Are You Drinking the World’s Kool-Aid?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“I always thought the deception would be harder for the enemy to pull off, but this generation has been presented with such degraded morality, that it is no stretch for people to accept such blatant blasphemies.”

 

Powerful words stated by a dear sister in Christ. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

Her words were shared during our conversation in response to this June 2014 Upworthy article that recently reposted, “There Are Six Scriptures About Homosexuality in the Bible. Here’s What They Really Say,” written by Erica Williams Simon, the daughter of two ministers. Ms. Simon notes that she studies the Bible “pretty closely.” Yet, deception abounds throughout her article in her true understanding of God’s Word. More importantly, her understanding is contrary to God’s character, design and nature. I was stunned by her conclusions but more so, I was grieved by her being deceived and potentially deceiving others (Kool-Aid).

 

Certainly, there’s nothing new under the sun. I never write these posts as if there is. Every sin committed today has existed since time began. Today, there’s simply more ways to do it, greater access to participate, more support to accommodate it and more opportunities for brokenness. It’s a mess. The pitcher of Kool-Aid that was sweet has soured. It’s no laughing matter.

 

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Anything not connected to the love of God is a counterfeit freedom. Counterfeit freedom produces momentary pleasure with its participants chained in brokenness. God’s design and intention IS for us to be truly free and not enslaved by the world’s trappings. John 10:10 (KJV) says so: 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

 

Then how can a Believer know His Word, know what it’s designed to do, experience His power in their own lives and still be deceived to drink the world’s Kool-Aid? As James 1:22-24 (ESV) reads:

 

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

 

A withering devotion to the Lord, no desire for critical thinking or for the pursuit of holiness, spiritual laziness and being fickle in Godly principles has enabled deception to occur in the Body of Christ.

 

Are you drinking the world’s Kool-Aid? Have you knowing the truth, been persuaded by a popular idea or lifestyle to exchange the truth for a lie? If so, Father please forgive us. Help us to courageously live out Your Word, Your Word which does not change.

 

Heavenly Father, help us to deliver Your Word as You have intended—not by how we think it should be interpreted to appease our and others’ self-interests. Help us pursue holiness, being unmoved in Godly principles in a world that daily pushes the envelope to satisfy self-interests and seeks our support for doing so. Let us remain holy, set apart, called out from the world for Your purposes so we can be light in darkness, to help free the captives. 

 

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As my dear sister prayed, “God help the saints shine with the glory of Christ, who is in us and who made us for ‘such a time as this.’ May God raise up His saints in love and shock and awe victory over anything the enemy can manufacture, and help us destroy it with God’s truth and Spirit. For by Jesus’ blood shed on Calvary, You have declared in Your Word our victory is assured. Glory to you, Lord! Our hope is in You and our faith is in the true Christ and our labor is testifying to the true God, to Jesus Christ. We thank you for the honor of the labor to work in Your fields as you bring in the saints before the harvest of the unrighteous. Jesus, make us righteous and holy and worthy of the calling of our election.” 

 

There is no fitting substitute, God, for Your love, truth and freedom. There is no substitute for Your Word. Help us God to endure, to keep Your commandments and our faith in Jesus.

 

Amen.

 

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.

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When Vanity is Not in Vain

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“I was all flesh, that’s who I was. I was so miserable the entire time that I was ‘Vanity.’ I spent so many days and nights crying and hating who I had become…I wanted out but I didn’t know how to get out because the world sucks you in.” – Evangelist Denise Matthews, Trinity Broadcasting Network interview with Dwight Thompson, August 5, 2010

Abused as a child, crack cocaine-addicted and deeply wounded, the former 80s actress/singer/girlfriend of Prince known as “Vanity,” turned away from a deadly lifestyle in the mid-90s to experience true freedom and abundant living in Jesus Christ. Shedding the image of Vanity and everything with it, she allowed the healing and powerful love of Jesus Christ to reveal her identity and purpose in Him as Evangelist Denise Matthews. Sharing with others her testimony, trials, health scares, surgeries, and miraculous healings, she said in the above referenced interview that her life was full of joy because of her relationship in Jesus Christ.

When I like most of you, learned via social media (a tweet from her dear friend and sister in Christ, Sheila E.) of Evangelist Matthews’ passing this past Monday, February 15 at age 57, I was stunned. According to news reports, Matthews had been in declining health for some time in part due to her previous years of drug use. I’d lost track of her life but was DELIGHTED to learn that she allowed the Lord to transform her heart and mind to serve Him! DELIGHTED to learn how she spent her life telling others about Jesus! God bless her and the seeds she has sown in the hearts and spirits of others!

But who was the source of her vanity?

Jesus clearly tells us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (New International Version) 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (New International Version)

If in reading this you doubt there’s an enemy, namely Satan, out to destroy and kill you, fine. You can remain in denial but you can’t deny the devastating effects of his work: Abuse. Addiction. Adultery. Anxiety. Brutality. Crime. Deceit. Depression. Evil-doing. False identity. Fraud. Gossiping. Greed. Hook ups. Human trafficking. Lying. Molestation. Murder. Pornography. Pride. Rape. Robbery. Self-hatred. Shame. Shootings. Stabbings. Suicidal thoughts. Terrorism. Vanity. Violence. Wickedness.

The list goes on. Can anything good come from this? With a life redeemed and restored through relationship in Jesus Christ, yielded to the Holy Spirit, the answer is 100% “yes.” Evangelist Matthews’ life proves this.

Evangelist Denise Matthews

“The world sucks you in.”  Evangelist Denise Matthews, formerly “Vanity”

The years the enemy stole from Evangelist Matthews to do his bidding, God restored to her. He added life to her days and years. The tools the enemy used in an attempt to destroy her, God turned around for her good  (Romans 8:28). Having turned her life over to Christ, the Lord made it so that her years as “Vanity” were not in vain. 

What Matthews said in her aforementioned quote is true: the world does suck you in, if you let it. I’ve heard more people tell me that “sin will take you further than you want to go.”

Make no mistake: There is a persistent satanic agenda at work to counterfeit the “freedoms” people desperately seek. As Satan sets the stage for his next counterfeit scheme, it is of paramount importance that God’s truth is boldly and lovingly presented to awaken people from their slumber into confusion and deception; to bring clarity that enables them to navigate successfully around the counterfeit schemes so they may equip and empower others in Jesus Christ.

For the family and friends of Evangelist Denise Matthews, we at Voices Against the Grain pray that God’s comfort and peace steadies you and rests in your hearts. We join you in celebrating the fruit produced by Evangelist Matthews through her life in Jesus—fruit that will bear out now and into eternity.

Blessings,

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.

Politeness: Our State of Emergency

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

As a Christian, have you felt pressure to cave to a world view? Are you silent at the water cooler on controversial issues, afraid to rock the boat?

If you answered “yes,” you’re not alone. Whether the church massacre in Charleston, the injustices of Ferguson, the national push for marriage equality or the identity confusion of Bruce/Caitlin Jenner, somewhere along the way, we in the Body of Christ became too polite. We allowed prayer to be removed from school. We’ve allowed folks of all backgrounds with diminished mental capacities and prejudices to carry guns. We’ve allowed people’s confusion about their identities and sexual orientation to prompt businesses, educational institutions and others to remove “female” and “male” from their vocabulary and replace with more ambiguous terms so as not to offend gender-confused populations. We’ve thought it impolite to say anything to the contrary and have resigned to a “live and let live” mentality. We’ve accepted that there are some degenerate, “bad apples” in this world who inflict horrific violence upon others.

Now, the chickens of our complacency, politeness, political correctness and silence have come home to roost. This is our state of emergency.

politeness silence

While we strive to be considerate, genteel and well-mannered toward others, forces of darkness could care less about our manners.  As described in John 10:10, our enemy intends to “steal, kill and destroy” and he doesn’t play fair. While Christ Jesus came to bring us abundant life, true freedom, love, joy, hope and peace, Satan presents counterfeit schemes that suggest people can have freedom, love and joy with quicker rewards—and without relationship with God.  The world in its ignorance, has settled for counterfeit paths that will ultimately destroy them.

Our politeness is dearly costing our communities, nation and world. Politeness has made us shrink back from territories in which we should have greater presence. Politeness has dulled our fervency and zeal required when addressing immorality. Instead of fervently sharing God’s Truth on any terms, we’ve politely embraced the world’s terms for fear of being hated.  Who else should a confused and perishing world look to lead them in the right way if not a Christian? Are we snatching anyone from the fire, as stated in Jude 23?

The mute church has created a dangerous vacuum that has positioned Christians alongside hate groups. Furthermore, the congregation returns to work on Monday virtually indistinguishable from non-believers. We are warned not to talk about politics and religion by people who are pushing their own politics and religion. It is one made of man by man and it only offers bondage and chaos. It poses as light but degrades into shades of grey and eventually darkness.

The problem is not that we don’t have spirit-filled believers attempting to respond to these issues. It’s that we have fewer Christians speaking at the water cooler to defend the faith and keep Christians in view as people who love, give and suffer. The tragedy of our silence is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be mischaracterized to where we are dangerously close to being dehumanized.

How do we revive our collective Christian voice? How do we boldly and lovingly disperse light in darkness? How do we overcome fear and indifference and render aid in our state of emergency? Love toward others must continue to guide our thoughts, words and actions—but this doesn’t mean we shirk from entering the battle, where the Holy Spirit leads us.

Per God’s words to Joshua as the newly installed leader of the Israelites after Moses’ death: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9) Let us not be concerned about who we might offend. By sharing God’s light, we help bring clarity to confusion and hope to darkness in our fallen world.

Still want to be polite or are you ready to fight?

-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. 

Guarding Your Heart God’s Way

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

Jill Tomlinson, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer, co-founder of Transcend Ministries

Jill Tomlinson, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer, co-founder of Transcend Ministries

Have you ever felt the sting of rejection or the cut of thoughtless or unkind words? Maybe you have been taken for granted, or even lied about by others. These and other offenses, when taken into the heart become wounds.  A wound left unattended becomes bitterness. Bitterness and unforgiveness produce cynicism, criticism, anger, depression, a hard heart and a life cluttered with bad fruit in almost every area.

I don’t know a single person who has not dealt with offense at some point in life. Offenses cause pain, and pain triggers our “natural” defense mechanisms to kick in. We tend to “put up walls” to make the pain stop and prevent it from happening again. This might seem to be the only way to guard our hearts, it isn’t God’s way.

So, what does it mean to “guard your heart” God’s way?

1. Recognize the real enemy. Jesus clearly told us that troubles would come to us in this life. Troubles usually bring with them a temptation to be offended at another person, God, or yourself. The real enemy is Satan, who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Although people are oftentimes (usually unknowingly) used by Satan, the battle we fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Although we “feel” things in the physical realm, the battle is altogether spiritual.

2. Live from truth. Being able to quickly recognize and cast down the lies of the enemy about yourself, God, and others will keep your heart safe. Satan sends forth his lies in an attempt to get you to step into his snare of offense. He is the master weaver of webs of deception. Knowing the truth of God’s Word will keep you out of snares of offense and keep your heart healthy.

heart locked

3. Give up your right to be right. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. What matters is the health of your soul. Holding on to offense while you are waiting for an apology that may never come or for someone else to see they are wrong, is prideful stubbornness and it will not result in the joy-filled life Jesus paid for you to have.

4. Release wounds, offenses, and hurts of every kind to Jesus. This is an act of faith, not feelings. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). There is nothing heavier to carry through this life than a wounded, bitter soul. Regardless of how long you have carried it, it is never too late to give it to Jesus and receive His sweet rest instead. As often as you are offended, lay the offense at the feet of King Jesus and let your heart remain tender and free.

Next time you feel the temptation to be offended, remember it is not your burden to carry. Let the Lord be your Avenger. Keep your heart at peace by refusing to live in offense. Make a choice by faith to give it to Jesus. It is a spiritual decision. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel any pain, it simply means God’s peace is greater. It’s wise to deal with offense on the front end when it is a little seed than it is to wait until it is a full grown weed choking the life out of everything else in the garden of your soul.

-Jill

A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Jill Tomlinson understands how tolerating toxic emotions and believing lies from Satan can change the entire course of your life. In her book, No More Lies, Jill leads others through the same journey of biblical truth that brought her freedom and wholeness. This book is not only for victims of sexual abuse. It is for anyone who has ever dealt with bitterness, fear, shame, rejection, failure, or feelings of unworthiness just to name a few. With transparency and candor, Jill addresses a myriad of issues that keep men, women, and young people in emotional shackles. Her passion is to see lives beautifully restored by the grace and truth of God and to see God’s children walking in true and lasting victory. She believes every single person was born with divine purpose and she loves to empower others to walk confidently into their unique Kingdom destiny!

Jill is an author, writer, speaker, and teacher. Jill and her husband, Jimmy, are the founders of Transcend Ministries – a ministry dedicated to empowering the body of Christ and making disciples worldwide through teaching, writing, and evangelism. They reside in Colorado and have four amazing children – two daughters, a son, and a son-in-law.

For more information or to order her book visit www.transcendministries.org.