pray that the Lord guide his steps in wisdom.

For two years, Jason has blessed me, our team and you our readers with Holy Spirit-led messages. Messages like “Root and Fruits,” encouraging us to be rooted in Christ to truly produce fruit, and “The Best Counselor” on the great counsel and peace we have in Christ Jesus, day and night. Still in his 20s, I marvel at his spiritual maturity in understanding God’s Word and his desire to walk it, talk it, live it and rightly divide it in imparting truth to others. We are grateful for his equipping messages that encourage our spiritual growth as we navigate life. We thank him for always biblically and truthfully sharing the Good News of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We’re proud of his boldness in sharing God’s Word, even when it reprimands those receiving it.

Thank you Jason! You have truly blessed us. We pray God’s continued blessings upon you, your wife Porsché and your new ministry, particularly your desire to reach our young people. Grateful that we can call you friend and a brother in Christ. Know that you and your messages are always welcome at Voices Against the Grain.

Jason Alexandre photo

Jason M. Alexandre

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.

 

Palin’s Principles Will Punk Us

Unthinking people have exchanged godliness for what is politically expedient and to our detriment.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (English Standard Version) 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

The political process has interested me since I was a teen. I’ve fervently discussed the issues of the day with family members, peers and colleagues and watched to see which candidate(s) aligned closest with my values. The process still holds my interest today, albeit differently.

When I launched Voices Against the Grain in May 2013, I vowed to remain nonpartisan. In our ministry communications, I have vowed to not promote my political leanings or views. This is due in part that while policies have their place in our society, our best solution and hope rests in Christ Jesus alone. Additionally, I desire for Voices Against the Grain to help advance Christ’s love and truth among Believers and non-believers without sowing discord through contentious political arguments.

However, since our country’s engagement last summer in these 2016 U.S. presidential elections and the review of candidates, I shake my head at what I’ve seen and heard. This election has an abundance of foolishness, double-talk and berating of one another that signals how far we’ve strayed from what is right. If not for Christ’s grace and mercy holding back his full wrath of our destruction and the remnant of His People who are advancing His Kingdom in the darkest places to share His Truth, I wonder if we’d exist this very moment.

As an example of our straying, I share a moment that made me snap my neck and raise my brow like  “watchu talkin’ ’bout Willis?”

This morning, ahead of the evening’s Iowa caucuses, Today show anchor Savannah Guthrie asked former Alaska Governor and political commentator Sarah Palin about her endorsement of U.S. presidential candidate and billionaire businessman Donald Trump. Guthrie noted that Palin has “a lot of credibility with evangelical voters.” She asked Palin if Trump is the “godly candidate that evangelicals are looking for.”

Palin replied: “I hope voters aren’t trying to find the most Christiany (is that a word??), godliest candidate out there, because who are we to judge one another’s level of faith or Christian quotient, if you will. Hopefully people are looking for he who has that record of success that proves he’s going to be able to get the job done for us, finally.” 

I never would have spoken or written so directly on the elections, but Palin’s by-golly-gee answer to Guthrie’s serious question has warranted my response.

 

Sarah Palin Today Show Feb 1 2016

Former Alaska Governor and political commentator Sarah Palin, responds to Today show anchors Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer on Monday about her endorsement of Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump. February 1, 2016. (Photo courtesy of NBC, Today Show)

If it’s simply a matter of electing a competent person to fill the office of the President, then that can be done.  But are we solely interested in the person completing the task, or more importantly, their character, integrity, judgment and wisdom deployed to complete those tasks?

As Believers, if we’re committed to restoring God’s moral authority, God’s truth and justice, and civility to our country’s fiber, than we should be more prayerful as to who receives our vote. The consequences of dismissing such standards have eroded the foundation of our government, communities, neighborhoods and workplaces. We indeed need more Christian public servants who have decreased their wills in order to advance God’s will to serve the public good. We don’t need another person bent on doing their own thing, not guided by what is godly, what is right or wrong. If not a godly person to lead our country, then who??

Palin’s principles and others alike, will prevent such an opportunity of godliness in this particular political space. Palin’s principles will only further promote ungodliness. If we accept such principles, we’ll once again be punked.

-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.

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.

 

 

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.” 

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.

Finish What You Start

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.  (Philippians 1:6 MSG)

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

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

Can you relate to the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction you feel when you complete a project? It’s a great feeling to see the fruit of your labor and to know you persevered to see it to completion.

On the other hand, have you ever begun a project with great enthusiasm only to throw in the towel before it was time? Admittedly, this is not a great trait to possess, but it is pretty common among people from all walks of life. I know I have been guilty of leaving some things unfinished and abandoning projects in my lifetime. It is a character flaw and temptation that many people wrestle with at home, at work, or in school.

The great news is God is not flawed and He finishes every single thing He starts! He is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith. Sometimes in the craziness of life or the storms that are sent to discourage us, we begin to believe the subtle lie that God has forgotten us or our situation. We can remember His all-sufficient grace that was so real at salvation, but somehow feel as though we need to help Him finish the good work He began.

The belief that God has forgotten or failed us even for a minute couldn’t be further from the truth. God is for us, He is with us, and He is always perfecting His “project” and purpose within our lives. He will not fail or falter. He has also given us the mind of Christ and the ability through His Spirit to resist the temptation to give up. You and I are overcomers through the blood of Jesus. What we start, we can see to completion and enjoy the fruitfulness of it.

startfinish

Be encouraged today, knowing that what you start you can finish through the strength and wisdom of Christ and that the good work God has begun in you, He will finish. Nothing gives Him greater satisfaction—He delights in it!

– Jill

Jill is an author, writer, speaker, and teacher. In her book, No More Lies, Jill leads others through the same journey of biblical truth that brought her freedom and wholeness. Jill and her husband, Jimmy, are the founders of Transcend Ministries—a ministry dedicated to empowering the body of Christ and making disciples worldwide through teaching, writing, and evangelism. They reside in Colorado and have four amazing children—two daughters, a son, and a son-in-law. Jill’s next book, Forgiven, Favored & Free, is available September 2015. For more information or to order her books, visit www.transcendministries.org.

Learn more about Jill Tomlinson here.

Promotion From the Threshing Floor

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. -2 Corinthians 4:17 (New International Version)

Would you want a promotion if it meant your absolute discomfort and breaking away from the familiar?

At this moment, I’m in a stretching, transitional, deeper trusting, more in His Presence, wilderness period with the Lord. Things God did before in my life, is not what He’s doing today. He’s doing something new which requires my daily, minute-by-minute trust in Him. As God told the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19, New International Version)

Yes, I do perceive this new thing coming! I’ve perceived it for some time. I asked Him for it. I asked Him for the adventure, the journey, no matter how uncomfortable. My desire to always know the next steps, I wanted to break away from that. That’s exactly what He’s doing! UGH! I knew the temporary discomfort would increase my faith, draw me nearer to Him, further conform me into the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ, shake off whatever is not beneficial to the journey, build endurance and fearlessness, and produce fruit that I could use to further bless and equip the Body of Christ. I’m preparing for promotion/progress in God.

Yesterday, I came across notes I wrote in late May while watching Joel Olsteen’s program. The subject is on the threshing floor. A threshing floor is a hard, level surface in which grain is threshed/beaten so the edible parts of the grain are separated from the chaff, or the worthless part of the grain. The threshing floor was/is usually located outdoors and exposed to wind to blow away the chaff.

Here are the notes I jotted then, forgot about and upon finding, are an encouragement. Hopefully, the words will encourage you to view life’s threshing floor as a necessary process in your promotion/progress:

“The threshing floor…God will use to separate me from what is limiting me. It was never designed to be permanent. There is a great harvest in front of me. Don’t let the enemy take what belongs to me.  All of us go through these ‘threshing floor’ experiences because God is preparing me for the good opportunities ahead. I’ll have a greater confidence in God because of. The threshing floor is not defeating me…it is promoting me. The bumps in the road are not random. God will use the situation to refine me. Will come out more refined. Less chaff, more wheat. The threshing floor is where things die so new things can be birthed and live! God has to close a door to open a new door. God, cut me back so I can bear much fruit. Pruning in the uncomfortable times so I can bloom to new growth.”

farmer+hand+threshing

Praise! This is why I have joy in the journey because I am expectant; I believe in the vision.

I know right now there are several of you on life’s threshing floor. Certainly, Satan will seek to convince  you that God has abandoned you or is punishing you. Don’t believe the lies. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us that, “For the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jeremiah 29:11 assures His People that God’s plans are to “prosper us, not to harm us; to give us hope and a future.” Some people, because of their love for you, would rather pull you off of the threshing floor to ease your discomfort. I say, let’s go through it!

If you find yourself on the threshing floor, it is for your PROMOTION not destruction. Stay strong, have joy in the journey and get ready to bear more fruit! 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.

Politeness: Our State of Emergency

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

As a Christian, have you felt pressure to cave to a world view? Are you silent at the water cooler on controversial issues, afraid to rock the boat?

If you answered “yes,” you’re not alone. Whether the church massacre in Charleston, the injustices of Ferguson, the national push for marriage equality or the identity confusion of Bruce/Caitlin Jenner, somewhere along the way, we in the Body of Christ became too polite. We allowed prayer to be removed from school. We’ve allowed folks of all backgrounds with diminished mental capacities and prejudices to carry guns. We’ve allowed people’s confusion about their identities and sexual orientation to prompt businesses, educational institutions and others to remove “female” and “male” from their vocabulary and replace with more ambiguous terms so as not to offend gender-confused populations. We’ve thought it impolite to say anything to the contrary and have resigned to a “live and let live” mentality. We’ve accepted that there are some degenerate, “bad apples” in this world who inflict horrific violence upon others.

Now, the chickens of our complacency, politeness, political correctness and silence have come home to roost. This is our state of emergency.

politeness silence

While we strive to be considerate, genteel and well-mannered toward others, forces of darkness could care less about our manners.  As described in John 10:10, our enemy intends to “steal, kill and destroy” and he doesn’t play fair. While Christ Jesus came to bring us abundant life, true freedom, love, joy, hope and peace, Satan presents counterfeit schemes that suggest people can have freedom, love and joy with quicker rewards—and without relationship with God.  The world in its ignorance, has settled for counterfeit paths that will ultimately destroy them.

Our politeness is dearly costing our communities, nation and world. Politeness has made us shrink back from territories in which we should have greater presence. Politeness has dulled our fervency and zeal required when addressing immorality. Instead of fervently sharing God’s Truth on any terms, we’ve politely embraced the world’s terms for fear of being hated.  Who else should a confused and perishing world look to lead them in the right way if not a Christian? Are we snatching anyone from the fire, as stated in Jude 23?

The mute church has created a dangerous vacuum that has positioned Christians alongside hate groups. Furthermore, the congregation returns to work on Monday virtually indistinguishable from non-believers. We are warned not to talk about politics and religion by people who are pushing their own politics and religion. It is one made of man by man and it only offers bondage and chaos. It poses as light but degrades into shades of grey and eventually darkness.

The problem is not that we don’t have spirit-filled believers attempting to respond to these issues. It’s that we have fewer Christians speaking at the water cooler to defend the faith and keep Christians in view as people who love, give and suffer. The tragedy of our silence is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be mischaracterized to where we are dangerously close to being dehumanized.

How do we revive our collective Christian voice? How do we boldly and lovingly disperse light in darkness? How do we overcome fear and indifference and render aid in our state of emergency? Love toward others must continue to guide our thoughts, words and actions—but this doesn’t mean we shirk from entering the battle, where the Holy Spirit leads us.

Per God’s words to Joshua as the newly installed leader of the Israelites after Moses’ death: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9) Let us not be concerned about who we might offend. By sharing God’s light, we help bring clarity to confusion and hope to darkness in our fallen world.

Still want to be polite or are you ready to fight?

-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.