Dangerously Lighthearted

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

It was a 4 a.m. wake up from the Holy Spirit. Still pitch black outside and in my home, I raised up to jot down His words coming to me. Instead of a notepad and pen, I began typing the words on my smartphone as my eyes were still adjusting to the phone’s bright screen. As I received the words in my spirit, it became clear that the message was directed at church leaders, those that shepherd others (some, not all), and lastly to us as individuals being accountable for our walk with the Lord. The flow of this post will be unlike my usual writings as I strive to keep to His words which sharply and soberly began with this post’s title, “Dangerously Lighthearted”:

We serve a Holy God. Coddling and cradling people in their sins because this is where you’re at too. You want a pass for being human and to be allowed certain vices regardless of how it grieves God. You’ve relaxed and believe that you and others can ride on the coat tails of Romans 8:1 without being grieved to be led out and away from the behavior and mindset which we are encouraged to do in Romans 12:2. Yes, grace is God’s gift to us through relationship in Christ Jesus who brutally took on the full penalty of our sin due us, freeing us. Yet, we are told in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (New International Version)

The New Living Translation says it this way:

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.

This is not a suggestion but a command. Our goal is to discern and obey the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. This is a daily, deliberate decision and action pursuant to be perfected in the likeness and image of Christ.

You have become dangerously lighthearted toward those you shepherd. You have made many comfortable in their sin and ungodliness rather than imparting to them the seriousness of their condition. You don’t implore them to no longer concede to flesh and trends; to not become prey to the enemy’s snares. You are not cautioning them to monitor what content they ingest, in what conversations they participate, and the behaviors they engage. Freedom in Christ Jesus is not a pass to delight in sin when we are to pursue righteousness. We are God’s peculiar people called out from the world; to be holy, separated and set apart. Sinful pursuits become a slippery slope numbing those to call what is “evil good and what is good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Soon, they are no longer distinguishable from the world.

Don’t let the culture enculturate you by becoming dangerously lighthearted to those you have been entrusted to shepherd. There are wide roads packed with faulty shepherds. The momentary laughs at your and their sins and being excused for “having a moment” should instead make you and them grievously uncomfortable to see how you and they have offended a Holy God.

laughing-cinema

Though we are saved and freed from God’s wrath with the promise of eternal life with Him, the journey does not end there. With the old, former life behind us and raised up as new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17), sanctification is the next step in being perfected in the image of Christ Jesus. This process requires shedding the old so we can be built up in the new, to mature in Christ. As God pours His character traits into us, we should reflect the same contents as the bottle. But by being dangerously lighthearted many will be permanently stalled in their spiritual development when they have been coddled instead of corrected. The clever talents of teaching and speaking will ineffectively be rear view mirror if the words do not prick a heart change in direction.

“It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride, so as to disgrace the gospel by evil tempers and unholy lives.”- Matthew Henry Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:5-15.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Your mercy, Your goodness and instruction extended toward us. Forgive us for being lighthearted about that which grieves You. As leaders, shepherds and teachers, forgive us for not being grieved by that which enslaves others; to where we would coddle and not correct those sheep You have entrusted to us for fear of offending them. It is our love for You and love for others that should lead us to correct. Let us focus less on clever and talented speech or preaching and instead plainly ensure that we are delivering Your truth with Your heart, no matter who it offends so they would desire to mature and walk in your ways.

As Your children, Father, give us hearts that are aligned with Yours. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in us as David prayed to You in Psalm 51. You are faithful to forgive and cleanse us. Help us to truly see You as a Holy God and to have a full reverence and love for Who You are. Whatever You reveal in us that is not of You, may we cooperate with You to remove it and not run from Your cleansing. Wash and cleanse us from old ways of behaving and thinking. May we meditate on Your Word and commune with You to know Your ways. May we gain a deeper intimacy with Christ Jesus to reflect Him to others in every way. 

In Your Son Jesus’ Precious Name,

Amen.

-Nicole

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Things I Shouldn’t Do But Do Anyway

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Ms. Goody Two-Shoes. Rule-follower. Frowns on those who repeatedly break the rules. From the time I invited Jesus Christ into my heart as my Savior at age 12 and even before, I’ve desired to obey Him because of my love for Him. I’ve also experienced the blessings of obedience and encourage it all the more.

However, I’ve also had to crucify pride and self-righteousness that have easily and unsuspectingly reared their heads when I’d previously compare what sins I hadn’t committed to what other people had done.

Prior to being saved, I lied about the smallest things to my parents to avoid punishment (ex: blaming my brother for the last bottle of soda consumed, or blaming him if something got broke). After getting saved, if my mom said something that I knew was untrue, I’d correct her. Finally, one day she said, “Nikki, stop it with that holier than thou stuff!!” (She was a Christian too)

I’ve come to understand, as the Scottish Baptist evangelist and author of My Utmost for His HighestOswald Chambers (1874-1917), said: “As long as our eyes are upon our own personal whiteness we shall never get near the reality of Redemption. Workers break down because their desire is for their own whiteness, and not for God.”

We will never be perfect. We are imperfect vessels. Yet, for those of us in relationship with Christ Jesus, we are being perfected through the righteousness of Christ. We are saved not by our record, but by Christ’s record. I don’t have to prove anything to Him. I don’t have to be perfect. He loves me regardless. He chose me for His work before I was formed in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5) and knew my faults. Yes, I desire to obey Him because I love Him—not to prove myself holier than thou.

Thankfully, He has chosen to use imperfect vessels like me and you to be co-workers with Him, to advance His Kingdom on this earth. We labor in this work as we continue to be sanctified/being made holy and shaped more into the image of Christ.

 

Cutie baby black girl

 

As an imperfect vessel, I share with you 10 things I shouldn’t do, but do anyway.   🙂

  1. Sometimes I eat dessert first. (My grandma’s voice repeats in my head saying, “You’ll spoil your dinner.”)
  2. Sometimes out of haste and laziness, I yank the cord from the wall rather than properly grabbing the plug from the outlet.
  3. Sometimes I wipe potato chip salt and grease on my jeans while consuming the entire bag in one sitting.
  4. Out of haste, I’ve shaved my brows instead of plucking, waxing or threading them (BAD move!).
  5. I don’t untie my tennis shoes when taking them off.
  6. I yank the one gray hair from my head that springs up occasionally (I know the tale about more gray hairs appearing if you do this. So far that hasn’t happened.).
  7. I imagine saying the words “I’m going to bust your (bleep)” if someone has done something that angers me.
  8. I still frown at people who disobey rules, particularly those that are clearly displayed.
  9. I’ve caved to cravings during a few fasts.
  10. Sometimes I stay up way too late watching 80’s TV shows (good TV!). Then end up hitting the snooze button in the morning. Ugh.

Thank goodness, He loves me anyway. Care to share your list?  Yes, this could get interesting.   🙂

-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.