Monday, April 30, 2007

Bottle Creek pond 3

Reflection is not just inverted images on water. To reflect also means to think, consider, ponder, or meditate. That's what Bottle Creek Retreat is about. We're hoping that water reflections prompt soul reflections.

Paul to young Timothy: "Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this."
2 Timothy 2:7

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bottle Creek Pond 2

Reflections aren't the real thing, but they reveal and point to the real thing.

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
2 Corinthians 3:18

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bottle Creek pond

Everything in this cross is a reflection. It's spring, but a couple diseased pine trees make it look like fall. Seeing is always subject to interpretation.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Redbud seed pods 2

Brown is beautiful!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Redbud seed pods

Redbud seed pods persist through the winter and hang around through the spring. Few people say, "Wow, look at those beautiful brown seed pods!", so I'm giving them some highly deserved attention. Not as flashy as the buds, but they carry on the species.

Sometimes the flashiest people don't last long, and those least likely to make you say "Wow!" are actually the most important.

1 Corinthians 12:22-25 . . .
"On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Redbud buds 3

If this tree had no name, and somebody told you: "Name this tree"--would you call it a "redbud"? I think not. The blossoms are pink, lavender, and purple. You'd call it the "Pink Cloud" tree, or perhaps the "Luscious Lavender" tree, or maybe the "Purple Passion" tree. Whoever came up with "redbud" had a limited vocabulary.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Redbud buds 2

Had your redbud salad yet?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Redbud buds

Did you know that these buds are not only gorgeous, but edible? Some people toss them on a spring salad. Others use them to add color and sweetness to white desserts like custard and pudding. You can add them to homemade ice cream to add some pastel color and flavor. They've also been used for making pickled relish.

And you thought they were merely pretty!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Flowering Quince 3

The destruction of these blossoms just a few days after this photo was taken suggests Isaiah 40:8 --
"The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Flowering Quince 2

Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), is also known as Japonica. It's a native of east Asia: China, Korea, and Japan. It was introduced to England by the late 1700's and to America by 1830. There are now more than 150 varieties of this wonderful shrub.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Flowering Quince

Time for some color! These pink blossoms were destroyed by a hard freeze a few days later, but as of today, new buds and blossoms are on these bushes. Not as many as before, and the spots of pink are blooming amidst lots of dead brown blossoms, but it is indeed a second spring--a wonderful sign of hope as well as a model of persistence.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Brown 4

Perhaps it's time to give Zechariah's "brown" horse a rest!
But a bit of Googling reveals that, indeed, modern horse owners do not have "brown" horses:

A "bay" horse is reddish brown, especially with a black mane and tail.
A "sorrel" horse is brownish-orange or light brown.
A "chestnut" horse is dark golden brown or reddish brown.

So the next "brown" horse you see, impress its owner by using "bay," "sorrel," or "chestnut" correctly. And if possible, take a ride to find peace on earth (Zechariah 1:11).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Brown 3

Yesterday I said that the only occurrence of the word "brown" in the Bible was in the first chapter of Zechariah--where a "brown" horse is part of a multi-colored herd God sent to roam the earth--truly "a horse of a different color."

But not so fast--it all depends on the translation. In the old King James Version it's a "speckled" horse. In the New American Standard Bible it's a "sorrel" horse. In other translations it's a "bay" horse or a "chestnut" horse.

Clearly, the Hebrew word behind "brown" and all those other color words is rare and not well understood or easily translated. And I'll admit to the fact that I haven't got a clue about the difference between "sorrel" and "bay" and "chestnut." I'm pretty sure that real horse people never refer to any of their animals as "brown." Maybe some more research is called for!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Brown 2

On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.

During the night I had a vision—and there before me was a man riding a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.

I asked, "What are these, my lord?"

The angel who was talking with me answered, "I will show you what they are."

Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, "They are the ones the LORD has sent to go throughout the earth."

And they reported to the angel of the LORD, who was standing among the myrtle trees, "We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace."
Zechariah 1:7-11

...and that is the ONLY appearance of the word "brown" in Scripture. No explanation is given of the significance of the three colors. (more on this tomorrow)

If only a herd of earth-exploring horses could find "the whole world at rest and in peace" today!

Monday, April 16, 2007


From late fall until late spring, the Homestead National Monument of America is a study in brown.
This got me thinking: I couldn't remember any Bible verse or story where something is described as "brown." So of course I looked it up. Tomorrow I'll tell you what I found. (If you're ambitious, you can look it up yourself!)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Thicket 3

In Scripture, thickets are places of danger:

"If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?"

(Jeremiah 12:5)

"Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?

(Job 38:39-40)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thicket 2

The word "thicket" appears most often in the prophets, almost always in relation to bad news--God's judgment. Here's an example from Jeremiah 26:18--

"‘Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets."

Thickets are chaotic, movement-impeding spots of unrestrained, non-productive growth--like a cancer, perhaps. And therefore a fitting image of judgment.

At Homestead National Monument of America, where this photo was taken, thickets occur because of a commitment to leave the land in its natural state--like it was when the first homesteaders arrived with their saws and plows.

Friday, April 13, 2007


When I'm trying to make a biblical connection to one of my crosses, I do word searches in the concordance I have stored on my computer. The last few days the word has been "bud."

This is a photo of a thicket. I assumed that the word "thicket" never appeared in the Bible (I'm using an NIV concordance), but I checked anyway. To my surprise, it appears 17 times, all in the Old Testament, both in stories and in prophecy.

The first is Genesis 22:13, where a thicket holds some extremely good news for Isaac:
"Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son."

It seems appropriate to find a cross--the Christian salvation image--in a thicket, from which Isaac's salvation came.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

April Fools buds 3

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April Fools buds2

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April 1 buds

On April Fool's Day, spring was here and trees were budding. Then winter returned, with nighttime temperatues in the teens. These buds--and all buds in Nebraska--were destroyed.

Springtime is such a time of hope, but hopes are often fulfilled in fits and starts and backward steps and waiting. Just ask Abraham! We're still waiting for spring, hoping that either this year or next, there will be new buds to chase away the winter.

This budding tree is at Homestead National Monument of America, Beatrice, Nebraska.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Holstein again

H104 loves the camera!

Sunday, April 08, 2007


If Jesus was really alive on the 3rd day, what do you have to fear?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Last Supper 2

Similes are comparisons using "like" or "as." Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is LIKE a grain of mustard seed." Metaphors are comparisons made more directly and forcefully: "I AM the bread of life." Jesus used both similes and metaphors extensively, but when referring to himself, as in the "I AM's," he uses only metaphors.

Does it make a difference that Jesus said, "I AM the bread of life" rather than "I am LIKE bread that gives you life"?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Last Supper

The painting is Da Vinci's, the photo is mine, the message is Jesus'.
Milan, Italy.

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