GO Past Fear of the Unknown

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. GO past it.

As a young girl, I won a beauty pageant in our small Michigan town.  I became “Little Miss Hispanic Princess.” During the pageant, I planned to do a tap dance number. However, technical failures with the music stopped my routine.  The judges then evaluated us according to how we looked and the answers we gave to their questions.  I responded with a desire to help children and those in need.  At that young age, I am unsure if I fully understood such a concept.

Following that victory, I wanted to enter our town’s main beauty pageant called “Little Miss Blueberry.” However, my mother’s friend told her that the only girls who win have “blonde hair and blue eyes.”  I was neither. I had golden tan skin, brown hair and deep chocolate eyes. So, we did not enter the pageant. Fear held us back.  I remember the confidence I had from winning the first pageant quickly dwindled away as if I was inadequate to even enter the next.   go-button

My Mother is White and my Father, Puerto Rican. Interestingly, I won “Little Miss Hispanic” and didn’t even speak Spanish.  I write this not to criticize race or people’s opinions. I write this to encourage you to not allow fear to prevent you from stepping into the unknown.  At that point in time, I could have been the first Spanish girl to win “Little Miss Blueberry.”  God sees our heart and judges by our inward condition.  We judge by outward appearances.  I would not be here today if a Puerto Rican man hadn’t fallen in love with a White American woman.  In spite of my parent’s differences of race and language, they shared a strong common denominator that brought and has held them together. They share a love for Christ and they were both determined to fulfill His Perfect Will for their lives, and thus they have.

1 Samuel 16:6-7 (King James Version) 6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.

7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance. But the LORD looketh on the heart.

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 has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative is Georgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.

Ana resides in Southern California with her three beautiful children and seeks daily to model this scripture from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

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A New Creation in Christ

Good Day, People.  In general, we know people are far less forgiving of our mistakes or past than God. Even if you have moved forward from your past lifestyles and mistakes, people may still approach you with hesitancy, wondering if you will revert to your old ways.  You might even allow thoughts of your past to hinder you in moving forward or viewing yourself as God sees you—a new creation.

There are several scriptures in the Bible that confirm God’s love for us, even in sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. A debt we can’t ever repay. Our gift for a new life in putting to death the old is accepting Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior. Two passages that convey how deep His forgetting of our sins:

Psalm 10:12  10- “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11- For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12- as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (New International Version)

2 Corinthians 5:16-19  16-“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new is come! 18- All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19- that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” (New International Version)

New-Creation

Praise God! This is the good news! Believe it. God has given you and me victory over our Accuser who is quick to bring up our past and yesterday’s mistakes. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are a new creation. No other god of any religion has come down and given so much to have a relationship with you. None other.

A song that speaks to this excellent transition and gift is “Moving Forward” by Israel Houghton.  Enjoy!

Oh, hey, what a moment You have brought me to?
Such a freedom I have found in You
You’re the healer who makes all things newI’m not going back, I’m moving ahead
Here to declare to You my past is over in You
All things are made new, surrendered my life to Christ
I’m moving, moving forwardYou have risen with all power in Your hands
You have given me a second chanceI’m not going back, I’m moving ahead
Here to declare to You my past is over in You
All things are made new, surrendered my life to Christ
I’m movingNot going back, moving ahead
Here to declare to You, my past is over in You
All things are made new, surrendered my life to Christ
I’m moving, moving forward
Said I’m moving forwardSinging You make all things new
Yes, You make all things new and I will follow You forward
You make all things new
You make all things new and I will follow You forwardYou make all things new
Yes, You make all things new and I will follow You forward
You make all things new
Yes, You make all things new and I will follow You forwardI will follow You forward

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.

A Voice in the Wind

Nicole’s Note: Here at “Voices Against the Grain,” we are committed to uplifting the voices of those who are boldly advancing God’s Kingdom in a world whose actions contradict this pursuit. This past February, I was privileged to meet Herbert Bowen, Jr., whose blog post follows below (thank you Shannon Howey for coordinating the conference at which we met).  He is an exemplary young man who has held firmly to Jesus Christ since age 5. At his present age of 23, his relationship with Jesus Christ has helped him overcome many temptations and kept him on the path of “waiting for sex until marriage.” I am proud of him and pleased to share his post for your reading.  He is a great example for our young people of what’s possible with God. Stay tuned, as he’ll have more blog posts to share and will be a featured guest on the  “Voices Against the Grain” radio show this fall. Please read and continue to encourage this young man in his walk with Christ. GO Herbert, and Keep God First!

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Since age 5, I have always been in the church, as my name means “illustrious, intelligent warrior, a soldier in God’s army.” I stood as a member of Upper Merion Baptist Church in my hometown of King of Prussia, Pa., until the age of 18 whereupon I went to college. Even then I rarely missed a Sunday service. My grandmother Abigail taught me from a young age to remember that “only what you do for Christ shall last.” This concept stuck with me as I progressed and matured in my life, as it wasn’t until high school that I saw the constant bombardment of sexual temptation, drugs, and an absolute disregard for morality.

Many of my “so-called” friends deserted me en route to follow their own inhibitions. I understand that the world seeks fulfillment over restraint, I understand the pressure to appease rather than to flee temptation, I understand. For in my younger days I felt the bitter cold of loneliness and the torment of ridicule, due to the fact that I refused to follow the standards of this world. The taunts and abandonment of being called “gay,” due to my then and present virginity at the age of 23, or the lack of warmth when trying to kindle a relationship with someone, was to say the least, discomforting. Therefore, I know the Christian life is paved with trials and tribulations. As even now I undergo persecution. Because in the world we live in, the candlelight is enveloped in the darkness.

However, the more I grew I saw the woebegone periods of my life brighten, as God transformed the ridicule to respect and the slander to being held in high regard. In 1 Peter 1:6, it says, “so be truly glad for there is a wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.” Furthermore, the realization said best by my Pastor Loran Livingston, is this “Earth is nothing, but a cheap motel room because you don’t furnish the motel room with pictures, a Tempurpedic bed, and so on. All in all, it doesn’t make sense, so let’s look forward to everlasting joy and building our homes in heaven.” Hence, it’s my opinion that this life is meant to spread the Gospel, not seeking our own personal happiness and gain. Because real investments have eternal returns, so we must lay out a long-term investment plan in order to build a strong spiritual future. Because those who are ill-prepared will look back and wonder where they took the wrong step, as they now toil and struggle to recoup the spiritual currency needed to make ends meet.

Moreover, I am enamored with 1 Timothy 4:14-16, especially v. 16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Persevere.

Persevere in meditation in God’s word every day and every night. The answer to not only hear God, but to be confident in what you’re doing is right. Next, pray without ceasing. We are not strong enough by ourselves. Prayer is our direct link to God. Contrary to popular belief we are not talking to air. He is the reason for the clothes on our backs and shoes on our feet. The reason why you and I are fortunate enough to live in America, where we can go to school every day, congregate in a church, and have friends of different backgrounds without the persecution and fear suffered in other countries.

I have woken up to see what God has done in my life. Because time is of the essence, so I encourage others to seek out a friend, classmate, or enemy, whoever may listen, so they might have opportunity to hear the Good News and duplicate the process, to which has made them secure. And before you know it there shall be many (not seeking their own profit, but the profit of many) (1 Corinthians 10:33) who will offer up their bodies holy and pleasing as a living sacrifice to God.

So may God bless you, you called to be one of the few,

Looking to fulfill his purpose resembling not the hare, but the tortoise,

For to seek Christ is to gain, never turning our back because he bore our pain.

Praise be to God, our Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. 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 Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 23, 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. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.