When People Cast Off Restraint

Nicole D. Hayes Head shot

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

The stop sign. The blatant warning label. The godly counsel given. The awaiting ark of refuge from an impending flood of biblical proportions.

Bad things happen when we ignore, dismiss or rebel against sound guidance and warnings. Our rebellion creates a propensity for lawlessness, anarchy and most certainly destruction, disintegration and devastation. Sin releases a power and energy that always produces decay and most certainly, death:

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  James 1:13-15

If such decisions and behaviors bring forth death, what then, births life?

Answer: Wisdom, obedience.

Proverbs 29:18 tells us that Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (New International Version) A more blatant reading from the New Living Translation reads, When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful. 

Seeking godly wisdom, desiring and obeying instruction protects us from many dangers, error and sinfulness. It is a preventive work meant to keep us from straying from the path and falling into ditches. A word of wisdom can save.

Wrong Way Do Not Enter



We Must Love Truth

The passage from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12  in short, tells us that people perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved (v. 10), and for this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness (v. 11-12).

During a recent bible study, our group discussed that by its nature, wickedness is restless. Wickedness is always chasing, seeking, constantly enticed by other temptations because it is disinterested in standing in the truth and pursuing righteousness.

Prophets were and are sent to warn, serving as both harbingers and intercessors — seeking to warn others of what is coming if they continue in their ways —and to pray, intercede on the behalf of others, petitioning before God to show mercy, to withhold His wrath.

I can’t imagine the frustration of the Old Testament prophets who repeatedly warned and pleaded with rebellious people to turn from their wicked ways and obey the Lord. From Moses, to Jonah, to Jeremiah, and others, their warnings were often ignored. Sometimes the people heeded the warnings when the consequences of their actions became so severe that they pleaded for God’s mercy. They would tear their clothes and put on sackcloth to show their remorse. When God in His great love and mercy relented in His wrath toward the people, they soon returned to their rebellion. This happened over and over again, as we saw with the Israelites.

To win this, we must love truth and stay with truth. When we refuse to hold to the truth, we reap every wicked thing we’re seeing in society today. Per the Pulpit Commentary on Proverbs 29:18, it says, “The prophets were the instructors of the people in Divine things, standing witnesses of the truth and power of religion, teaching a higher than mere human morality. The fatal effect of the absence of such revelation of God’s will is stated to be confusion, disorder and rebellion; the people uncontrolled, fall into grievous excesses, which nothing but high principles can restrain.”

When people cast off restraint, it is not freedom they create–but captivity. Ultimately, through their rebellion and God giving them over to the wickedness they so desire, the stubborn will be destroyed.

The Path to Life

John 13:17 says, If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (English Standard Version)

Satan suggests that we can have a good life without God. But can a life without God be transformed into life? God is about integration (us with Him) for us to have life and life to the full (John 10:10). Satan, is about causing disintegration, being the thief who comes to “steal and to kill and to destroy” (John 10:10).

The path to life is WITH GOD. Otherwise, we are an enemy of God and on a path toward destruction.

As a dear brother in Christ and spiritual mentor says, “God will not obstruct us from accessing Him. However, people may choose to restrict their access.”

If you desire life and life to the full:

Don’t play with time. Don’t play with God’s mercy.

Hear. Turn. Obey.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that those who are far from you will be divinely persuaded to follow you.

In Jesus’ Name I pray and ask this,




Does Anyone “Sleep on It” Anymore?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

11Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. (Proverbs 29:11, New International Version) A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man holds it back. (English Standard Version)

Much can be said on this particular verse. A recent conversation with my elderly Christian neighbor as she and I discussed world events, words said and decisions made helped to spur this writing. Her wisdom shared during our conversation came from a seasoned position of forging peace rather than strife throughout her years of raising children, grandchildren and dealing with co-workers.

In reading Proverbs 29:11, the words described will likely bring someone or several people to mind. Today’s social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have provided space for those who are quick-tempered, lack restraint, short on self-control and Godly wisdom to reveal all of their mind all of the time. Trust me, nobody wants to partake in all of that undressing to see all the caverns of someone’s unrestrained mind. The Pulpit Commentary on Proverbs 29:11 reads, “A fool uttereth all his mind; his spirit, his anger. A fool pours out all his wrath, restrained by no consideration.” It then references a wise maxim that says, “Command your temper, lest it command you.”

We have all seen the damage and feeding frenzy of what 140 unrestrained characters or less can do in a 24/7 media cycle. We’ve seen how one social media post, without measure and restraint exercised by audiences, can create a thread that is vicious and worse than a street beat down—even among those considered friends and family. Before tweets, posts, emails, text messages and decisions are driven by emotions, does anyone “sleep on it” anymore?

I present this subject to encourage the Body of Christ to reflect wisdom, Christ’s love and the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit as depicted in Galatians 5:22-23 at all times. Our various platforms are favorable to rapid fire and thoughtless responses in which our 24/7 media cycle delights and thirsts to expose and exacerbate such foolishness.

However, WE have an opportunity to display Godly wisdom to an unrestrained world. In a season where division is increasingly being stirred on every side and within every group and demographic, we have an opportunity to bring calm and reason that puts those agitated at rest. In fact, before they speak further or engage in abrupt, unwise actions, we have the opportunity to offer them the wise counsel of “Why don’t you sleep on it.” It’s an opportunity to pivot; to be circumspect, to use good judgment.

Sleep on it


Speaking from experience, I have found great peace in “sleeping on it” before responding to someone or something that has frustrated me. I have found that the words I thought so important to say were often unnecessary and would not bring the situation to a better place.

Sometimes no words were necessary or if a response was required, the tone was one of love. The night’s sleep coupled with prayer and giving myself time to yield to the Holy Spirit made all the difference. Even in some conversations where I had every right to refute what the person was saying, I’ve literally sensed the Holy Spirit purse my lips together to say “Be quiet.” Or, even when I had sound counsel to give someone the Holy Spirit knows when that person is or is not ready to receive that instruction. He has said to me in that still, small, steady voice, “Not now.” In wisdom and obedience, I hold my tongue or I refrain from hitting “SEND” on that email or text message.

So, what is the remedy to preserve ourselves and others in moments when emotions run high and division is at the door?

Pray for self-control. Pray to exercise the nine fruits of the Spirit of faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control toward everyone in whatever space you engage with them. Obediently yield to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to “be quiet” or “sleep on it.”

Numerous scriptures throughout the Bible show us the blessings and precious fruits of wisdom: Blessed are those who find wisdom, who gain understanding (Proverbs 3:13). We’re encouraged to ask for it, to seek it: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1:5). 

Many consider quick words to be a great strength. But quick words have been known to sink relationships and torch careers. But a word not spoken in haste is truly great wisdom with the possibility to preserve people and outcomes.

Love and blessings,




Hard to Control

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. – Proverbs 30:32

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. Just because I know it, doesn’t mean I should say it. “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” –1 Corinthians 10:23-24

How many times have we said something out of our lips that we wish we could take back? Maybe we put down another by way of slander or maybe we revealed something of another’s life told to us in secret that was not meant for the recipient’s ears. For we know it is bad in itself to think ill but we know that it is much worse to speak it. For speaking it implies an approval to the evil thought and a willingness to infect others with it.

You say, “But that’s my right! I’m not going to let anyone censor me!” Yes, my brother or sister, it is your right. It is lawful. However, if you profess to be a Christian, we ought not merely consider what is lawful for us but what is beneficial, and for the use of edification. The Christian ought to be concerned about his neighbor’s welfare considering his own conduct in order not to hinder their neighbor’s holiness, comfort, or salvation.

We ought to say to ourselves, “Today I will control my tongue and not let it control me. Exercise a Holy violence over yourself if necessary and put your hand on your mouth! “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. –James 3:7-10. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. –James 3:2


Those who take care to consciously choose to control their tongue demonstrate a sign of true grace. The word “perfect” in James 3:2 doesn’t mean he is literally perfect as in will never make mistakes again but it means that man or woman is upright. Is not uprightness a characteristic of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in which we are aiming to become more like? For the wisdom and grace which enable us to rule our tongues will also enable us to rule our actions.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 Amen.


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.

Why Kim Davis Is in Error

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

When is a supposed “hero” not a hero? Such a scenario is playing out in Kentucky. This past week, the supposed “heroic” actions exhibited by Rowan County Clerk and Apostolic Christian occurred when Kim Davis refused to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. This is after the Supreme Court decision passed in July makes it lawful for same-sex couples nationwide to marry. Davis rather, chose to stand on “principle” and her Christian faith by not issuing the marriage license (Davis is asking to have her name removed from their marriage license issued via a state amendment but at this stage would still be in violation of the law).

In response, Davis has been jailed for not honoring the law. She is also being sued by couples she disenfranchised/infringed the rights of. The county has proceeded to issue the marriage licenses that Davis denied. Davis will defiantly remain in jail, believing she is standing on principle. Many Christians near and far have rallied behind Davis, encouraging her to continue standing her ground in this contentious battle we daily wage of man’s law vs. God’s Law in a fallen world.

As Believers, we clearly see it: the contrast between dark and light is so palpable in our society and world. Good is bad, bad is good. Our fallen world is in a perpetual state of moral decay. One could wonder why God would allow such immorality to continue. In addition, when Believers confront darkness with light, truth, virtue and morality, we are often met with hostility by those who choose to continue operating in lawlessness.

Getting back to Kim Davis: I recently began grad school with Regent University (Christian-based educational institution) to pursue and obtain my Master of Public Administration. Considering myself a Christian public servant prior to classes by virtue of how God has equipped me to lead this ministry, I am being equipped even more to understand the wisdom and discernment one must constantly embody as a Christian serving the public, in public office, etc.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, talks with David Moore following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, talks with David Moore following her office’s refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

In this, here is why Ms. Davis is not heroic, but is in fact, in error:

Believing that she was standing on principle and doing what was right, Davis stepped on other citizens’ rights. While I support traditional marriage between one man and one woman, Ms. Davis swore an oath before God as a public servant. As the founder and leader of Voices Against the Grain, a ministry that “advances God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing’ society,” I understand not compromising God’s Word to gain favor with the world. In doing so, as Christians, in sharing God’s Truth, we are also to show love and compassion to those who have views that contradict God’s Word.

Our goal is to remove the veil that blinds them. To deliver truth in love that brings restoration. As Christ’s Ambassadors, we are asked to “deal gently with those ignorant or misguided since we ourselves are subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:2). This is even more true in Davis’ role as a Christian public servant.

We must use wisdom and operate as critical thinkers in all situations. We must trust that God is indeed Sovereign over all things, even in this situation, as God’s law is Supreme even when we exercise free will. Davis has minimized the greatness of God to overcome even this. Davis is in error by violating the law and worse, missing an opportunity to show Christ’s love. God is God all by Himself and doesn’t require us to help Him. None of her actions have shown these people Christ. Certainly the laws have changed since her being elected to the job 27 years ago. She should now consider if morally, she can still fulfill this role.

Is it possible for Christians and Christian public servants to operate as vessels of light, truth, morality and virtue in a fallen world? Yes, absolutely. By sharing God’s light, we help bring clarity to confusion and hope to darkness in our fallen world. By not doing so, we’ll continue to see moral decay and the tragedies manifest and proliferate our communities due to our silence and absence from these influential spaces. In order to transform such spaces, we need to be a light in the room and a voice of truth at the table. But there is a right way to do it. 

This is the call for those who truly yield to the Holy Spirit and are not swayed by self-interest and emotions. This is the call for those who choose not to acquiesce in being a vessel of truth, virtue and morality when it is unpopular to do so. This is the call for those who are committed to serve in love, to operate in wisdom and deploy truth in the right tone at the right time while not inflicting injustice upon others. This is the call for those who choose to decrease self and increase Christ.

This is the call of a Christian public servant. I pray as the Body of Christ that we come into unity in this understanding.


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.

Wise Insight from a Seven-Year-Old

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

While driving my 7-year-old son to his little league baseball game we were talking about Palm Sunday. He began telling me that on that day as the people were greeting Jesus riding on the donkey entering Jerusalem and shouting, “Hosanna!,” many in the crowd that were shouting “Hosanna” did not believe Jesus was the Son of God. They were pretending. How profound was my son’s statement.

It got me thinking about how many of us at times in our lives have declared the name of Jesus Christ—yet we doubt how powerful He truly is? How many of us have proclaimed the name of Jesus but behind closed doors it was a different story? My son commented that in their hearts, they did not believe. What resides in our hearts matters the most. This little 7-year-old came to the conclusion that it is a matter of the heart! So I ask you today: Where does your heart stand? If you are struggling in your faith, I encourage you to reflect on who Jesus is as Easter Sunday approaches.

Little boy praying
John 12:13 New International Version
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Matthew 18:3 New International Version
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of


About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Christ Confuses Today’s Wisdom

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. (1 Corinthians 3:19, New International Version)

Books upon books. The Internet. The Secret. Oprah Winfrey. Dr. Phil. Iyanla Vanzant. Wayne Dyer. The list runs long in resources trusted by some people who seek to understand life and life’s plans for them. Much of the information, teachings and “wisdom” presented by these popularly sought after sources gives their fans a sense of confidence for their next steps. Yet, such “wisdom” pales to the vastness and wisdom of God which far surpasses the limitations of our human intelligence. Our mental capacity is a mere blip compared to the abilities, depth, knowledge and wisdom of God, who created us. Was Oprah there when God laid Earth’s foundation or dimensions, or that of our universe? Does Iyanla Vanzant give orders to the morning or show the dawn its place?  Can Dr. Phil take you to where darkness and light dwell? Can Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, loose the cords of Orion or count the clouds? Rather than these folks, I want direction from the One who created all of this and more; One who knows me so intimately, He knows the number of hairs on my head at any given time (Luke 12:17). Such human limitation is  incapable of telling you about the plans for your life, when God who created you knows all. We’re instead asked to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33, New Living Translation)

Moreover, I am amazed in the human sources people will rest upon for their confidence, comfort, peace and joy, and disbelieve the simple yet powerful message of Christ Jesus’s birth, gift of Salvation to us and the message of the cross. To understand this message does not require a certain level of intelligence. Oh, we’ll never fully comprehend what He did for us. It simply requires faith and an open heart to receive it. Star of Bethlehem

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)

This Christmas season I still remain in awe at the perfect and wondrous miracle of Jesus’ birth, His death on the cross and his resurrection three days later. The exquisite and precise orchestration of each event is beyond what I can comprehend. The  mere fact that a virgin gave birth to a  baby confuses today’s wisdom. Trust me,  I value knowledge and intelligence. Yet I am confident that my greatest exercise of intelligence will pale in comparison to my simplest exercise of wisdom in saying “yes” to Him.

Watch Your Words Diligently

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Our words have power. The tongue can be a demoralizing or uplifting tool. We’ve all been in situations where a heated discussion with someone got the best of us. Often we wish we could take those words back, but we can’t. To combat this, we should prayerfully seek more wisdom, exercise self-control, strive to listen more and consider our responses with love and truth before speaking the words. Even in my boldness, I seek to exercise wisdom in choosing my words. Today’s post is from the devotional book Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. The devotionals are rooted in scripture and presented in the perspective of Jesus speaking to you. Today’s message encourages us to “watch our words diligently” so as not to harm one another or ourselves.

WATCH YOUR WORDS DILIGENTLY.  Words have such a great power to bless or to wound. When you speak carelessly or negatively, you damage others as well as yourself. This ability to verbalize is an awesome privilege, granted only to those I created in My image. You need help in wielding this mighty power responsibly.

Though the world applauds quick-witted retorts, My instructions about communication are quite different:  Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Ask My Spirit to help you whenever you speak. I have trained you to pray—“Help me, Holy Spirit”—before answering the phone, and you have seen the benefits of this discipline. Simply apply the same discipline to communicating with people around you. If they are silent, pray before speaking to them. If they are talking, pray before responding. These are split-second prayers, but they put you in touch with My Presence. In this way, your speaking comes under the control of My Spirit. As positive speech patterns replace your negative ones, the increase in your Joy will amaze you.

words hugging womanAccompanying Scriptures: Proverbs 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (New International Version)