What Time is It? Our Greatest Opportunity

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

This week…there have been few words to be offered other than those spoken to comfort, encourage others and commune with God in prayer. We continue to pray for the families affected. All of us have been affected one way or another by the back-to-back traumas. Our hearts are grieved. The successive acts of violence committed against Black men and White police officers has left us heartbroken, angry and in search for answers. Many have asked, “When is this going to stop??!”

Sadly, we’ve yet to witness evil’s capacity. Yet, the times should indicate to Believers and unbelievers that the answer to “when is this going to stop” is beyond the implementation of traditional, temporary, external solutions. This indeed and always has required us to surrender our human arrogance to offer up Band-Aid solutions to curtail evil’s appetite with counterfeit solutions only to dismiss the true answer, which is Jesus Christ.

Dallas police makeshfit memorial

Michael O’ Mahoney, a former police officer, places his patch on a makeshift memorial at the Dallas police headquarters on July 8, 2016. Photo courtesy: AP

So what time is it? 

As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to remain vigilant in prayer and fasting. It is our greatest opportunity to display unity and true freedom to a world that is fractured, broken and seeking life and healing to no avail. It is our greatest opportunity to be salt, light and truth when people offer textbook solutions and seek not the heart of God for answers.

As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to stop being led by others who aren’t plugged into the Vine, who aren’t yielding to the Holy Spirit, who aren’t in their prayer closets, and to walk in the instructions the Holy Spirit gives us on how to push back the darkness.

As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to become unshackled from false doctrine and legalism and be transformed by Christ in our thinking so we can move with clarity, unhindered. As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to boldly and confidently move in our callings where God has placed us, particularly to challenge broken, traditional processes and systems that continue to churn out temporary remedies in our communities.

As Believers, it is our greatest opportunity to share with those who are crying out for answers and relief; to joyfully and lovingly share Who is our Greatest Hope, and not be afraid of offending someone or seek to be politically correct.

So again, what time is it?

To the Believer, there should be no question as to “what time it is.” Everything is telling us “what time it is.” Question is, how will you respond with this insight? Should you choose to move as Light against the darkness and as described in the aforementioned paragraphs, you will certainly be met with opposition. But even so, do you dare to use this greatest opportunity to allow God to show you all that He is and all that you are in Him?

light of the world

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)

Praying for bold warriors. Prayers for vigilance in the Body of Christ. Prayers for the Body of Christ to continue to be salt, light and truth in a world that pursues other methods for solutions rather than pursuing God. Prayers for those seeking answers in these dark times to find Jesus Christ, Who is our Answer and Greatest Hope.

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.

 

Advertisements

When Are the Numbers Enough?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

By the numbers:

  • Seven shootings within 48 hours this week, in the same communities.
  • Three murdered as a result of those shootings.
  • As of this time last year, Washington, D.C., had 44 homicides, compared to 47 homicides at present time (May 19, 2016), according to Metropolitan Police Department crime data.
  • D.C.’s homicide totals for 2015 was 162 people murdered.

As a D.C. resident, I remember being abhorred last year by the almost daily news casts reporting of another murder in the District. Today, unfortunately, it seems the problem is increasing.

What’s worse: this week’s shootings occurred in broad daylight, averaging between the hours of 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Schools would be letting out around 3 p.m., and as Natalie Williams, Advisory Neighborhood Commission chairperson for Southeast D.C.’s Ward 8 told NBC4 this week, “It’s a shame that we have kids who are getting out of school right now, and when they come up all they are familiar with is these yellow tapes.”

Williams also said that “people are afraid to simply live,” given the increased violence. Community meeting after community meeting, neighborhood rallies and an increased police presence in these high-crime communities has not done much to stop the violence or quell residents’ fears for their own personal safety.

In fact, shootings that typically occur during the wee morning hours of 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., are now happening in broad daylight. A full disregard for human life and no concern for the many who will be impacted by the loss of life, whether family member, friend, student passing by yellow tape, residents or the news viewer. The collateral damage has reverberating effects.

crime scene tape

Why do I write about this?  Because even as gut-wrenching and sobering as the numbers are (at least to me), when will the numbers be enough to move more people, particularly Christians, to make resolving this issue a priority?

I ask this, as a burden the Lord has placed on my heart in mentoring D.C. youth, many who between the ages of 15-24 are either perpetrators of or victims of violent crime. I spoke this week with the executive director of a Southeast D.C. youth mentoring faith-based organization. The FBO has been active in its immediate community since its founding in 1995. The FBO has a number of business, community, individual and nonprofit stakeholders who support its work. Yet, even in all of this, I asked the executive director, “Where are the gaps? Why an increase in crime and not a decrease in this area, particularly as it pertains to youth?”

His response to me was simple and sadly, something I already knew:

“Many people have not made the youth a priority. We need more caring people and more caring institutions to care about the issues and put egos aside.”

I will also add that Christ is our only hope in transforming hearts, homes, neighborhoods and communities. A number of folks in the Body of Christ hesitate to share about Christ, concerned that they may offend someone rather than make way for their spiritual healing.

Outside of it being the seat of federal government and its highly flocked to and visited monuments, museums, other tourist attractions, and its four and five-star restaurants, Washington, D.C. suffers the same societal ills as other urban cities rife with crime and violence. Many of Washington, D.C.’s neighborhoods that are low-income, have high rates of homelessness and underserved in resources also see an influx of drug trafficking, thefts, home invasions, spikes in violence, gang activity, etc.

Washington DC skyline

D.C. is a wellspring for many churches, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, community based organizations and interest groups who set up shop in the nation’s capital to provide programs and services to address such social ills within the city and nationwide.

So why do the problems persist? While evil will always be with us until Christ’s return, it requires that the Body of Christ truly be engaged in their God-given callings, standing as the standard in the communities and domains God has called them to. Some will say, “We need more money, more resources to do this work” (God will provide).

But in fact, we need more hearts to stand as salt, light and truth to stem the tide of decay. It requires us to prioritize such matters and to be INTERESTED. The Lord has led me to write and speak recently on the need for many more in the Body of Christ to be INTERESTED and to serve where they are placed. As told to us in Matthew 9:37, The harvest (the opportunities) is plentiful but the workers are few. 

When will the numbers be enough for you? Where has God given you a burden to serve in the things that break His heart? 

If you’re already walking in this and serving in obedience in the lane God has called you to, THANK YOU. If you have sat on the sidelines hoping the problems will simply go away, or you hope someone else will step in or you’re praying that Jesus will soon return to snatch you out of this chaos, please rethink your position.

LISTEN: Meanwhile, I invite you to listen to our short message on “Interesting or Interested?”

THANK YOU to many of you who because you ARE INTERESTED and believe in what God has called our ministry to do, you have contributed to our “Bring Godliness to D.C. and Society” campaign. You are helping in our work to reach the lost with truth.

Heavenly Father, help us to always be INTERESTED in and make a priority of what you’ve placed in our hearts to do. Lord, I pray we desire to be obedient to what you’ve called us to do and not deviate from or short change it for the lesser things of this world. As Christians, we need to spend more time being interested in others.  As a dear brother in Christ said, “When God gives us a burden for something, we need to look in the mirror. More often, WE are the answer to prayer.”  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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.

 

Politeness: Our State of Emergency

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

As a Christian, have you felt pressure to cave to a world view? Are you silent at the water cooler on controversial issues, afraid to rock the boat?

If you answered “yes,” you’re not alone. Whether the church massacre in Charleston, the injustices of Ferguson, the national push for marriage equality or the identity confusion of Bruce/Caitlin Jenner, somewhere along the way, we in the Body of Christ became too polite. We allowed prayer to be removed from school. We’ve allowed folks of all backgrounds with diminished mental capacities and prejudices to carry guns. We’ve allowed people’s confusion about their identities and sexual orientation to prompt businesses, educational institutions and others to remove “female” and “male” from their vocabulary and replace with more ambiguous terms so as not to offend gender-confused populations. We’ve thought it impolite to say anything to the contrary and have resigned to a “live and let live” mentality. We’ve accepted that there are some degenerate, “bad apples” in this world who inflict horrific violence upon others.

Now, the chickens of our complacency, politeness, political correctness and silence have come home to roost. This is our state of emergency.

politeness silence

While we strive to be considerate, genteel and well-mannered toward others, forces of darkness could care less about our manners.  As described in John 10:10, our enemy intends to “steal, kill and destroy” and he doesn’t play fair. While Christ Jesus came to bring us abundant life, true freedom, love, joy, hope and peace, Satan presents counterfeit schemes that suggest people can have freedom, love and joy with quicker rewards—and without relationship with God.  The world in its ignorance, has settled for counterfeit paths that will ultimately destroy them.

Our politeness is dearly costing our communities, nation and world. Politeness has made us shrink back from territories in which we should have greater presence. Politeness has dulled our fervency and zeal required when addressing immorality. Instead of fervently sharing God’s Truth on any terms, we’ve politely embraced the world’s terms for fear of being hated.  Who else should a confused and perishing world look to lead them in the right way if not a Christian? Are we snatching anyone from the fire, as stated in Jude 23?

The mute church has created a dangerous vacuum that has positioned Christians alongside hate groups. Furthermore, the congregation returns to work on Monday virtually indistinguishable from non-believers. We are warned not to talk about politics and religion by people who are pushing their own politics and religion. It is one made of man by man and it only offers bondage and chaos. It poses as light but degrades into shades of grey and eventually darkness.

The problem is not that we don’t have spirit-filled believers attempting to respond to these issues. It’s that we have fewer Christians speaking at the water cooler to defend the faith and keep Christians in view as people who love, give and suffer. The tragedy of our silence is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be mischaracterized to where we are dangerously close to being dehumanized.

How do we revive our collective Christian voice? How do we boldly and lovingly disperse light in darkness? How do we overcome fear and indifference and render aid in our state of emergency? Love toward others must continue to guide our thoughts, words and actions—but this doesn’t mean we shirk from entering the battle, where the Holy Spirit leads us.

Per God’s words to Joshua as the newly installed leader of the Israelites after Moses’ death: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9) Let us not be concerned about who we might offend. By sharing God’s light, we help bring clarity to confusion and hope to darkness in our fallen world.

Still want to be polite or are you ready to fight?

-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. 

Ferguson and All: Meet the Restorer of Our Streets

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Viewing this past week’s events of protests, rioting, vandalism and violence displayed in Ferguson, Mo., and nationwide upon learning the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the August 9, 2014 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown,  we know some things to be true: violence does not bring about justice. Hate does not bring about peace. None of these actions restores our streets or our dwelling places. None of it restores our lives. No such actions are fruitful in any way.

The following passage spoke to my spirit in considering the healing we want restored in Ferguson, in our nation and our world. Isaiah 58 shows how God will move mightily on our behalf when we fast, pray, humble ourselves to seek His will, His way. Instead of exhibiting peace one day and inflicting violence upon others the next, the Lord asks us to move in righteousness and 8- “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9- Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

Think about it. I encourage Ferguson, those of our nation and world to meet the Great Restorer of our streets.Isaiah 58-12 restorer of the streets

58 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

 

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.