Battered, Burned and Still Held Together: Visiting the Museum of the Bible

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Living in Washington, D.C. as I have for the past 12 years, I never want to take for granted the ease of access I have to visit our national treasures, monuments and museums —treasures that people travel thousands of miles to see and cross off their bucket lists.

With life and addressing other priorities, I had not yet had opportunity to visit the Museum of the Bible which opened this past November 2017. I truly desired to and finally did so this past July 4th weekend.

Upon clearing security and entering the museum, not to be irreverent but I felt like a kid in a candy store! You encounter families and individuals who are just as excited as you to learn about the Bible’s global impact and influence. Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” greets you on the marble wall before beginning your tour. Throughout the museum’s six floors of exploration and admiration, you will see how this Psalm held true in the quotes given by abolitionists, ministers, members of Congress and government and other influentials who share how the Word of God shaped their lives, decisions and work.

Museum of the Bible introduction

I took great joy in reading about God’s people positioned throughout time who spoke His Word boldly and unabashedly to stir hearts and spirits. There were times in America’s and the world’s history–times of George Whitfield, an American Anglican priest in the 1740s during America’s “Great Awakening–and Charles Spurgeon, an English Baptist preacher in the mid-1800s–where people would crowd streets, churches and theaters, pressing their way to hear the Gospel, thirsty to receive the Good News. They were receptive to a word of encouragement, instruction or rebuke–to be awoken from their slumber of indifference. No candy-coated messages that so proliferate today to comfortably keep people in a spiritual slumber of indifference. As Whitfield said, “I love those that thunder out the word…the Christian world is in a deep sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out if it.” (1739). Reading these words excited me and reminded me of another passionate “preacher”/abolitionist, William Wilberforce (1759-1833), who pulled no punches when writing his book Real Christianity, whereupon he called for Christians to forgo cultural Christianity and truly pursue authentic faith. I wrote about it here.

During my three-hour visit (you will need more time than this; I plan to return to finish), I saw several captivating exhibits: a pile of blackened, still-held-together bibles burned by those who rejected the truth. Many scrolls–some in pristine condition, and others tattered and worn to pieces by weathering and water – were written in various languages telling of His Word. Hundreds of bibles passed down through the generations with clasps and jeweled covers or worn leather, still held together. I imagined the journey each of these precious books traveled to reach us today. I imagined what storms those books endured and how those words of hope sustained its readers in their times of trial.

Museum of the Bible bible

I could go on! However, I will keep this post brief as I do not want to spoil your visit! I hope you are able to visit the Museum of the Bible–it is a “must do” for your bucket list.

What I can say for certain: the Word of God is sure and it endures. I looked at those burned, blackened, worn bibles, still holding together, through it all. People reading those words likely felt beat up by life, beat up like the book that was yet giving them life and holding them together. In every situation we encounter, God’s Word will indeed serve as a “lamp unto our feet and light unto our path” if we seek and trust Him.

Even in these present troubling times, and in times before, and in trials to come, you can rest assured: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8

Love and blessings,

Nicole

View more photos from my Museum of the Bible visit published on our Voices Against the Grain Facebook page (posted July 9, 2018). To visit the Museum of the Bible, view their website to order your timed tickets. General adult admission/requested donation is $15 and $10 for children ages 12 and under.

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Who Gonna Check Me, Boo?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

If you’re familiar and reading this post’s headline, then you probably remember this infamous line delivered by “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” co-star, Sheree Whitfield.

This line has been repeated by men and women alike, complete with all the head and neck rolling!  😉

Although Sheree said this during a dispute with her event planner, I’m using the “Who gonna check me, boo?” reference differently.

This recommendation is directed particularly to my single men and women. For us singles, it’s imperative that we’re surrounded by good, trusted godly advisers who we can go to for wise counsel. As single people, we may not have someone at home to pull our coattail to question us or caution us or say “wait a minute” on a decision or action we’re about to make. Someone who will tell us that we’re out of order.

As singles, society views us as independent. We pay our bills, run our household, run errands, cook, clean, and complete many tasks often without the assistance of a helper. Truly, if we don’t do it, it’s not likely to get done. And who could tell you that you’re doing it wrong? “Who gonna check me, boo?”

This mindset can cause us to move ahead of or outside of God’s will for us. We may not even consult God on small matters, thinking we’ve got it covered. Though in all things (and you may do this already—this is not a beat down, simply a reminder), we should seek God’s direction first. Psalm 119:105 tells us that, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (NIV).” In all of our ways we should seek him. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight (NIV).”

Proverbs 15-22 plans succeed with advisers

In addition to seeking wisdom, waiting and hearing from the Lord, ask God to place godly people in your life to provide wise instruction. People who will say, “steer clear of that person” or “get more information” or “wait, don’t leave that spot yet,” or simply “wait.”

It’s an early sign to a derailed path to roll your neck and arrogantly say, “Who gonna check me, boo?” From pursuing your calling, to career opportunities, dating, purchasing property, and other: if you truly desire to pursue the path God has for you, willing to deny what you think you want in exchange for His best, I pray the blessings of godly counsel in your life. If you are already living this and experiencing the fruits of such counsel, I commend you. I have truly benefited from the wise, godly instruction of my dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Iron sharpens iron (Psalm 27:17 NIV). 

(This message also applies to those in new relationship with Christ Jesus)

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.

When the Blind Refuse Sight

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Nicole

About Nicole D. Hayes

Nicole D. Hayes is committed to serve as a vessel of compassion, instruction, love and truth for Jesus Christ. Born and raised in Topeka, Kan., she is a member of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C.  Drawn to know Christ in her early childhood and saved at the age of 12, Nicole is a student and applier of God’s Word. She is also a successful public relations professional operating in Washington, D.C., with more than eight years experience of coordinating and delivering strategic communications and media outreach support for nonprofits and small business owners. During her career she has placed several nonprofits and small business owners in national, local and regional media spaces. She operates with a personal and business mantra of “making an investment in people.” Among many things, Nicole is also a motivational speaker. She has been invited to deliver messages to business leaders to not be misguided by the world’s view of success, to direct young people navigating through the world’s challenges, and to remind those who may have lost their way that joyfully, “God Has Not Changed His Mind About You.” Nicole’s purpose in creating “Voices Against the Grain” is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amidst confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

 

 

Guide Me

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

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

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

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

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

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

About Hakim Hazim

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