Dangerously Lighthearted

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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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Hurricane Harvey: Shaping a New Narrative?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Hurricane Harvey. A devastating Category 4 hurricane that hammered eastern Texas last week. Floodwaters reached unprecedented levels of approximately 50 inches as the storm lingered over the areas of Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur, Dickinson, Corpus Christi, Rockport and Victoria, causing catastrophic flooding. In the storm’s wake, the aftermath is heartbreaking. More than 50 lives lost and likely more as receding flood waters reveal bodies that succumbed to the storm. Waters up to street signs that contain more than eight times the allowed limit of e coli (should be 0), fecal bacteria, crocodiles, snakes, floating colonies of biting fire ants, possibility of infections, diarrhea, skin diseases; the threat of electrocution from live wires unseen, let alone the dangers of driving and being pulled under deeper waters.

These and other issues have weighed upon my and your heart this past week in praying for Texas and now portions of Louisiana. More than 37,000 homes lost, businesses destroyed, possessions no longer, thousands of people rescued and displaced are trying to live in what is their “now.” Who knows what will come next, as the living seek to bury their loved ones (How will this occur with so much under water?), what about work, school, health care needs, basic needs, etc.?

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Getty Images

 

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Photo credit: CNN.com

In all of this devastation and what will be weeks, months and likely years of recovery and rebuilding, we are witnessing profound unity. People are helping one another regardless of one’s ideologies, political affiliations and leanings, no matter who voted for who, we are seeing people of all backgrounds and races coming together. This is a stark contrast to the tragedy that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., only weeks before.

Amid the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, we are seeing goodness, kindness, and love in action—at least three of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit as depicted in Galatians 5:22-23. The narrative of race that dominated in Charlottesville, a quite different narrative of love is coming forth in very challenging and life-altering circumstances. In the grief, this narrative is a welcomed relief and hope.  A hope that some day conversations about race will no longer dominate or be considered necessary. That conversations about God’s ability to show His Presence in the hearts of others, His ability to mend brokenness, the Godly words and actions of others will become our new narrative.

Hurricane Harvey police officers rescue elderly woman

Photo credit: NY Daily News

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Photo credit: Time Magazine

With such a new and inspiring narrative, what will the others have to talk about or criticize next if race relations is no longer a topic requiring fuel to keep it burning on hearts and lips? Or a pot continually stirred by media commentators or even in the pulpit?

King Jesus, thank You, thank You for showing us You in so many facets.

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:45-48, NIV).

What we have seen in Houston and the surrounding region is an area of hope in the face of worldwide evil. Wickedness remains, and certainly after the immediate crises have been stabilized and addressed in Hurricane Harvey, some people may resort to their old ungodly ways. However, I do believe hearts were permanently transformed in this event by seeing the love of God on display.

In the world’s darkness, may Believers continue to be light and love. May we continue to imitate Christ and watch as some of the negative narratives fall away and are replaced with Godly ones. More is expected from the followers of Christ to allow Christ within us to reshape the narratives. May we continue to be proven as His Children to a skeptical world.

Our prayers, love and support continue to be with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We also pray blessings of health, protection and safety for those rendering aid on the ground.

-Nicole

God Speaks. Are You Obeying?

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Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

The automated Asian female-sounding voice to my wireless earphones interrupts the playing enjoyment of my streaming Gospel radio station as I take my afternoon walk. For the next five minutes, intermittently, she gives about eight or nine warnings in my ear: “Battery low.” I keep walking, enjoying the music and walk knowing full well that I want to hear the songs play in their entirety so long as the battery or “she” will allow me to. By her seventh or eighth warning, I know time is nearly up though I keep listening to the music, I keep walking. Finally, in response to my defiance she abruptly says in her flat tone, “Power off.”

Usually when she says “Power off,” I am a few minutes from returning to my desk to recharge the earphones.

A similar scenario can exist when we’re driving along and suddenly the “Check engine” light flashes on our vehicle’s dashboard. Usually when this happens, we’re not in a convenient place to stop and pop the hood or take it to a garage. Frankly, we may not have the financial means to address the issue even if we had the time. Also, what if the vehicle’s operating just fine (at least we think so)? Is there really a problem?

Sometimes we’re fortunate and it’s a minor, easily fixed issue—that is if we address it early without causing further harm. But often an engine matter is a costly matter that suggests labor + parts + other issues found= a big bill. Besides, we have things to do, places to go and people to see. So we continue to drive along with the “check engine” light glaring that once went on and then off but now stays on full-time. We may feel anxiety coupled with defiance to see how far we can go, how far we can push it before being forced to address the matter. If we remain in denial and continued defiance, it’s likely that the “check engine” issue will finally stop us at a most inconvenient time and short of our intended destination.

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Similarly, God calls out to us and warns of issues to address and correct. Usually for those listening, these warnings or promptings are communicated to us by the Holy Spirit. As you spend more time with God, you learn how He communicates with you. Usually to me, it’s a few words He says; short, to the point, no jibber-jabber, nothing wasted or misunderstood. It’s so clear and sharp that there’s no way I could misunderstand what He’s instructing or asking me.

God gives us an opportunity here. The promptings serve a purpose as does our vehicle’s “check engine” light. We can either choose to obey His instructions or keep walking in our own ways to see what the end will be. Most definitely, if we ignore His voice, reject His wisdom and continue in our own misdirected pursuits, we will find ourselves in an undesirable situation. Sometimes the instructions or warnings will come to us by other people who may not have full knowledge of our situation but through the Lord using them, their words reaffirm His words to us. Patiently, lovingly, repeatedly, He calls out to us…to preserve us…to guide us…

I am reminded of Isaiah 65:1-3, when the Lord says, “I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ 2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—3 a people who continually provoke me to my very face…”

If this is you, pray to know and follow God’s ways; that God would give you a heart to walk out His ways. That your heart will not be divided by what or who to follow (Psalm 86:11). That you would have a sincere affection to obey His words. “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5, New International Version)

Love and God bless you,

Nicole

You might also read our previous post to encourage obedience, “Are You About to Circle the Israelites?”

Are You About to Circle the Israelites?

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Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Exodus 16:4- Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” (New International Version)

Exodus 16:16-20- This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent. 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as needed. 19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” 20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. (New International Version)

Eeeks.

Since this past week, God has been taking me through the Israelites’ escape from 430 years of slavery in Egypt guided by the Lord’s Mighty Hand, Moses and his brother Aaron. Their journey picks up in Exodus Chapter 1 with the previous book of Genesis ending with the Israelites (the 12 tribes of Jacob) migrating to Egypt during the seven-year famine. Joseph who was Pharaoh’s second-in-command, had done well and wisely to preserve food for the region and people based on Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph correctly interpreted warning of the seven years of abundance and seven years of famine.

In Exodus 1, if you know the story, a new king emerges unaware of Joseph and his people. Joseph has since died. The Israelites have now multiplied significantly in number and the king is concerned about being overtaken by them if war breaks out. It’s at this point that he devises their enslavement to prevent their rising up.

In reading about the Israelites’ enslavement and steps taken toward their release, to their freedom, to their being encamped in the wilderness, God gives specific instructions throughout this process. From where to camp, how to proceed, to what food to eat by day and by night, how to gather and prepare the food, God is not short on details.

Their plight continues into the books of Leviticus, Numbers and beyond—a journey that was only to take 11 days that extended to 40 years!! They never never left the wilderness nor entered the Promised Land (Canaan) since much of that generation died off during their 40 years of wandering. They grumbled (complained), exhibited unbelief, worshiped other gods, and repeatedly disregarded God’s instructions. For this writing, I am focusing on their disobedience.

Joshua 5:6- For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD; the LORD swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. (English Standard Version)

Israelites Disobedience

I wonder in our walk, how many times we have ignored God’s instructions, thinking that somehow we knew “how to do it better” or “surely He doesn’t mean it for this instance.” Maybe we’ve almost circled the Israelites by spending years in disobedience. Hopefully we learn sooner than 40 years.

Even though I like to be compliant, I know of times that I thought I knew better than God and operated outside His instructions—only to find myself back where I started, maybe a bit worse off, or preserved from further missteps by His merciful grace. I sensed that in my impatience, God was having me repeat lessons until I learned patiently to follow His instructions, to shed rebellion, to trust Him implicitly, no matter how tedious, mundane or odd the instructions.

I can recount such instances even in my earlier years such as this scenario with me and my brother:

In my hurry and struggle to open the package that clearly instructed “Open Here,” I tore into the package on the opposite end, thinking that I had one-upped the creators of the product — only to find out in my disobedience I had opened the package incorrectly.

“Nik, you’re so heavy-handed,” my brother would say as we both stood with our mouths open in shock over the item that was now broken because I bypassed the instructions on how to appropriately access it. “Now look what you’ve done,” he said. Why hadn’t I learned this lesson? Why did I bypass the instructions provided by the product creator? It also begs us to ask why do we presume to know more than God our Creator and bypass His instructions? Then we immediately feel the burden of our mistake and wish we could rewind time to reverse that outcome. We’re now also grumbling because of the situation our disobedience has caused.

In life, when we bypass God’s instructions, He also presents us with the lesson again for an opportunity to obey. Praise God! But if we continue in disobedience we will be met with those consequences and possibly without God’s intervention.

Are you about to circle the Israelites by spending more time in disobedience? Could your 11-day journey turn into 40 years by your sheer disobedience?

There are many scriptures to encourage our obedience to God. God absolutely desires our obedience which also shows our love for Him. When we really love Him, we desire His ways. This moves Him! This also moves Him to give us more when we can be faithful with little. He will give you the instructions. God will not leave it to you to figure things out. He will absolutely lead you (and me) if we trust Him and obey.

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For more on the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the wilderness read this Got Questions? article.

-Nicole

 

Can They Tell That You’ve Been With the Lord?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

It was not an unusual day. It was a sunny weekday morning. I had just finished my daily prayer time with the Lord and headed out to my neighborhood post office to mail a package. I decided to walk, embracing the good weather before the afternoon sun would heat things up miserably.

Upon entering the post office, I saw the male, middle-aged clerk stationed behind the counter I’d seen many times before. I usually wave to him, he waves back, I slide my letters or cards into the drop box and leave. But this time I needed to mail a package. As I rounded the line, I noticed he was staring at me. I kept hoping he’d redirect his gaze elsewhere but he seemed fixed on me. Mentally, my walls were going up unsure what this was about. As I approached the counter with my package to mail, he continued to stare. He then spoke these words: “What is it about you?” Oh dear.

“Excuse me? What do you mean?” I asked him. In my head I thought, “Can’t I just pay for and mail the package?”

He replied to my question. “What is it about you? Who are you? What do you do?”

From these questions and his disposition, I could tell he was genuinely curious and not subject to pounce. Seeing this, I relaxed and kindly explained to him that I work primarily in public relations and also in ministry.

His eyes lit up. “That’s it!,” he said. “Ministry! I could tell that there was something about you. I can see it on you.”

To give you a visual, I was wearing a pink and orange paisley bandanna on my head, running pants, t-shirt and tennis shoes. No makeup. Nothing special.

His words, “I can see it on you,” hung in the air for a minute as I stood in awe of what he said which changed the dynamic of our conversation.

I asked him if he was a Believer, and he indicated he was. We continued our conversation of great, unexpected fellowship for a few minutes as I paid for my package and mailed it. What I thought was going to be an intrusive conversation that I’d have to shut down immediately, turned out to bless my heart. I understand that spirit knows spirit; that people can either see Christ’s light in us or conversely, Satan’s darkness. But I hadn’t thought of the freshness of having been in the Lord’s Presence that morning and still wearing the glow of His Presence on me as I ran errands.

I later thought of when Moses was in the Lord’s Presence on Mount Sinai as he was chiseling out the Ten Commandments and had to wear a veil upon leaving the Lord’s Presence when he returned to the people because the radiance on his face was blinding. I am not comparing myself to Moses or his experience, but it made me curious about what people might see on us.

Moses' Radiant Face

I told a dear sister in Christ about the encounter and she shared this article “Spiritual Significance of Myrrh” and how we are like the fragrance of Christ to God and others. How beautiful!

Do your words, actions and how you carry yourself tell others that you’ve been with the Lord? Can they tell that you’ve been in His Presence? Can the world see that there is something different or “peculiar” about you? Or does the world still recognize you as one of its own?

-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.

 

 

Can We Talk?

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

I have felt the Lord’s grief on my heart in receiving this message. However, in obedience to the Lord, the title and the words that follow is what the Holy Spirit has placed on my heart to share with you. While I have been told that I have a pastor’s heart for people, I hope I also represent God’s Heart to people. In His correction of us, He also loves us.

Can we talk for a minute?

#BlackLivesMatter. #AllLivesMatter. Social justice. Mindfulness. These and other trending words have been used as a means to bring justice to injustices and peace to situations that cause us distress. These words have been used to ineffectively substitute the hope and peace of Christ Jesus to give people other “flavors” of hope, peace and justice if they do not believe in Christ. Through His Holy Spirit, the Lord has assured me of His grief on such substitutions. All of it is the wickedness of Satan in which such deceptions are nicely wrapped yet counterfeit in their outcomes.

In mankind’s arrogant attempt to do and fix this life without including Christ Jesus, we are failing to advance God’s intended relationship goal for humanity to be reconciled to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 tells us of God’s intentions:

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

To refresh your memory, mankind became estranged from God, enemies of God through the fall of Adam and Eve. In search for better paths in their own minds, mankind has pulled away from God’s will and design. All creation is paying the price for the original sin of Adam and Eve, which continues to perpetuate lawlessness, confusion, strife, rebellion, and brokenness in our world. Christ came to restore us to a right relationship with God. Human pursuits of hope, justice and peace even in our best intentions will always fall short of the measurement of what Christ will do through repentant hearts.

As Ambassadors of Christ, as ministers of reconciliation as ascribed in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, why would we give people a counterfeit solution? A placebo? This message is not directed at everyone but the many who continue to substitute Christ Jesus with counterfeit recommendations in order to keep a good standing with friends, family, clients, or the public. Many people want their faith in Jesus to be personal but not public. In keeping face with mankind, these are the words the Holy Spirit grievously put on my heart to communicate to you:

“Why didn’t you tell them about Me?”

These seven words, “Why didn’t you tell them about Me?”,  weigh heavily on my heart. I see a grieving Father, Savior and Friend. Can you imagine sidelining a friend, moreover Our Savior? Heartbreaking. Even though I share the Gospel, I know there have been moments where I was quiet when the Holy Spirit was prompting me to speak on His behalf. I pray that you nor I would hear these words said to us by the Lord when we have come to the end of our days and are face to face with Him; for Him to replay the moments when we replaced Him with alternative recommendations in our engaging with those in search of hope, peace and justice. How devastating that we thought it better to save face with people than to obey the heart of God.

 

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Christian author and speaker Lisa Bevere, in her book Without Rival, writes: “The deceitful spirit will always tell you that there is enlightenment outside of God’s Word. That we are in a new age and God no longer means what He said.”

In people’s offering up of counterfeit solutions, she refers to Jeremiah 2:13 (New Living Translation):

My people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me―the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns (wells) that can hold no water at all!

Lord help us.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well who thirsted for drink but truly thirsted for more (a longing to be truly loved after having five husbands), that the well water she was taking from would never quench her thirst. She’d have to keep coming back. So Jesus offers to her to come to Him and drink, and never thirst again (John 4:13-14, John 7:37).

“Can we talk?” suggests a care and concern for others―not to tell them what they want to hear but what they need to hear. If you have used words to substitute or replace the hope, peace and justice of Christ Jesus with worldly wisdom, I urge you to repent. Our Lord is grieved though He loves you and for this reason has brought this loving message of correction. I am simply the messenger.

Thankfully, someone told me and you about Jesus. Praise God! May we earnestly desire to quench others’ thirst with the hope and peace of Christ Jesus and not with empty wells in which they will attempt to draw from, still thirsty and unfulfilled. As ministers of reconciliation, may we courageously, lovingly and unashamedly share the truth of Christ Jesus with others. May we desire that no one live life less than what God has promised for those who love Him. May we no longer entertain or justify moments without Christ. The ministry of reconciliation of the lost back to God IS THE MISSION. May we make no room for Christ to say to us, “Why didn’t you tell them about Me?”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 walking in this and ministering to others in truth! So why aren’t more Christians sharing the truth about Jesus being the Bread of Life? 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Think We Will Be Surprised!

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

I think we will be surprised, saints! We will be surprised by who comes to Christ in these last days. It may be someone you think least receptive and most stubborn. But this is what we’ve been praying for.

Remember: like you, they were also chosen before the foundations of the earth were laid. God knew them before He formed them in their mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). In human eyes we might say they’re slow in coming out of darkness, but through God’s sovereignty and pursuit, they are right on time. They are His sheep yet to join us in the sheep pen. One fold, one Good Shepherd.

The drawing process is not a formula and remains a mystery. We don’t know how God’s efforts are culminating in a person. We don’t know how God is stirring within their hearts. It’s not for us to know for it is a work of the Holy Spirit. The beauty is when we choose to cooperate with God’s efforts. This irritates Satan because it’s evident that God is present.

Recently, I viewed powerful online testimonies of Christians who were not always walking the path of eternal life. Whether near death, outrunning the bullet from a murderous drug dealer, or drowning in feelings of despair and hopelessness, they had nothing left. They had tried everything else and were left more broken than before. They were empty. They had come to the very end of themselves. They desperately cried out and called upon our loving God. They called out to Jesus to rescue them from their hell and their hurts. They remembered the prayers of loved ones. They had heard others speak of His unconditional love and ability to restore. They thought that if Jesus is indeed the One True God, then He was the only One who could save them.

They had no vanity, no pride and zero desire to assert their rights. They knew they were sinners and undeserving of any mercy. But they desperately hoped that the rumors were true: that if they called out to Him, He would answer. He was their only hope of any chance for a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

“Then you will call upon me and come to pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

prisoner

Saints: Are You Laboring for the 11th Hour Harvest of God’s Elect? The Time is NOW

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. (John 4:35)

It’s almost reaping time, dear saints! The last harvest is coming in. I am seeing more inklings and evidence of this especially from those I assumed were owned by the world yet God has been lovingly pursuing them in all of their mess. For those of us already in the Body of Christ, we are not to be mad at those who come into God’s Kingdom by the skin of their teeth and receive the same reward as those who have long served the Lord.

Matthew 20:1-16 speaks about the 11th hour. God’s people were grumbling working in the vineyard because some “came to the party late” and still received the same earnings, wages as those who had worked the vineyard longer. “The last of the harvest of God’s Elect are coming in” is what God is saying to the Body of Christ. They are sealed in His Blood. His Children receive the same inheritance. We rejoice whether they’ve known Christ most of their life or at the 11th hour! What joyful fellowship we will experience for eternity with our Savior! To feast with our fellow brothers and sisters at His table!!

Harvest worker
Prepare for the harvest, saints! They are coming! From those steeped in sin and waywardness to the person of intellectual pride and stubbornness—this is what we have been praying for, Hallelujah! Pray that those who God is drawing will heed His voice and turn to Him. Pray for hearts and minds to be transformed by His Word. Keep planting seeds of love, light and truth. Be intentional. Accept those divine appointments no matter how inconvenient. Continue to be a compelling witness because you are compelled by your love for God that those seeking may know Him.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

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.

“In the Beginning,” Came the End

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

People. Birds. Animals. Insects. Trees. Flowers. Stars. Planets. Everything God created has a life cycle. Everything created will die. While you were watching the NBA finals last night, or eating or feeding your family, hanging with your peeps or finishing your homework, someone and something else died.

I write this on the heels of Thursday’s news that President Donald Trump decided to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. The accord is positioned as a voluntary agreement for countries to contribute financially and technologically to mitigate their impact in producing harmful emissions that are said to be causing Earth’s increasing temperatures. The pollution is also said to cause climate change and global warming (billion dollar words that are $$ billion dollar businesses for a number of companies and industries) in which scientists and experts say is wreaking havoc on our planet’s ecosystem, weather patterns and ultimately, humanity’s survival.

In short, the earth is dying.

Yesterday’s news announcement has troubled many at home and abroad from citizens to domestic and foreign leaders. The concerns raised are certainly valid: What will become of our and our children’s health if pollution factors are not reduced or eliminated? What will become of the United States’ ability to compete technologically and economically to lead and not fall behind in this effort? How does this decision make the United States appear before the 195 other countries who chose to participate in the Paris Climate Accord—as the U.S. joins the only other two countries (Nicaragua and Syria) that did not participate?

While many people are ranting, protesting and hugging trees about the dreaded news, I sat at my desk last night thinking about the awesomeness of our awesome God. I reflected in awe on the opening words from Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Honestly, this verse and the entire passage of Genesis 1 that describes God’s intentional, purposeful and ordered creation of Earth, night and day, sea and sky, land and vegetation, animals and human life, keeps me in arrested awe of His great work!! I cannot fathom it!! Can you? Everything He did in creating the Earth, the universe and us depicts God’s intentional and intimate design to have a relationship with us. For decades and even unto today, scientists have submitted varying creation theories on how the universe, earth and we came to be; how the earth is precisely positioned (not one degree off), exquisitely calibrated and contains the perfect elements to support life (aka, the “anthropic principle”)! How can such perfection come if not from an external and intentional Creator/Designer?

 

Earth

Like all creation, the earth and universe has been given a life cycle. The clock started ticking billions of years ago and is winding down to death. This process began with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Admittedly, I am no scientist yet I’ve learned enough to simplify the complex.  In learning about our universe, many scientists have arrived at two unmistakable laws about its creation and trajectory: 1- that something cannot come from nothing (there must be an external creator, matter cannot create itself) and second and last, 2- the law of decay (second law of thermodynamics) which implies that the universe rather than expanding in life is instead gradually dying. The universe and earth has a beginning and an end. Both will be no more.

In fact, Jesus tells us this in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

In all of the chaos, expert data and opinions, news of the day, God says words we can be sure of: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), and to “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). This is the same God who says, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)

With the aforementioned verses, do we have any reason whatsoever to be fearful about news, the coming events or the trajectory of our planet in its winding down? He is God, the Great “I AM” who knows the number of hairs on your head or hairs that were once there  🙂 . He is the God who hung the stars in their place, who causes day and night to greet you, who promises to be your refuge; to protect you and rescue you as told to us in Psalm 91.

Will you take comfort and rest in the intentionality of God’s faithfulness and care for you, even as things are dying, in perceived chaos and decay? If you’ve read the Book of Revelation, you know worse is to come. But even still, has He taken care of you?

I am reminded of a hard and fast promise I learned about God when I was a little girl along with my friends. You may have learned it too. We sang about it and even had gestures to accompany the words:

“He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got you and me brother in His hands, He’s got you and me brother in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got you and me sister in His hands, He’s got you and me sister in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

A simple truth that should comfort His Children today, tomorrow and even when our beginning becomes the end. The worries and concerns of our day are reserved for those whose confidence is placed in and built upon the idols of data, experts, systems, intellectual pride, news stories and bandwagons. The news reports are devastating for those who have made earth their home rather than those of us who are focused on our eternal home in Christ Jesus. Christians are well to acknowledge good science that accurately tells the exquisite story of God’s creation. In that creation and science, we are indeed called to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with and entrusted to us (we have not done this very well). But it doesn’t mean we elevate the science above God.

To those of you who already walk in the understanding of Whose report to believe and trust in, praise God! You are indeed fit for the fight! For those needing their concerns and fears allayed/put at ease, know that He’s got you and He’s always had you. You will not be snatched from His Hands (John 10:28). He has the whole world in His Hands. And we are reminded in scripture of more Good News: But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). 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.

 

 

The Psychology of the Bad Report

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

The train is coming. But do not purchase a ticket. I repeat: Do NOT purchase a ticket. DO NOT get on board.

The “train” being referenced here is that of our vicious 24-hour news cycle. A daily, hourly, by-the-minute news cycle that dutifully feeds us a steady diet of anxiety forecast with doom and gloom. The present and future concerns, daily news bombshells, rumors of wars, conspiracies, scandals; reports of nefarious activity, violence, leadership incompetence, instability, health scares, epidemics, scarcity, lack, insufficiency, aka “bad reports,” can be like a run away train barreling down the tracks of our mind taking us away from a foundation we know to be certain. Some Believers are giving greater credence to the bad reports than to the promises of God. In this case, our minds have left the confidence (aka, “station”) of the perfect peace that Jesus gifted to us in John 14:27 and we have boarded a train operated by a conductor whose destination is either Doom or Gloom. This is the psychology of the bad report.

Doom-and-gloom

Yes, I have been disheartened by some of the recent news headlines. I have had a heavy heart at times, grieved by the state of the world. However, it has not shifted me out of God’s peace. I have kept my focus on Him. I take God at His Word to “keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3). What we focus on is the direction in which our mind goes. We are also to take every thought captive that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and make it obedient to Christ, as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

God loves us so much! In His great love for us He desires that we abide in His peace rather than allowing Satan and circumstances to have open season on our minds, peace, and joy. But we have to place our confidence in Him.

All things here are but shadows, folks. Don’t get distracted. Don’t take your focus off of Jesus Christ. These things must take place as God’s Word is being fulfilled in preparation for Christ’s return. In John 16:33 Jesus reminds us: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John-16-33-verse-printable

I wish this promise alone would secure the anxious hearts of some Believers. If we can’t take Christ at His Word, then wherein lies our hope?? Without such hope we are indeed on the train tracks to “doom and gloom.” We will react out of fear, never maturing to a mind renewed and stabilized in Christ Jesus. Do not allow your mind to become your bible. Rather, consult God’s Word for truth, for what He says about your future and your life to navigate the terrain. 

God does not want us to get spun up by the issues of the day or of this world. Do not allow the enemy’s psychology of bad reports and giants in the land to steer you away from the eternal focus.

My dear brothers and sisters, in Christ we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). This and all of God’s promises should be on the hearts, minds and lips of every Believer as we encourage one another and non-believers. Be encouraged! We carry within us the Good News and the means to not have our hope cannibalized by the bad reports.

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.