Shelter in Place

Nicole D. Hayes Head shot

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

I’ve never been a bandwagon person. I like the freedom of not being hitched to things that if you give it time and sit back long enough the flawed agendas and limitations are revealed. I know that eventually, the wheels will fall off.

I realize that when life is unjust and out of control some people need something to get behind when trying to restore justice, morals and order to our disorderly world; to invigorate hope in the hearts of those who despair over what they see; an attempt to right the ship that is on the brink of sinking. Movements. Initiatives. Hashtags. Campaign themes. Black Lives Matter (an extremely progressive, un-Christian agenda, socialist leaning–I’ll need to write a separate article to unpack this properly). Make America Great Again (For who and from what period??). #MeToo. Just to name a few from a very lengthy list. I’ve worked in public relations for more than 14 years. I know a little something about how such communications strategies and tactics are supposed to help change behaviors and move the dial toward better outcomes. Some of them have really good intentions and aspirations. They simply fall short as they are often rooted in the world’s philosophy of “make it sound good as we seek to do good without God.”

Movements, initiatives, campaign themes and hashtags strive to create a unified body and voice to advance a collective response on a particular issue. Some people shelter in these spaces, certain that getting behind them, getting on board, being part of the bandwagon will indeed make the world as it should be.

As I said, I’ve never been a bandwagon person. Therefore, I have chosen to shelter in place.

The term “shelter in place” has been used more frequently and most recently as local, state and national leaders seek to mitigate the spread and devastation of  SARS-CoV-2 (I’m calling it by its actual name), or COVID-19, a novelle coronavirus that originated in 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei, China becoming a global pandemic. That is one way and a good way to use the term. However, for the purposes of this article, I will reference the description for “shelter in place” provided by Wikipedia: “Shelter in place is the act of seeking safety within the building one already occupies, rather than evacuating the area or seeking a community emergency shelter.”

Psalm 91-1 mountain

Let that definition sit with you for a moment.

I found the Wikipedia definition fitting–only secondary to the best one offered to us in God’s Word from Psalm 91:1-2, Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

For those of us who say we follow Christ, that we trust in the Lord, that HE is the anchor of our soul (Hebrews 6:19), we need not leave that “house” or that “shelter” to seek other shelter. He is our refuge and our fortress. We can either shelter in/abide in the Lord, shelter in His Word, which is indeed our surest security or we can get behind the lying “prophets” of such movements, initiatives and hashtags who offer a false hope. As Believers, as carriers of the gospel message, God has authorized us to tell the world what is the way to perfect justice, what is perfect peace, what is perfect and godly wisdom, what is true restoration, reconciliation and healing from brokenness and lawlessness. We don’t look to the world to define that for us.

Someday, God will make everything new. Things will be as they should. Until then, keep your hand to the plow, work while it is day, cling unswervingly to the hope you have in Christ, tell others about Him and shelter in place/abide in Him.

Love and God bless you,

Nicole

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.

 

Sometimes It’s the Way You Think

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Hi People! While Satan uses fear as a tactic to hinder our progress, could he also use your deceptive ways of thinking and processing of information against you? Yes. Sometimes it’s the way you think that is hindering you. I call this ‘distorted thinking.’

For your consideration and equipping in Christ Jesus against your and my stealth (but defeated) enemy Satan, I share with you a devotional written by one of my Regent University Robertson School of Government professors, Dr. Gary Roberts. Thank you Dr. Roberts.

 

 

Godly Reasoning

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

As servant leaders and human beings made in the image of God, one of the primary weapons that Satan uses to discourage and defeat us is fear in its various forms. However, fear is not the first weapon of choice as most people suspect. Satan uses our flawed mental information processing patterns as a weapon of deception.

For example, we all possess the tendency to accept the first reasonable cause or answer to a problem given our inherent impatience and desire to minimize time and effort. This is an example of a heuristical (mental shortcut) that subverts our reasoning and logic.

The bottom line is that we are “hardwired” to draw inaccurate and flawed conclusions from our mental analysis. In other words, we engage in both magnification and minimization of danger and risk based upon our personal circumstances and experiences.

Distorted thinking patterns cropped

If we had a painful experience at the dentist as a child, we then project a much higher probability of future dental problems than logic and experience warrants. We hence avoid the dentist increasing the probability of experiencing serious to life-threatening medical problems from decayed and infected teeth. Depending on our mood and personal experiences, we either affix positive or negative blinders. When we are discouraged and depressed, that molehill looks like a 25,000-foot mountain, and when we are inspired and optimistic, that march up the 25,000-foot mountain appears to be a jaunt up the hill.

negative-thinking-patterns-full

Man trapped in jar by his negative thoughts.

However, the greatest deception is to reason without God’s presence and power, the absence of spiritual reasoning or intelligence. With Godly reasoning, we recognize when God is ready and willing to move the mountain to the sea, and when what looks like a “jaunt in the park” becomes a time of life and death struggle in the desert.

Irrespective of which vision is accurate, the antidote to killing fear or a lukewarm complacency is the presence of the Lord granting us the strength and wisdom to face whatever circumstance with His life-giving power and protection. Reflect on the faithful promises of security in Psalm 91, and seek his wisdom!

Thank you Dr. Roberts for this equipping and encouraging message. If this message resonates in your spirit and you recognize your distorted thinking patterns, I pray right now that you would allow the Lord’s power to renew and transform your mind to His ways, to His Godly reasoning. For “you can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives you strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

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.