Photo and Commentary (c)2021 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 30, 2021

Not long ago Shelley and I took a trip up north to show my sister the sights. In one of the towns we stopped at, Shelley and Onilee were checking out some of the shops, and I wandered off by myself.

I don’t believe I’ve ever been as startled, and temporarily confused, by a sign on a building as I was with this one. My initial “read” yielded the following information: This building was built in 1884. The builder was James Powers. (So far, so good. But then . . .) James Powers lived from 1885 to 1937!

Wait a minute. (In fact, if this hadn’t been a post office but a textile operation we might say, “Wait a cotton-pickin’ minute.”) Either James Powers was an extremely early starter, already designing rudimentary buildings from within the womb, or something else was going on.

You’ve probably figured out the solution. It wasn’t James Powers who lived within the bracket of those years. It’s simply that the time-bracket describes the length of time the building served as the home of the Puget Sound mail. The origin and demise of James Powers himself remains shrouded in mystery.

You see the problem, right? Whoever designed this sign should have called in focus group to check it over, because normally when you insert a set of years after a person’s name, you’re describing the dates of that person’s birth and death . Just a simple wording-adjustment would have cleared things up.

Where am I going with this? Here’s where. When we read the Bible, we need to be super-careful to understand it the way its original readers did. We need to read it “in context.” How do we do this? Do we need to shut down every other project for a couple of years and get a Masters in theology?

Nope. Not necessary at all. Instead, we need to read a lot in the Bible. Don’t just read a verse a day—read a chapter or two. Linger over what you read. Maybe set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes and allow that time to become your virtual study-closet. Switch out your Bible version once in a while. When I study for a sermon, I print out side-by-side passages from four different English versions (NKJV, NIV, ESV and NRSV), plus the original language (I did get a degree in theology).

As an orientation to this careful way of Bible-reading, you’ll find several Scripture texts which talk about what the Bible is all about, when you click the link just below: