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

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…

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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.

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. 

VATG in Photos

VATG devotional writer Herbert Bowen, Jr. (black shirt) and  founder of B.T.E.P. (Bringing Together Extraordinary People), poses with his BTEP team and partners, Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo and 14-year-old Charlotte race car driver Matt Murphy IV (purple shirt) to host their first annual fundraiser on May 14, 2015 to purchase new equipment and uniforms for a disadvantaged high school baseball team.

VATG devotional writer Herbert Bowen, Jr. (black shirt) and founder of B.T.E.P. (Bringing Together Extraordinary People), poses with his BTEP team and partners, Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo and 14-year-old Charlotte race car driver Matt Murphy IV (purple shirt) to host their first annual fundraiser on May 14, 2015 to purchase new equipment and uniforms for a disadvantaged high school baseball team. (Photo courtesy Ken Bebe)

VATG devotional writer Herbert Bowen, Jr. (black shirt to right of sign), and founder of B.T.E.P., poses with his team, Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, coaches and players of the Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology baseball team at B.T.E.P.'s kickoff event on May 14, 2015 to raise funds to purchase new equipment and uniforms for the baseball team in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo courtesy Ken Bebe)

VATG devotional writer Herbert Bowen, Jr. (black shirt to right of sign), and founder of B.T.E.P., poses with his team, Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, coaches and players of the Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology baseball team at B.T.E.P.’s kickoff event on May 14, 2015 to raise funds to purchase new equipment and uniforms for the baseball team in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo courtesy Ken Bebe)

VATG founder Nicole D. Hayes and VATG digital media coordinator Destiney Bishop, enjoy a perfect weather day, brunch and fellowship in DC on May 22, 2015.

VATG founder Nicole D. Hayes and VATG digital media coordinator Destiney Bishop enjoy a perfect weather day, brunch and fellowship in DC on May 22, 2015.

Meet the Team: Q & A With Destiney Bishop

Savvy in social media with a passion to advance communities, lives and organizations through skilled communications strategies, we were excited to welcome Destiney Bishop as our Digital Media Coordinator in October 2014. In her role, Destiney assists in our social media engagement to uplift various conversations within the Body of Christ and to support the Voices Against the Grain mission of “advancing God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing’ society.” What does Destiney enjoy doing in her spare time? What does having a relationship with God mean to her? Learn more about Destiney in the Q&A below.

Destiney Bishop, VATG Digital Media Coordinator

Destiney Bishop, Voices Against the Grain Digital Media Coordinator

Where are you from?  I am a military brat, so I would say I am from all over. I was born in Biloxi, MS, lived in Suffolk, England, and went to high school in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Since I have spent most of my life in Maryland, I usually claim PG County – Clinton to be exact!

When is your birthday? May 5, which I also love to call #CincodeDessie

How did you come to join the Voices Against the Grain team?  I had the pleasure of working with Voices Against the Grain founder, Nicole Hayes. Nicole would tell me about the work she was doing with VATG and I became extremely interested! From there, the rest was history.  🙂

What is your favorite childhood memory? Holidays with my grandparents. I have a very large family so it was always great to be around them during holidays. Plus, each holiday my grandmothers would cook a big feast and the food was AMAZING!

As a Christian, what is your understanding of why God allows trials/temptations to come into our lives? I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we forget that God already has the answer. I believe God brings us to certain trials/temptations in order for us to trust Him. It’s easy to give up when faced with difficulty but as Christians we are reminded that God has the final say. For me, these trials/temptations are merely tests and in the end bring me closer to Him.

What do you do in your spare time? In my spare time, I like to hang out with my best friends, explore new restaurants – especially going to brunch, watch classic ’90s television shows like Martin and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, reality television and of course Netflix! I also love to sleep (one can never get enough sleep) and travel!

What is your favorite bible verse? Wow, I have soo many! Philippians 4:6-7, Philippians 4:13, Proverbs 3:5-6, Luke 12:48.

What does having a relationship/walk with God mean to you? It’s everything to me. I was raised in the church and my grandmother always emphasized the importance of having a relationship with God. As a young Christian, I will say my walk hasn’t always been easy but I’m constantly reminded that without a relationship with Him, I am nothing. I’m certain that I wouldn’t be who I am without a relationship with Him.

What is your favorite food? I like all types of food, and my favorite food changes every day. If I had to pick, I would say BBQ and Mexican.

If you had a superpower what would it be? As a busybody who loves to travel, I would love to teleport to places.

Is there anything else we should know about you? 1) I have really odd sneezes. 2) I recently moved to NY so exploring a new city is exciting! 3) I have many sisters (and although they can be annoying at times, I love them very much).

 Learn more about Destiney Bishop 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.