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Cut & Split NEW!

by Mark Brunner

 

Devotions inspired by living with trees.

 

72 pages, softcover–This Passing Day, 2019  $7.99

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Putting the 5% in place

It’s human nature to dwell on the negative and overlook the positive. That doesn’t work well when we seek to own and appreciate God’s blessings, however. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. I drive old cars. It’s the nature of old cars to run well most of the time and act up without warning. For the most part, however, the running well periods are common and the acting up ones rare. When I look back over the course of the year however, the rare periods of malfunction consistently come to mind. For example, there was the keenly remembered morning in late January, after failing to turn my headlights off, when the battery failed and the car wouldn’t start. The

In love with God

Love changes us in a way that, if regarded with care and investment, lasts for a lifetime. From the moment we fall into it, we are transformed by its powerful sway. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. Falling in love; it’s an indescribable feeling that is rare in a lifetime as it ought to be. There isn’t one among us who doesn’t hope for it from youth onward. When I fell in love with my wife nearly 40 years ago, I was filled with inexplicable joy. I can still remember the exact moment, where I was and what I was doing. It was late in the evening of March 10, 1978. I was driving my 1974 Plymouth Satellite westbound down St. Paul Avenue in Milwaukee toward the

Take me for a ride Lord

I believe our faith relationship with Christ is similar. We can settle for passable, at times stale relationship, or we can demand a fresh Jesus daily. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. I’m a toast guy. I like a piece of toast every morning with my hard-boiled egg and I’m very particular about whether the bread and eggs are as fresh as possible. We purchase the eggs at a local farm, so the eggs are as fresh as they can be. In fact they are so fresh that it is sometimes difficult to peel the shell away from the membrane as is the tendency of very fresh eggs. Toast, on the other hand, is a different matter. Holly makes a great loaf of bread, but her work sch

The shadow of his hand

The purposes of God remind me sometimes of March. They often develop slowly because his grand designs are never hurried. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. Spring can often be a period of some of the dreariest weather around these parts. Statistics show that the month of March, along with November and January, is one of the dreariest times in Wisconsin. It’s common in March to have less than 24% of the available sunshine in those 31 days. It is, therefore, a long month to get through. It’s been said that if it weren’t for April, March would have very little purpose at all. How true that is. March is a time of waiting for April and the late spring days to fo

Face to the coal

Called to serve, I believe there is only one way to do that job well–looking directly into the face of the one you serve. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. I’ve had a few stays in the hospital over the last couple of years. In that time I’ve experienced excellent care. When you’re lying flat on your back in one of those normally uncomfortable hospital beds with the insufficient blankets, hooked up to tubes and wires, the best part of your day or night is often when a friendly face comes into the room with a stethoscope around their neck, clipboard in hand and smile on their face. “How’s your pain Mr. Brunner?” “Can I get you anything?” “Do you need help w

Doo-wop!

You and I react to calls like this, the ones embedded in the deep recesses of our mind. When recalled we respond with a programed response to do something. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. I love Doo-wop music. A genre of music popular during the 1950s and 60s, it was a distinctive format which featured a high tenor singing the lead and a bass singer reciting the lyrics in the middle of the song. Doo-wop featured vocal group harmony, the critical nonsense syllables like “shoo-be-doo” or “doo-wah,” with a simple lyric and beat. Many of these songs have burrowed themselves into my mind so deeply that all it takes is a word or sound and I start Do-wopping m

White death?

Despite what you may think about the veracity of OBE stories, the idea of a “white death” is not so far fetched, at least for a Christian. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. Out of body experiences are in the spotlight these days. There’s an acronym for it: OBE, even an OBE support group. For me, growing up it was rare to hear of a person who experienced his own death and lived to tell about it. Today, however, OBE stories are not uncommon. It seems that every few months we hear about someone describing all or some of these common OBE experiences, including: bright lights, floating above the body, peaceful music, the rapid passage of time where past and pr

I'll do it

The call to discipleship and obedience is, therefore, not confined to a chosen few; everyone is called to service in the Kingdom of God here on earth. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. I’ve always felt that there were two ways to volunteers for something. The first and most common path is to undertake a plan to become one through a premeditated plan. I ran into someone recently who wanted to serve on a Board of Directors in the community we both serve. She asked me how to go about it. I suggested that she go onto the Volunteer Center website for our county and check out the Board directorship opportunities. After filling out the appropriate information ab

You'll do

Sometimes it takes shock and awe for us to be drawn into a closer perspective of what lies at the bottom of our hearts. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. When I was diagnosed with cancer a number of years ago I lived in shock for a period of time. Like most people who receive an alarming diagnosis like cancer when they were expecting something far less unnerving, my thoughts turned quickly to prayer. That evening when I returned home from the hospital tests, I knew that I needed to take my plight to the Lord in prayer asking for his help and, frankly, his willingness to spare my life. Being only 60 at the time, I hadn’t thought much about cancer from the

Conceit

Do we approach God in confession with a deep sense of false humility, but boldly holding on to the claim that he will forgive us because we know how sinful we are? My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. For me there are few things more personally provoking than false humility. When someone approaches me dripping with a disingenuous, self-denigrating attitude my disposition is to slap that person up the back of the head. “Really? Be real, don’t pretend that you’re humbled or brought down by something I know you really don’t care about. I would prefer honesty to this ruse.” While trying not to be a judge of what motivates a person to be overly humble, false humi

At what cost?

Holding to a strict code of obedience is difficult for even the strongest Christian. Ultimately, the consequences can be far reaching, even painful for others. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. When you and I commit to full obedience to the Word of God, what does that mean for our relationships with others, especially those who don’t carry obedience to the same extreme or, perhaps, are unbelievers and have no regard for obeying? These people may indeed be our friends. In some cases they may be our dearest friend. Are friends largely unaffected by our quest to obey God at any cost? When we choose consummate obedience it’s likely that our friends will be af

Free stuff

When you and I arrive every day at a new dawn, rub the night out of our eyes and stretch out into a new day, we’ve arrived at a daily grace-filled Christmas party. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. Over fifty years ago my Dad worked for a printer that hosted an annual Christmas party for employees and their children. It was always on a Saturday afternoon just prior to Christmas. As kids we looked forward every year to the event, knowing that Santa Claus would be there and we’d be treated to a few cartoons, music, and of course, candy and cake. We would arrive in the parking lot filled with anticipation knowing that, although we went in empty handed, we w

Never sad or despicable

Jesus is asking for intimacy from us. He wants us to share everything with him, holding back nothing. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. We are in the time of Lent where many have steadfastly given up something or done something in sacrifice to commemorate the passion of the Christ. Those traditions go back hundreds of years, all the way back to the days of the Flagellants who whipped themselves into a sacrificial offering during Lent. Luckily such extremes have mostly disappeared today. Most today will sacrifice meat until after Good Friday. Some take this time to go on a diet. Others have give up drinking or smoking. Frankly, after the excesses of Fat Tu

Vine intimacy

Jesus is asking for intimacy from us. He wants us to share everything with him, holding back nothing. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. We are taught from an early age to “be yourself”, not somebody you think that other people want you to be. You know, that’s easier said than done for most of us? Being yourself means demonstrating to others the often very intimate things that make us tick as human beings. Sharing these smallest of personal details with others is difficult to do. We do it with a counselor perhaps because they ask the targeted questions designed to spark the appropriate, perhaps intimate responses. Yet with our dearest friends, bosom pals,

Crazy as a Christian

If talking to animals and waste baskets is curious, what about talking to God? Are we in touch with reality when we imagine there is a God and he actually hears us? My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. I am in the habit of talking to dogs. Our three Wiener Dogs tend to be the focus of this habit as my office is in the home and that is where the dogs also have their offices as well. I work at my desk and they work in their kennels under the table next to my desk–sleeping for the most part, which they put a lot of effort into. The problem is, however, that it isn’t just a matter of me talking. I actually maintain short conversations with them. I answer my own q

Interrelationships

As Christians it is important for us to demonstrate this interrelationship between our labors and their divine usefulnesss. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. Our purpose on earth is chiefly to worship our Creator. To the unbeliever this is nothing more than foolishness. Life is so much more than singing hymns, chanting praises, and intoning prayer. If there is a God, he most certainly didn’t intend for his creation to be sitting around, sallow faced, occupying a pew day after day. Besides, they might continue, worship is so isolating. Lives need to be lived in service to our fellow man. Continual worship serves the worshiper, but has little affect on the p

Insufficient

Sometimes we need to play out the drama in our lives discovering total insufficiency, where all that’s left is the stark reality of a truly empty spirit. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. How empty are you willing to be before you no longer persevere? For many, fear of total emptiness eliminates a willingness to explore those depths. For others the bottom of the well is where the greatest treasures are. I’m reminded of the story of Theodor Suess Geisel, Dr. Suess. His first book written in 1937, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, had been submitted to 24 different publishers and rejected by all. Not until the 25th did he find a publisher, Vangu

Insight

When our will is blunted by God’s wisdom it is always best to retreat back into his grace, adopt the inevitability of his gradualness and wait. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. If something happens in my life that was unexpected, then I often feel I need to examine the situation in an effort to understand the logic and, in so doing, be able to apply reason to it in order to understand why it happened and for what purpose. Some would say that this is insightful. Perhaps, but in matters of eternal doings, is it? Recently I had the opportunity to make a major change in my life. I prayed over it and after some period of time became quite confident that the Lo

Implausible

While it isn’t wrong to find comfort in the words of Jesus that speak to us of loving our neighbor as ourselves, it IS wrong to miscalculate that we know the complete purpose of God in teaching this. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. I’m a curious person. If you present a fact to me, I am always looking for a thread that will lead me elsewhere, especially when I am seeking clarification on something I don’t understand. Let me give you an example. Recently someone asked me about the Golden Ratio. Mathematically it is explained that “two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantitie

Invincible

Effort not ability must always be our focus. God brings adversity and crisis into your life and mine for a specific reason. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day. What drives you; ability or effort? For many in America today it’s all about ability. We dwell on degrees, education, athleticism and awards. These demonstrate the ability to win, to be “number one”, and deserve acclaim. Is that what God wants for us as Christians? The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:20. “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” To put it anot

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