Our North Carolina Experience in One Word: Obedience

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“I would love to go.”

These five bold, transformative words were texted to me early Thursday morning, September 21, 2017, by a dear sister in Christ about a ministry trip I would take to North Carolina that next day. The trip would involve ministering at two Christian-based schools, Livingstone College and Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., which is about 50 miles north of Charlotte. The events had been planned since April at which point I asked my trusted prayer partners/prayer warriors to join me in prayer and fasting for the Lord to soften and prepare the students’ hearts to receive His Word; to prepare the way ahead of our arrival.

In the early spring, Pastor Troy Russell, Livingstone campus pastor who also invited our ministry in September 2015, asked if we’d return this year to deliver God’s Word. After much discussion with Pastor Troy, it seemed the Holy Spirit’s leading that we were to deliver a message to equip the students in building their foundation in Christ Jesus in order to successfully navigate societal trappings. This would be a build-on to Pastor Troy’s weekly bible studies held with the students on Christian fundamentals. The event would serve as a culmination to the students’ Week of Prayer events in late September. After much prayer, we decided to theme the event, “Building Your Foundation.”

Flyer Building Your Foundation 092317It was to be me and one other person traveling from Washington, D.C. to Salisbury, though the other person was unable to join due to a schedule conflict. Having previously checked flight and train schedules with none that truly fit my needs, I was resigned to make the six-hour drive by myself and to view it as quiet time with the Lord to prepare for the messages to be delivered. Upon my arrival in Salisbury, I would meet up with my other ministry partners to prepare for that Saturday’s and Sunday’s events.

The bold and transformative five words, “I would love to go,” were texted by Mrs. Connie May—a seasoned saint in her late sixties who had just returned from a 10-day train trip to our home state of Kansas to visit family. Her bags were still packed from her travels when she quickly and without hesitation responded to the Holy Spirit’s leading to join me. Surprised, as I had just mentioned our ministry event to her that morning by text and sent her the flyer, I asked if she was sure, because again, she had just returned from travel. Forgoing texting her, I called her to really see if she was sure. Her response was as firm as it was in her text message: “I would love to go.” She further added, “My bags are packed.”

Mrs. May was exercising a disposition always encouraged and welcomed by the Holy Spirit which would enable Him to move mightily from the beginning to the end of our trip: obedience. Her love for our young people coupled by an unquestioning obedience to the Lord’s instructions along with my love for our young people and obedience to yield to what the Lord was doing, granted us blessings upon blessings, favor upon favor that would take too long to record in this post.

The Anointing Flows

With a few tracks performed from his newest and 10th album,  A Musical Inspiration of Epic Proportionsby our dear brother in Christ and Christian rap artist Crucial, we presented “Building Your Foundation” on Saturday, September 23, 2017, with messages to help students build their foundation on Christ Jesus followed by a panel discussion to answer their questions on the challenges in doing so.

The core scripture came from 1 Corinthians 3:11, 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

We also encouraged the Livingstone students to live as “living stones,” to be a holy priesthood as Peter describes in 1 Peter 2:4-6.

We were blessed for the opportunity and privilege to pour into students God’s truth. With a foundation built upon Christ Jesus, we can successfully weather life’s storms and remain standing. I also referenced Christ as the Cornerstone (Isaiah 28:16) to any structure, where a cornerstone is subjected to much pressure and stress and able to uphold and sustain the structure built upon it. During our message, I also shared with them seven (7) things that God gives us when we build our foundation upon Him. In contrast, Satan will plant certain things that are opposite/counterfeit to what God gives if we follow Satan’s ways. I credit these “seven” teachings to what the Lord revealed to my dear brother in Christ and mentor, Hakim Hazim, co-founder of Christian think tank, Freedom Squared.

Here’s what God gives contrasted with the opposite of what Satan sends:
1- Instruction (God’s Word) vs. Illusion
2- Immortality vs. Impermanence
3- Identity vs. Indistinctness
4- Invulnerability (when we’re pursuing God’s purposes) vs. Infirmity
5- Integration vs. Isolation (God integrates us into one eternal family whereas Satan isolates us)
6- Importance vs. Insignificance (The work we do for God is important whereas Satan tells us we don’t matter anyway and “what makes you so special?”)
7- Increase vs. Insufficiency

 

The students saw and understood this and could recognize the traits in their lives. Crucial added to this by speaking on God’s Word as our instruction to successfully guide us and to overcome Satan’s illusions. He also reinforced having Christ as our foundation and used the analogy of a three-legged stool to show the support we need in our discipleship: 1-Word of God, 2- Consistent Prayer, and 3- Godly Fellowship.

The students were truly engaged and asked excellent questions which led to our delivery of the truth by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit truly moved upon hearts as several students asked us to pray over them. As the students approached us, I embraced them, told them, “I love you,” and genuinely meant it. God gave me a love for each student like no other, particularly having met them for the first time that day. I have said that “you have to love someone to pray for them.” As tears flowed from the students and even ourselves as we prayed, so did the anointing. We praise God for yokes and chains broken, burdens shed and things released. We know that seeds were planted and watered and those who came in chained left freed! Glory to God!

“Can We Order More Pizza?”

We enjoyed food and fellowship afterward, which allowed us to see another blessing in obedience. Our initial pizza order was enough to feed everyone lightly, but the Lord placed it upon Mrs. May’s heart that we were to order more. She texted me, “Can we order more pizza?” In my desire to be a good steward of our resources, I first balked at her question and replied that we had enough, though she asked me again. I sensed that I needed to follow the leading here and gave her the green light to order more pizza. Ready to give my credit card number again to the pizza store manager, I began to rattle off my card number and then the store manager, Jennifer, stopped me. She said, “Nicole, these five extra pizzas are on me. ”

I/we couldn’t believe it. God blessed us and blessed us ABUNDANTLY!! As students made their, second, third and fourth rounds through the boxes of pizza, we thought of how Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish; how the food was multiplied and plenty was left over!! After all of the students had their fill and some left the chapel, we had a couple whole pizzas left. We gave those remaining whole pizzas to students who truly appreciated having another free meal to take home! God is awesome and can do amazing things that exceed what we can imagine when we yield in obedience to His instructions! Praise God!

Group pic post event on 092317 Livingstone College Building Your Foundation

Physical and spirit man fed! Livingstone students join post-event with Jayson Gardner (Livingstone College assistant to Pastor Troy Russell), Crucial (black t-shirt and cap), Nicole D. Hayes (Voices Against the Grain founder in tan blazer), Mrs. Connie May with Voices Against the Grain, Sherry Russell and her husband Pastor Troy Russell (center) pictured with their daughter Tailor, at the September 23, 2017 ministry event, “Building Your Foundation.”

We also welcomed students from nearby Catawba College to the event where Catawba College student, Destiny Stone, sang her song, “Have Your Way,” which has been on our playlist since we learned of the powerful track in July. Destiny, event coordinator for Catawba College’s Black Student Union, invited me to speak during their morning services on that Sunday, September 24, 2017, where I delivered a Holy Spirit-led message on being “Dangerously Lighthearted” before a Holy God. The message was a call to holiness for God’s People and a desire to mature in Christ Jesus as His image bearers. More victory for God’s Kingdom, as several students adhered to the altar call where hearts were contrite and repentant, burdens where laid down, chains were broken and peace, freedom and joy was restored! All to the Glory of God!

A Black Eye Delivered to the Kingdom of Darkness Generates Opposition

It goes without saying that when you take territory from the enemy for God’s Kingdom, it doesn’t go unnoticed. You can expect opposition. Mrs. May and I were barely an hour into our six-hour drive back to D.C., when an issue “developed” with the rental car. The engine pan had come loose and was dragging the ground making a loud noise as the wind caught it during our highway speeds. The pan was most likely damaged and loosened by the previous driver who ran over something as we saw more evidence of this. I texted my dear sister in Christ and prayer partner about our situation and requested prayer. She replied, “On it.” I knew what that meant! She was going to rally her troops, pray, bind and dismantle the enemy’s efforts and dispatch many angels on our behalf!!   🙂

Long and short, after calls with the rental company and roadside assistance, the Lord put it on Mrs. May’s spirit to seek out a nearby service center to have them put the car on a rack to inspect and fix the issue. We located a nearby service center and the shop owner shortly got us in, mind you, a few minutes before they closed on a Sunday afternoon. He tightly secured the pan at no charge to us and though we pleaded to pay him, he refused payment. He bid us well and got us safely on the road back to D.C. While Satan attempted to steal our joy, peace and collective victory, we did not cave to it and continued to experience God’s favor in obedience!! Hallelujah!

Obedience is the Key to Our Success

There are many scriptures to encourage our obedience to God. God absolutely desires our obedience which also shows our love for Him. When we really love Him, we desire His ways. This moves Him! This also moves Him to give us more when we can be faithful with little. He will give you the instructions and move beyond your imagination and perceived limitations!! This past weekend, through the obedience of those ministering, serving, yielding, praying, and fasting, we saw God show UP and show OUT in ways that I am still processing.

We thank Livingstone College and Catawba College for allowing us the opportunity to pour into their students. We remain open to future invitations. Thank you Pastor Troy Russell for your heart for your students. Thank you to the youth (Livingstone College praise team, Destiny Stone, 4GWL) who blessed us with song and worship, truly setting the atmosphere at both colleges!! Thank you Crucial, Destiny Stone and Azende King for serving on our panel discussion! Thank you Jalen for helping us with our sound equipment needs on Saturday! You were truly a blessing! Thank you to Anthony and those who helped us set up on Saturday, another blessing! Thank you to our many prayer partners who prayed, fasted and encouraged us in this effort. We all share in this collective victory for God’s Kingdom and the futures restored and preserved for these young people. We pray they will continue to seek God for His instruction to obediently walk out His call on their lives. We pray for their foundations to be built upon Christ Jesus to successfully navigate this life and to become Godly change agents in whatever environments God places them!

As my dear brother in Christ Hakim says, “Obedience is our best opportunity for success.” We have noticed that due to our obedience, open hearts and willingness to follow His will, God has placed people in our lives to help drive our efforts—without us reaching out to them. When God sees a level of obedience from us, He will entrust us with more important tasks. Those who value God’s instruction go deeper and deeper into obedience to Him. Obedience to God is always going to produce fruit.

I love you 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.

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God Speaks. Are You Obeying?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

The automated Asian female-sounding voice to my wireless earphones interrupts the playing enjoyment of my streaming Gospel radio station as I take my afternoon walk. For the next five minutes, intermittently, she gives about eight or nine warnings in my ear: “Battery low.” I keep walking, enjoying the music and walk knowing full well that I want to hear the songs play in their entirety so long as the battery or “she” will allow me to. By her seventh or eighth warning, I know time is nearly up though I keep listening to the music, I keep walking. Finally, in response to my defiance she abruptly says in her flat tone, “Power off.”

Usually when she says “Power off,” I am a few minutes from returning to my desk to recharge the earphones.

A similar scenario can exist when we’re driving along and suddenly the “Check engine” light flashes on our vehicle’s dashboard. Usually when this happens, we’re not in a convenient place to stop and pop the hood or take it to a garage. Frankly, we may not have the financial means to address the issue even if we had the time. Also, what if the vehicle’s operating just fine (at least we think so)? Is there really a problem?

Sometimes we’re fortunate and it’s a minor, easily fixed issue—that is if we address it early without causing further harm. But often an engine matter is a costly matter that suggests labor + parts + other issues found= a big bill. Besides, we have things to do, places to go and people to see. So we continue to drive along with the “check engine” light glaring that once went on and then off but now stays on full-time. We may feel anxiety coupled with defiance to see how far we can go, how far we can push it before being forced to address the matter. If we remain in denial and continued defiance, it’s likely that the “check engine” issue will finally stop us at a most inconvenient time and short of our intended destination.

check-engine-light

Similarly, God calls out to us and warns of issues to address and correct. Usually for those listening, these warnings or promptings are communicated to us by the Holy Spirit. As you spend more time with God, you learn how He communicates with you. Usually to me, it’s a few words He says; short, to the point, no jibber-jabber, nothing wasted or misunderstood. It’s so clear and sharp that there’s no way I could misunderstand what He’s instructing or asking me.

God gives us an opportunity here. The promptings serve a purpose as does our vehicle’s “check engine” light. We can either choose to obey His instructions or keep walking in our own ways to see what the end will be. Most definitely, if we ignore His voice, reject His wisdom and continue in our own misdirected pursuits, we will find ourselves in an undesirable situation. Sometimes the instructions or warnings will come to us by other people who may not have full knowledge of our situation but through the Lord using them, their words reaffirm His words to us. Patiently, lovingly, repeatedly, He calls out to us…to preserve us…to guide us…

I am reminded of Isaiah 65:1-3, when the Lord says, “I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ 2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—3 a people who continually provoke me to my very face…”

If this is you, pray to know and follow God’s ways; that God would give you a heart to walk out His ways. That your heart will not be divided by what or who to follow (Psalm 86:11). That you would have a sincere affection to obey His words. “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5, New International Version)

Love and God bless you,

Nicole

You might also read our previous post to encourage obedience, “Are You About to Circle the Israelites?”

“From the Chair”

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Recently, I painted my ivory-colored living room walls with a dark gray to make the white trim “pop.” I love it! The room now has a deeper feeling of serenity and modernity. As a first-time painter and with the guidance of a dear sister, I overcame my fear of messing it up and went to work (boy, was it hard work!). A great outcome in that I love the color, kept delightful cost savings by doing it myself, and added another skill.

The new gray and white color scheme also prompted a furniture change. The espresso-colored furniture that nicely complimented the former ivory walls no longer supported the gray and white modern look.

So, on a lean, good-steward budget, I began swapping out the espresso furnishings with gray and white furniture with pops of colorful accessories. Then, I came to my espresso leather chair: a chair I’ve had for several years and is still in good condition with the exception of some wear on the armrest where I’ve leaned on it while reading. Why suddenly was this chair giving me pause and sentimentality, with tears welling in my throat? Heaven forbid I had become like Archie Bunker (All in the Family) who had a terrible fit when his favorite chair was broken by his “meathead” son-in-law and had to be repaired. Why was I feeling so tied to this chair to the point that keeping it would disrupt my decor vision flow?

the chair

In asking myself this question, the Holy Spirit dropped the words “from the chair” in my spirit (not meaning like a university department chair). I inquired of Him, “From the chair? Huh?” He seldom offers me more than 1-5 words.   🙂

I looked again at my espresso leather chair in hopes to discern what the Lord was saying. Then I began to understand the root of my sentimentality for the chair…

For some time, from the chair, I have mentored young people, ministered to and prayed with others over the phone, studied God’s Word, have written these writings, knelt in fervent prayer, given thanks to God, and completed grad school homework. Seldom was the chair used for television watching or music listening but for doing the actual trench work of God’s Kingdom. It has been where I have studied, learned, applied, taught, prayed and praised. The Holy Spirit’s words “from the chair” were now resonating within. Even though I have done similar work from a former espresso desk I had, the Kingdom work conducted from the chair leaves me in awe.

As God’s Elect, we are His chosen vessels, spokespeople, shepherds and proxy authorities for teaching, exercising and upholding His Holy Word—not our own teachings or beliefs. God is the authority over His Word, which is infallible. As uncomfortable as His Word, His Truth may be in delivering and receiving, it is this very element that heals, preserves and restores—not a watered-down truth that makes us comfortable nor that which conforms to what we “think God means.” God’s Word means the same today, yesterday and forever and is not an evolving theology over time to fit the present culture.

As a dear sister in Christ pointed out, “Christ’s position is our authority from which we are seated and positioned to say what God’s Word means.” 

God has given us His authority to serve as spokespersons, teachers and proxy authorities in delivering His Word to others, imparted by the Holy Spirit.  May we do as He intends so those listening may truly reap the benefits therein.

2 Timothy 2-15

Being in regular communion with the Lord enables any of us who yield to Him regardless of education, position or titles, to see and hear in the spiritual that which cannot be revealed in the natural to communicate His Word and instructions. Those of us operating “from the chair” (our position in Christ Jesus) should not take lightly this authority and privilege. May we be studied and rest in the confidence of Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit to lead us in rightly dividing and disseminating His Word to help others (2 Timothy 2:15, Luke 12:12). May we obediently follow the Holy Spirit’s instruction.

In this, we give all glory, honor and praise to God for inviting us to be co-workers with Him in this eternal work. As for the espresso leather chair contradicting my new gray and white decor: I might keep it. The work conducted “from the chair” has been and is invaluable.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Holiness Possible Today?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“Oh Nikki, stop it with that holier than thou stuff,” said mom to my then 13 or 14-year-old self. Note: mom didn’t say “stuff” but I’ve chosen a more appropriate substitute.  🙂

Mom was responding to my correction about her cussing. I was a black child, albeit raised in a household by two Christian parents, along with my brother, who found boldness (or ignorance) to correct her mother. Those of you who understand the dynamics of growing up in a black household, mom didn’t like back talk (even if we were right) and neither did/does Dad (mom passed away in 1989). But within me, I had a boldness and love for the Lord and a desire to see others love and live for the Lord as He calls us to.

I-am-the-light-of-the-world

My love for the Lord began in early childhood. My parents bought my brother and me an entire 10-volume set of illustrated bible stories. I read the stories from page to page, enjoying the illustrations, loved learning about Jesus, his ministry, his and the disciples’ interactions with others. Even reading about his crucifixion and resurrection, I may have read that more than the other stories. I loved the Lord, yet my childhood thing was to be so perfect that I wouldn’t get in trouble with mom and dad. So if I didn’t complete a chore, broke a dish, got a bad report card grade, or something else, I lied about it. I sometimes blamed the incident on my brother who had no clue that he was about to get a spanking because I lied so well. Goodness gracious. He and I can look back on it now and laugh, but at that time it was no laughing matter. My parents were grieved by my boldface lying pattern, and one day said to me, “Nikki, we want to be able to trust you. We can’t trust you.”

Those words pained me deeply. I too, wanted my parents to be able to trust me. Why did I fear being punished to the point of lying? I was truly repentant and asked the Lord’s help to stop lying, to turn from this. I didn’t want to be a liar. This was at age 12. It was then that I turned my life over to Jesus Christ, and my heart was made new. It was then that I felt a greater love for the Lord, with such a zeal to share Him and His love with others, to encourage them to walk in His truth.

Oh yes, this has long been who I am. This sudden change occurred within our household with my mom who was a Believer. But she still had her favorite curse words, liked to smoke her occasional More brand slim cigarettes, and liked to drink her occasional screwdriver. She was not delighted to hear her teen daughter’s correction. Eeeks.

Two scriptures (and certainly there are more) come to mind in writing this: 

1 Peter 1:16 (English Standard Version), since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” As one commentary reads, “The written word of God is the surest rule of a Christian’s life, and by this rule, we are commanded to be holy in every way. God makes those holy who he saves.  Holiness (should be) the desire and duty of every Christian. It must be in all affairs, all conditions and toward all people.”

Matthew 5:6 (New International Version), Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  As I was coming more into the Lord in childhood, I genuinely had a hunger and thirst for righteousness; for a right relationship with God and others (and still do). I simply didn’t interpret it with this understanding at that time, and likely, neither did mom.

be_ye_holy_as_i_am_holy_by_whitenine-d34fske

Sooo many opportunities to sin abound in our society. Is the Bible and how God calls us to live still relevant or even possible in today’s challenging times? The answer is “Yes.” God’s Word, His character and His nature are unchanging, no matter the situation. In the next few weeks, our ministry will speak with college students who are struggling on how to navigate such societal trappings. Worse, as they seek to successfully avoid the trappings and enticements of sin, they see some members within the Body of Christ who they look up to, engaging in similar sins—the sins the students are told to avoid. Many of them are disheartened and confused by what they see. As I mentor our young people, I understand that this millenial generation truly wants to see those more mature in the Body of Christ walking the walk and not just talking it. Truly living in holiness,  yielding our flesh and spirit in obedience to God’s will. Mirroring Christ’s love and His ways.

But I’ll ask them as I am asking you: Is holiness possible today? Do you even desire holiness or understand what it is? As dear friend and co-founder of Christian think tank FreedomSquared.com, Hakim Hazim, said so well recently: “Many want God’s blessings but reject the relationship standards.” 

What Holiness Means and Why It is Possible Today 

Holiness means to be “set apart, consecrated, set apart for God’s purposes; sacred, hallowed, sanctified. Called out of darkness to reflect God’s Light to the world.” God gives us His Holy Spirit so we can live as He does. That’s why it is possible, even today, to live holy.

Is holiness possible today? You bet. It’s not only possible, it’s God’s plan for us. Be encouraged: I am living it as are others. If you’re living it, continue, as others are watching and listening. If you’re struggling, I offer this prayer:

Lord, help us through Your Holy Spirit to yield to your ways, your will for holiness and not how we interpret that to mean.  Develop within us such a love and devotion for you that drives our desire to pursue holiness no matter the situation or environment we’re facing. Though there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), let us not use that as a license to keep allowing past sins into our present.  Help us to model to this generation what a life of true joy, true freedom, true peace can look like in You. Thank you, Jesus, for your love, mercy and grace upon us. 

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.

 

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/

Walk Tall

1 Samuel 12:16-“Now stand here and see the great thing the LORD is about to do.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Stand…Chest out, shoulders back with your head held high. Walk…Firm, without fear like a lion in the brush seeking to pounce on its prey. Peer… Into the unknown with complete assurance that God has run the race you are trying to finish. Seek…HIM over yourself to accomplish feats you believed were impossible. Master…The commandments and hold them dear to your heart for obedience is the rod that saved the child, instead of the divisive tool that corrupted them. Wait…Patiently on him as he did not bring you this far too abandon you. Praise… The Lord, who granted us our heart’s desire while delivering us from a difficult situation. Therefore, may we stand and walk with faith, so we might peer into the life we currently seek. For when we master the patience necessary to accomplish the goals God would have us do, then we might “see the great things the Lord is about to do.” 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.  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.

God’s Will For You Is On-Point

Good Day! Be grateful that God doesn’t want to leave you or me the same as we came into this world! What He has planned is better than we could imagine for ourselves. We simply need to be obedient to His will and His way. Sharing with you this devotional from Minister Dracy Jenkins, our brother-in-Christ who writes for web-based Christian think tank, Freedom Squared.  His devotional and their team member writings can be found on FreedomSquared.org.  -Nicole

“Rejoice in knowing that you belong to God and that He is conforming you to the image of His Son. See every event of this day as part of that process. Yield to the Spirit’s prompting, and take heart that God will accomplish His will.” — John MacArthur

Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Minister Dracy Jenkins, Devotional Writer

Romans 12:2 NLT Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Point 1:  We are to rejoice because God’s Will for us is good, pleasing and perfect!  Hallelujah!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Point 2: We are to be joyful and thankful in and through all things, because that is His Will for us.

Hebrews 10:10 NLT  For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Point 3: We are to live differently than what the world says is acceptable and politically correct.  Because of Christ, we have been made holy and provided the righteousness of Christ. Which also is God’s Will for us. It is in and through the power of Christ that we’ll no longer have to conform and fit into the world’s decaying morals and values.  We can remain above it because we have been called and empowered to. Hallelujah!

Hebrews 10:36 NLT 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Point 4: Because it is God’s Will to deliver to us everything He promised in His Word, we are to patiently wait and endure the test and trials that come our way.  Our reward for following Christ and surrendering all is already reserved for us.  Its ours and cannot be taken away.  We simply need to remain focused on Christ and all that His life and sacrifice on the cross has made available for us.

Father, we thank you that your Will be done.  Nothing can stop it; nothing can change it.  We are yours and you are ours.  We praise your Holy name today and give thanks for Your Son and Your ever-present Spirit.  Thank you for loving us so.  It’s in Jesus name we pray and praise you, Amen.

-Minister Dracy Jenkins
After God’s Own Heart Ministries, and
FreedomSquared

 

Learning to Obey God

Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” –John 4:34 (New Living Translation)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

In the Christian walk, “obedience” is a word often associated within a negative context rather than positive. The English dictionary defines obedience to be “the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance.” In a world that is increasingly encouraging personal, financial, and sexual freedom among many other things, obedience can be a dreadful experience if you’re not thinking rightly about it. But Jesus wants us to have JOY in obeying the Father! Just as it pleased Him and gave Him joy to obey God, so it should please us!

But if we desire to obey God, let it not be from a spirit of unwillingness, fear, or contempt but rather because we LOVE Him. For Jesus said, “All who love me will do what I say. My father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” – John 14:23 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. – 1 John 5:2-3

One thing we must remember while being obedient is that we have a High Priest in Jesus who endured obedience before us. In his humanity, he learned the impact of full obedience to God. For even though Jesus was God’s son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. –Hebrews 5:8. And this High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testing’s we do, yet he did not sin. –Hebrews 4:15 He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. –Philippians 2:8 He did this out of LOVE for his father and out of love for us.

So how exactly do we learn how to obey God? Let me suggest a few ways that has worked in my life and other Christians. First we choose to TRUST him and do it his way instead of our own. Jesus gave us an example of this when he said, “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” –John 6:38 Second, understand that patience and faith are requirements in obedience. Be determined to wait upon God in prayer. His timing is always perfect.

Third, we must meditate on His word EVERY single day. It is impossible to live an obedient life with a closed Bible. Finally, we must be CONFIDENT enough to leave all the consequences to him. There is an inexplicable FREEDOM in knowing that you have obeyed God in your life situation and you leave whatever happens next to him. The psalmist knew this very well when he said, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments”-Psalm 119:45. Yet, beware of that prowling lion our enemy the Devil. He will keep attempting to move you toward “partial obedience.” Rationalization is one of Satan’s biggest weapons to keep you off base in your relationship with God.

Dear friends, life at its best comes from obeying the Father. Obedience is something you will never regret for it ALWAYS brings blessings. Amen.

-Jason M. Alexandre

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born on November 29, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York. However, at two years old he and his family moved to Philadelphia, PA. Later, Jason moved to Limerick, PA where he now resides. Jason is currently working toward obtaining his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. 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 nation to nation. On a yearly basis, Jason primarily goes to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year Haiti Christianity visits different cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothes, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly evangelization takes place. Jason is currently their public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to be spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively.

Day and Night

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:6-9 (New Living Translation)

This passage of scripture reminds us of a time in the past where the nation of Israel should have been afraid. For their leader, a godly man named Moses, just passed away. Now who would lead the people into the Promised Land? The Lord gave that special charge to Joshua and God assured Joshua that just as he was with Moses so he would be with him. –Joshua 1:2-5. Yet, this was a conditional promise. For Joshua had to study the book of instruction, meditate on it day and night, and obey what was written in it. Only then would he and the Israelites prosper and succeed in everything they did. At that time, their book of instruction is what our Bible is today.  Although, the Bible was written thousands of years ago, its content is still applicable to us today and was written for us.

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” –2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Word of God (Bible) teaches us His will and purpose for our lives. It is the very mind of God on paper that was imparted to us and for our benefit. He speaks to us through it. Not only can the word give us direction but it also encourages us and gives us courage to face a world and its many contradictory belief systems on how to truly live a successful godly life. The psalmist knew this very well when he said, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”-Psalm 119:105

Truth is, although it may look like many people have the appearance of success and seem to get along without reading and absorbing the Bible, whatever one acquires outside of God’s will eventually turns to ashes. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”-James 1:22. If you are reading this today and forget everything tomorrow, remember this, OBEDIENCE ALWAYS BRINGS BLESSINGS.

Friend, I encourage you today to stay in the Word of God each day and each night. But don’t do it because God commanded it although we should. Do it because he loves you and you love him. For Jesus said “if you love me, obey my commandments”-John 14:15. God wants the BEST for you friend and he wants to show you all that he has for you. Yes! He is faithful and will keep his promises. I am a witness. Just as he was with those who came before us so he will be with us. Indeed, “No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced.” –Psalm 25:3

-Jason M. Alexandre

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born on November 29, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York. However, at two years old he and his family moved to Philadelphia, PA. Later, Jason moved to Limerick, PA where he now resides. Jason is currently working toward obtaining his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. 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 nation to nation. On a yearly basis, Jason primarily goes to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year Haiti Christianity visits different cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothes, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly evangelization takes place. Jason is currently their public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to be spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively.

Your Testimony Will Free Somebody Else

Your testimony, your healing will free somebody else.

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

On Wednesday’s Voices Against the Grain radio show, we heard a powerful testimony of healing and restoration from sexual trauma and self-hatred shared by our blogger/devotional writer, Ana Martinez. For 22 years, she stuffed feelings of shame and guilt, starting with being molested at age 8, statutory rape at age 13, and raped again at 15. Growing up in her parent’s church and loving the Lord, she then walked away from God and His call upon her life. Today, she is a mom and bold woman of God involved in several ministries and has received freedom by sharing her story with others—so they too can heal. The episode, entitled “Christ: Your True Heart Healer, Soul Lover” conveys how deep, wide and unconditional Jesus Christ’s love for us. He is our special Valentine. No matter how horrific and dark your past or present situation, He LOVES YOU more than you can imagine. He died, rose and lives so you may experience true freedom, joy and peace —not bound by things of this world that enslave.

We were joined by Noel Bouché, president of pureHOPE, a ministry that provides Christian solutions in a sexualized culture. Noel discussed how they provide strategies to equip parents to help their children navigate in this digitized world, where images and messages of sexual immorality are rampant. pureHOPE envisions a world free of exploitation and brokenness. As a new partner with pureHOPE, Voices Against the Grain will join them to fight the proliferation of porn and sex trafficking in our society. To win this fight, Jesus Christ is our HOPE.

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

Noel Bouché, President of pureHOPE

Noel Bouché, President of pureHOPE

Immediately following the airing of Wednesday’s show, the calls, emails and text messages poured in from listeners (some in tears) who were positively impacted by the conversation. We could not have planned the perfect formation of elements that has begun the healing and restoration process for many since our discussion. God’s perfect timing unites situations, people and willing hearts to accomplish His purposes. Not a day sooner or later. Right on time.

Words cannot adequately convey what I feel in my spirit. In simplest words, I have a spirit of gratitude and humility that such a big God chooses to involve us in His greater plan. Thank you Lord. We love you.

Satan hoped that Ana would remain silent, ashamed and bound by her past. But God’s plan was already at work. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” As referenced in Jeremiah 29:11, which furthermore says, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,” “plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

As Ana says, “No matter your situation, your story, know that GOD can restore you. HE can heal you. HE is our Redeemer. He has a bigger plan for your life greater than you know. He will turn around the darkest things in your life and make them beautiful.”

Just like Ana, sharing your story, your healing will help somebody else.

Listen to the show here.