When Vanity is Not in Vain

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

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

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

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

But who was the source of her vanity?

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

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

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

Evangelist Denise Matthews

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

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He Heard Me

Thank you Herbert for sharing this touching devotional as an encouragement to your friend, TB.  I/we stand in prayer for TB. As you’ve served as an encouragement and support to TB, I believe this message will give others reading this the strength to stand. Even in our trials, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28) In the video below “Need You Now” by the group Plumb, the message reminds us that in our wounds, pain, when we call upon God, He hears us.      -Nicole

Psalm 130:2 Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

O Lord hear my cry. When I speak do not turn a deaf ear to me. For these tears are not of joy, but of pain that has stricken my heart. Therefore, TB (initials of my friend) do not lose heart for the Lord consoled you with God-fearing adoptive parents. Don’t lose heart for God secured a job and home for you, when your mom sold the house and left you in desolation. Don’t lose heart for God detoured you from a path of despair to a route filled with the loving embrace of friends who will support you. Your life was changed when you chose to follow him. Therefore, may this devotional be your answer, for God has heard your cry and blessed you with a tangible Christian relationship. He’s now preparing you to do great works, despite the lack of money, family, and friends. They were stripped away (at 1st) so you only had HIM to lean on. You are special and transformed and all it took was a simple phone call. (Stand tall TB) Amen

(Video shared by The River Walk blog)

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.  At his current age of 24, 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. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.