Can They Tell That You’ve Been With the Lord?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

It was not an unusual day. It was a sunny weekday morning. I had just finished my daily prayer time with the Lord and headed out to my neighborhood post office to mail a package. I decided to walk, embracing the good weather before the afternoon sun would heat things up miserably.

Upon entering the post office, I saw the male, middle-aged clerk stationed behind the counter I’d seen many times before. I usually wave to him, he waves back, I slide my letters or cards into the drop box and leave. But this time I needed to mail a package. As I rounded the line, I noticed he was staring at me. I kept hoping he’d redirect his gaze elsewhere but he seemed fixed on me. Mentally, my walls were going up unsure what this was about. As I approached the counter with my package to mail, he continued to stare. He then spoke these words: “What is it about you?” Oh dear.

“Excuse me? What do you mean?” I asked him. In my head I thought, “Can’t I just pay for and mail the package?”

He replied to my question. “What is it about you? Who are you? What do you do?”

From these questions and his disposition, I could tell he was genuinely curious and not subject to pounce. Seeing this, I relaxed and kindly explained to him that I work primarily in public relations and also in ministry.

His eyes lit up. “That’s it!,” he said. “Ministry! I could tell that there was something about you. I can see it on you.”

To give you a visual, I was wearing a pink and orange paisley bandanna on my head, running pants, t-shirt and tennis shoes. No makeup. Nothing special.

His words, “I can see it on you,” hung in the air for a minute as I stood in awe of what he said which changed the dynamic of our conversation.

I asked him if he was a Believer, and he indicated he was. We continued our conversation of great, unexpected fellowship for a few minutes as I paid for my package and mailed it. What I thought was going to be an intrusive conversation that I’d have to shut down immediately, turned out to bless my heart. I understand that spirit knows spirit; that people can either see Christ’s light in us or conversely, Satan’s darkness. But I hadn’t thought of the freshness of having been in the Lord’s Presence that morning and still wearing the glow of His Presence on me as I ran errands.

I later thought of when Moses was in the Lord’s Presence on Mount Sinai as he was chiseling out the Ten Commandments and had to wear a veil upon leaving the Lord’s Presence when he returned to the people because the radiance on his face was blinding. I am not comparing myself to Moses or his experience, but it made me curious about what people might see on us.

Moses' Radiant Face

I told a dear sister in Christ about the encounter and she shared this article “Spiritual Significance of Myrrh” and how we are like the fragrance of Christ to God and others. How beautiful!

Do your words, actions and how you carry yourself tell others that you’ve been with the Lord? Can they tell that you’ve been in His Presence? Can the world see that there is something different or “peculiar” about you? Or does the world still recognize you as one of its own?

-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.

 

 

Is God Precise or Vague?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Is God precise or vague?

When it comes to understanding God’s character, His nature, His Word and His promises toward us, is He precise? Or is He vague?

To answer this, let’s review some scriptures, shall we?

Creation

“Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with the seed in it, according to their various kinds.” (Genesis 1:11, NIV)

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22, NIV)

noahs-ark

Noah’s Ark 

14 “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches for the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.” (Genesis 6:14-16, NIV)

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (Genesis 9:12-15)

Son of God, Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ: King of kings, Lord of lords

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12, NIV)

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)

His Promises

25 “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25, NIV)

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (ex: giving resources, extending mercy, forgiveness, love, etc., it will be returned to you in the same measure from the same or different source). (Luke 6:37-38, NIV)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth.” (Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to those who receive Him) (John 14:16-17a, NIV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV)

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV)

2 “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.” (John 14:2-3, NIV)

birth-of-christ

In these few passages of scripture provided, does God’s Word appear precise or vague to you? Did your perception of God’s precision of instruction and faithfulness to His Word waver between any of the sections or specific verses? If so, you may ask yourself if you trust God to be the same in all aspects of His Word. Certainly, there are some aspects of His Word that are contingent upon our obedience, whether we exercise faith, His sovereignty and His perfect timing. Nevertheless, His Word is precise. He is trustworthy.

God is watching over His Word to see that it is performed (fulfilled) as told in Jeremiah 1:12. In this Christmas season of hope and believing, in any areas that we doubt, may we learn to trust God and His infallible Word.

Merry Christmas!

-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 Deception of Progress: A Harmful Illusion

“If you want to change the direction of our country, vote.”  And in doing so, what are we advancing?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (liberty).  (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV)

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

In referencing the above New Testament scripture, I’m attempting to draw the clearest line, paint-by-numbers directions for this world to obtain true freedom instead of the counterfeit freedoms they currently pursue.

Liberty: the pursuit of it underpins our democratic society. Indeed, voting is important to register your voice in how our government should operate in serving our interests and preserving our freedoms.

But when such exercises compromise or disregard God’s laws for the sake of “progress,” we’ve not grasped the unprotected turmoil we’ve therefore brought upon ourselves. We’ve grieved God and incurred His judgments.

So why are many baffled by the decay our country lies in today?

“The irony of America’s quest for happiness lies in the fact that she succeeded more obviously than any other nation in making life “comfortable,” only to run into larger incongruities of human destiny by the same achievements by which it escaped the smaller ones. Our very success in this enterprise has hastened the exposure of its final limits.” – Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (1952)

Though Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, ethicist, commentator on politics and public affairs, and professor at Union Theological Seminary, penned this quote 64 years ago, his message still rings truth today.

America has sought greater liberties to make people “comfortable” with their immoral lifestyle choices. Ironically, in pursuing such liberty, perfect harmony is yet to be achieved.

deception-john-rizzuto

 

The irony is that the immoral have gotten the liberties they’ve pushed for, but oh, it comes with so much more. The disappointment of the “so much more” is concealed until you get the package home, unwrap it, celebrate its novelty and then realize it is bundled with unwelcomed outcomes.

The duplicitous nature of such progress masquerades itself as a solution to accommodate our self-interests—absent of critical thinking, absent of considering the future ramifications. The only advancement in this type of progress is to advance gross deception within the recipient. This is a harmful illusion. The lesson in this is be careful what you ask for. You just might get it and other things along with it you didn’t ask for. This is the trickery of ungodly progress.

How Do We Obtain Authentic Liberty? 

“Liberation is not found in escaping or manipulating what God requires of us, but it is found by embracing and being faithful to God’s ideals.”- Charles “Chuck” Colson and Nancy Pearson, How Now Shall We Live (1999)

In Niebuhr’s words, our culture has hastened the exposure of the limits of what worldly progress/liberty can bring. There are far too many deceived in these last days.

Lord Jesus, we pray that those deceived would have the veil removed to clearly see that their freedom rests in You alone. May those pursuing ungodly progress be quickened in their hearts by hearing Your Word and be led to repent and recognize that true progress rests in our obedience to You, rooted in love for You. Jesus, You alone remain our intervention and deliverance from temporal and eternal ruin. Life in You is how we transform our country and our very lives.

Are you advancing decay or true liberty through Christ Jesus? The integrity of God and His Word are impeccable. Be very clear: God will not violate His integrity nor His Word. Those who seek liberties outside of His will are grossly deceived.

Why Are We Telling You This? 

At Voices Against the Grain, we present God’s Word to: 1- bring clarity and restoration so you can navigate successfully out of and away from deception, 2- to educate and equip you in God’s truth for abundant living—so you can truly live free as God designed, 3- to encourage you, and last, 4- to love you as we’re telling you the truth. Our platform messages, primarily geared for the Believer, also serve to educate the unbeliever.

We are grateful for our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ who are advancing God’s Kingdom alongside us and within their communities. Thank you for exposing deception with truth and transforming one heart at a time in the love of Jesus Christ, so that those transformed are empowered by the Holy Spirit to help transform others. This is progress.

-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.

“Be Patient on the Vision”

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” -Habakkuk 2:3 (New International Version)

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Has God called you to do something—and has yet to provide you with all of the details to carry out the vision?

Furthermore, you may still be awaiting full details on the entire vision? If you can answer “yes,” then relax and smile: for you are in good company! You are not alone in this process of how God works through His People to accomplish His purposes.

In previous posts, I’ve shared with you that for the past eight months God has been transitioning me into new territory. As a long-time journalism and public relations professional, this has been my comfort zone, do-it-with-my-eyes-closed space that I’ve operated in for more than 10 years. Though I’ve used this expertise to advance His Kingdom and the good services of others, God has given me a heart for more. He has given me a burden for something that is on His heart. In this time of transition, wilderness, seeking answers, going through the threshing floor to allow my will, habits and insecurities to die, and a further refining of my character, I’ve come to understand the core of what He is now calling me to do: to mentor at-risk youth.

Excited to fulfill the call, I was ready to fully jump in. What do I do? Where do I start, Lord? Who do I talk to who can help? What’s our timeline? What resources will I need and who will they come from? For anyone who knows me, I am one who needs questions answered to understand new spaces! You may be the same.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the working world, particularly occupations that involve strategic planning, strategies, tactics, budget, goals, timelines and desired outcomes (ex: media campaigns, projects, development, sales, etc.), we’ve been molded to think this way. We need all of these details filled in sooner rather than later to roll out the plan and project. We’re usually up against the ticking clock of someone who is paying us to deliver immediate results.

But in how God works through His people, you come to understand you need to “slow your roll.” As you mature in Christ, you come to better understand God’s character and nature. You learn that God is never in a hurry and “haste” or “anxiousness” is not part of His character.

Wait for it

As I sought answers from God for next steps in how to carry out the vision and burden He has given me to mentor youth, I shared my concerns with a dear sister in Christ. The wise and timely advice she imparted to me are the same words I share to encourage you: “Be patient on the vision.” In fact, she said, “Be very patient on the vision.”

I am grateful for her advice and understand why she said this. As I remain in prayer and fasting for God to direct my steps, I am presently in the information-gathering phase. God is divinely connecting me to people who work in this new territory so I can learn more. He is presenting me with information and models that will help establish a platform and vehicle to best carry out the vision. In fact, had I dived in from my excitement on what I thought was the initial way to proceed, I would have missed the additional details and insights that have been revealed in the past few days. I would have short-changed the vision and the vision’s end recipients. The vision has taken on a design and shape that is wider than I previously saw in my earlier limited view!

He wants to do exceedingly and abundantly more through us than we can think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)! His thoughts and His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)!

My encouragement to you: Wait for it. Wait on the vision. Be patient on the vision. God has already prepared the process.  He will accelerate what He desires to be accelerated. Though it linger, it will certainly come with all the people, provision and resources you need to fulfill the vision. It will not delay.

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.

Strive to Trust Him

Today’s post is from the daily devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Each devotional is written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to you.

STRIVE TO TRUST ME in more and more areas of your life. Anything that tends to make you anxious is a growth opportunity. Instead of running away from these challenges, embrace them, eager to gain all the blessings I have hidden in the difficulties. If you believe that I am sovereign over every aspect of your life, it is possible to trust Me in all situations. Don’t waste energy regretting the way things are or thinking about what might have been. Start at the present moment—accepting things exactly as they are—and search for My way in the the midst of those circumstances.

Trust is like a staff you can lean on, as you journey uphill with Me. If you are trusting in Me consistently, the staff will bear as much of your weight as needed. Lean on, trust, and be confident in Me with all your heart and mind.

Trust-in-the-Lord-Proverbs-3-5-6

Accompanying Scriptures: Psalm 52:8 “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD  with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” (New International Version)

When the Blind Refuse Sight

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Who wouldn’t want to see? It seems strange that a blind person would willfully pass on the opportunity to receive their sight. Prior to considering this concept, I couldn’t imagine who’d make such a choice. But these people exist. I’ve met them.

No, they aren’t using a walking stick or guide dog. Nor are their eyes concealed by protective eye wear. Bumbling, fumbling and stumbling, these blind people walk with their eyes wide open but lack sight. When opportunities, life lessons or people present sight to them, they choose not to receive it. Instead, they choose to keep bumbling, fumbling and stumbling on the poorly lit path they tread. Proceeding with no sight and partial light, they dismiss the signs directly ahead and guides alongside them lighting the way. They prefer getting banged up and stumbling into a caution open ditch signditch…repeatedly. Ego, pride and a false perception of self have kept them ignorant, obstinate and afraid to see what they don’t want to see. They will also lead the unwise into the ditch. Hence the saying, “the blind leading the blind.”

I recall the 1999 movie “At First Sight” starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino. Sorvino’s character is girlfriend to Kilmer’s character who is blind. They enjoy their lives together, yet in desiring to improve her boyfriend’s quality of life, she informs him of a new but risky surgery that could restore his sight. He resists the treatment for some time, but eventually proceeds. Not to spoil this 15-year-old movie if you haven’t yet viewed it, but upon receiving his gradual sight, the couple endures various challenges. His restored sight is a gift but is he prepared to handle what he sees/what he is shown?

The same scenario occurs when we’re blind to something we’re doing, involved in or contributing to, and then someone tries to tell us the truth about it; to shine light on it so we’re no longer walking into the ditch. We may not like what we see/what we’re shown. It takes humility to receive it and courage to make the course corrections with the information shown. Otherwise, be prepared to bumble, fumble and stumble. “Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105, English Standard Version)

I used to invest significant time in people who I desperately wanted to help “see.” Oh, how my heart pained for them when an opportunity to receive sight presented itself and they preferred to stumble in the dark, because it was comfortable. Witnessing this scenario repeatedly with the same and different people, I realized I had to let them stumble.

I’ve shifted my efforts to preparing people who want to be prepared; people who want to see. I learned some people are not prepared to receive the sight I’m offering them. As they continue stumbling in the dark, I pray for them to see the futility in their thinking. I’ve also been liberated from their liability by saying this one, two-syllable word: “Ok.” “Ok” doesn’t mean I agree. It simply means I’m steering clear of the open ditch they’ve chosen.

In Matthew 15:14, Jesus shares these wise words: “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both fall into a pit.” (New International Version)

-Nicole

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.

 

 

When It Doesn’t Make Sense

Sudden/unexpected death of a loved one. Death of a child. Diagnosed with a serious illness when you’re doing all the right things. Faithfully and promptly going to work each day only to be handed your last paycheck. Missile strikes commercial jet, killing all crew and passengers aboard. Unarmed teen and robbery suspect in Ferguson, Mo., shot six times, fatally by police officer. When it doesn’t make sense.   man with question marks

This week in particular I’ve repeated the words “this doesn’t make sense” when I learned of the sudden passing of a dear friend. A young person, loved by his wife, family, friends and co-workers, his death seems unfair and leaves us wanting to understand the reasoning behind. We’re simply left to deal with the outcome, best handled on our knees in prayer. Prayers amounting in a few words, cries and groans, simply because there are no words. The one-worded question that resurfaces throughout is “Why?”

I’ve learned that such questions cannot be fully answered with an intellectual answer. God exists and operates beyond our human intellect and comprehension (read the Lord’s three-chapter response to Job’s questions in Job 38-41). Trust that nothing God does is random; He has a plan though we may not understand it on this side. What I do know is that God is sovereign—He’s in control of everything. We have to trust God even when life doesn’t make sense.

The following devotional written by brother-in-Christ Minister Dracy Jenkins is right on time. The encouragement offered in his message brought me some solace and I pray it brings you comfort and peace as well.  God bless you and in prayer.   -Nicole

“Anyone can thank God for the light. Jesus teaches us to thank God for the night. He says to us, ‘You’ll get through this!’  And we will.” – Max Lucado

 

Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

1 Corinthians 11:23b-24a- On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24- and gave thanks to God for it. (New Living Translation)

For a long time, I focused on the Last Supper as Jesus shared one last meal with His Disciples and encouraged them for the times to come, when He was to leave them and return to Heaven. However, as we have read many times, Jesus’s words often contain much more than we initially hear and realize.

 

To understand the concept that even though Jesus was about to go through a horrendous ordeal at the hands of His enemies, He demonstrated the importance of giving thanks to our Heavenly Father. While we may not fully know what we will face tomorrow, Jesus did.  And regardless, Jesus knew He needed to continue to praise God and thank Him for all that He had.

 

This is a critical lesson I know I must learn and demonstrate.  I believe we all must learn this to truly demonstrate not only our love for Him, but our gratitude and faith in Him.

 

We are all going through something fearful, unpleasant or not what we wanted or expected.  If you are not right now, unfortunately, that time will come.  No matter when that time comes, giving thanks to God, through it all and for it all, is something that we must learn to do and actually do.

 

Jesus did it, I believe not only because it was part of His character, but to continue to teach those that followed Him, what they and subsequently, we, must do.

 

Giving thanks in the midst of our struggles doesn’t necessarily change the situation, but there are those around us watching, whose hearts and thinking may be encouraged and changed by our actions.  We are witnesses of God’s love, power and grace in all that we say and do.

 

Praise God for His light that is illuminating our lives for His glory.

 

Minister Dracy
After God’s Own Heart Ministries
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

 

Some People Just Need a Hug

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Some people just need a hug!

We can pretend to hold it all together when we are just about to crumble and cave. On Monday morning, I was on the brink of losing it.  The overwhelming pressures of work, being a single parent—with all the concerns and worries of my children’s well-being— really took its toll. That morning, I desperately asked God to send someone to encourage me. While I was preparing breakfast for my boss, he kindly witnessed to me of how my life and struggles have been a witness to him.  Then, a much needed conversation with our Voices Against the Grain editor-in-chief, lifted my spirit.  Later that morning, I had a great laugh with my sister but still through the day the struggle continued.  My 3-year-old niece asked me to dance with her as I lay on the couch tired and waking up from an afternoon nap.  Dancing with her strengthened me to get up and go on with my day. But it was a hug from my son and nephew after school that really brought things into perspective and gave me the breakthrough.

All I have is right now. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.  To worry and stress over things that are not even happening is worthless. As noted in Luke 12:25, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” I am blessed to have three Amazing children who I can hug and love. I am blessed to know that when I die, I will be in heaven. I am blessed to serve the One true God who not only sent one person to encourage me but many in one day!

God is in control and all I must do is continue to trust that Jesus has me covered. I may not have all that I want but I have exactly what I need. I encourage you to hug the ones you love, wholeheartedly praise the Lord above, and be tender to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Your hug just might be what the person next to you needs.

Psalm 46:1-“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Ana

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative is Georgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.

 

Christmas Post Office Push: Show Love

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Like many people during this time of year, it was a must that I venture to the post office.  I needed stamps to mail my Christmas greeting cards. Guessing by the packed post office lobby, so was everyone else.  We all stood there patiently waiting in the long single line, mixed with other patrons looking to send out packages.  Suddenly a glimmer of hope: the clerks opened a register for stamp purchase only. I quietly thought to myself, “This is it; only one person in front of me now.” Like everyone else, I was in a hurry.  You would have thought they were giving away a million dollars, the way everyone darted for the line.  People began cutting in front of others, who had been patiently waiting longer than them.  This all got me wondering about how Jesus sees us, especially this time of year.  I read in a Christmas book before, “If I have a perfect house and give the perfect gift but do not show love to my family what good is it?”

Isn’t that so true? We can all become wrapped up in the Idea of Christmas and really miss the point.  Jesus is not concerned with how perfect your house is decorated, or if you mailed your greetings cards on time.  He is more concerned with your inward condition.  Are you showing His love to those around you? Even at the post office?  If we take a minute and stop rushing we might see that there are people hurting and many in need of a Savior. So I challenge you to take a moment and ask Jesus what He wants from you this year, for His birthday!

Luke 2: 13-14

13– And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14- “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principals are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative isGeorgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.

Ana resides in Southern California with her three beautiful children and seeks daily to model this scripture from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Searching for Real Love

Award-winning R&B songstress Mary J. Blige (my girl!) produced her 9os hit “Real Love” that became an anthem for many in search of ‘real love.’ With the chorus, “I’m searchin’ for a a real love, someone who sets my heart free, real love!” And subsequent lyrics, “So I try my best and pray to God he’d send me someone real, to caress me and to guide me toward a love my heart can feel…” You know the rest!

What is ‘real love’? Our first exposure to real love was when God sent US His Son Jesus Christ to Earth to become flesh and die for our sins, so we would be saved from eternal death and separation from God, with our flawed selves. This is agape love; an unconditional love; a love we don’t deserve.

Though there are other forms of love (friend love, family love, parent-child love, love for community, eros/romantic love), real love in any form should consist of these attributes as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 4- “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5- or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6- It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7- Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Read today’s post below written by Voices Against the Grain guest blogger, Herbert Bowen, Jr., on the subject of romantic love. In today’s microwave generation lead by “anything goes,” many people want a quick love and want it NOW, usually for selfish reasons and with multiple partners. In our search for real love, how are we demonstrating love toward others? Many want the world’s version of romantic love and  forgo  expressing the love Christ asks us to give. We should model after Christ our love (in any form) toward others. Laying this foundation first helps build the right kind of love required for romantic and non-romantic relationships.

-Nicole

Song of Songs 8:6-7- “Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love nor can rivers drown it.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Love is to be treasured. For if love is awakened before its time, we will expend a lifetime of energy seeking what we once had. Love is to be saved. We as a culture have fallen victim to the fads of desensitization. We have lost the meaning of companionship to indulge in every desire. We have lost the meaning of love. Romantic love is monogamous. A concept that will probably fall on deaf ears, but is the only way to live our lives the way God intended. Men and women are too quick to rush into the bedroom, too quick to fulfill their lusts only to be in search for a new fix the next night. How does it feel, because for every immediate gratification there are eons of misery and regret. Love is Christ.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love each other because he loved us first.” In essence, His sacrifice is love incarnate. So before jumping in blindly with another individual, seek out the meaning of true love, as it may save you precious time. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 24, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.