Saturday, December 31, 2016

How Many Times?

How many times have I read Ephesians Chapter Two?


And yet when I read it this morning, newness sprang up at me again and again.

Read it, then come back to this if you like.

All of us were lost. Dead in our sins.

God—rich in mercy—loved us then.

Enough to raise us up with Christ. Alive.

So he can show incomparable kindness to us in the coming days of our lives.


He created … me … for good works.

He’s got them ready for me.

Through the blood of Jesus, all people in the world are brought near to God.

Jesus came to bring peace between all people.

He broke down all walls and barriers of hostility.

There is no hope without Christ.

But Jesus brings us all together, building a home where we can all live together with God.

God with us.

None of this was new to me.

Yet it struck with amazement this morning.

I was dead. I can believe that. But God loved me so much, and he wants to shower unbelievable kindness on me.

He has prepared good things for me to do. I want to read that again and again.

The people Paul was writing to needed to hear about Jesus bringing peace between gentiles and Jews. However, I have no doubt that God speaks in this passage to all the people in the world with barriers of hostility between them.

Jesus wants to bring us all into a home together for the glory of God.


Thank God for his living and active Word.

Ephesians Chapter 2.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Millie's Christmas Chapter 15

Mommy was up early the next morning, working in the kitchen. She put a big pan of something in the oven and said, “Gobble, gobble.”
Bruce stood by me, watching her, and he licked his lips. “That’s turkey,” he whispered. “It’s good stuff.”
Daddy came down soon, carrying Jake’s crutches. Hmmm, strange. I tipped my head and looked at Daddy. He set the crutches down and walked into the kitchen. He didn’t look like his foot hurt.
Daddy pulled a big pan out of the cabinet. “Make some room for the real cook.”
“Right.” Mommy grinned and poked Daddy in the chest.
I heard Ruthie laughing with Jake then, so I turned back to look at the stairs. They both sat on the steps, bumping down them one by one. Jake had his hurt foot stretched out so it wouldn’t bang. That looked like fun. I wanted to run and bounce down with them, but I saw Mama in the door to the hallway then, shaking her head.
“We have pancakes for breakfast on Christmas,” Ruthie told Jake. “Daddy makes them.”
“I remember Dad making pancakes on Christmas when I was little.” Jake bumped down the last step and sat on the floor.
“Millie, Merry, Merry Christmas.” Ruthie ran and scooped me up. “Your first Christmas is always best.” She kissed me and squeezed me tight.
“Meow.” I wiggled in her arms.
“Do you remember your first Christmas, bug?” Jake asked.
Ruthie stuck out her tongue at him and went into the kitchen. Daddy came and handed Jake his crutches, then helped him get up. I jumped down and ran around the kitchen. Everything smelled so yummy.
The people always thanked their God for the food before they ate. This morning Daddy said, “Ruthie, do you want to thank God for the day? And tell Jesus happy birthday.”
“Yes,” Ruthie said, looking serious and clearing her throat. “Jesus, happy birthday, and thank you for this food. Thank you for Christmas, and for loving us, and we love you too. Amen. Oh, and thank you so much for Millie. I like having her here this Christmas.” She rubbed me under the table with her foot.
“Amen,” everybody said.
I poked my head out from under the table and looked around the room. I’d still never seen Jesus anywhere, but they always talked to him and God.
After breakfast, they cleaned everything off the table, then we all went into the living room, Mama and Bruce and me too.
“Jake, will you read the Christmas story from Luke?” Daddy asked, handing Jake one of the big books called a Bible.
“Sure.” Jake turned pages in the book. Good. I curled up by his feet. I liked to listen when they read stories.
The story was nice, about a baby being born, shepherds, and angels singing. ”Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2: 14)
Jake had a soft reading voice. I almost fell asleep.
But then Ruthie jumped up, clapped, and said, “Now I’ll hand out presents. I can read all the names.”
The room filled with excitement. Ruthie passed out the pretty-wrapped packages from under the big tree, and everybody tore the paper and ribbons off and threw them on the floor. Bruce and I chased the paper and ribbons around, growling and chewing on them. Back when I was little, Bruce taught me how to growl, and he said I was good at it. Mama sat and chewed on one of the curly bows and purred at me and Bruce.
“Millie, this present is for you and your mama and Bruce,” Ruthie said. “Do you want me to help you open it?”
Oh, nice. This was a cute package, and Bruce and I went after the paper and ribbon as soon as Ruthie tore it off. But then she pulled out a little sack filled with jingly stuff and threw it on the floor.
Whoa. Bruce and I tore the sack open, and a bunch of jingly balls fell out and rolled all over. These were for us? Wow. Even Mama chased them with us. All the family laughed and threw the balls in every direction. I bounced and pounced and growled. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t catch them all. What fun this was—the whole family and Mama and Bruce and me, playing together.
Ruthie jumped up on Jake’s lap, holding a little baby doll toy. “Thank you, Jake. She’s so pretty.”
Jake kissed her on top of the head. “You’re welcome. Didn’t I do a good job keeping it hidden?”
She stuck out her lip at him. “Hmmm. Do you like the book I got for you? Mommy helped me pick it out.”
“I do.” Jake smiled. “I love books about motorcycles. You and Mommy are smart.”
Daddy sat down next to Jake and laid his arm around Jake’s shoulders. “Merry Christmas, Son.”
“Merry Christmas, Dad.” Jake picked up one of the collar things to lead people by. “Thanks for all the presents, especially this new tie.”
“You’re welcome.” Daddy grinned at him. “I’m happy to have you here with us, Jake.”
“Me, too,” Jake said in a soft voice, and smiled.
“Okay, time to clean up all this mess,” Mommy said.
Oh, I needed to hurry. I jumped up and started chasing the paper and ribbons around before the people got them all picked up.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Millie's Christmas Chapter 14

Finally. It was the night before Christmas. Mommy and Daddy put “presents” under the Christmas tree. I didn’t know what they were, but they were pretty. They were all wrapped up in the shiny paper, with lots of bows and ribbons. My eyes got big, but Mama told me I needed to stay away from them. Too bad.
Ruthie sure was excited about the presents. She lay on the floor by the tree and looked at them for a long time, trying not to move them, but wanting to see as many as she could. “Here’s one with my name. Here’s another one,” she yelled and wiggled.
“Okay, okay, go to bed now, sweetie,” Mommy said. “I promise they’ll still be here in the morning.”
Jake still sat on the couch after everybody else was in bed, so I stayed with him. He poked his finger on the phone in his hand. “Hi, Mom.” This was magic. The people could talk to other people far away through those little phone boxes.
“It’s not too late, is it?”
I couldn’t hear the other person talk, but he listened for a minute. Jake picked up a piece of the stringy ribbon and started waving it back and forth. I jumped at it.
“No, I’m okay. I just wanted to tell you Merry Christmas.”
Jake kept swinging the ribbon from side to side, and I bounced at it, trying to grab it with my paws.
“Are you going to Grandma’s house for Christmas dinner?”
I grabbed the ribbon in my mouth.
“Tell her I said Merry Christmas, and I love her.”
Jake held the ribbon tight in his hand, and I tugged at it.
“Yeah, I got the package you sent. It’s under the tree. Yeah, thanks.”
Jake yanked hard on the ribbon and pulled it out of my mouth.
“It’s fine. It doesn’t hurt much anymore.” He started swinging the ribbon back and forth again. “I miss you, Mom.”
I stopped chasing the ribbon when I saw a tear drip out of Jake’s eye.
“Yeah, I’m going to go to bed now. I love you, too. I’ll talk to you soon.”
Jake set down the phone and let go of the ribbon. I grabbed it between both front paws and chewed. It didn’t really taste like anything.
Jake sat quiet for a minute, then reached down and scooped me up. “Merry Christmas, Millie.” He rubbed my face and grinned. “I think I saw a present under the tree with your name on it.”
Oh, oh, oh, that sounded like fun. I wished he’d give it to me now.