Because He Offends Our Sensibilities: A Post-Election Encouragement

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Note: Since launching Voices Against the Grain in 2013, we have vowed to remain nonpartisan, for we are focused on the true government that rests upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6-7). We’ll continue to do so even in discussing political matters.

Donald Trump. Lack of self-control. Disrespectful. Abhorrent. Insulting. His words spoken most always elicited a visceral reaction from me and many others, finding what he said to be crude and offensive. Many of us were taught to respect others; to be kind toward others. We were taught to treat others as we’d want to be treated. We were taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Absolutely, Donald Trump violated every one of these precepts. He offends our sensibilities. His words also unleashed and emboldened others whose mindsets offend our sensibilities in the worst way.

But even in this, on the night of Tuesday, November 8, 2016, into the wee hours of Wednesday, November 9, Donald Trump became America’s 45th president-elect. The votes separating the two candidates was undeniable. It was done. The world appeared like it had been turned on its head. Many commiserated in their alcoholic beverages, shed tears, stood in shock, disturbed by the outcomes. Even the experts had not predicted the polls to shift as they did.

How and why did this happen??

donald-trump

Donald Trump, president-elect, yelling at a Colorado rally at fire marshall. Eeeks.

Let’s start here. While many were focused on being “on the right side of history” by voting for a woman to become president, while many were wanting to see more “progress,” other voices that have been dismissed, said, “Enough.” Some of those voices are decent, intelligent and loving men and women. They’d risk their lives for you. Some of those voices are not white nationalists, not racist nor sexist. They recoiled at the two candidate choices presented and might have wanted a woman president but not that woman. Some of those voices are black and brown. Some of those voices are deeply grieved when inequality continues to proliferate. Some of those voices were also tired of the establishment. The bought media. Elitism. The status quo. Immorality.

A nation that once said, “In God We Trust,” set forth legislation and behaviors that disregarded God. What came afterward was so wrong, so much and so fast with more to come. Some of those voices fervently prayed for an intervention, in whatever way God fashioned it. People were kneeled and prostrate, hearts pouring out. And when there’s prayer for an intervention…look out. Will it be a prick, a tap on the shoulder or a full out “oops, upside your head”?

Do you know who else offends our sensibilities? God. GOD offends our sensibilities when things happen that we can’t make sense of. God offends our sensibilities when we keep eating the cake that’s killing us and He decides to finally remove the plate from our gluttonous faces to save us from ourselves. God offends our sensibilities when IN His love for us, He removes His grace and sends judgment—like a parent whose child continues to rebel. Throughout the Bible and throughout our lives (for those paying attention), we’ve seen God move in ways that confused us, that made us uncomfortable, that angered us, that caused us to think He was out of His mind or no longer with us.

Fact is, God is not interested in our comfort. This election outcome didn’t just happen on November 8. This extends far before and beyond. Whether it is God’s judgment or His protection, I’m not to say. What I know is that His Hand is Sovereign in all situations. Since last year, I called this entire election a dumpster fire careening down the street out of control—or was it? Was society turned on its head by this election outcome—or is God getting us in position to be turned right side up? To usher in His Kingdom? God works best in our discomfort. 

God WILL OFFEND our sensibilities to do what He needs to do. He will absolutely upset our plans. We may not like it or love it. We may not understand it. But to this, I say, “Lord, have your way. Have thine own way.”

I absolutely understand those distraught by this presidential election outcome. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Cling not to broken, worldly thought patterns.

But to the Saints/Believers/the Body of Christ, I implore you not to be frightened by this outcome. Instead, be JOYFUL that God is moving! More people have come together in prayer. More are in praise and worship! More are seeking God for hearts to change and saying, “Lord, let that change start with me.” More love, more kindness. More of God’s People are emboldened to fight the good fight on their knees while wielding the sword of His Word in their hands.

This is also game time! Suit up, Saints! We’ve rehearsed for game day many, many times, now. We’ve been in training for game day. We know His Word. We trust in God’s Promises to deliver and keep the righteous in perfect peace. We know He has not given us a spirit of fear. We already know that the gates of hell shall not prevail. We know that His Presence goes with us wherever we go and he says, “Be not afraid. Be strong.” He already told us that He has “overcome the world (John 16:33).” We know how the story ends, folks!! While many of you are resting in this truth, some of you are afraid and dismayed. Come on, folks! Such situations do NOT change how the story ends! Through Jesus Christ, we win in the end! No man, no woman, no system, no campaign can bring about such victory. This victory has already been won through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Focus. Don’t Get Distracted.

isaiah-26-3-purple

 

Remember our world is fallen, perishing. In dire need of a Savior. For those firmly rooted in Christ Jesus, we are to view all situations through His eyes. We are to glorify God whether the situation is good or bad; to our liking or not to our liking. A spiritual mind is a mind stayed on Jesus. A spiritual mind is indeed sober about situations—and is yet, slightly detached from the world. We handle elation and devastation the same way: fixed, unmoved, abiding in peace, joyful.

Don’t let any circumstance remove your focus from Almighty God, the Great I AM. God will indeed offend our sensibilities to shake things up, to disrupt harmful patterns, to expose corruption and injustices so justice and integrity can be restored, to awaken the sleeping, to move us to abandon worldly wisdom and trust in Him only, to grow us, to strengthen us and to draw hearts closer to Him; to bring us to the end of ourselves so that HE is all that remains in us. Such disruption is good and necessary. Our greatest success rests in Him and our obedience to His process. Focus less on Trump and see what God is doing in this very moment. I am excited to see how God will move. The nations are the LORD’s and He desires that we seek Him (Acts 17:26-27).

Pray for our leaders and for their hearts to be pliable in God’s Hands to do His will as noted in Proverbs 21:1. Lord, continue to use Your People as Ambassadors of Your light, love and truth in these times.

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.

Sleep With the Doors Unlocked??

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Who can imagine or remember it? I’m reading a book set in 1940’s South Philadelphia in a Black, close-knit community. In that era and before, folks attended church services multiple days during the week. They were there morning, noon and night WITH ALL of their six, seven or eight children in tow. Whether a Sunday service, bible study, choir performance, bake sale, community meeting, wedding or funeral, church was THE place to be.

In that era and in my grandmother’s day as a child (she’s now 100, God bless her!), these words were spoken by her and others: “Yeah, we used to sleep with the doors unlocked.” Huh?? Furthermore, she’d say, “We also used to sleep on the porch and nobody would bother us.” My grandmother lives in Kansas (where I’m from) and not the streets of Philadelphia, and was born in Oklahoma.

In comparing the geographical and demographic differences of Philly and Kansas and thinking of that era of 1940s and before, my mind cannot firmly conceive this possibility of sleeping with doors unlocked. It sounds crazy to me—leaving your doors unlocked—at night OR during the day. Sadly, those of us who are Gen Xers or Gen Y/Millenials cannot recall such a freedom or security in our lifetime. If mom and dad had to run an errand and my brother and I were home, they’d sternly look at us and say, “Lock the doors,” and “don’t answer the door for anyone.”

We lived in a predominately White, Kansas suburban/country neighborhood and school district. Our neighborhood was pin-drop quiet at night (except for chirping crickets) and relatively quiet by day with the exception of someone mowing their lawn, or the jubilant squeals of kids racing each other up and down the road on their bikes.  Even in those carefree days, we were told to “lock up.”

Sadly, even in as much as we hope, we will never return to a time of, “sleeping with the doors unlocked.” Such a time is non-existent. What happened? As I mentioned in my opening, communities were close-knit. People knew each other’s children, knew each other’s business, rallied together on issues that adversely affected the community, made do with what they had and were joyful in it. Their fellowship and commune with God was within and throughout, permeating their lives, neighbor’s households and community. Yes, as cozy and Pollyanna-ish as this sounds, make no mistake: those days birthed injustices, violence and devastating family secrets.

Psalm 91-2 sunset

But perhaps the closer ties to God and community strengthened them to hold up and hold each other up. Now, particularly those of us living in fast-paced urban communities, we may or may not know well our neighbors and certainly don’t know the intricacies of their lives, and maybe we’re not interested. And while parents were taking all of their six or eight kids to church in those earlier eras, unless the family is in regular fellowship with the Lord, you might see their one or two children at church or the parents may simply drop them off and return home.

Thinking of “sleeping with the doors unlocked,” I look fondly on those who experienced that security. For those of us who never experienced it and frankly never will, can we ever abide in a daily peace, comfort or security that will keep us steady and unnerved in these progressively evil days? For those reading this who are of that “sleep with the doors unlocked” generation, can you ever have peace and security again? Joyfully, yes.

The key is: trusting in God’s Word, His Promises and remaining in daily, regular commune with Him to where His Peace “that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), carries and steadies us. Praise God!

I invite you to read Psalm 91 on God’s promises made toward those who trust in Him when fear threatens your security and peace.

May you trust in the Lord to keep you and cover you and may we share His Peace with others,

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.

 

Hard to Control

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. – Proverbs 30:32

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. Just because I know it, doesn’t mean I should say it. “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” –1 Corinthians 10:23-24

How many times have we said something out of our lips that we wish we could take back? Maybe we put down another by way of slander or maybe we revealed something of another’s life told to us in secret that was not meant for the recipient’s ears. For we know it is bad in itself to think ill but we know that it is much worse to speak it. For speaking it implies an approval to the evil thought and a willingness to infect others with it.

You say, “But that’s my right! I’m not going to let anyone censor me!” Yes, my brother or sister, it is your right. It is lawful. However, if you profess to be a Christian, we ought not merely consider what is lawful for us but what is beneficial, and for the use of edification. The Christian ought to be concerned about his neighbor’s welfare considering his own conduct in order not to hinder their neighbor’s holiness, comfort, or salvation.

We ought to say to ourselves, “Today I will control my tongue and not let it control me. Exercise a Holy violence over yourself if necessary and put your hand on your mouth! “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. –James 3:7-10. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. –James 3:2

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Those who take care to consciously choose to control their tongue demonstrate a sign of true grace. The word “perfect” in James 3:2 doesn’t mean he is literally perfect as in will never make mistakes again but it means that man or woman is upright. Is not uprightness a characteristic of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in which we are aiming to become more like? For the wisdom and grace which enable us to rule our tongues will also enable us to rule our actions.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 Amen.

-Jason

Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.

Ferguson and All: Meet the Restorer of Our Streets

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Viewing this past week’s events of protests, rioting, vandalism and violence displayed in Ferguson, Mo., and nationwide upon learning the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the August 9, 2014 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown,  we know some things to be true: violence does not bring about justice. Hate does not bring about peace. None of these actions restores our streets or our dwelling places. None of it restores our lives. No such actions are fruitful in any way.

The following passage spoke to my spirit in considering the healing we want restored in Ferguson, in our nation and our world. Isaiah 58 shows how God will move mightily on our behalf when we fast, pray, humble ourselves to seek His will, His way. Instead of exhibiting peace one day and inflicting violence upon others the next, the Lord asks us to move in righteousness and 8- “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9- Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

Think about it. I encourage Ferguson, those of our nation and world to meet the Great Restorer of our streets.Isaiah 58-12 restorer of the streets

58 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

 

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.

 

 

Everything In Its Time

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. The message truly spoke to me!   -Nicole

ecclesiastes3-1STOP TRYING TO WORK THINGS OUT before their times have come. Accept the limitations of living one day at a time. When something comes to your attention, ask Me whether or not it is part of today’s agenda. If it isn’t, release it into My care and go on about today’s duties. When you follow this practice, there will be a beautiful simplicity about your life: a time for everything, and everything in its time.

A life lived close to Me is not complicated or cluttered. When your focus is on My Presence, many things that once troubled you lose their power over you. Though the world around you is messy and confusing, remember that I have overcome the world. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace.

Accompanying Scriptures: Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (New International Version)

 

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.”

Crisis-Driven World, Crisis-Driven Saints

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

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

John 16:33:

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

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

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

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

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

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

About Hakim Hazim

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