Are You Ready to Make the Dead Alive?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

From this article’s title, please do not think I’ve gone rogue. I am not suggesting a séance or any other means in which some people on this side of heaven attempt to communicate or connect with those who have passed on. But I am referring to Someone Who can make even those physically dead alive and make alive those who are walking around spiritually dead: Jesus Christ.

Jesus came that we might enjoy life right now, and life to the full even before we spend our forever days with Him and our Christian brothers and sisters in heaven. Jesus is the Bread of Life; a staple, essential for life. Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

From the opioid and drug addicted, to the depressed and suicidal, to the vile and violent, to the oppressed and the oppressor, to those in sexual sin, to the lost or those who call themselves Christian but have no intimate knowledge of Him, the love and mighty power of Jesus is able to make those dead, alive in Him. He is spiritual bread that brings eternal life.

This is great news! Praise God for Believers who are courageously doing this and ministering to others in truth! So why aren’t more Christians doing this? In reading this, you may realize that you are falling short in this area. Yes, there are risks involved in boldly proclaiming Jesus to a rebellious and skeptical world.

Sure, you want to be accepted by friends, family and colleagues. Yes, it’s hard to go against the popular wisdom of the day when everyone else is buying what the world is selling. Yes, sharing the biblical truth will make you appear foolish to a world that doesn’t run to God but runs from God. But would you jeopardize your faith and friendship with the Lord to be friends with the world? Will you fail the test in the end?

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To not offer the Truth is dangerous to your faith and offers no real healing to those you are serving. How sorrowful to hold the truth in your hands and yet extend a placebo to avoid any fall out you might experience. Then we wonder why people are not walking in victory. We wonder why people are further descending into spiritual death and not being resurrected to spiritual life. It’s because we’ve shown them a crutch instead of the Cross. It’s because our placebos have ushered them toward life’s coffins (dead ends) rather than a relationship with their Creator, and Jesus the Bread of Life. God placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Do not give people a placebo for that. Invite them to partake of Jesus.

Careful dear brothers and sisters that after all Christ did on the Cross to not exchange the truth for a lie to follow the father of lies (Satan). Satan’s and the world’s lies are an enslavement theology. Either you are contributing to that person’s freedom by loosing what binds them by offering them Christ Jesus—or you are adding another chain to their bondage by offering them the wisdom of this world.

Are you ready to make the dead alive? Give them the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit and His Word will guide you into all understanding and obedience. Trust the power of who God is, the Holy Spirit and His Truth to prepare hearts and minds to repent, submit and turn toward Him without your needing to offer a placebo. Trust that God is able to work through you to preserve His Promises, you and others. The Holy Spirit flows through us as the living water, bringing life to us and others to be the light of the world.

1 John 1-3 light scroll

Amen.

Love and 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Have What Everyone Needs?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Hello, Dear People! It is good to be writing you again. While we post daily messages on our ministry Facebook and Twitter pages, please forgive my time away from you in writing a blog post. Since our last blog post published during Holy Week, I have been finishing the culminating part of my two-year grad school journey. With assignments and a final that was due, I was on my grind! I also participated in my commencement which still seems surreal! The day absolutely exceeded my expectations enhanced by God’s blessing after blessing being poured out and fellowship with dear friends, brothers and sisters in Christ who shared in the day with me.  I am thankful for everyone who has supported and encouraged me! They have been with me on this two-year journey and were excited to see me walk the stage to receive my diploma for a Master of Public Administration from Regent University. I am excited for what the Lord has planned for me as a Christian public servant. Glory to God!

Great messages were shared throughout the commencement ceremony.  One of the biggest takeaways for me was to see approximately 1,900 of my fellow Regent University classmates representing at least 123 career disciplines ready to be dispatched into their vocations near and far while sharing Christ with the world! So awesome! As one of the speakers said, “Scholarship and faith need not be separate.” I agree! By the way, “regent” means “someone who represents a king in his absence.” Though Christ is quite present, He is manifested as the hands, feet and mouthpiece through each of one of us who represent Him before others on earth.

 

Now, on to the message.

 

Do You Have What Everyone Needs?

 

Hmm. A good question to ponder. Could it be a smile? A hug? Food? Water? Well, these are certainly excellent items to extend to everyone. Without dragging on our quiz, I’ll cut to the quick: everyone needs the Gospel.

 

Often times as Believers when we think about sharing the Gospel with others, we may immediately connect that to mean unbelievers—particularly as we live out The Great Commission commanded in Matthew 28:18-20. Yet, (and I am sure you know this) the Believer, God’s Elect, those whom God already called and are saved, need continual discipleship, encouragement, instruction, refinement and strengthening in the sharing of the Gospel as well. Since launching Voices Against the Grain in May 2013, it has been our intent to develop content to further equip the Believer in their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and to also prick the hearts and minds of unbelievers in hopes to plant a seed or water a seed previously planted. Even in our ministry to you, we continue to be discipled.

 

Everyone needs God. Unbelievers need salvation through Jesus Christ, for He is the only way to the truth, to the Father and to eternal life (John 14:6). Believers need greater intimacy with the Lord, more encouragement and authentic fellowship to avoid being swayed by society’s counterfeit and cultural beliefs that “seem like a good thing” though they are not biblical. Society has made such spaces comfortable for Believers who try to liken God in a certain manner without understanding the true nature of our Holy God who hates sin.

 

Everyone needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must trust and take confidence in the Holy Spirit’s ability to prepare and transform hearts and minds to receive. The message of the Gospel will meet hearts and minds right where they’re at. As a dear sister in Christ said, “The message of the Gospel is so anointed we need only to proclaim it! The Holy Spirit will do the work!”

 

Romans 1:16 reiterates this: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

 

The Gospel is for everyone and is truly the power of God. If we think the Gospel is unable to accomplish what the message is intended to do without compromising it, then we need to re-examine who we believe God to be.

 

The Gospel is INDEED alive—a living, active Holy Spirit-inspired Word that quickens those dead in sin to life —that removes the veil of confusion and opens eyes to truth. It revives those who have drifted from the truth, who have become weary from the race, retired in defeat. It is the only truth that redeems, restores and sets us free.

 

We see this conveyed in Ephesians 4:11-25 (English Standard Version):

11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsc and teachers,d 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,e to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The New Life

17Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20But that is not the way you learned Christ!—21assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22to put off your old self,f which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Do you have what everyone needs? Do you have the Gospel? Not a candy-coated version that misrepresents the character and nature of God and gives flesh license to sin. The full, uncompromised (without requiring adjustment), Holy Spirit-inspired Gospel IS the Good News, the balm, the salve to quicken those to life who are perishing in spiritual death. It is the revival to Believers who need a refresh to continue running their race strong.
Follow Jesus
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15 ESV)

-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.

“From the Chair”

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Recently, I painted my ivory-colored living room walls with a dark gray to make the white trim “pop.” I love it! The room now has a deeper feeling of serenity and modernity. As a first-time painter and with the guidance of a dear sister, I overcame my fear of messing it up and went to work (boy, was it hard work!). A great outcome in that I love the color, kept delightful cost savings by doing it myself, and added another skill.

The new gray and white color scheme also prompted a furniture change. The espresso-colored furniture that nicely complimented the former ivory walls no longer supported the gray and white modern look.

So, on a lean, good-steward budget, I began swapping out the espresso furnishings with gray and white furniture with pops of colorful accessories. Then, I came to my espresso leather chair: a chair I’ve had for several years and is still in good condition with the exception of some wear on the armrest where I’ve leaned on it while reading. Why suddenly was this chair giving me pause and sentimentality, with tears welling in my throat? Heaven forbid I had become like Archie Bunker (All in the Family) who had a terrible fit when his favorite chair was broken by his “meathead” son-in-law and had to be repaired. Why was I feeling so tied to this chair to the point that keeping it would disrupt my decor vision flow?

the chair

In asking myself this question, the Holy Spirit dropped the words “from the chair” in my spirit (not meaning like a university department chair). I inquired of Him, “From the chair? Huh?” He seldom offers me more than 1-5 words.   🙂

I looked again at my espresso leather chair in hopes to discern what the Lord was saying. Then I began to understand the root of my sentimentality for the chair…

For some time, from the chair, I have mentored young people, ministered to and prayed with others over the phone, studied God’s Word, have written these writings, knelt in fervent prayer, given thanks to God, and completed grad school homework. Seldom was the chair used for television watching or music listening but for doing the actual trench work of God’s Kingdom. It has been where I have studied, learned, applied, taught, prayed and praised. The Holy Spirit’s words “from the chair” were now resonating within. Even though I have done similar work from a former espresso desk I had, the Kingdom work conducted from the chair leaves me in awe.

As God’s Elect, we are His chosen vessels, spokespeople, shepherds and proxy authorities for teaching, exercising and upholding His Holy Word—not our own teachings or beliefs. God is the authority over His Word, which is infallible. As uncomfortable as His Word, His Truth may be in delivering and receiving, it is this very element that heals, preserves and restores—not a watered-down truth that makes us comfortable nor that which conforms to what we “think God means.” God’s Word means the same today, yesterday and forever and is not an evolving theology over time to fit the present culture.

As a dear sister in Christ pointed out, “Christ’s position is our authority from which we are seated and positioned to say what God’s Word means.” 

God has given us His authority to serve as spokespersons, teachers and proxy authorities in delivering His Word to others, imparted by the Holy Spirit.  May we do as He intends so those listening may truly reap the benefits therein.

2 Timothy 2-15

Being in regular communion with the Lord enables any of us who yield to Him regardless of education, position or titles, to see and hear in the spiritual that which cannot be revealed in the natural to communicate His Word and instructions. Those of us operating “from the chair” (our position in Christ Jesus) should not take lightly this authority and privilege. May we be studied and rest in the confidence of Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit to lead us in rightly dividing and disseminating His Word to help others (2 Timothy 2:15, Luke 12:12). May we obediently follow the Holy Spirit’s instruction.

In this, we give all glory, honor and praise to God for inviting us to be co-workers with Him in this eternal work. As for the espresso leather chair contradicting my new gray and white decor: I might keep it. The work conducted “from the chair” has been and is invaluable.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deception of Progress: A Harmful Illusion

“If you want to change the direction of our country, vote.”  And in doing so, what are we advancing?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (liberty).  (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV)

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

In referencing the above New Testament scripture, I’m attempting to draw the clearest line, paint-by-numbers directions for this world to obtain true freedom instead of the counterfeit freedoms they currently pursue.

Liberty: the pursuit of it underpins our democratic society. Indeed, voting is important to register your voice in how our government should operate in serving our interests and preserving our freedoms.

But when such exercises compromise or disregard God’s laws for the sake of “progress,” we’ve not grasped the unprotected turmoil we’ve therefore brought upon ourselves. We’ve grieved God and incurred His judgments.

So why are many baffled by the decay our country lies in today?

“The irony of America’s quest for happiness lies in the fact that she succeeded more obviously than any other nation in making life “comfortable,” only to run into larger incongruities of human destiny by the same achievements by which it escaped the smaller ones. Our very success in this enterprise has hastened the exposure of its final limits.” – Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (1952)

Though Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, ethicist, commentator on politics and public affairs, and professor at Union Theological Seminary, penned this quote 64 years ago, his message still rings truth today.

America has sought greater liberties to make people “comfortable” with their immoral lifestyle choices. Ironically, in pursuing such liberty, perfect harmony is yet to be achieved.

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The irony is that the immoral have gotten the liberties they’ve pushed for, but oh, it comes with so much more. The disappointment of the “so much more” is concealed until you get the package home, unwrap it, celebrate its novelty and then realize it is bundled with unwelcomed outcomes.

The duplicitous nature of such progress masquerades itself as a solution to accommodate our self-interests—absent of critical thinking, absent of considering the future ramifications. The only advancement in this type of progress is to advance gross deception within the recipient. This is a harmful illusion. The lesson in this is be careful what you ask for. You just might get it and other things along with it you didn’t ask for. This is the trickery of ungodly progress.

How Do We Obtain Authentic Liberty? 

“Liberation is not found in escaping or manipulating what God requires of us, but it is found by embracing and being faithful to God’s ideals.”- Charles “Chuck” Colson and Nancy Pearson, How Now Shall We Live (1999)

In Niebuhr’s words, our culture has hastened the exposure of the limits of what worldly progress/liberty can bring. There are far too many deceived in these last days.

Lord Jesus, we pray that those deceived would have the veil removed to clearly see that their freedom rests in You alone. May those pursuing ungodly progress be quickened in their hearts by hearing Your Word and be led to repent and recognize that true progress rests in our obedience to You, rooted in love for You. Jesus, You alone remain our intervention and deliverance from temporal and eternal ruin. Life in You is how we transform our country and our very lives.

Are you advancing decay or true liberty through Christ Jesus? The integrity of God and His Word are impeccable. Be very clear: God will not violate His integrity nor His Word. Those who seek liberties outside of His will are grossly deceived.

Why Are We Telling You This? 

At Voices Against the Grain, we present God’s Word to: 1- bring clarity and restoration so you can navigate successfully out of and away from deception, 2- to educate and equip you in God’s truth for abundant living—so you can truly live free as God designed, 3- to encourage you, and last, 4- to love you as we’re telling you the truth. Our platform messages, primarily geared for the Believer, also serve to educate the unbeliever.

We are grateful for our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ who are advancing God’s Kingdom alongside us and within their communities. Thank you for exposing deception with truth and transforming one heart at a time in the love of Jesus Christ, so that those transformed are empowered by the Holy Spirit to help transform others. This is progress.

-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.

Are You Drinking the World’s Kool-Aid?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“I always thought the deception would be harder for the enemy to pull off, but this generation has been presented with such degraded morality, that it is no stretch for people to accept such blatant blasphemies.”

 

Powerful words stated by a dear sister in Christ. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

Her words were shared during our conversation in response to this June 2014 Upworthy article that recently reposted, “There Are Six Scriptures About Homosexuality in the Bible. Here’s What They Really Say,” written by Erica Williams Simon, the daughter of two ministers. Ms. Simon notes that she studies the Bible “pretty closely.” Yet, deception abounds throughout her article in her true understanding of God’s Word. More importantly, her understanding is contrary to God’s character, design and nature. I was stunned by her conclusions but more so, I was grieved by her being deceived and potentially deceiving others (Kool-Aid).

 

Certainly, there’s nothing new under the sun. I never write these posts as if there is. Every sin committed today has existed since time began. Today, there’s simply more ways to do it, greater access to participate, more support to accommodate it and more opportunities for brokenness. It’s a mess. The pitcher of Kool-Aid that was sweet has soured. It’s no laughing matter.

 

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Anything not connected to the love of God is a counterfeit freedom. Counterfeit freedom produces momentary pleasure with its participants chained in brokenness. God’s design and intention IS for us to be truly free and not enslaved by the world’s trappings. John 10:10 (KJV) says so: 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

 

Then how can a Believer know His Word, know what it’s designed to do, experience His power in their own lives and still be deceived to drink the world’s Kool-Aid? As James 1:22-24 (ESV) reads:

 

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

 

A withering devotion to the Lord, no desire for critical thinking or for the pursuit of holiness, spiritual laziness and being fickle in Godly principles has enabled deception to occur in the Body of Christ.

 

Are you drinking the world’s Kool-Aid? Have you knowing the truth, been persuaded by a popular idea or lifestyle to exchange the truth for a lie? If so, Father please forgive us. Help us to courageously live out Your Word, Your Word which does not change.

 

Heavenly Father, help us to deliver Your Word as You have intended—not by how we think it should be interpreted to appease our and others’ self-interests. Help us pursue holiness, being unmoved in Godly principles in a world that daily pushes the envelope to satisfy self-interests and seeks our support for doing so. Let us remain holy, set apart, called out from the world for Your purposes so we can be light in darkness, to help free the captives. 

 

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As my dear sister prayed, “God help the saints shine with the glory of Christ, who is in us and who made us for ‘such a time as this.’ May God raise up His saints in love and shock and awe victory over anything the enemy can manufacture, and help us destroy it with God’s truth and Spirit. For by Jesus’ blood shed on Calvary, You have declared in Your Word our victory is assured. Glory to you, Lord! Our hope is in You and our faith is in the true Christ and our labor is testifying to the true God, to Jesus Christ. We thank you for the honor of the labor to work in Your fields as you bring in the saints before the harvest of the unrighteous. Jesus, make us righteous and holy and worthy of the calling of our election.” 

 

There is no fitting substitute, God, for Your love, truth and freedom. There is no substitute for Your Word. Help us God to endure, to keep Your commandments and our faith in Jesus.

 

Amen.

 

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.

A Critical Time to Be a Christian

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“Not on our watch.” From catastrophic events to a nation pursuing everything but God, there’s no better time to raise your voice for Christ.

During Wednesday’s Voices Against the Grain radio show, we discussed the recent good news and victory of the canceled “Temple of Baal” digitally-rendered arches that were to be installed in NYC’s Times Square (in addition to London and Dubai) on Tuesday, April 19. A true victory for God’s Kingdom, of prayers answered, celebrated by the Body of Christ!

Weeks ago, many of us learned of the project underway that intended its presence on American soil. For those unfamiliar, the “Temple of Baal” was a 2,000-year-old grand structure in Palmyra, Syria erected around 32 A.D., that was highly regarded by the Syrian people. The temple was destroyed in 2015 by ISIS and there’s since been a move to rebuild this structure under the guise of an “historical learning project.” The project was a digital archaeology design team joint venture between Harvard University, Oxford University and Dubai’s Museum of the Future.lit temple replica

Why is this important? I’m getting to that. In Old Testament times, the Canaanites and others worshipped Baal, who was a demon and described by Wikipedia as “one of the seven princes of Hell with 66 legions of demons under his command.” As part of their worship of Baal, babies were sacrificed, people engaged in orgies, and other forms of sexual debauchery. So, why would WE or anyone want a structure like this built on our soil?

Upon learning of this project underway, many of us in the Body of Christ were saddened at the blatant disregard and slap in the face toward God. But we were emboldened to take this to prayer. We said, “Not on our watch.” Several in my close knit prayer fellowship came together in prayer over this which extended to the larger and collective Body of Christ, united on one front in prayer to say, “Not on our watch.” That this arch, this “historical exhibit,” this next strategy of the enemy was not coming to American soil on Tuesday, April 19th, Wednesday, April 20th or any other day of the week. Our fervent prayers were answered.

This is a critical time to be a Christian. In a world that has rejected God, acting in every way contrary to God’s Word and design, WE as Christians are and should be THE STANDARD.

Though we’re jubilant of this recent victory, this is not a license to rest on our laurels. The evil and catastrophic events of our day are like none witnessed before. Unprecedented. Many people provide their own explanations as to why this is happening but don’t identify the events as God’s judgment. America has lessened its need for God.

Furthermore, the comfortable, cultural  Christian has allowed the intellectual elite to drive the narrative in education, government and politics, blindly sending people into “group think” ditches.  This is a time for authentic faith.

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As a Christian, are you making your life and voice heard for Christ so others may see Him and turn from their wicked ways? Are you living, acting and speaking as salt and light? Are you setting the standard? Or is your “Chinese menu” of faith and fear of telling others God’s truth aiding in others’ blindness?

Thank you, thank you to those in the Body of Christ who are living, acting and speaking as Christ’s standard. I can’t imagine what our days would be without such light present. If you realize you need to firm up in your living as Christ’s standard, great—as there are plenty opportunities to start now! Jesus has need of you. God is using these times of darkness as OPPORTUNITIES for His PEOPLE to ENGAGE with the lost so they may see HIM through US. We are called to be SALT and LIGHT (Matthew 5:13-16), not sugar. Salt will preserve people from themselves and external evils. Light will show them the way to Christ Jesus.

I invite you to listen to “The Temple of Baal and America: A Critical Time to Be a Christian.”  (Corresponding scriptures included) SPECIAL THANK YOU: A grateful thank you to my prayer partners who provided supporting content, context, scriptures and their prayers to help frame this conversation.

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Crucial, Christian rap artist, producer and speaker

Please also listen to the “hard truth” conversation we shared on 4/13 with our brother in Christ and Christian rap artist, Crucial. We discussed the impact of deception and how to compassionately engage with those blinded to the truth (Thank you, Crucial!): “Crucial Talk: A Conversation with Christian Rap Artist, Crucial.” 

Thank you and 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.

 

Root and Fruits

Jason Alexandre photo

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” –James 2:14-17

The preachers of time past used to say that “many souls are going to hell in a hand basket, but you are going to heaven all by yourself.” That could be interpreted as a sharp rebuke to Christians who know the truth and have found the truth yet are too caught up in themselves to share the truth by way of a spoken word and added example of action.

They are comfortable with what seems like the American ideology of not wanting to be bothered with anyone but instead, preferring to advance oneself by way of striving to increase their financial and material prosperity. This way of thinking demonstrates selfishness and a lack of concern for the material, but more importantly, spiritual welfare of others. “I think evangelicals need a social conscience about the people who are least defended and most vulnerable in the society. If Christianity is not that, forget about it.” – Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor

Root and fruit

Are we simply persons who merely identify as Christians but have not yet exercised our faith through good works? Are you unable to produce fruit because you have taken no root? You recall that the Savior said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”-John 15:5 The truth is that mere profession of the gospel, without works, is not faith.

There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works for gospel purposes and from gospel motives. I question in my heart a professed Christian who is not grieved by the dark spiritual condition of one who has not yet found Jesus. And I wonder how much time has that professed Christian spent with Jesus himself? For time spent with Jesus brings about a supernatural transformation within the heart and true believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of the whole heart.  A heart that then goes out of his or her way to alleviate the distress of a needy person.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.-1 John 3:17-18

It is for Jesus’ sake that we choose to clothe our enemy, choose to feed our sister and choose to give to our brother. That is the grace of God in which we stand, having root to produce fruits.

There is no in between of these truths. We cannot and must not simply keep our faith to ourselves neglecting to live it out by good works. Live to God which will obligate us out of love to do everything for him and to him. That is my prayer for the world today that we would take root in Christ and produce that kind of fruit that brings about eternal consequences in the lives of others. 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.

Itching Ears

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. –2 Timothy 4:3-5 (English Standard Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

The apostle Paul gave a serious charge to his pupil Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching”. -2 Timothy 4:2 In the following verse he warns Timothy of the time that is to come and indeed it is here now when people will not endure sound teaching (doctrine). It pains my heart to see and hear people being led astray by preachers who sugar coat principles that is clearly written in the infallible word of God, the Bible. Instead to gain the approval of men and to fill up their churches they often times will resort to what resembles more of motivational speaking content with the intention to encourage but with no intention to reprove, rebuke and exhort. My friend that is a speech; not a sermon.

Preach the gospel but don’t make it sound easy. No one can assume that they are on the right path unless they are living a life of obedience to Jesus Christ. Unless they have put their complete trust and faith in the shed blood of Christ for their sins, they are not a Christian. It’s much easier to prefer what is wide, broad, and attractive. It’s fatally and deceptively easier to simply go along with the crowd. Jesus did not teach that it would be easy to become a Christian, he said it would be hard. The narrow road is difficult but it is eternally worth it.

How painful it is for me to hear people who believe that you can “name it and claim it” and if you pray enough and have enough faith that there will be no suffering, no heartache, no pain, no sickness and everything is just going to be amazing. That is a falsehood and anyone who believes that I am concerned that they have never read the New Testament seriously and honestly. Jesus does not promise all the prosperity and all the healing and everything that I want. Godly people suffer physically and in different ways. As we prepare our hearts for the Christmas season, let’s us give praise and admire how cute and wonderful “Baby Jesus” is but let us not forget the true unadulterated Good News and principles of why “Grown Jesus” came as God in his incarnated form and why he died and was resurrected. Amen. God bless you.

 

-Jason M. Alexandre

 

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born in November of 1989 in Brooklyn, N.Y. His family later moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and he now resides in Limerick, Pa. In May of 2014, Jason obtained his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Professionally, Jason counsels persons who are homeless, parents, veterans, and others who suffer from various kinds of abuse. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the Great Commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the Gospel to be spread from person-to-person and nation-to-nation. Annually, Jason travels primarily to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year, Haiti Christianity, Inc., visits cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothing, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly, evangelization takes place. Jason is currently the organization’s public relations director. 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.

 

 

 

The Real About “The Real”

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Inauthentic:  defined as “not in fact what it is said to be; not authentic; lacking full reality.” This is the real about “The Real.”  “The Real”  is a new Fox/BET daytime talk show hosted by Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Adrienne Bailon, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry-Housley, that aired on September 15, 2014 after a successful trial run in July 2013. The five female show hosts discuss their relationships with their husbands, significant other or the person their dating or sexing that week. They also talk recipes, fashions and everything in between. The makings of a good talk show, right? Seemingly so, as its Facebook page has received more than 126,000 likes.

Relationship advice delivered to studio audience and viewers contained these “jewels:”

  • “If you tap this twice, we going out now (meaning going steady).” – Loni Love
  • Sexy Skype: send “sexy” visuals of yourself to your date, partner
  • ‘Trust and Check’- women who say they “trust” their man but still “check up” on what he is doing, check who he’s been talking to
  •  “Have a condom ready just in case, in nightstand drawer.”- Loni Love (referring to a one-night stand)
Hosts of "The Real" daytime talk show

Hosts of “The Real” daytime talk show

But the “real” about “The Real” and shows like it, is this: We can’t expect anything different from a fallen world. People of this nature will always seek to satisfy fleshly desires by embracing vehicles and “solutions” that support their deviant activities, behaviors or desires. They embrace the counterfeit and the inauthentic as a perceived shortcut to the authentic, to the real. They choose not to pursue the authentic paths because the results of the counterfeit appear more promising with presumed quicker rewards. They’ve prostituted themselves by seeking happiness in things that will never fulfill them.

What’s the difference between being inauthentic and authentic? Inauthentic sees only the utilitarian purposes they can get out of someone (how will they benefit me?). Authentic sees how they can contribute to that person’s life, serve them perhaps also spiritually—even if it means some of their own desires are not met. It takes guts and selflessness to be authentic.

It is imperative that Christians discern the truth amidst the onslaught of the fake, the empty, the counterfeit and the fruitless. Authenticity is found in Jesus Christ—the real real.  In a world that embraces the counterfeit, Christians have been called to disperse salt, light and truth where there is confusion and darkness. This is the purpose of ministry: to boldly, compassionately and lovingly awake those with God’s truth who have comfortably fallen asleep with worldly norms.

This is no easy or popular task. For this reason, the laborers are few, but the work/harvest is plenty.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” –Luke 10:2-3

The world will always celebrate its own (large fan following). Therefore, the message and purpose of Christ confuses today’s wisdom. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.“ (1 Corinthians 1:18-19, New International Version) 

For real talk: Listen to our discussion with campus pastor Bryan A. Sands as we explain  “Why Hookups Are No Hook Up.” 

-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.

Winfrey and Angelou: Exchanging Truth for a Lie

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

A poet who might not have known it: there is only ONE way to God.  Unrealistic? Implausible? Yet true.

Today, like many people, I viewed the cable-televised memorial service held for the late author, poet, orator and multi-talented, Dr. Maya Angelou. Her nearly three-hour service held at Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel, aired in part on CNN and uninterrupted on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Interesting speeches were given, and songs sung. Following the service, OWN aired a Super Soul Sunday “Soul to Soul” interview Oprah had previously with Dr. Angelou. While I admire the writings and exquisite delivery of words whether written or spoken by Dr. Angelou, it was in this interview clip where a heaviness weighed in my gut. The heaviness drove the writing for today’s necessary late-day posting. This post is not to disparage Dr. Angelou or her memory, but to dispel a deception widely accepted and believed, and leading many astray.

During the interview, Oprah asked intently of her longtime mentor and “mother,” “Dr. Angelou, what is your definition of God?” Dr. Angelou replied, “All.” She said, “God is ‘all’ in one word.” (Actually, He’s the Great I AM).  Then Oprah asked, “Is there many ways to get to him?” Dr. Angelou said, “Yes, all roads lead to God.” Oprah then followed up with more conversation that lead her to say,”There’s not just one gate. There are as many gates to God as there are people.”

At Voices Against the Grain, our mission and objective is to provide clarity where there is confusion; to dispel deception by presenting truth, and to instruct truth in love. We would not be thorough in our ministry/service to you by not presenting God’s truth on the topic. The author and perfecter of our faith said it many times, many ways while some have chosen to twist it to appease those intent on finding any other way there but through Christ Jesus. Here it is again for everyone’s review:

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

“Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” (1 John 2:23)

Given the gravitas and high regard earned by Dr. Angelou, it’s no surprise how one could support her perspective. We live in a big and diversified world.  Yes—God can meet us in different places. Yet, God’s Word tells us how we get to Him.

God is not a joke or a play thing.  He is GOD Almighty. In a world that would rather exchange the truth of God for a lie, I pray that He lovingly and mercifully remove the veil from blinded eyes and move hearts to draw near to Him. Only in relationship with Christ Jesus will truth be revealed and clarity restored.

“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” (Colossians 2:8, New Living Translation)

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)