Check Your Enthusiasm

Put everything to the test. Hold fast to that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

“Christians are not only being persecuted for their faith but also for their foolishness.” -Dr. Tony Evans

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (New International Version)

Scrutinize. Examine. Inspect.

As Christians we are indeed called to be salt and light. I would not want to imagine this world without such. Yet, for some Christians in their effort to “do right” there is a reckless enthusiasm that hitches itself to something (or someone) posited as “virtuous” to come against and rid the culture wars landing on our doorsteps. The enthusiasm is ginned up in a fear and panic to “take back our country,” quickly turning ‘virtuous actions’ into an “us vs. them” battle. Christians who are supposed to be known for their kindness and love have resorted to tactics used by the world such as name-calling, mudslinging and bullying. The posture of conspiracy, fear and “hair on fire” anger has swung the pendulum so far as to dismiss how we should approach one another and the issues of our day.

Tragically forgotten is our spiritual authority and positioning as those redeemed in Christ Jesus. We are seated with Him in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). We need not resort to the ways of the world or get spun up by the continued deterioration of this world. Scripture tells us that this world is perishing and is in fact passing away. Even as the storms are tossing, remember that Jesus is in the boat with us.

I work in public policy in particular to advocate for healthcare legislation that is ethical and will advance human flourishing without diminishing human dignity. The work requires my engagement in the 50 states and the District of Columbia to monitor various bills of interest being introduced in the state legislatures. A good work and one certainly of spiritual warfare that I am blessed to do with many godly, prayerful and ethical advocates. Yet, I have also seen bad bills introduced from both sides of the aisle in attempt to “take back our country” in the “us vs. them” battle.

Unfortunately, if you’re not angry or fearful enough, if you’re not riled up, it’s thought that something is wrong with you. If you are not wholly partisan, then often you are considered an enemy; as one who has deviated from the tribe. Aka, “If you’re not with us, then you’re against us.” From this podcast episode of The Holy Post on the “war on winsomeness,” co-host Skye Jethani speaks on the fear that has captivated some Believers: “If you are captivated by fear, you cannot love. Fear leads to self-preservation.” Even winsomeness has come under attack when wisdom would unshackle them from fear and reckless enthusiasm. In facing the issues, some Christians do not imitate our loving God who is above the situation. We are not the sweet smelling aroma of Christ.

In Dr. Tony’s message “God is Shaking Things Up” delivered at the 2021 National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention held in Grapevine, Texas, he gave a hard but truthful word: “Christians are not only being persecuted for their faith but also for their foolishness.”

Turns out that while the church has been caught up in CRT, removing books about Ruby Bridges, name-calling the liberals and bad-mouthing the conservatives, the biggest threat to the Church as been itself.

Dr. Evans went on to say:

“The White church has become too Republican by wrapping our faith in the American flag. When you pursue a nationalistic faith, you corrupt the Gospel because you have not made the nation to King Jesus, but to nationalism. The Black church has become idolatrous too. We are often ‘more Black’ than biblical. The evil of abortion and homosexuality the Black church doesn’t often speak to this.”

“Since we serve a Kingdom, let’s act like it. We’re too evangelical and not Kingdom enough.”

We must test everything to ensure it is not our flesh leading us but that we are being led by the Holy Spirit. In using the latter approach, the supernatural happens. Hearts, minds, families and communities are transformed. Repentance happens and people turn from their wicked ways. We foil the schemes of the devil who is out to steal, kill and destroy. People experience true freedom! Decay is held back or reversed. Cities prosper. I know that is ultimately what we desire.

The Bottom Line: Our Commandment to Love Others and Our Call to Holiness

Jesus commands us to love God. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Jesus commands us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-48).

God doesn’t need us to right every single wrong on earth, particularly if our actions are conducted in a fashion and spirit that lacks love. He does invite us to be effective messengers of the Gospel, to be ministers of reconciliation, to be Ambassadors of Christ to confront wickedness in a world that is more inclined to run from Him; in a world that pursues its own wisdom rather than God’s perfect wisdom. As those redeemed in Christ Jesus, we carry within us a hope that should anchor us and others rather than driving us to fear and division. Jesus took on human form to model what loving others, even our enemies, should look like. God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us live out that love.

In the Old and New Testament, God says “be ye holy, for I am holy.” That means we live very differently from the world. When we give the Holy Spirit charge over our conduct and our character He will enable us to approach others and the issues of our day in a godly way. Our enthusiasm and zeal will be in check so that we are not destroying those we are led to help. I know that is ultimately what we want.

I am glad that Jesus is neither “left” nor “right.” He is too big for such categories. His ways and thoughts are far better and higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). His ways are, thankfully, counterintuitive to our natural. Members in the body of Christ have resorted to guerilla warfare when our warfare should begin on our knees. We’re asking God to remake this country and world but let that work begin first with you. Ask Him to remake you.

Heavenly Father, remove our fear and anxiety. Let us see that perfect love casts out all fear. Keep us from the error of an unchecked enthusiasm that pits us against an enemy or “frienemy” we’re commanded to love. Remove any offensive way in us. Lead us in your ways, Father. Let us not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions (1 John 3:18). In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Check out:

The Holy Post: Episode 509: The War on Winsomeness & Interfaith Cooperation with Eboo Patel on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-509-the-war-on-winsomeness-interfaith/id591157388?i=1000562243895

Dr. Tony Evans Message of “God is Shaking Things Up” at the 2021 National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxqfukvddh8

Are You Ready to Make the Dead Alive?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

From this article’s title, please do not think I’ve gone rogue. I am not suggesting a séance or any other means in which some people on this side of heaven attempt to communicate or connect with those who have passed on. But I am referring to Someone Who can make even those physically dead alive and make alive those who are walking around spiritually dead: Jesus Christ.

Jesus came that we might enjoy life right now, and life to the full even before we spend our forever days with Him and our Christian brothers and sisters in heaven. Jesus is the Bread of Life; a staple, essential for life. Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

From the opioid and drug addicted, to the depressed and suicidal, to the vile and violent, to the oppressed and the oppressor, to those in sexual sin, to the lost or those who call themselves Christian but have no intimate knowledge of Him, the love and mighty power of Jesus is able to make those dead, alive in Him. He is spiritual bread that brings eternal life.

This is great news! Praise God for Believers who are courageously walking in this and ministering to others in truth! So why aren’t more Christians sharing the truth about Jesus being the Bread of Life? In reading this, you may realize that you are falling short in this area. Yes, there are risks involved in boldly proclaiming Jesus to a rebellious and skeptical world.

Sure, you want to be accepted by friends, family and colleagues. Yes, it’s hard to go against the popular wisdom of the day when everyone else is buying what the world is selling. Yes, sharing the biblical truth will make you appear foolish to a world that doesn’t run to God but runs from God. But would you jeopardize your faith and friendship with the Lord to be friends with the world? Will you fail the test in the end?

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To not offer the Truth is dangerous to your faith and offers no real healing to those you are serving. How sorrowful to hold the truth in your hands and yet extend a placebo to avoid any fall out you might experience. Then we wonder why people are not walking in victory. We wonder why people are further descending into spiritual death and not being resurrected to spiritual life. It’s because we’ve shown them a crutch instead of the Cross. It’s because our placebos have ushered them toward life’s coffins (dead ends) rather than a relationship with their Creator, and Jesus the Bread of Life. God placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Do not give people a placebo for that. Invite them to partake of Jesus.

Careful dear brothers and sisters that after all Christ did on the Cross to not exchange the truth for a lie to follow the father of lies (Satan). Satan’s and the world’s lies are an enslavement theology. Either you are contributing to that person’s freedom by loosing what binds them by offering them Christ Jesus—or you are adding another chain to their bondage by offering them the wisdom of this world.

Are you ready to make the dead alive? Give them the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit and His Word will guide you into all understanding and obedience. Trust the power of who God is, the Holy Spirit and His Truth to prepare hearts and minds to repent, submit and turn toward Him without your needing to offer a placebo. Trust that God is able to work through you to preserve His Promises, you and others. The Holy Spirit flows through us as the living water, bringing life to us and others to be the light of the world.

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Amen.

Love 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Feet

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” – Romans 10:15 (New International Version)

 

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

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!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. –Isaiah 52:7-8 This chapter in the book Isaiah was written concerning the deliverance of the Jews out of Babylon and yet it is perfectly applicable to us today in the 21st century concerning the great salvation Jesus Christ calls us to.

Life is not all that different today than it was in ages past. For the Bible says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” –Ecclesiastes 1:9 People are still struggling to make ends meet in poverty. People are still being persecuted for their faith. People are still hurting in isolation socially and hurting from abuse physically and emotionally. In other words, sin still exists. You’ve tried everything under the sun from alcohol to drugs to sex you name it. You have even tried seeking a filling from your close loved ones or therapist and while that may help for a moment, your soul cries for something more.

You need a fresh perspective on life. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the Good News! These times are desperate times. Desperation is not always the best reasons for coming to Jesus Christ but it’s a good one! And if you’re a person who’s despairing of your ability to sort out your life or solve your own problems or if God has given you the inclination to deal with your sins today (which he has) then let your desperation drive you to Jesus Christ. You’ll find that he doesn’t say “fix this” or “fix that” before you come. Jesus never said you have to come to Him in a better frame of mind or with a better life. He continues to receive people as they come, just the way they are. There’s NOTHING you have to do first before coming to him. Just come.Follow Jesus

The watchmen (ministers, preachers, Christians) stand on the mountains proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. For once upon a time, they too lived in the valleys. They too were in a continuous state of desperation and either asked themselves or another, “What must I do to be saved?” –Acts 16:30 Thank the Lord he has not made it difficult! For the Bible says, “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. –Romans 10:8-9 God Bless you!

-Jason M. Alexandre

 

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born in November of 1989 in Brooklyn, N.Y. His family later moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and he now resides in Limerick, Pa. In May of 2014, Jason obtained his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Professionally, Jason counsels persons who are homeless, parents, veterans, and others who suffer from various kinds of abuse. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the Great Commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the Gospel to be spread from person-to-person and nation-to-nation. Annually, Jason travels primarily to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year, Haiti Christianity, Inc., visits cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothing, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly, evangelization takes place. Jason is currently the organization’s public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.