A Critical Time to Be a Christian

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“Not on our watch.” From catastrophic events to a nation pursuing everything but God, there’s no better time to raise your voice for Christ.

During Wednesday’s Voices Against the Grain radio show, we discussed the recent good news and victory of the canceled “Temple of Baal” digitally-rendered arches that were to be installed in NYC’s Times Square (in addition to London and Dubai) on Tuesday, April 19. A true victory for God’s Kingdom, of prayers answered, celebrated by the Body of Christ!

Weeks ago, many of us learned of the project underway that intended its presence on American soil. For those unfamiliar, the “Temple of Baal” was a 2,000-year-old grand structure in Palmyra, Syria erected around 32 A.D., that was highly regarded by the Syrian people. The temple was destroyed in 2015 by ISIS and there’s since been a move to rebuild this structure under the guise of an “historical learning project.” The project was a digital archaeology design team joint venture between Harvard University, Oxford University and Dubai’s Museum of the Future.lit temple replica

Why is this important? I’m getting to that. In Old Testament times, the Canaanites and others worshipped Baal, who was a demon and described by Wikipedia as “one of the seven princes of Hell with 66 legions of demons under his command.” As part of their worship of Baal, babies were sacrificed, people engaged in orgies, and other forms of sexual debauchery. So, why would WE or anyone want a structure like this built on our soil?

Upon learning of this project underway, many of us in the Body of Christ were saddened at the blatant disregard and slap in the face toward God. But we were emboldened to take this to prayer. We said, “Not on our watch.” Several in my close knit prayer fellowship came together in prayer over this which extended to the larger and collective Body of Christ, united on one front in prayer to say, “Not on our watch.” That this arch, this “historical exhibit,” this next strategy of the enemy was not coming to American soil on Tuesday, April 19th, Wednesday, April 20th or any other day of the week. Our fervent prayers were answered.

This is a critical time to be a Christian. In a world that has rejected God, acting in every way contrary to God’s Word and design, WE as Christians are and should be THE STANDARD.

Though we’re jubilant of this recent victory, this is not a license to rest on our laurels. The evil and catastrophic events of our day are like none witnessed before. Unprecedented. Many people provide their own explanations as to why this is happening but don’t identify the events as God’s judgment. America has lessened its need for God.

Furthermore, the comfortable, cultural  Christian has allowed the intellectual elite to drive the narrative in education, government and politics, blindly sending people into “group think” ditches.  This is a time for authentic faith.

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As a Christian, are you making your life and voice heard for Christ so others may see Him and turn from their wicked ways? Are you living, acting and speaking as salt and light? Are you setting the standard? Or is your “Chinese menu” of faith and fear of telling others God’s truth aiding in others’ blindness?

Thank you, thank you to those in the Body of Christ who are living, acting and speaking as Christ’s standard. I can’t imagine what our days would be without such light present. If you realize you need to firm up in your living as Christ’s standard, great—as there are plenty opportunities to start now! Jesus has need of you. God is using these times of darkness as OPPORTUNITIES for His PEOPLE to ENGAGE with the lost so they may see HIM through US. We are called to be SALT and LIGHT (Matthew 5:13-16), not sugar. Salt will preserve people from themselves and external evils. Light will show them the way to Christ Jesus.

I invite you to listen to “The Temple of Baal and America: A Critical Time to Be a Christian.”  (Corresponding scriptures included) SPECIAL THANK YOU: A grateful thank you to my prayer partners who provided supporting content, context, scriptures and their prayers to help frame this conversation.

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Crucial, Christian rap artist, producer and speaker

Please also listen to the “hard truth” conversation we shared on 4/13 with our brother in Christ and Christian rap artist, Crucial. We discussed the impact of deception and how to compassionately engage with those blinded to the truth (Thank you, Crucial!): “Crucial Talk: A Conversation with Christian Rap Artist, Crucial.” 

Thank you and 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.

 

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Preacher Teacher: Compassion, Not Compromise

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Does your pastor preach that same-sex marriage is ok? Welcomes civil unions? Are they vague on whether homosexuality is a sin, as like all forms of sexual immorality? If this occurs in your church, you might pack up. There is a disturbing trend occurring among some church leadership to bend in the area of homosexuality and same-sex marriage/unions so as to not offend anyone. In a February 2014 Pew Research Center survey conducted, “62% of mainline Protestants now say they favor same-sex marriage, up from just 34% a decade earlier in 2004.”( June 2014 Pew Research Center) Truth is, if you love someone, you tell them the truth so they are no longer blinded. If God’s truth “offends” then it offends those who view God’s Word as an afront to their chosen lifestyle. God’s Word convicts and convinces us of what is righteousness and what is sin. Some ignore it to satisfy their depravities which have been stamped as “natural.” And now they’ve asked us as Believers to accept all forms of depravity as “natural” too.

So why tackle this hot seat topic today? As you sit in your Sunday morning service, I ask that you discern what those in leadership are imparting to you. Meet it with Scripture.

When I read the headline of this July 2 Black Christian News article, “Baptist Pastor Who No Longer Believes Homosexuality Is a Sin is Obama’s Guest at White House LGBT Pride Month Reception,” I said, “Whaat??”

To explain the long story short,  Danny Cortez, who leads New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., rejected his denomination’s stance on homosexuality by deciding to accept the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community without teaching that homosexual behavior is a sin. He and his 15-year-old son, Drew Cortez, who came out as gay earlier this year, received an invitation to a June 30 White House presidential reception, celebrating LGBT Pride Month. About the event, President Barack Obama said, “This tremendous progress we’ve made as a society is thanks to those of you who fought the good fight, and to Americans across the country who marched and came out and organized to secure the rights of others,” Obama said at the reception.

 

Courtesy of New Community Church

Photo Courtesy of New Heart Community Church

In a similar Christian Post article, it states that in June “New Heart split following the pastor’s decision to transform the church into a “Third Way” church.” As a “Third Way church,” the Southern Baptist congregation would “accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgment,” says Cortez. Prior to arriving at this “Third Way” decision, the church reviewed their traditional views to determine if they should adopt a new position on same-sex marriage. 

 

Again, I reread this information and said, “Whaat??”

While Pastor Cortez properly nailed the “not cast judgment” part as how a Christian should view others, and while I have compassion for the conflicted feelings and confusion their son Drew must struggle with concerning his sexuality, and while I have compassion for Pastor Cortez and his wife as parents grappling with this news in a private and public manner, and while I have compassion and love for those in my life and community who consider themselves gay, AND while I mostly have a high regard for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, I’m led to expose the deception and problems that lie therein. Some would say, “Nicole, who cares. It’s not your concern.” Frankly, it would be easier for me to duck out on the issue and remain silent. Yet, silence and tolerance in order to “go along” have blended the wheat with the tare; blending the true with the false. God is separating the wheat from the tare to reveal who is who. As an Ambassador of Christ, He orders my steps to bring light and truth to deception so clarity can be restored.


What you need to know:


1. Feed Them Truth, Not Lies.
To God’s People, if we love the Lord, Jesus’ command to us: “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)  There is a heavy accountability and responsibility for those called to lead God’s people/sheep. We don’t take, add to, or distort God’s Word for our gain or to gain favor with others. Pastor Cortez has corrupted God’s Word to earn favor and to better cope with his son’s chosen lifestyle. While twisting God’s Word to rise in the eyes of others, these faulty shepherds are aiding in deceiving those to walk in their destruction if these sheep have not studied God and His Word for themselves. Good shepherds feed sheep the truth, not lies. They shirk being ‘comfortable’ and seek to sober a decaying world. I believe God is raising up new shepherds and witnesses to succeed where faulty shepherds have failed. As for faulty leaders, “their destruction has not been sleeping.” (2 Peter 2:3). God will handle that.

2. Compassion, Not Compromise.
 It saddened me to watch the 14-min video message from Drew Cortez sharing about his struggles with homosexual desires, not wanting those feelings, his “being confused and scared of being different and it worsened as I got older.”  (View video here).  I have compassion for Drew and am praying for him. As my friend and brother-in-Christ Hakim Hazim shared, “A Christian’s walk is often challenged to show compassion and love for those who express and promote opposing views that contradict God’s Word.”  As God’s Elect and Ambassadors of Christ, we are asked to “deal gently with those who are ignorant or misguided since we ourselves are subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:2)  We all struggle with something and none of it is new under the sun. We may have unhealthy or unnatural desires but through Christ Jesus, we ask His help to not engage in those behaviors. Spirit and flesh battle daily. The more we desire a heart of Christ, the more we will work to put those habits underfoot. The good news as found in 1 Corinthians 10:13- “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (New International Version) While Christians are to be compassionate and loving toward others in their struggle, this doesn’t mean we compromise God’s Word so we fit in and make them more comfortable. Pastor Cortez got this twisted. 

3. God Will Not Compromise His Name, Character or His Word.
 God’s Word is forever settled. I could say, “Father please compromise so I can live the way I want.”  “Compromise” means “a settlement of differences through mutual concession.” But truth is, if God compromised who He is, His Word or His promises, it would mean our defeat. His promise of eternal life, His equipping us to walk in full victory over temptation would be rendered empty, null and void. Does a good parent compromise the safety and life of their child to cater to that child’s harmful whims? No. So it is with our Heavenly Father. God’s Word is not subject to compromise, concession or vote as is a democracy. God will not compromise His character so we may gain favor with man. Clearly, in 1 Corinthians 6:9, says “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10- nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.” Then v. 18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside of his body, but he who sins sexually, sins against his own body.”

4. Same-Sex Marriage: The New Satanic Agenda.
 Too many Christians have become accepting and comfortable with the ways of the world. So comfortable, they’ve joined the party line. It is crucial for God’s people to discern the authentic from the counterfeit. The only way we can discern truth from lie is to spend time in God’s Word, in His Presence and surround ourselves with those who also walk in and instruct His truth. Satan attempts to counterfeit everything of God, including God’s design for male and female relationships, marriage and sex (yes, in that order). The kingdoms and systems of this world (including political) are being handed over to the devil. A satanic agenda is being reflected (even through some of our church leadership) as we’ve never seen before. It is in this time that true “ride or die” Christians are being called forth to deliver godly clarity, correction, direction and instruction where confusion and deception have taken root and spread like weeds.


As our brother-in-Christ and Christian rap artist, Crucial, says in his song “Homosexuals” from his Hard Truth album:
“But man, don’t you know the devil’s been in pursuit? Deception wouldn’t be deception if it didn’t seem true.”  (Hear more on iTunes, track #11.  Thanks Crucial! Catchy beats produced by a former lesbian now sold out to Christ Jesus! We’ll invite her for a future radio show to share her story.)

Your call to action:

 

God’s Word has prepared His People to endure and empower others in these and all situations. As told in 2 Timothy 4:2-5:

2-
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3- For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4- They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5- But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (New International Version)

 

1. Pray for clarity to be restored among those deceived and that faulty leadership is removed.

2. If you’re deceived, seek truth in God’s Word.

3. Pray and remain compassionate for the Cortez Family, and others grappling with this issue and that clarity be restored to them.

 

As for President Obama, he is caught up in a system that has long been given over to the world.

About Nicole D. Hayes

Nicole D. Hayes is committed to serve as a vessel of compassion, instruction, love and truth for Jesus Christ. Born and raised in Topeka, Kan., she is a member of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C.  Drawn to know Christ in her early childhood and saved at the age of 12, Nicole is a student and applier of God’s Word. She is also a successful public relations professional operating in Washington, D.C., with more than eight years experience of coordinating and delivering strategic communications and media outreach support for nonprofits and small business owners. During her career she has placed several nonprofits and small business owners in national, local and regional media spaces. She operates with a personal and business mantra of “making an investment in people.” Among many things, Nicole is also a motivational speaker. She has been invited to deliver messages to business leaders to not be misguided by the world’s view of success, to direct young people navigating through the world’s challenges, and to remind those who may have lost their way that joyfully, “God Has Not Changed His Mind About You.” Nicole’s purpose in creating “Voices Against the Grain” is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amidst confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

To Grow, Remove Familiar Distractions and Powerful Attachments

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

You want to grow forward but the past keeps pulling you back. One step forward and two steps back—gripped by past behaviors, some people, and familiar places. If you are a new Christian or a Christian who is deepening their walk with Christ you must realize the daily battle that will ensue between the flesh and the Spirit: “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” (Galatians 5:17, New Living Translation).

Earlier this week on the Voices Against the Grain radio show, we spoke with Christian rap artist Matthew Slyman, otherwise known as “Crucial.” Crucial shared his testimony of how God freed him from years of drug and alcohol addiction, promiscuity and other sinful behaviors. In his desire to break free from that lifestyle and live for Christ, he was surprised by how strong these bad habits pulled him back in. Old friends would invite him to parties to smoke weed, do ecstasy, and drink. The drug addictions and connections to old friends seemed inescapable, spiraling him further into this lifestyle. Finally, it was one night at a party in his apartment where a photo of Christ Jesus inspired him to witness to his drinking friends about the goodness of God. This began the separation as they looked at him like the red-headed stepchild. From his seven-track album “The End of the World,” he raps in this song “Breaking Away”:

“Once upon a time in an age where sin reigned, it mastered me like a sensei ingrained… so later down the road I let some friends go…I found another path in life and I let ’em know. Man, I can still remember pleading for them to come along, I didn’t want to leave them…But it seemed the more I spoke the truth they pushed me aside like a broken tooth…it wasn’t personal they couldn’t see the way….they didn’t know they had been deceived…they couldn’t understand how I had been redeemed…but this is all a part of how it falls apart when you leave the world behind and your calling starts, but see the One Who fixed you is the One Who strips you of everything holding you down and He lifts you…I know you formed a lifestyle and picked up some habits,  it’s hard to part with familiar distractions, it’s hard to break away from powerful attachments, but with Christ all those powers are matchless…”

Download Crucial’s free “The End of the World” album here. Listen to “Breaking Away” and other tracks. We love this album! End of the World Album Cover

He learned from 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Don’t be misled: bad company corrupts good character.”

If you want to grow in Christ, break away from the familiar distractions and powerful attachments. This may mean leaving behind behaviors, places and some people. This is not possible in our own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Have no confidence in the flesh. Fast, pray and stay in commune with God. The one you feed the most (whether Spirit or flesh) will grow the most. Don’t be surprised if the past wants to make a return. We can combat this daily by putting on our spiritual armor, found in Ephesians 6:10-18.

Listen here to our interview with Crucial. You can also read about him on our “Bold Voices” page and at http://www.crucialbeats.com/