Evil’s Answer Requires Our Steadfastness

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Charlottesville. Barcelona, Spain. Worldwide. Your community. The horrific violence of recent days has been inconceivable for many of us to comprehend how human beings can inflict such hurt and pain on fellow human beings. Men, women and children have been killed and injured without any thought given about the precious gift of life, who these dear people are and the impact of their presence in other’s lives—and the gaping hole in hearts felt when they have been taken from us, particularly by violence. I and our ministry team join you in prayer for Heather Heyer’s family, the troopers killed on that awful Saturday in Charlottesville, those injured, and those killed and injured on Thursday in Barcelona by violence. Our hearts are heavy. For the mind, the incidents are too massive to properly process as there have been multiple events occurring daily, compounding the righteous anger and grief we feel. It is hoped that we never become indifferent and numb ourselves to the loss of life in an effort to preserve our sanity. So what are we to do with all of this? I know many of you are walking strong and steady in the Lord. I write the following message for saints who need encouraging in this time.

Even God has been and is grieved by mankind’s sin, lawlessness. We can say “call it what it is” with a plethora of labels but at the core, at the root it is sin in mankind’s hearts. Genesis 6:5-6 speaks of God’s grief over man’s wickedness: 5 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (New International Version)

Wickedness, sin is nothing new. It has been slithering around on its belly and raising its ugly head since man was created.

Yet, in all of this, God is in control. In my commune with God and prayers with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we have EVERY reason to be encouraged. Jesus won the victory for us at Calvary and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. Satan has been defeated. The wicked will be no more; they will be snuffed out and cut off (Proverbs 2:22, Proverbs 24:20, Psalm 37:9-10, etc.).

We have been given the victory. Evil seeks to discredit what God has promised to do and what He has already done. For the Body of Christ we must remember and hold fast to His Truth. We must also walk in our Godly authority to combat the darkness. We should not be afraid to walk in what Godly strength looks like while the world capitulates because they have used the wrong weapons in this warfare.

We must seek God’s face for how He would have us to respond, then be led by the Holy Spirit and forsake the wisdom of this world. If you give up on anything, give up on the world having the solution. The world does not have the answer and continues to produce vain efforts. Of all people, WE have the answer for this world: salvation in Jesus Christ. Of all people, WE will remain in peace because our minds are steadfast on the Lord Jesus because we trust Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Of all people, WE are seated in heavenly places as citizens of heaven first and foremost. Our minds should be heavenward and therefore focused on Kingdom business, not chained by the things of this world. With Jesus as our Hope and as the Anchor of our soul Who holds us firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19), WE should seek to steady the lost in this hope by sharing the Gospel. And because of God’s love shown toward us, WE will show His love to others. People are seeking refuge in these desperate times. WE of all people should be a refuge to those searching like a lit and protected city on the hill because of Christ Jesus.

Group-Joined-Together-in-Prayer

Yes, wickedness is here and increasing but only for a time. Read your bible, stay in your Word, pray and fast and fellowship with others to remind yourselves of the victory already won for us by Christ Our Savior who is coming soon. Despite Satan’s best efforts, he cannot overcome this fact.

Saints, I love you. A blessing to serve with you. Stay encouraged. We have the answer to evil. Keep your hope. Suit up for battle each day (Ephesians 6:10-17). Walk confidently in your Godly authority as a soldier in God’s Army whose mind is set on advancing God’s Kingdom and not entangled by the world (2 Timothy 2:4). Move as a soldier unafraid to speak and walk as instructed by our Commander.

Absolutely, when confronting wickedness you will face opposition from Satan. But keep fighting for the enemy has already retreated on several fronts because of the faithful prayers and fasting of many saints. Do not be reeled in and distracted by what things look like but instead, set your face like flint (determined, not confounded, confident in God, fixed) and endure until the end.

Love and God bless you,

Nicole

 

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Sleep With the Doors Unlocked??

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Who can imagine or remember it? I’m reading a book set in 1940’s South Philadelphia in a Black, close-knit community. In that era and before, folks attended church services multiple days during the week. They were there morning, noon and night WITH ALL of their six, seven or eight children in tow. Whether a Sunday service, bible study, choir performance, bake sale, community meeting, wedding or funeral, church was THE place to be.

In that era and in my grandmother’s day as a child (she’s now 100, God bless her!), these words were spoken by her and others: “Yeah, we used to sleep with the doors unlocked.” Huh?? Furthermore, she’d say, “We also used to sleep on the porch and nobody would bother us.” My grandmother lives in Kansas (where I’m from) and not the streets of Philadelphia, and was born in Oklahoma.

In comparing the geographical and demographic differences of Philly and Kansas and thinking of that era of 1940s and before, my mind cannot firmly conceive this possibility of sleeping with doors unlocked. It sounds crazy to me—leaving your doors unlocked—at night OR during the day. Sadly, those of us who are Gen Xers or Gen Y/Millenials cannot recall such a freedom or security in our lifetime. If mom and dad had to run an errand and my brother and I were home, they’d sternly look at us and say, “Lock the doors,” and “don’t answer the door for anyone.”

We lived in a predominately White, Kansas suburban/country neighborhood and school district. Our neighborhood was pin-drop quiet at night (except for chirping crickets) and relatively quiet by day with the exception of someone mowing their lawn, or the jubilant squeals of kids racing each other up and down the road on their bikes.  Even in those carefree days, we were told to “lock up.”

Sadly, even in as much as we hope, we will never return to a time of, “sleeping with the doors unlocked.” Such a time is non-existent. What happened? As I mentioned in my opening, communities were close-knit. People knew each other’s children, knew each other’s business, rallied together on issues that adversely affected the community, made do with what they had and were joyful in it. Their fellowship and commune with God was within and throughout, permeating their lives, neighbor’s households and community. Yes, as cozy and Pollyanna-ish as this sounds, make no mistake: those days birthed injustices, violence and devastating family secrets.

Psalm 91-2 sunset

But perhaps the closer ties to God and community strengthened them to hold up and hold each other up. Now, particularly those of us living in fast-paced urban communities, we may or may not know well our neighbors and certainly don’t know the intricacies of their lives, and maybe we’re not interested. And while parents were taking all of their six or eight kids to church in those earlier eras, unless the family is in regular fellowship with the Lord, you might see their one or two children at church or the parents may simply drop them off and return home.

Thinking of “sleeping with the doors unlocked,” I look fondly on those who experienced that security. For those of us who never experienced it and frankly never will, can we ever abide in a daily peace, comfort or security that will keep us steady and unnerved in these progressively evil days? For those reading this who are of that “sleep with the doors unlocked” generation, can you ever have peace and security again? Joyfully, yes.

The key is: trusting in God’s Word, His Promises and remaining in daily, regular commune with Him to where His Peace “that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), carries and steadies us. Praise God!

I invite you to read Psalm 91 on God’s promises made toward those who trust in Him when fear threatens your security and peace.

May you trust in the Lord to keep you and cover you and may we share His Peace with others,

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.

 

Opportunities in Darkness

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Yesterday, we were delighted to return to the radio airwaves after approximately a year’s hiatus. The one-year break from producing our weekly, 1-hour radio show was needed. The time allowed each of us to sow to other ministry activities, pull away from some activities as seasons ended and draw even closer to God to seek His best for us. In addition, the time allowed us to retool a couple things. For example, after considering feedback received from some listeners and ministry team members, I decided to shorten our radio show from one hour to 30 minutes.

In Wednesday’s discussion topic, “What Is Going On: A Conversation,” I reviewed some of the darkest events of 2015 to present day that have sorrowed us (ex: Charleston church shooting, terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, America’s epidemic of mass shootings, etc.). All of the events, distressing, can make us ask, “What is going on??”

During our conversation, I shared Jesus’ reassuring words told to us in such times from John 16:33- “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” I also noted that though we are living in unsteady times, we can remain steady in God’s Word so we can help steady others. This also draws us closer to Him.

 

ca. 2001 --- Sky over Wheat Plants --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

While the events have been sobering and heartbreaking, I am persuaded that there are abundant OPPORTUNITIES available in such darkness. In fact, for those of us in Christ Jesus, it presents great OPPORTUNITIES for us to be LIGHT. The harvest is plentiful!

Evil hopes for our indifference, laziness, retreat to pursue comfort and a self-centered focus on me and mine. However, as the Body of Christ, we are not called to retreat but to ENGAGE and show others Christ’s love. It’s God’s mercy, His love, His grace, our prayers, actions, light, love that helps stem the tide of evil. The question is, are you willing? Jesus has need of you!

May we be reminded and encouraged by Christ’s victory obtained for us on the Cross! May we be JOYFUL that he overcame evil and this world!

To learn more, listen to “What Is Going On: A Conversation”.

God bless you,

Nicole

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.

The Spirit vs. the Flesh: Fight On!

Today we share with you a message from guest Voices Against the Grain devotional writer, Minister Bryan Williams of Charlotte, N.C. Thank you Minister Williams for presenting a word to encourage us in our faith walk.    -Nicole

Galatians 5:16 & 17- So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (flesh). For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Romans 7:21- When I would do good, evil is always present with me. (King James Bible)

Minister Bryan Williams, VATG Guest Devotional Writer

Minister Bryan Williams, Guest Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer 

You know, there was a time when right was right and wrong was wrong. But Lord, PLEASE HAVE MERCY…how times have changed! Don’t get me wrong: doing “the right thing” is still warranted and doing “the wrong thing” will get you into trouble. But with the times in which we live, these two have been switched. It seems as if people are living as if there are NO RULES, NO REMORSE, NO MERCY, NO HONOR, NO MORALS OR VALUES AND NO FORGIVENESS.  The situation is reminiscent of the movie The Purge, where you have 24 hours to do whatever you want to do—except our 24 hours hasn’t ended.

Not surprising, as 2 Timothy 3:2-5 told us these things were coming:

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous,rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (New International Version)

Each and every morning right after I thank the good Lord for giving me one more day, I watch the local and world news. Without fail, there is always something that makes me shake my head. For instance:

  • The attacks from ISIS abroad and local
  • Transgender lifestyles on the rise
  • Same-sex marriages steadily increasing
  • Racism spreading like wildfire
  • When those who are guilty (with video or phone proof) still walk free
  • When “the church” which should be shining its light the brightest, is hiding in the shadows or blending in with non-believers because they’ve become complacent, believing it is not their fight

Well, I beg to differ. IT IS OUR FIGHT and I encourage you my brother and my sister to:

  • FIGHT ON through what the WORLD says vs. what the WORD says
  • FIGHT ON through the storm of racism
  • FIGHT ON through the confusion of transgender and same-sex relationships
  • FIGHT ON through the depression
  • FIGHT ON through the worry
  • FIGHT ON through the anxiety attacks
  • FIGHT ON through fear and fear of failure
  • FIGHT ON through thoughts of giving up
  • FIGHT ON through the suicidal thoughts
  • FIGHT ON through the thoughts that life ain’t worth living
  • FIGHT ON through what your father said about you
  • FIGHT ON through what happened to you when you were younger
  • FIGHT ON through the loss of that job
  • FIGHT ON through what you see THE WORLD doing

The fight that we’re in is NOT physical but spiritual and now more than ever, we need every Believer to:

  • Kill our flesh daily
  • Allow the Spirit of Christ to arise within us
  • Love others as Christ asks us to and
  • FIGHT ON!

And remember that in John 16:33, Jesus reassures us with these words:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (New International Version) 

Minister Bryan Williams recognized his gift to encourage at a young age. As he grew up in church and started hearing from the Lord (in a today generation voice), he recognized that he was set apart and in 2007, he accepted his call to the ministry. Not only did he recognize his call but he learned early that his passion was for the youth. Min. Williams volunteers in the community, is part of various teen girls’ organizations and mentors teen boys in the process. Min. Williams resides in Charlotte, N.C., and is the son of Walter and Helen Williams and has one brother, Walter Williams.