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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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Less is more?

My friend, may I ask you a question? For you is adversity either hopeless or hopeful? It all depends on which side you’re willing to see. Is the glass half full or half empty? As much as we consider this a bit trite, isn’t it extremely important to know? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. I remember reading about two, shoe, salesman who were sent to Nigeria to survey the country for the possibility of building a shoe factory. The first man came back and said, “Few people here wear shoes so there is little need to build a new shoe factory in Nigeria. The second, however, reported, “This is the greatest opportunity we’ve ever had. Everybody I saw needs a

The "Real" Force?

My friend, may I ask you a question? How hard is it for you to smile even when you don’t feel like it? Can you decide to be happy for the sake of others around you even when you don’t feel like it? Does the ability to keep a positive attitude really get you out of the tough days though; the ones that are real stinkers? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. What’s the most powerful force at work in your home today? Years ago there was a TV commercial for Ajax Laundry Detergent. Remember the jingle? “New Ajax laundry detergent is stronger than dirt, stronger than dirt!” Boy, if you just switched to Ajax laundry detergent you would have complete power over al

Performance?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Isn’t it sometimes easy to blame things that don’t perform the way we want them to, before first examining how poorly we might have been in command of those things in the first place, or even how the thing had nothing or little to do with our failure at all? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. I’ve long been in the habit of blaming “things” when matters don’t go the way I wanted them to. One of my favorite sayings is: “The guy who designed that ought to be . . .” Fill in the blank. For example, recently I was sanding a piece of molding and ended up putting a deep gouge into the finish of the piece. I had to throw the

Time-wasting blame?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Fault is pretty much everywhere. Just look around at all the sinners. How many do you see? Since blame is one of the greatest time-wasters you’ll ever see, can something this wasteful be of any good? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. There’s an old adage that says, “People who are out to find fault seldom find anything else.” I was reminded of this recently after disagreeing with a friend. I went home and went into our bedroom walk-in closet to change. There’s a full-size mirror on the back of the door. As I closed the door I caught my sullen image there. As it’s been succinctly put: “If you’re always looking for so

Opportunity?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Making the effort to grow, despite obstacles or the most extreme of circumstances; is that what opportunity is all about? When we grasp opportunity do we mitigate the weaknesses in our lives that, if left unchallenged, are certain to move from weaknesses to threats in short order? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. What does it mean to be opportunistic? I think I know the meaning a bit more clearly these days. I did some weed killing over this summer. I got out my weed sprayer, filled it with vinegar and bleach, and started walking around various places bordering our driveway where the weeds have encroached. I rememb

Clogged and guilty?

My friend, may I ask you a question? How easy it is to blame others, especially when they are at least somewhat responsible for what happens to us. But, ultimately, there’s usually enough blame to go around. And, that includes us? When things are clogged, it’s probably our fault? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. Yesterday I decided it was time to mark trees for fall cutting here at Beech Springs. For that I needed a can of spray paint. I rummaged through my paint cabinet selecting can after can of paint only to find that nearly every can of paint was useless. The paint had congealed in the spray heads. I remarked to my wife that you would think they c

Sinister?

My friend, may I ask you a question? When we blame others for things that happen before looking first at ourselves that’s an ungodly way of looking at things. Is it just as foolish as claiming all bad things happen because sinister things are afoot? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. Left field gets a lot of abuse. Perhaps it’s because the concept of “left” itself has been so maligned. I read recently about an old superstition that goes back hundreds of years regarding “getting up on the right side of the bed.” How many times have you heard that? It goes back to a time when Christians felt that the right side of anything was the blessed side and the lef

Pussy cats?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Is it true that our perception of reality is often colored by our own unwillingness to look at things from the proper perspective? Is it often a great temptation on our part to refuse to see the forest for the trees? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. There's a little project that I've been meaning to get at for a very long time; staining and varnishing a few pieces of molding in our basement recreation room. I put the pieces up several years ago with the intent of finishing them as soon as I found the small, additional time that would be needed to do the job. At the time it seemed that it would probably take no more

Smelly Jack?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Are there people in your life that that don’t seem to be on “level ground” with you? You know, the kind of people you can only see what distinguishes them from you and not the things that bind them with you? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. As I paid for my fuel purchase, in he came. Everyone in town knew him as just plain Jack. He was dirty, loud and smelly. Most people avoided him because he was just different from most other folks. He didn’t bath or shower but once in a blue moon. Most of his teeth were missing and the house he lived in was junky even by rural, out-county standards. I moved away to give him spac

Pain is good?

My friend, may I ask you a question? As Christians, is it good to be reminded that the effort to forgive is never without some sacrifice? Is there such a thing as good pain when we sacrifice for others, putting ourselves in a position to be hurt in order to help them gain their objective? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. I have an odd habit of reciting this little passage: “Pain is good, pain is good” whenever I have to do something physical that takes an extra effort on my part. This is especially true when that something physical is done for someone else. For example, years ago I helped Holly move a dresser up a flight of stairs from the guest room

Does God wear a watch?

My friend, may I ask you a question? How does God use time? Is time relevant to him? Does God measure time? Do we apply the same rules to God that we apply to ourselves? Ultimately, does God care when things get done or just how they get done? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. One of the more difficult things to learn in life is the relevance of time. If you’re like me, time is always of the essence. Time wasted can never be recovered; it’s gone forever. So, I always keep an eye on my watch, gauging how long things take to get done and when the “next thing” is waiting to be done. Whether it’s getting to the office at the appointed time, gauging how lon

If only?

My friend, may I ask you a question? When bad things happen to us, do we find ourselves asking “If only God had intervened?” What about God? If it’s true that all things are under his control, why doesn’t he always make things right before bad things take over? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. “If only I had driven just a little faster over that last few blocks; I would have made it through this red light on the yellow!” How often have you found yourself saying that? “If only this or only that!” I do it all the time. It’s human nature to make excuses when things don’t turn out the way we want them to. We tell ourselves that “if only” one little thing

Failure?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Sometimes our faith striving may not work out exactly as we had planned. Is the fact that we exercise our faith to begin with really what matters. Perhaps failure is a blemish that blends in pretty well good effort? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. Recently my wife made applesauce. She pulled together the usual ingredients: flour, sugar, spices and, of course, apples. She asked me to go down into the basement and heft the bushel of apples up from the cool cellar. I brought it up and she went to work. One of the things that I noticed as she sorted through the pile was that she seldom, if ever, sorted out the poorer

A walk that talks?

My friend, may I ask you a question? As Christians we often don’t realize how the little things that we do are all carefully observed by those around us. Are our lives, in that sense, more of a living testament than we know? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. Sometimes its quite amazing how what we do, even though we are simply doing and nothing more, can have such a great impact on someone who is impressionable. I remember years ago when my grandson James took one of his first rides with me on my tractor. At two-years-old he was the consummate observer, especially when it came to tools. As memory serves me, It only took him a second or two to watch me

Lapse?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Even though we often strive to earn respect for our good name, often a momentary lapse could do more harm in a minute to destroy what took a lifetime to build. Don’t you and I need to watch what we say and how we say it? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. I took great pride in being a father and put what I think was a lot of effort into making sure that I always presented the right image to my children. I knew that if I wanted them to respect me as their father, I needed to take being a father seriously. Unfortunately, I remember an occasion when I let a word slip from my mouth that didn’t glorify God and certainly d

Lemons?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Is that old adage, that "when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade" really that trite? Isn’t it often more true than not? Ultimately, isn’t what you and I do with life that matters; not what life does to us? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. "On the other hand . . . " Those who know me well know that I use that little phrase a lot. Yes, I do like looking at the brighter side of things whenever possible. But, there is a more important message behind that little phrase. Oftentimes, the other hand, the one we didn’t chose in the first place, turns out better than we thought. For example: Yesterday evening I was barbec

God hugs?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Does God place limits on how far he wants us to go when it comes to committing to his will? If his will is our sacrifice, can there be any limits? Is our God reasonable when it comes to our ability to forbear or to bear? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. Does God place limits on how far He wants us to go when it comes to committing to his will? If his will is our sacrifice, can there be any limits? Is our God reasonable when it comes to our ability to forbear or to bear? God, of course, transcends our reason because we cannot even begin to understand his wisdom. Sometimes we just need to commit and leave the rest up

Fix it Daddy?

My friend, may I ask you a question? When you approach God with your “fix-it” prayers, are you skeptical that He can fix it even when it seems impossible? Are your prayers at best half-hearted and not really believing that the seemingly impossible is easy for God? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. The neat thing about being a parent sometimes, especially of younger kids, is the fact that sometimes we can be miracle workers. My kids are all grown up now and pretty much know how limited my “magical” powers are. But, there was a day when they were younger when they had pretty high expectations of dad. When something broke there was more than one time that

Backyard treasure?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Finding contentment in our own backyard is a principle largely forgotten in today’s culture of always looking for the next pot-of-gold over that next horizon. Isn’t it sad when often God saves the greatest treasures in life for those who are looking out their own backdoor? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. We live in a modest house in a little valley not far from a rambling creek most people around here call “No Name” creek. Most of the time it is hardly a trickle but recently we’ve gotten a little more rain than normal so it is flowing pretty rapidly. Sitting out on my porch the other day I could hear the distinct

The noise of living?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Did you ever notice that often when we pray, seeking answers to our questions, we’re greeted by silence? We make the sounds of prayer but seldom listen for God’s return message which, oftentimes, is more of a transcendent whisper than a divine proclamation? My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. “Shhhh! Listen! Did you hear that?” My wife put her finger to her lips and gestured toward me to quit talking and listen more closely. This was years ago and my hearing was pretty good. She was sure that she heard a mouse in the ceiling above our bed. I listened for a moment and then told her that I didn’t hear anything. “No, lis

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