Before God Publicizes You, Pray That He Prepares You in Private

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Name in lights. Red carpet nights. Your “come up.” Many people fantasize about and relentlessly pursue platforms that they think will quickly rocket them to celebrity status. In their desperation to arrive, numerous celebrities would likely advise them not to rush or force it; to approach it with great caution and preparation. As they reflect on their own negative behaviors and decisions amplified in the public sphere from poor wardrobe choices, to drunken outings to disparaging words said, they admittedly would have desired more time to be hidden away, more time to have been prepared in private beforehand. They might have prayed for anonymity.

Female celebrity red carpet arrival

For several years, God has been preparing me in private before launching me public. Much of this preparation or “oven baking” as I refer to it, has occurred during my prayer time and commune with Him. Also, while reading and studying His Word. In my commune with Him, I have learned to hear how He speaks to me and trust the information and revelation imparted to me. Some information was meant to share to encourage, equip or instruct others, and other times it was only intended for me — and wisdom has helped me to distinguish between. I’ve also been surrounded by trusted godly counselors for who I am truly grateful.

He has been honing my diligence and obedience in completing routine tasks that grew my ability to be entrusted with greater responsibilities, such as mentoring young people on a weekly basis. He has allowed various situations to deepen my confidence in Him as my Provider, my Healer, my Everything. He has prepared my temperament (and continues to) for public and knowing that not every issue requires a response, and how to respond when needed. He continues to deepen my patience and love toward others which hasn’t always been easy but is becoming more of my default.  🤗

In a society whose value seems to rise and fall based on the number of “likes,” “followers,” views, comments, shares and retweets, I’ve learned not to base my direction or success on the rise and fall of human accolades or disapproval, nor shout outs or silence.

It has been during the wilderness experiences where I grew confident in how He leads me but this confidence did not come overnight. It’s also been where I have learned to fight in the spirit against Satan’s lies and attacks in his attempt to distract, derail and diminish me.

I’ve learned to operate in my lane obediently. I do not seek nor desire someone else’s lane. I also accept the costs of my calling (every calling has a cost and we should embrace those costs) and what it means to run in my lane — which also means I am willing to risk being misunderstood.

As a dear brother in Christ, Hakim Hazim, founder of consultancy Relevant Now, recently said, “People don’t realize that what you do publicly for the Lord directly relates to what you do privately in the Lord.”

So true. The years of daily walking with, talking to, listening to, learning from Him in private have prepared me to be His representative in public. Step out too soon, speak too soon, or get ahead of Him and we may find ourselves in a snare. May we seek to dwell/abide in the “secret place” to keep us hidden from being entangled by the snares of this world. I love Psalm 91:1 which says “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (NIV) When we abide in Him (keep our mind on Him) we are covered, hidden in His shadow! Even as He brings us forth publicly, may we SEEK to dwell and remain in His shadow!

Secret place cave

In her blog post entitled “Made in Secret,” author, speaker and co-founder of Messenger International, Lisa Bevere, captures preparation well. She describes this process like a pregnancy with the skillful and intentional shaping, forming, developing of that embryo from the moment of conception to the time of birth.

How awesome is our God! She writes that “God does His biggest work in us privately so that He can powerfully work through us publicly.” She also writes that, “There are many occasions where God has us in seasons of anonymity in which great growth occurs. What is often celebrated and applauded in the spotlight is the result of what was developed in the dark.”

New Territory

I wasn’t looking specifically for this opportunity, though I repeatedly made known to the Lord my desire to do more work that afforded a biblical worldview. After much prayer, searching, asking, knocking, refinement and waiting, in mid-April of this year, the Lord made way for me to serve as the new Washington, D.C. area director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. Prior to, I had never heard of the ministry/organization but God is amazing! After a providential introduction to CMDA in mid-April and several conversations with CMDA headquarters in Bristol, TN, I was officially brought into this role on August 27.

In this role, I will have the opportunity to minister to the spiritual and professional needs of medical and dental school students in the D.C. area, as they continue their schooling, residency and prepare to render care to patients and share the gospel. I love it!!

Since 2014, I have mentored young people and have seen the fruit of this labor bear out in their lives along with the fruit they are producing in the lives of their peers. God knows the particular burden on my heart for reaching our young people and this position is tailor-made for me. As I say, “God wastes nothing” with regard to our life experiences, relationships, work, skills, etc., in how He will knit them together for His purposes and glory.

I kid you not though: This role is stretching me in new ways. In those stretching moments, I catch myself questioning the Lord’s judgment in placing me in this role. Am I really ready for this? Am I the right candidate for this work amid the other well-qualified folks He could have used for this role? Am I really equipped? Certainly, He thinks so. But I take it one day at a time. I am by no means acting like I know it all but I am trusting in and being led by the One Who knows all.

As an habitual planner, my private moments of preparation have tempered me to trust Him in areas of ambiguity and “firsts” and “I don’t knows” when I am asked questions by others excited by what the promise of my role and work may deliver through the ministry. I am building the plane as I am flying it. Thankfully, Jesus is the pilot, the engineer, the designer and the mechanic. When we see Him as such, you and I can rest that we are in His trusted hands, even in times of ambiguity and “firsts.” But only a private preparation offers you this assurance.

Bevere concludes with this counsel:

“If you love the spotlight more than the secret place, you’ll gravitate toward self-promotion and move ahead of God’s timing. Embrace the hidden place. God has you strategically positioned while He prepares you for future promotion. Refuse to be in a hurry.”

We all desire to better understand and live out God’s purpose for us. Are you giving God the time and opportunity to prepare you in private for His work, that He may exalt you in due time, for a season that is fitting (1 Peter 5:6)? In what areas can He trust you to be His representative? Will you set aside your interests for His? Our enemy is always “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), to get at someone who slacks off or refuses to undergo development and thereby has multiple chinks in their armor for the devil to access.

Before God publicizes you, PRAY that He prepares you in private. May you seek to dwell in the secret place, abide in His shadow to preserve you from the enemy’s snares.

Love and blessings,

Nicole

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Grateful in the Wait

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Does it seem like everyone is being blessed except you? You’ve been faithful, obedient to what God asks, yet some of your requests presented to Him appear delayed with no Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA). Living in a “microwave generation,” we want everything NOW.

Like you, I am waiting on God for some answers also. As I wait, I have asked, “Lord, where are you at on this? When are you going to release me from this situation?” Silence.

I write this message to minister to you and me. How can we remain grateful and joyful in the wait and not become depressed about requests God hasn’t yet answered? Here are five tips:

    1. Time is a Trainer. For those of us who’ve journeyed with the Lord for a while, we’ve come to learn that time is a trainer. Time develops our faith and trust in God and His holy Word. We’ve learned that He is not bound by time and therefore, can’t be rushed by our anxiousness. Time trains us to shed attitudes and behaviors that are not of Him so we can be more in alignment with His will. Time trains us to develop our muscle and weight in character, integrity, credibility, competency, perseverance, love, patience, and other traits that can’t be acquired overnight. Time trains us to victoriously run the race, equipped to address life’s opportunities and challenges. I’ve experienced this development in my journey and review it with joy!

Grateful in waiting 1

2. God Prepares a Place for Prepared People. As stated in tip #1, time is a great agent to develop character traits and skills necessary for us to move into and occupy that next level. Would you want to enter that role without the necessary preparation and refinement? Not if you want to operate in a spirit of excellence. As God prepares you to occupy that new level, He is also lining up the people, provision and resources to sustain you in your new role. God is excellent and will not do things half-baked. Allow Him to properly prepare you to step into your prepared position.

3. Remain Faithful and Avoid the Shortcuts. As we wait, we’re subject to complaining and may consider other options. Satan will present you with shortcuts that promise to deliver quicker answers and rewards rather than waiting on God. Don’t take the bait. The enemy’s counterfeit offers have convinced many to accept and adapt to less than fulfilling plans and outcomes. Remain faithful in what God has asked you to do. Remain grateful for how He is preparing you in the process. You won’t be disappointed when the promotion comes.

4. Suffering: God’s Instrument to Mature and Propel Us into Our Destiny. From challenging employers, to dwindling resources, illness or persecution, our perfection will not begin until we undergo affliction. God will use suffering and trials as instruments to spiritually mature us to become more like Christ and to propel us into our destiny. Suffering produces qualities within us that would otherwise remain dormant. We must expect it, go through it and not consider it strange. “Great spirituality came out of the suffering of Paul, Stephen and others. So it will be with God’s People today. These are the authentic outcomes of the Christian faith,” says Hakim Hazim, author and co-founder of Christian think tank Freedom Squared.

5. No Good Thing Will He Withhold. Satan will try to convince you that “God has forgotten about you.” This is a lie. Psalm 31:19 says, “How abundant are the good things you have stored up for those who fear you that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” God delights in blessing you! “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11)

God’s ETA is always on time, never late. He is not limited by our circumstances or rushed by our anxiousness. Remain grateful and joyful in the wait. He will exceed your expectations and greatest imaginations (Ephesians 3:20).

God bless you,

Nicole

(Article originally published on November 21, 2014 on GospelToday.com. Site no longer exists.)

Your Future Is Increased in Christ

I can from Philippians 4-13You’ve had multiple successes. Then you experience a big failure. Do you think your future is now diminished? Do you think God has changed His mind about you? Our ministry founder shares her story of success and failure and why your future is not bleak but INCREASED in Christ Jesus! Read “Your Future Is Increased in Christ.” 

Are You a Compelling Witness?

2 Corinthians 4 8-9In these 11th-hour times, are you sounding the clarion call for people to take courage and hope in Christ Jesus? Or are you staying silent? In the face of persecution and trials, will YOU be a compelling, convincing and irrefutable witness for Christ? “Too many Christians have become passive bystanders in this spiritual warfare when they’ve had a sword in their hand the entire time. The hour is at hand for complacency to end.”-Hakim Hazim, co-founder of Christian think tank, FreedomSquared.org .

Read our ministry founder’s Gospel Today article “Are You a Compelling Witness?” 

ETA: Grateful in the Wait

Grateful-WomanDoes it seem like everyone else is getting blessed but you? You’ve been faithful, obedient, waiting on God to move. How can we remain thankful in the wait? Read our 5 tips shared in this Gospel Today article! We pray it blesses you. http://www.gospeltoday.com/blog/2014/11/21/eta-grateful-in-the-wait/

Guide Me

Read the following excellent post written by Hakim Hazim, dear friend,Voices Against the Grain radio show guest, national security expert, author and co-founder of Christian think tank, Freedom Squared. His post “Guide Me”  reminds believers to remember from where their guidance comes. Thank you Hakim for allowing us to share this message with our readers.

Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (English Standard Version)

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

God’s word comes to us in the scriptures, wise counsel, gifts of the Spirit, and providential instruction. The verse above illustrates the wisdom of the psalmist. He grasped the concept that God’s Word alone could guide his path and enable him to walk in a way that would secure an eternal future for him, his contemporaries, and anyone who would believe in generations to come. Our approach toward divine revelation should be the same.

We fall woefully short of this, and sadly we live in an age of cynicism. Believers are seen as irrelevant, unscientific folks who follow fables. Our security and certainty offends in this age of insecurity and uncertainty. Very few people drawing breath know what they should be doing, where they are going, or who they should follow. Scripture insists that every person will ultimately have to make a decision between following God’s light, their own, or someone else’s. Like the world, we too were taught to sketch out a future for ourselves and forge our way ahead while ignoring God’s instructions along the way. Upon salvation, we turned from that way of life; yet, the gospel of self remains the same. Believing in one’s will power is the ultimate form of self-actualization, and those who have achieved this are in high demand.

And so the self-appointed fill the headlines today boasting of their achievements with cleverly crafted words, mantras, and theories that cast wide nets that ensnare the unstable who are void of faith or uncertain of Christ. These self-promoters are in places of worship, politics, entertainment, business, and the scientific arenas. Beware! They are blind guides that will lead many to ruin. One thing remains clear and certain; God will guide His own. He still speaks the same words today that he did milleniums ago. These are the very words that changed my life: “Follow me.”

About Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim, author of several published books and articles, nationally recognized criminality and national security theorist is the co-founder of Freedom², which focuses on believers in America and other free societies. Hakim, who is based near Boise, Idaho, was raised Muslim and is a born-again Christian since 1993. Daniel Jackson, a former youth pastor, is the organization’s other founding member and technology expert with a Fortune 500 company. Other project partners include researcher Charles Holmes, Jr., and Dracy Jenkins. Hakim is also the founder of the Christian-based national security consultancy, Relevant Now, which provides clients with ”timely, insightful and transformative information.” Hakim has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the California State University San Bernardino.

Crisis-Driven World, Crisis-Driven Saints

Breaking news financial crisisShootings. Earthquakes. Financial crash. Typhoons.  Wars.  In His Word, God forewarns us of turmoil to come. He tells us these things so we won’t be distressed. Yes, we have empathy and concern for those affected—but our faith should not be moved nor should our reactions become crisis-driven. Our actions should be Spirit-led.

Read the following excellent post written by Hakim Hazim, dear friend,Voices Against the Grain radio show guest, national security expert, author and co-founder of Christian think tank, Freedom Squared. His post, “Crisis-Driven World, Crisis-Driven Saints,” speaks to the crisis-driven media that sends many into crisis-mode, fleeing from their inherited peace and rest found in Jesus Christ. Thank you Hakim for allowing Voices Against the Grain to share this message with our readers.

John 16:33:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (English Standard Version) Biblos.com

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

Everywhere we look we are reminded of impending doom and worst case scenarios. There is something about the human soul that is attracted to good character, beauty and hope; conversely, we are drawn to and occupied by evil, fear and uncertainty. Try making a movie without those six elements and the heroes and antagonists who embody them, and you will ensure a flop. Art mirrors life.

As a species we nurse the wounds and injuries we have acquired over the years. We constantly devise ways to protect ourselves and loved ones that come up short. Long term hope seems in short supply and when good things happen our next question is, how long will it last? This sometimes drives us to conclude we should extract everything we can from situations or people that will benefit us because we never know when they will end. We become survivalists and takers—not givers as instructed by scripture. Living in a perpetual state of high alert concerning the potential crises we may face next, we lose sight of our Savior. The world is crisis-driven and unfortunately, so are many saints.

To remedy this, I offer some instruction. Consider the statement of Christ above. He said that we would face tribulation in the world. There is no way around it; so plan on it and accept it. Next, ask God how we can glorify Him in the crises we face. We were born in a turbulent ocean but He has given us the navigational tools for the journey and an arc—Christ, who will safely guide us home to the New Jerusalem. Our peace is knowing that He is with us in every crisis, and He has equipped us to face each one, even those of our own making.

We must learn to be Spirit-led, not crisis-driven. The noise and tumult demand our attention, but we don’t have to focus on to them. God is worth our undivided attention. Let us rest in that regardless of what is to come. He has chosen us; therefore when He moves us forward and we see something on the horizon, we should move forward whether it appears fortuitous or ominous.

About Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim, author of several published books and articles, nationally recognized criminality and national security theorist is the co-founder of Freedom², which focuses on believers in America and other free societies. Hakim, who is based near Boise, Idaho, was raised Muslim and is a born-again Christian since 1993. Daniel Jackson, a former youth pastor, is the organization’s other founding member and technology expert with a Fortune 500 company. Other project partners include researcher Charles Holmes, Jr., and Dracy Jenkins. Hakim is also the founder of the Christian-based national security consultancy, Relevant Now, which provides clients with ”timely, insightful and transformative information.” Hakim has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the California State University San Bernardino.

 

The Kingdom is Inseperable from the Gospel

PLEASE READ. Those who preach the “prosperity gospel” for selfish gain have hijacked God’s Word from its true intention.  Because of this blatant distortion of God’s Word that many have fallen prey to, I am compelled to share the following Freedom Squared blog post written by dear friend, mentor and colleague, Hakim Hazim.  The blog post, “The Kingdom is Inseperable from the Gospel” is part of their Self-Deception Series. In the post he writes, “The gospel is not about health and wealth, it is not an insurance policy from the lake of fire. It is good news for the elect. To focus on anything other than the one who saves is to make salvation a means to an end.”

Thank you Hakim for sharing with us this timely message to successfully discern truth from deception.  Read it below.

Hakim_Bio_Photo_in_Grey_SuitThere has been quite a bit of noise and controversy made in recent decades regarding preaching and doctrine. Perhaps the rapid expansion of the prosperity/wellness gospel and the insurance gospel are not indicators of revival but men’s ability to hijack and distort God’s word. The two spring from the same tree: man’s self-seeking heart.

To be more specific, the health and prosperity gospel are tied to securing benefits in this that alleviate or eliminate physical suffering or deprivation of any type. The insurance gospel rests on the idea that a sinner can say a prayer and be indemnified from eternal judgment, if he is sincere at the moment he says it. These notions of the gospel perpetuate the deception that man can be in charge of his temporal and eternal destiny by sincerity and believing alone. Although these sentiments are understandable from a human vantage point, they fall short of historical, biblical standards. God must give us the faith to believe and purify our hearts so that we can be sincere. These doctrines are made in America and made for Americans, but they are foreign to the sound teaching of scripture.

Election teaches us that God examines, draws and secures the hearts of all who will ever belong to Him. The gospel issues from the sovereignty of God and is but one aspect of governance from His vantage point. We would do well to remember this in a humanistic age.

The gospel is not about health and wealth. It is not an insurance policy from the lake of fire. It is good news for the Elect. To focus on anything other than the one Who saves is to make salvation a means to an end. The Lord despises the misuse of His word for selfish gain, but He is also quick to forgive those who repent of this (We have all done it in some manner or form). The Kingdom is moving and you will move with it or it will move against you. Lay hold of it friend. Lay hold of it.

Here is a good read that amplifies some of the points I have made: http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/the-gospel-of-the-kingdom-of-god/

About Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim, author of several published books and articles, nationally recognized criminality and national security theorist is the co-founder of Freedom², which focuses on believers in America and other free societies. Hakim, who is based near Boise, Idaho, was raised Muslim and is a born-again Christian since 1993. Daniel Jackson, a former youth pastor, is the organization’s other founding member and technology expert with a Fortune 500 company. Other project partners include researcher Charles Holmes, Jr., and Dracy Jenkins. Hakim is also the founder of the Christian-based national security consultancy, Relevant Now, which provides clients with ”timely, insightful and transformative information.” Hakim has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the California State University San Bernardino.

 

Is God Poking You?

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

A whisper. Gentle nudge.  Poke. Stirring. Glimpses.  Kick. All-consuming gut on fire. Through the years I’ve become more attuned to God’s voice in my life, how He shepherds me in a particular direction. It begins with a whisper, a gentle nudge—perhaps followed by a thought that will make me say, “Hmm.” He’ll then allow me a bit more time to meditate on the thought. Shortly thereafter, I receive glimpses in my spirit. Then instinctively things and situations seem to “click,” signaling me to the next turn even without the luxury of a map to guide me.  With more prayer and quiet time, the direction sharpens and then as if someone rips the gears, I move from 1st to 5th, fueled by an all-consuming-gut-on-fire sense of “need to move now.” I’ve experienced this on several occasions and this time is no different. When God urges my next moves, it is based on my hunger to do more for His Kingdom. That’s what motivates me. My dear friend Hakim Hazim recently reminded me of this verse from Matthew 5:6 which speaks to my situation: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” (New International Version)

All In by Mark Batterson

I recently came into possession of a book that is “on time.” All In, by National Community Church Pastor Mark Batterson of Washington, D.C., suggests an “all or nothing” lifestyle Christians should pursue for God. The glimpses and stirring within increase as I absorb the message page by page. I expect the kick and then the all-consuming-gut-on-fire as God directs my next steps. We’re not to be tepid. We’re either hot or cold in how we use our talents. You may be at a point (like me) where God is preparing you for something but details are still forming. In these moments we may question our ability to rise to the occasion, as it is our desire to represent Him in excellence wherever we go. Then I remind myself, that it’s not about me, it’s about Him. If He brings me to it, then He’s prepared me for it.

A section from Chapter 7 of All In reaffirmed my confidence: “No one can spot potential like Jesus. And that’s because He’s the one who gave it to us in the first place. Potential is God’s gift to us. What we do with it is our gift back to God.”

How is God speaking to you about your next move? Are you silencing the whispers or gentle nudge so you can stay comfortable? Are you using your potential to the fullest? Or have you buried your talent in the ground, playing it safe, like the man in this parable? Are doubts and fears hindering you from boldly moving forward? Remember, entering new territory requires us to stretch and experience some discomfort—though we must move beyond the initial discomfort. We must put our faith in action. Why put gas in the car if you’re not going to drive it? Trust that if He’s directing you, He’s already prepared you for the journey. Pray for clarity as He moves you forward. Your talents unlock someone else’s blessings.

Syria: God’s Sovereignty in Chaos

Syrian woman rushes her child from danger.

A Syrian woman rushes her child from danger.

Yesterday we heard from national security expert Hakim Hakim, in our first Voices Against the Grain radio show interview. He effectively responded to the question, “Is God Sovereign in World Chaos?” The topic is timely as the U.S. determines what limited actions it will take to punish the Syrian government for their use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians, and deter an escalated use of future chemical weapons. More than 1,400 people have been killed by use of chemical weapons on civilians, including more than 400 children. Hakim read from Isaiah 45 and Romans 13 to show how God uses civil authorities as “ministers” to put evil and lawlessness in check.  The authorities that exist have been established by God, and those who rebel against them will bring judgment upon themselves. The one in authority is God’s servant, agent of wrath to address wrongdoing. Can good outcomes still be accomplished by God if the civil authority is not a Christian?  In one word: Yes. This is all part of God’s sovereignty.

To this end, Hakim shared this in our conversation:

“God will sometimes allow rebellion and revolts to bring about certain outcomes. This can be perplexing to comprehend for those who believe world peace is the goal and should be the status quo. God’s sovereignty makes sense out of the chaos when you come to understand how God judges corrupt leaders and nations when He is displeased with their actions. As believers, the outcomes will serve God’s purpose and in some way, strengthen those who are called by His Name.”

As the U.S. decides it’s actions toward Syria, we may not like the outcomes that ensue. Most agree that human suffering cannot continue and something must be done. However, our world will not experience true peace until Christ’s return. Until then, Christians will need to learn to trust that “God is in control in spite of the chaos.”

If you missed yesterday’s interview, click here to listen. Thank you Hakim for bringing great substance and understanding to this complex topic. For more on Hakim Hazim, visit his Christian-based consultancy Relevant Now and the blog he co-founded, FreedomSquared.