A new year has begun . . . .

As I was driving home, I thought about the milestones in my life and how each one was the result of the death of a close family member.

  1. My grandmamma was my first mother. She was the only mother whom I knew until I was seven years old. I watched, and nursed, her as she died from cancer-I had just turned 13. I knew she was going to die that night. I was ready for her death. She had, ” fought the good fight, [She] finished [her] course, [She] kept the faith: Henceforth there [was] laid up for [her] a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge,  [gave to her] that night: and not to [her]only, but unto all who [wait] for His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). I knew that I would never see her again if I did not do what she told me which was to give my heart to the Lord. She never said my life..she said my heart. That was in the late 1960’s. It changed my life forever.  First of all, I did give my heart to Jesus, but some horrific things happened to me after her death.  Things that could have scared me for life if I did not have Jesus. I got through those things because I was waiting for Jesus to make His move. I knew that I was, “ bought with a price!’ so,  I waited for my deliverance from those events, and it came. “The Lord [was and still] is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; [the] God .. . . in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalms 18:2 NIV). 
    1. My cousins and I  we were all raised by grandmama until a certain age; then we were sent to our respective parents in the UK. We were talking about her the last time we were all together. We all said the same thing,  “As long as she was alive we were under some type of divine protection.”  The scripture speaks to “the sanctification” of family members because of one believing family member, “your children [ we would have been] unclean; but now are they [ but we became] holy [because of her holiness in the Lord and her prayers for us.”I graduated from high school two years before the normal graduation age. Almost two years later I got married.
  2. We moved to the US to be closer to my birth mother and her sweet husband. My Step-father was the salt of the earth. He died in 1984.  That was the second death that changed the course of my life and the lives of my girls family We moved to the south in 1986. I cried all the way there. I did not think that I would fit in there.
    • I did not want to move from my dear friends in NY.
    • I did not want to leave my job at Brooklyn College.
    • I did not want to live in a place where people saw your skin color before they saw your heart.
    • I just didn’t understand why God’s will could not work for me in NY.  After all, He sent me there in the first place.
    • Oh, I was a mess, but I had to submit to the will of the Lord in this matter and asked Him to, “Show me your ways, Lordteach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4 NIV).
  3. My mother died in 1989. That was probably the third biggest milestone. Wow..there is no way to describe the full impact of that death on my life. There were so many huge holes in the family dike that she left behind that it took nine years to fill them all in.  I felt that I had to right the wrong that was committed to my step-brothers and sisters. Ruth 4:6 shows how the guardian-redeemer redeemed the estate of her husband’s family. In retrospect, it may not have been mine to fulfill, but certain things in my life would not have occurred had it not been for that decision.  I placed my life on hold until the problem was resolved.  It took nine years to fix that debacle and resulted in my health and immune system being ruined.  We had to sell our home to keep possession of my stepfathers’ home until the litigation was over. When that was settled, we bought acreage and a place of our own in the same town where my mother lived.
  4. The next death to impact my life was the death of my father in 2005 – I am his only child.  The hurdles from that death will be dealt with in 2016 as the Lord will’s
  5. The next death that changed my life and ministry was the death of my ministry partner. It was a huge blow to me.  I knew it was coming, I did not know it was going to be so soon.  I stopped dead in my track for months.  I knew what God wanted me to do, but I also knew that the ministry was not ready to take that step.  I also knew that if I went forward, it would probably lose many people.  I waited and waited, and waited.  The Lord opened a door for me to go back to school this time to seminary.  Question answered – yes. Was the ministry response as I envisioned, yes.
  6. In 2013, the Lord was preparing me to face the death of my dear cousin. She was the sister that I never had. This milestone in my life was not the death of a family member, but it was the death of a relationship. I can truthfully say that loss was the worse thing that I have ever experienced to date. While it was dying it took a huge toll on my health and placed me in the hospital. My life has not been the same since and apparently will never be the same – health wise _ again. It was even worse than my divorce. My ex-husband and I are still very good friends. I do know one thing, “all things do work together for the good of those who love the Lord.” I became very ill and had to move to Atlanta to live with my children.  They helped to get me back to a stable level of health.  It was there that I found out my cousin had stage four pancreatic cancer. I pleaded with God not to take her yet. I literally said, “if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me [I wanted her to live but to live well]. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Every time I think about it, I still cry uncontrollably. I did not know what this one would do, but she was one of two people left on earth who were my connection to my sweet grandmamma. When we were together, we remembered grandmama with smiles and happiness because she was such a strong Christian woman. She taught us how to be women/men of God.  My last conversation with her before she lost her ability to speak was about the things grandma taught us about how Godly women behaved and dress:
    1. God’s women sit in dresses and skirts with their legs crossed at the ankles.
    2. God’s women don’t wear pants that show the shape of their legs etc.,  She lived this scripture and taught it, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5). Of course, I did not realize until I was an adult why. A pastor explained that one to us. It’s not about what we want to do. It is about deliberately causing our brothers to sin.
    3. Godly women don’t take part in the seven things that God hates. To this day, I don’t like funerals because they remind me of the people in my life who have gone on. If the person is a child of God, there is no finality there. I know where they are; they are continuing their life of abundance with their Heavenly Father – if they are born again. If they are not, I experience a deep sense of loss for them and their families.
      • Phyllis continued her life in that home built for her by her Savior on March 29, 2015. I can say I have never seen one person’s home going surrounded by so many interesting scenarios.
  7. 2015 so, here I am now back home in South Carolina, having published the devotional book that He asked me to publish, waiting for God to order the next phase of my life. I am in seminary learning more about how to minister to people through the venue that He has chosen for me. I am not sure what other things He has in store for me outside of the book going forward, but I know for sure that God is up to something. I have learned not to ask him over and over again. He always reveals it in His own time and in His own way. This world is not a kind place to introverts. That is my cross to bear.
  8. 2016 – was not traumatic in the sense that I lost a loved one.  But I did leave one area of service to begin a new journey under the unction of the Holy Spirit. It was and still is completely out of my comfort zone! For an entire year, I asked God why was I in the place where He had placed me.  There are always reasons for us growing where we are planted.  I just did not understand why – that place and at that particular time.  I asked Him that question every day for 3/4 of 2016. Then when He told me it was time to move I asked Him why? Actually, I argued with Him about moving to this small place where I  knew no one. To a place where I would be so vulnerable. To a position – not new to me because I was a worship leader before.  But then I was a worship leader in a church with people who had become my family! This was new – I had no long lasting relationship with any of these people – including the pastor.  But wow – what a man of God he is!!  Seminary continued in 2016.  I am now 2 classes away from completing my degree in pastoral counseling.

The hurricane -Matthew- came and did some damage to my home.  It is currently being repaired.

The elections are over and I am not sure how we will repair the damage done to relationships by the rhetoric and ugliness in social media stirred up by the elections.  It did reveal that we have some significant relational challenges in this country and that they affect every demographic area on the national census.  I do know that only God can heal the breach caused by the elections and the ugliness that came out of it.  Pray for peace and oneness friends.  Pray for us to be truthful to each other – as a nation that is. Pray for us to not listen to the rhetoric, but that we apply the principles of the Word of God when we speak. Pray for us to see what we are as a nation and not what is written down on a piece of paper.  Pray for America to be transformed by the renewing of its mind.

I guess I am writing this out because I know so many people who are experiencing serious emotional turmoil right now such as,

  1. The destruction of relationships.
  2. The separation from people whom they have loved and admired for most of their lives.
  3. The trauma of shattered hopes and dreams
  4. The realization that people are not whom they have pretended to be for years and the need to let go the hurt that splintered relationships are causing.
  5. The burning sting of character assignation.
  6. The personal and upfront experience of the being put through every single thing that the Lord Hates:

I want you to know that I have been that and that there is a light at the end of that tunnel. Even if it is only flickering. It may seem dim now….just take steps towards it. Call on His name as you are walking out of 2015 and into 2016.
just say Jesus

When the stuff of life just rolls over you like a Mack truck – know that the Holy Spirit will lift the truck like the HULK and it will be just like a paperweight.

Know the Lord by Knowing His word

View today’s reading at Bible Gateway

Malachi 1-4

1 A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.

Israel Doubts God’s Love

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”

But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

Breaking Covenant Through Blemished Sacrifices

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.

“It is you priests who show contempt for my name.

“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’

“By offering defiled food on my altar.

“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’

“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LordAlmighty.

“Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.

10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

12 “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty.

“When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.

Additional Warning to the Priests

2 “And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.

“Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. And you will know that I have sent you this warning so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord Almighty. “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.

“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of theLord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”

Breaking Covenant Through Divorce

10 Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?

11 Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lordremove him from the tents of Jacob—even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty.

13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.

So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

Breaking Covenant Through Injustice

17 You have wearied the Lord with your words.

“How have we wearied him?” you ask.

By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”

3 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says theLord Almighty.

Breaking Covenant by Withholding Tithes

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

Israel Speaks Arrogantly Against God

13 “You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord.

“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’

14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”

The Faithful Remnant

16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.

17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

Judgment and Covenant Renewal

4 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lordcomes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Revelation 22

Eden Restored

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

John and the Angel

The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”

10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”

Epilogue: Invitation and Warning

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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