Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church
Daily Photo Parable 2017

Thanks to all the photographers who have kindly accepted my invitation to provide their photos and commentary. Here's the schedule of those whose excellent, thought-provoking and encouraging work you'll be seeing, and when: SUNDAY--Bev Riter; MONDAY--Cheryl Boardman; TUESDAY--Robert Howson; WEDNESDAY--Darren Milam; THURSDAY-- someone from the Jurgensen family. I handle Friday and Sabbath, generally using photos from the point-and-shoot camera I keep on my belt.-- Pastor Maylan Schurch

NOTE: To see previous photos from this current month, simply scroll down. To see previous months' blogs, click the month you want on the menu at th

Go in Peace
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, April 30, 2017

Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus to have a meal with him.  A woman, a sinner, knew Jesus was there and intruded because she wanted to see Him.  While weeping, she washed Jesus’ feet with fragrant oil and dried them with her long hair.  Simon couldn’t understand why Jesus would allow this sinful woman to touch Him!  Jesus told him a parable about two people owing money, one a little and the other a lot.  Both couldn’t repay the debit and the creditor forgave both of them.   Jesus asked Simon which one of them would love the creditor more.  Simon replied it would probably be the one who owed him the most.  Jesus reminded Simon that the woman washed His feet and kissed him, which Simon didn’t do.  Jesus replied that her many sins are forgiven because she loved much.  He told her, “Your sins are forgiven….Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”  Luke 7:36-50.   (Andrews Study Bible)  Forgiven, the woman who had led a sinful life could then live a life in peace.

Jesus can forgive our many sins if we accept Him as our Savior and ask for forgiveness.  He has assured us our sins, no matter how great, can be forgiven and we are to go in peace.  When leaving the baptismal site on the Jordan River, this sign wishes people a good voyage and to go in peace.

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Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 29, 2017

Right around 140 years ago, a squad of bricklayers high on a scaffolding laid the bricks you see in the photo above. This was the exterior of the James Tower, which became Seattle’s first hospital, established in 1877 by the Sisters of Providence, a Catholic charity. In recent years this building has become part of the Swedish Medical Center, which has hospitals and clinics in various parts of the Puget Sound area.

I would imagine that those bricklayers on that scaffolding nearly a century and a half ago had no idea that, once they’d descended from that scaffolding for the final time, disassembling it as they went, anyone would every get a chance to see their brickwork up close ever again. But over the years the old James Tower was added to, and last month as I was visiting someone here, I had the chance to pause and look at what had been that building’s outer walls and windows.

Ephesians 2:19 – 22 [NKJV]: Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

So in one sense you and I are bricks in the house of God. Are we standing in our place? Are we weak and wobbly? Are we a danger to the structure we support? In the link immediately below you’ll find six Bible verses teaching us how to remain faithful to God.   

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Choose Liberty!
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 28, 2017

Thursday morning of this week, my lawnmower stopped working, so I hoisted it into our trunk, bungee-corded it in place, and cautiously motored over to the repair place.

On the way, stopped at a stoplight, I saw this roadside sign. As you may be aware, there is a tax-service company called Liberty, about which I know nothing, and which therefore I am not personally recommending. (To the right, out of the picture frame, was a larger vertical-format sign giving more details about the company’s offerings.)

But don’t you love this sign? It calls you to action—“This year!” It urges you to use your power of choice. And it insists that you choose not slavery but freedom.

Listen to some of what the Bible says about spiritual liberty—

Jesus: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 NKJV

Paul: “. . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

And Jesus again (quoting from Isaiah 61): “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;” Luke 4:18

Paradoxically, our greatest freedom happens when we obey God. For the truth behind this paradox, look at the Bible texts at the following link:

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There is Always a Way
Photo ©2017 by Caleb Jurgensen
Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) pass by Trap Lake on their way to or from Trap Pass.  When I studied the terrain from below, it looked like there was no way a trail could wind its way to the top of the pass.  But, sure enough, the trail took a well graded route safely over the pass while providing some breathtaking views.

Following Jesus can be a bit like the PCT.  It may be hard to see the path through some problems, or even if it is possible at all.  Jesus does give some valuable advice in John 13:34,35, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

To some it may seem silly to think love is a solution to problems.  But think about this advice next time you have a problem and see how it might guide you to a win-win solution or to simply a better solution.  You might be surprised how it leads to an easier path than you first thought was possible.

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Red to White
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
I’ve referenced this a few different times, but in our Young Adults Sabbath School, we’ve been studying the book of Isaiah. In the first half of the book, it’s all about the challenges – battles the Israelites faced, the capture and recapture – all the challenges of not staying close to God. God wanted His children to believe and rely on Him, but they continually steered away. Here’s the great part – at the very beginning of the book, in a chapter named “Rebellious Nation”, God spelled it out for them through Isaiah -
Chapter 1, verses 16-20,

“Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;
but if you resist and rebel,
    you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
There’s hope! God, through Isaiah, tells His children He knows they aren’t perfect. He points out there is blood on their hands. He acknowledges there are significant issues. With all that – He’s willing to clear away the sins and make those red sins pure-white again. What’s the catch? They have to be obedient. Not a bad trade at all.
In a recent trip to the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley, I saw these red and white tulips that made me think of this promise from God. Take the RED and make it WHITE.

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Brown Basilisk    
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The story located in Genesis 28:12 gives us one of the most impressive word pictures found in Scripture of the plan of salvation.  For it is there that Jacob encountered the Lord and was shown a ladder reaching from earth to heaven upon which angels ascended and descended.  Perhaps as children we missed the significance that Christ was that ladder, the only way to heaven, but we still sang it with fervor, knowing that each round went higher and higher and that was a good thing for it brought us closer to God.

It was on some brightly painted orange steps in Mexico that I encountered a living reenactment of this story.  A young Black Ctenosaur, Brown Basilisk or Jesus Christ Lizard stretched its long body up the rise of the steps in the filtered sunlight.  Probably no longer than five inches, it was far from the two feet it could reach in adulthood.  It also lacked the high crests worn by adult males which give them a savage appearance.  But even at this age it was equipped with the large hind feet which enable them to walk or run on water. And it was this escape mechanism that gave them the name, Jesus Christ Lizard, a reference back to Christ’s experience with Peter during the storm on the Sea of Galilee.  But here it had just climbed, with apparent ease, the vertical rise of the step and was now resting on the lip.

Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I came to understand that Christ was that ladder.  It wasn’t something that had to be an endless struggle to climb, to reach those heavenly realms. The great chasm between earth and heaven was bridged by the God/Man who gave Himself for us.  But it’s here that the analogy breaks down, for while the Basilisk’s climb to the top was effortless, the price Christ had to pay cost Him everything.  “What wondrous love is this oh my soul, oh my soul; what wondrous love is this oh my soul.”

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Spring is Here
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 24, 2017

A recent visit to the Skagit Valley tulip fields (courtesy of Washington Bulb Co, Inc.) showed a lot of bright color and lots and lots of visitors.  I believe these boxes are for cut tulips.

The tulip bloom was later this year than last year but a few warm days recently really helped things along.  Sometimes winter seems to hang around much longer than we'd like but then we start to see little signs that spring is just around the corner.  Right now, it seems just about everything is budding or blooming.  

After the flood, God said:
“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22  (NIV)

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Go and Tell
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, April 23, 2017

The eleven disciples worshiped Jesus when they saw Him in Galilee after He rose from the dead.  Some, however, doubted that their Jesus had risen from the dead or that it was Him.  Jesus spoke to them saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Mathew 28:19, 20 (Andrews Study Bible)

Jesus chose people from all walks of life to share His message when He was here on earth.  At least seven of his disciples were fishermen possibly something like the two fishermen in the image I’ve shared above.  These men were fishing on the Sea of Galilee when I photographed them.  Likewise, today, everyone from all walks of life can find a way to share the good news of His message.  This remains the message from Jesus to us today.  Go and tell others!

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Who Was J. A.?
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 21, 2017

We all have our hobbies. One of mine happens to be (if time allows) five-minute stops at thrift stores I might be passing. I enter and make a direct beeline for the office supply section. I have discovered that you have to watch out for some recently-revamped Goodwill stores, because their revampers have decided that 21st century shoppers have no use for used staplers or leather three-ring notebooks, and have almost eliminated the office supply area.

However, there are still Meccas for the used-office-supply seeker, and it was in one of those places that I recently saw this display. As you can see, here at the shopper's disposal are (clockwise from upper left) a plastic check file, what looks to be a box with a nativity scene resting on a color-crayon notepad, a purple plastic case, and various art tools.

But below is a nameplate with “J. A. Henrichsen” printed on it. I’ll confess that my heart gave a little tug. I don’t know this man, but it seems pretty easy to deduce some things about him from this nameplate.

First, it’s not a fancy nameplate. It doesn’t seem to have been designed to rest on J. A.’s work desk, but might have been been affixed to his shop door. Also, its design makes it seem as though once J. A. retired, his name could have been simply slid aside and his successor’s inserted. But upon his departure, J. A. seems to have been able to keep both frame and name. And when—as we sadly presume—J. A. passed to his rest, his survivors brought this memento to the thrift store.

So here’s his name. I never knew him, of course. People who once needed to seek him out, and to whom that clearly-lettered sign was a helpful direction-device, seek him no more.  J. A. probably never got his fifteen minutes of national fame, and the engraved letters of his tombstone are probably filling with moss.

But Someone knew J. A. Henrichsen far more deeply than even his mother or (assuming he was married) his spouse. God knew him, and cared for him.

Here’s part of a contemporary Christian song which echoes that truth.

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

Feeling lonely? Feeling like an old discarded nameplate? Take courage from the five Bible verses at the following link:

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Drinking Water
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chester Morse Lake is a beautiful lake near North Bend that no one can swim in or boat on because it is a water reservoir for the city of Seattle.  It is so important that even the surrounding hillsides are off limits to people except by special permission or by guided tour.  There is something about water supplies that invites contemplative thought.

John 4:6-10
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,“Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Read the rest of the story at

Let's protect our supply of living water by reading and acting on the words of Jesus.

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High Above
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

For those of you that enjoy adventurous excursions – you really need to try parasailing sometime. I got to go, for my second time, when I was in Fiji a few weeks back. The view, as you can see, is pretty amazing. The whole perspective of being way above, looking down, is quite unique. To me it gave me the feeling of being in control – looking down at the subject, overseeing the situation.
Thankfully, we have a Creator that is high above us, looking down – most assuredly, in full control. Jacob knows all about this viewpoint. In Genesis, we can read about it (28:10-15):
“Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
When we realize the power of God, what He has and will do for us, we want Him high above us – taking control of all aspects of our lives. Jacob saw this power firsthand. Just imagine what it would have felt like to be seeing God, looking down, telling you exactly what He was going to do for you and your family. So, the next time you are parasailing, skydiving, or just peering over a bridge – remember – our God is watching over us.

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Pacific Wren        
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Have you ever known someone who was so full of energy that they seemed constantly on the go, so much so that they almost wore you out just being around them?  If you’ve ever been a parent or teacher you can undoubtedly identify someone who fits that bill.  That description also seems to fit the Pacific Wren, formerly classified as the Winter Wren.  This resident of the moist coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest is usually heard long before it is seen for it tends to stay hidden in the thick undergrowth.  About an inch shorter than a House Wren, it makes up for its diminutive size with its song which seems to go on forever.  Even though he was unable to identify the bird, Thoreau described the Winter Wren’s call as a “fine corkscrew stream issuing with incessant lisping tinkle from a cork, flowing rapidly.”

Before being separated from the Winter Wren and made a distinct species, this bird was conspecific with the bird specifically called the Wren in England, as it is the only wren species  present in that area. Interestingly, this wren fills an entirely different ecological niche there than it does in the United States, being a common garden bird rather than a bird of the deep forests.
Perhaps I tend to associate the Pacific Wren with the Bible character Zacchaeus, simply because  my childhood memory of him being described as a “wee little man”.  But I also picture the tax collector as a man of action, one who didn’t just sit back passively but who took action, whether that meant climbing a sycamore tree or paying back what he had taken.  Luke, the only Gospel writer to record this story, concludes the account in verses 9 and 10 of chapter 19:  “Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  (NIV)  And just knowing Zacchaeus, I’m sure that he would have more than a little to say in praise of that.

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Why Worry
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 17, 2017

The spring flowers are blooming in profusion all around us.  I saw these beautiful rhododendron flowers in Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens on Whidbey Island last week.  There are bushes that have finished blooming, a lot that are blooming and a lot still to bloom.  It's a great place to get a different perspective on things.
I think that it is human nature to worry about things.  We worry about the smallest minutiae to worst case scenarios that haven't even happened yet.  Matthew 6 gives us a healthy perspective on what is really important.

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
Matthew 6:28-30 (NIV)

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He Is Risen
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, April 16, 2017

In the early morning on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb of Jesus.  As they stood grieving with their heads bowed, an earthquake shook the ground where they stood.  A bright angel rolled back the huge rock blocking the tomb.  Shocked, the angel told them to not be afraid, Jesus wasn’t in the tomb, He had risen from the dead.  Go and tell the others that He is on His way to Galilee.  Go and you will see Him.  With great joy, the women ran from the tomb to find the disciples.  And they found the risen Jesus. (Mathew 28:1-10)

I captured the above image of two women outside the empty tomb of Jesus.  Candles flickered as they likely contemplated the death of Jesus and what it meant to them.  Were their names Mary like the two women who went to His tomb after He was crucified and buried?  But…He is risen!  But He’s returning someday.  Are you ready to meet Him?  As Easter is celebrated today, let’s not forget Him and what He has done for each of us!

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True Love
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 15, 2017
On Tuesdays I spend three or four hours volunteering at our Adventist schools in Kirkland. This week I spotted this bulletin board note, part of an assignment where the kids were asked to define "love." This one could be paraphrased, “Greater love hath no friend than this—that he giveth me Legos when I need them!”

As this young Lego artist will later discover, true love is capable of many higher purposes. And since this is a Christian school, he (or she) is learning about the events this weekend commemorates—the death, the Sabbath rest, and the resurrection of Jesus.

For Bible passages which will help you ponder this love story, click the link immediately below:

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Copyright Infringement?
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 14, 2017

A couple of days ago (I think I must have been glancing at the used-book religion section at a thrift store) I saw the spine of this children’s Bible. As I pondered the three-line slogan below the title (followed by the little "R" in a circle), I thought, “Wait a minute. Isn’t that copyright infringement? Wasn't this God's idea first?”

Technically, it isn’t. Even though God has those hopes in mind for every Bible, not this particular children’s Bible, it is perfectly legal to copyright this particular arrangement of words--and signal your copyright with the little symbol--as long as you’re the first to do so.

But God does want us, first of all, to read His Word, read it enough to treasure it (and its Inspirer) lovingly, and then put its principles into practice.

If you’re not already doing so, why not make a habit of reading your Bible daily. Jump into the reading plan I’m preaching from this year. You’ll find the link immediately below.

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Falling Coconuts
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, April 13, 2017

On a beach near General Santos, Philippines, a sign reads, "Caution, Beware of falling coconuts and fronds."  I think the little wooden frame on the ground is a no-stand zone where a coconut is likely to fall!  (Or maybe it is an empty flower pot frame.)

The Bible is kind of a guide book that tells us places where it is unsafe to stand.  But, the Bible goes a big step further by telling us good places to stand.  For example, Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

In other words, don't just avoid the bad things, but go out and do some really good things.  Maybe on the falling coconut sign they could add something like, "but, have lots of fun on the beach."

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Enduring Forever
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
In our Young Adult Sabbath School class, this past week, we continued our studying in Isaiah. In Chapter 40, we can read that God’s word is being compared to flowers and grass – (verse 7 & 8):
“The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”
I’m so glad! As it says, grass and flowers fall, wither and will eventually die, but the word of God endures forever.
We can look at this beautiful hibiscus, captured in the fading sunlight of a sunset on a tiny little island of Fiji. It’s gorgeous, the vibrant color, the details of the petals and the lush green as a background. All of that is amazing and it’s a creation of our Creator. As we know, this flower will fade away and become compost for the other plants. In sharp contrast – God’s word endures forever! Amen.

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Bushy-tailed Olingo
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

For some it’s more obvious than for others, but we all have them, those flaws in our character that make us particularly susceptible to some temptation.  For Achan, his weakness was wealth; for Sampson it was women; and Ananias and Sapphira seemed to have a particularly difficult time telling the truth.  And Satan, recognizing our weak point, finds ways to present this temptation in especially seductive ways.  What for you may be of little interest, may be another’s Achilles’ heel.  It’s for this reason we stand aghast at the blunders that seemingly reasonable, balanced Christians fall into which seem so out of character for otherwise rational individuals.
And so it is with the Bushy-tailed Olingo, an uncommon carnivore that inhabits the rainforests of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Normally found high in the canopy, this animal is difficult to observe due to its arboreal and nocturnal habits.  But it too has a weakness, a character flaw of sorts, that draws it out of its typical behavior. Sometimes called a Honey Bear, a nickname shared with the Kinkajou, this acrobatic climber is drawn like the proverbial bee to the honey.  Even a cheap substitute will do.  In this particular case, the Honey Bear had discovered the sweetness of the nectar contained in the hanging hummingbird feeders, and this overrode all other considerations.
Foolish?  Unquestionably.  Inevitable?  Not necessarily. We fortunately have options, real options from what may seem predetermined.  Peter writes:  “So also the Lord can rescue you and me from the temptations that surround us… (2 Peter 2:9 Living Bible)  Can’t say as this applies to the olingos, but it does fit all of us who read this.

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Yearning for Eternity
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 10, 2017

I found this beautiful specimen of a skunk cabbage flower in a great location on the edge of a parking area in a state park.  The skunk cabbage are on their way out for the season so I was glad to find one I could photograph.  Normally, I see them practically glowing on the side of the road where there is nowhere to park or down in a wet area that is totally inaccessible.

I love the seasonal flowers but wouldn't it be nice if they didn't have to die?  Even more importantly, won't it be wonderful when people don't have to die in the earth made new?  

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (New Living Translation)

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.   He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever."
Revelation 21:3-4 (New Living Translation)

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Walk the Walk
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, April 9, 2017

I’d think that many of you like to hike or go on walks.  Walking out in nature among the trees, other vegetation, birds and other wild animals can be inspiring and relaxing as well as good for our health.  We can learn about places to walk or hike from books, articles and friends.  We can learn about a place and see pictures of it but unless we’ve walked the walk, we really don’t know what it’s like there.

While in Jerusalem, I wanted to walk the walk that is thought that Jesus walked after being arrested on the way to His crucifixion.  After walking downhill from the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives where Jesus was arrested we crossed the Jericho Road.  Then, it was steep climb uphill through the Lion’s Gate into the old part of Jerusalem.  Now, the street is called Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrow or Suffering.  This street makes turns as it leads to the place where Jesus was condemned by Pontius Pilate as shown in this artwork (below) at the site that’s thought to be where this happened.  (Notice Pilate washing his hands as described in Mathew 27:24.)

Next we saw several people carrying large crosses representing the cross that Jesus carried and was nailed to.  The various stations or stops help Christians understand what happened to Jesus at the various locations as described in the Gospels.  The Church of the Holy Sepulcher has been built over the last stops where Jesus was nailed to the cross and died, then taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb.  My first image shows a man praying in this empty tomb.  Those of you who have been in Jerusalem and walked this walk probably felt touched spiritually, as I did.  Are you walking the walk with Jesus today?

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All One Body We
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 8, 2017

Depending on the walking route we take, Shelley and I will often pass the remarkable tree you see in the photo above. As you can see, the tree in general looks stalwart and healthy. But I’ve never seen anything like its amazing lower-trunk system. Here’s a closer look:

I’m no arborist, and therefore can’t tell you whether those multiple trunks are really trunks or just above-ground roots. But whatever they are, they seem like a very effective support system for the main tree. If they’re all functioning, they’re pulling water up from below, while the branches and needles are collecting sunlight and nourishment from above. Some instinct kept these trunks (or roots) from trying to shoot out on their own and become independent trees. Instead, they have gathered close, and stayed connected, for the good of the tree.

Just a few hours before His capture and trial, Jesus desperately sought for a metaphor to convince His disciples of the importance of unity. “I am the vine, you are the branches,” He finally told them. “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NKJV)

Paul chooses a different but just as powerful illustration:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19 – 22)

Nearly 200 years ago, English curate Sabine Baring-Gould wrote the lyrics for what would become “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” One of its stanzas reads:

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

This was—and still is—Jesus’ hope for His church.

For more on what the Bible says about the church, click the link immediately below.

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Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 7, 2017

Thursday afternoon Shelley and I visited a Christian bookstore. In a room off the main store area I discovered this large bulletin board with pink, yellow and white slips of paper tacked to it. Each slip bore a prayer request.

When I zoom in on them in a higher-resolution version of this photo, I see that the requests are wide-ranging: “Please pray that [and then six names are listed] will come to know Jesus as their personal Saviour.” Another requested prayer for both someone who’d just been diagnosed with cancer, and for someone else whose cancer drugs had stopped working.

Others read, “Prayers for our students to ‘SHINE’ in the schools,” and “Pray that I will get into nursing school and will pass my test.” One paper slip waxed philosophical: “You can either see your scars as reminders that you’ve been hurt . . . or you can see them as reminders that YOU’VE BEEN HEALED!”

This display of belief in prayer was impressive, but even more awesome were the small circular stickers attached to many of the slips. Each said simply “I Prayed Today,” and added the name of the store. I’m not sure whether these were affixed by the store staff, or whether there’d been a supply of stickers beside the bulletin board so that customers could pause before the board and say a silent prayer for certain requests. But attaching those stickers was a sign of follow-through: people seem to have prayed for the request on the slips. It must have been encouraging for someone who’d posted a slip to later come back and discover a sticker or two on it.

Jesus and many others in the Bible insisted that prayer is crucial—and that prayer follow-through is necessary. Check out the Bible verses at the link below to see how true this is.

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Great Things
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, April 6, 2017

It is good to think about the sweet things God has done for us.  Do you sometimes remember mistakes you have made in the past?  There is an interesting story about the Israelites feeling bad for mistakes they made.

1 Samuel 12:20-25:

Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.  Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.  For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.  As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.  But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.

What good advice to focus on the great things God has done for us, so that we can move forward to do things that are good, and sweet, and right.

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Give From The Heart
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
I recently returned from an amazing mission trip to rural Fiji. I, along with a group of 40 Puget Sound Adventist Academy students, teachers and adult chaperones, spent two weeks working with the local Adventist community in the tiny town of Rakiraki. We were there to help rebuild their church, destroyed last year in a major typhoon. During the week, the local Fijians worked tirelessly to ensure we were well fed – 3 meals a day. It was clear that many of these folks, had very little in the form of possessions. What they lacked in earthly goods, they made up for in their incredible giving spirit. As you can see in this image, they would show up with boxes of fruits and vegetables to serve to us. Each morning, 3-4 women would get up and start preparing the meals, starting at 4 AM! The willingness to give was more than abundant. I learned a great deal on this trip.
Seeing this outpouring of generosity got me thinking. It doesn’t matter if you are on a mission trip, donating to a charitable organization, helping your local community, or writing a check to sponsor a child – whatever you are giving (time, resources, funds) you need to give from your heart. God asks us to do this. We can read one of these prompts in 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 -

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”
I like that Paul says that “God loves a cheerful giver.” We can picture God smiling as we give from our heart. We’re not giving because someone is watching, or someone will find out. No, we are giving because it feels amazing. We are so blessed and we have the opportunity to bless others. Remember – it’s not just about $$, it’s giving whatever we know we should give. If you need any inspiration, think of the amazing Fijian ladies, waking up at 4 AM, using their gifts of cooking, pouring love into the various containers, as they prepare the meals – that’s the definition of giving from the heart.

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Hide It Under A Bushel, No! ((Ruby-crowned Kinglet)  
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Christ’s Sermon on the Mount contains familiar counsel about letting our light shine. This has been reinforced in our thinking through childhood songs about not letting Satan blow it out and not hiding it under a bushel. At least two of the verses of that song are very close paraphrases of Christ’s specific directions. (Matthew 5:15-16)  All of us have an abundance of talents which are not used to their fullest.  How many times have you been surprised when someone you thought you knew reasonably well reveals a gift you had no idea they possessed?

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet presents itself to the world 98% of the time as a small, gray-green resident of our foliage.  Only occasionally does the male display the feature that gives the bird its name.  That crown is so brilliant that it makes the observer wonder how it could possibly exist, how it could be so effectively concealed only to be revealed, almost magically, from under a   magician’s hat.

Our hidden gifts may not be as showy as the kinglet’s, but they may be even more valuable.  The church, the world in general, has needs that you are equipped to fill.  Check under your personal bushel to see what might be hiding there that our Heavenly Magician could use.

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We Have This Hope
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 3, 2017

I saw this canal in Central Washington, not too far from Othello.  There is all sorts of agriculture going on there due to a steady water supply provided by the Columbia Basin Project.  They have orchards and vineyards and grow corn, silage and potatoes.  You would otherwise see sagebrush in this shrub steppe desert ecosystem as Othello is reported to get less than 9 inches of rain a year. Who knew!  

The amount of water received per year can determine whether or not a place is considered a desert.  You can see the dramatic difference between the landscape here compared to that of the rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula.

As Christians, we have a hope in the return of Jesus.  As He told the Samaritan woman in John 4, He can provide us with living water.

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
    The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
    and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
    as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the LORD will display his glory,
    the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
    and encourage those who have weak knees.
Isaiah 35:1-3 (NLT)

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Trees in the Garden
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, April 2, 2017

Do you have trees in your garden?  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have the opportunity to enjoy many different kinds of trees, both deciduous (leaf dropping) and coniferous (having needles and cones and usually evergreen).  Trees such as larch and tamarack have needles and cones but lose their needles in the fall after producing a brilliant gold color in the mountains. At this time of year, many beautiful flowering trees are starting to decorate our landscape with their special touch.

The grove of trees in my above image looked very old and rugged.  They were twisted, ancient olive trees… in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.  Could they be over two thousand years old?  Were they there at the time of Jesus? If so, they would have witnessed the agony of Jesus as He prayed throughout the night. That’s where His three closest friends abandoned Him when they fell asleep.  The trees would have witnessed Judas leading the multitudes including the chief priests and elders to arrest Jesus after Judas kissed Him. (Mathew 26:36-55)  If trees could cry, would they have wept?  For your agony, Jesus, we’re sorry.  For our salvation, we thank You!

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Sheltered Beneath the Cross
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 1, 2017

A couple of Saturday nights ago Shelley and I stopped by our church well after dark. I think I’d walked out to check the mail, and I happened to glance back at the church. It looked so cozy that I braced my camera against a signpost and tried several times to get a steady shot in the low light.

What you see above is the best of my shots. The spotlit steeple towers above, as though guarding the warmly-lighted alcove below, the walkway leading into our foyer.

Shelley and I have had the privilege of worshipping within the walls of this building for more than a quarter-century. Like many others, we have discovered this to be a place of true spiritual shelter, a warm-hearted group of people who welcome old friends and new ones alike beneath the cross.

Are you attending church regularly? Remember, a church family is God’s idea. Jesus’ disciple friends spread out over Europe and Asia planting and nurturing churches. Just as in biological families, a church family can provide a sympathetic ear, fervent prayers, and creative solutions to dilemmas.

Want to read some interesting and even surprising Bible verses which tell us how important church is to our Heavenly Father and His Son? Click the link immediately below.

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