Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church

Daily Photo Parable -  August 2012

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. I handle Thursday, 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 the left.



Take Good Care
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 31, 2012

Under the tested-and-proven truism that a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m going to let today’s photo do most of the talking. Thursday night I put this little poem on our church’s readerboard. The “Planet B” idea came from reading that phrase on another church’s readerboard sign the day before.

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Urban Corn
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, August 30, 2012

If you've kept up with nationwide weather, you'll know that most of the United States is in the grip of an almost Great Depression size drought. And within the last few days, the Mississippi River – along which huge amounts of the grain harvested last fall is normally shipped for export – is so low that barges are backing up.

That's what makes the above photo so poignant. This single row of sweet corn stalks can be seen in our neighborhood, along the route Shelley and I walk. When I first spotted these plants, I remembered the phrase which expresses the ideal corn growth: "Knee-high by the Fourth of July." Sure enough, the corn had grown to the correct height. The photo above was actually taken July 26, and now, in late August, the corn is even higher – and sports a few actual edible ears. Contrast that with how a Midwest farmer on the radio described his corn as "stunted," and how he had to simply cut it down to feed the cows.

What makes the difference, of course, is rain. Here in the Puget Sound area we had a lot of rain, and also a lot of hot sun recently, which is perfect corn-growing weather.

Old Testament prophets sometimes used rain as a symbol for spiritual refreshment. Poets have picked up and amplified this metaphor. For example, here’s a Petrarchan sonnet by Gerard Manley Hopkins. You might need to read it slowly and aloud, two or three times, to get its full force, but it’s worth it.

Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
    Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build – but not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

(Thanks to www.poetryfoundation.org)


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Eyes of God
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
 
The above picture is of our late Siberian Husky - Nanuk.  We recently had to put Nanuk to rest but we have the comfort of him not being in pain any longer.  This is one of my favorite images of Nanuk, highlighting his beautiful (and intense) blue eyes.  When I saw this image, it reminded me of a popular christian song by Brandon Heath, the chorus is as follows:
 
Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity

Give me Your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach?
Give me Your heart for the one's forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

God's eyes are always watching over us -- not spying, or prying, but carefully watching over us.  In the song, the artist is asking for a brief moment to see what God sees in everyone.  Not to focus on the outside, looking at the sin or pain, but the heart -- what's going on inside.  If we could see through it all and be able to focus on what God sees in others, it would give us the strength and courage to love our neighbor, truly, as ourselves.


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Bumblebees
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Most of us have heard the urban myth that has been circulating for years centered around the idea that scientists, after tabulating their aerodynamic equations, stated that bumblebees were incapable of flight.  This story has been retold numerous times and for various purposes including the folksy wisdom that reasserts you shouldn’t trust those science guys; and more believably, providing an appropriate warning against just taking someone else’s word for it.  Perhaps we would do better to distinguish between an object and the model of that object.  If we are going to seek to apply our models to real life, we would do well to make sure the assumptions that underlie those statements are valid.

Bees generally beat their wings about 200 times a second, but we would be wrong if we assumed that is what causes the buzzing sound we hear when one flies past.  Instead, their muscles do not expand and contract as ours do but rather vibrate in much the same way as a guitar string being plucked.  In this way they can produce the familiar buzzing sound even though the wings are decoupled from the muscles, something they do to warm up their bodies before becoming airborne at low ambient temperatures.

Peter gives us his own warning about following cleverly devised fables rather than seeing for ourselves what is true.  He speaks in the first person as he refers to his own experience:  “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”  (2 Peter 1:16 NIV)  And just like Peter, that’s what provides backing for our own testimony, when we can speak of God’s power experienced in our own lives.


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How To Be Fruitful
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 27, 2012 

This stained glass window is in the little free-standing chapel at the Hope Campmeeting campground in British Columbia.  Other windows portray different scenes but I like this one.

Jesus said to His disciples:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts away every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit. But he trims clean every branch that does produce fruit, so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already clean because of what I have said to you.

Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire.  John 15:1-6 (CEV)

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A Walk in the Park
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 26, 2012

As we walked in Dilek National Park, south of Kusadasi, Turkey we looked out to the Greek Island of Samos, just offshore about a mile, as seen in the distance in my photo. Paul passed through Samos on his return journey to Jerusalem from Greece (Acts 20:15). Being so close to Samos, we thought it would be easy to go there. However, since it's in another country with required customs, we had to go to Kusadasi and take a ferry there, which we did the next day. By the way, a high security military compound is located at the tip of the peninsula in the park to assure that no one attempts to swim to or from Samos!

After walking several kilometers to picturesque coves along the Aegean Sea and having our picnic lunch, we started back toward the park entrance. Even though this was the first part of May, very few other people were in the park. All at once, we saw some animals scamper from the woods running toward us – wild boar! Fortunately they were afraid of us and quickly retreated with their young following. (Sorry about the focus in my photo – photography wasn't my highest priority at the moment – I wasn't sure if I should start climbing the closest tree!)

Later, we found out that a large number of wild boar live in the forests of Turkey. Wild boar are mentioned in Psalms 80:13 as ravaging in the forest. In this psalm, the powers that destroyed the Jewish nation are compared to wild boar. As we continued walking, we saw many places along the trail where wild boar had dug in the forest and were definitely ravaging it.


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Traffic Block
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 25, 2012

According to the date my camera recorded along with this photo, it was taken July 25 at 8:17 a.m. I was heading North on Interstate 405, and was just passing through Bellevue when I noticed that the southbound traffic had been stopped by patrol cars.

If I hadn't been listening to the news for the past few days, I wouldn't have had a clue as to what caused this traffic block. (Don’t be misled by the “Road Work Ahead” sign—that wasn’t it.) But since I had been news-conscious, I knew that President Obama had arrived in town the previous afternoon, and that this morning his motorcade was leaving for the airport – and I was so relieved to be traveling northbound rather than southbound!

How soon is the return of Jesus? As He Himself said, nobody knows the day nor the hour. But He does tell us to watch and be ready, and one way to make sure we don't get misled by false "signs" is to study the prophecies about what world conditions will be like just before His arrival. Chapters like Luke 21, Matthew 24,  2 Timothy 3, and many others, will provide us what we need to be traveling the right direction on our spiritual freeways.

If you’d like a quick and informative Bible study on the last day conditions, click the link just below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/last-days


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Twilight Family Fishing--A “God Sighting.”
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Brendan Pecht
Friday, August 24, 2012

(Welcome to Brendan Pecht, today’s “guest Daily Photo Parable” presenter!)
 
I captured this picture recently while out for a relaxing walk with my family.  The pond is at a large park where lots of folks fish.  Most of the anglers had called it a day as the sun was almost down. Maybe this was Dad's last cast of the day as his kids look on.  The contrast of the figures against the still water is a
peaceful reminder of the love a father has for his children. Certainly these little ones will remember warm summer days fishing together many years from now.
 
Since the last week of June I have been wearing a "watch for God" wristband that was given to every child and crew leader at our Vacation Bible School.  It reminds me every day that there are many "God sightings" in our lives that we can see if we are looking for them.


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I What Airplane Noise???
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three weeks ago at a traffic light I managed to get my camera out and zoom in on this little bumper sticker. My first career was that of an English teacher, so I know that what we have on this sticker is a subject ("I”), a direct object ("noise,” modified by the adjective "airplane"), and an invisible verb.

That verb is pretty important, especially if the sticker-displayer wants to get a message across to us, which is usually why sticker-displayers stick stickers on bumpers. Evidently this person has an opinion about airplane noise, but what is it?

We can do a little Sherlock Holmes sleuthing, of course. For example, having seen other bumper stickers, we can deduce that what’s probably missing is a little red heart (bumper-sticker shorthand for “love”) rather than a word, because that's often how bumper stickers indicate approval.  Also, if the sticker-maker wanted to communicate hatred rather than love, the lettering font wouldn’t be as gentle and understated. Still, the sunlight-faded white space makes the viewer murmur, “I what airplane noise?”

This might be our cue to examine the moral and spiritual messages we know we should be communicating to those in our lives. How does our speech, for example, communicate the correct verb for “I ______ profanity and obscenity”? How does our demeanor communicate the best verb for “I ________ the people for whom my Savior died?”

Just to take the matter of speech, for instance—here’s a link to a Bible study on the correct use of the tongue:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/bad-language


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Stay Close to Home
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
 
The above bird is a Black Oystercatcher.  I know this because after taking the shot of the bird (at the Seattle Aquarium), I quickly took a shot of the sign that was next to the enclosure.  As I am not as prolific in the identification of our feathered friends as our resident birder Rob Howson, I needed the clear identification from the Aquarium’s resident experts.
 
In reading up on the Black Oystercatcher, I found something interesting – actually several things, but one in particular.  First, the bird is commonly (estimates are in the 9,000-11,000) found on the shorelines of North America, from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska all the way down to the Baja Peninsula of California.  They have "cousins" that can be found in South America, as well as Africa.  They lay 2-3 eggs and the chicks are ready to leave the nest in 1 day. 

Here’s the part I thought was particularly interesting.  Even though the chicks can take off, after one day of being born, they choose to stay.  In fact, they choose to stay in the same area as their parents for quite a while.  They stay with their parents, even when their parents decide to leave.  It said, if the parents migrate the same year their chicks are born, the chicks will migrate with them.
 
I find this a bit like we should be.  Maybe not in the sense of going wherever our earthly parents go but staying as close to our Heavenly Father as possible. I look forward to the day when we can “migrate” once and for all, to Heaven with our Creator.


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Dealing with the Difficult
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Upon meeting a person for the first time, the conversation inevitably involves the question, “Well, what do you do for a living?”  Perhaps this isn’t surprising since most of us find it necessary to work, and also because many of our interests and even our self-identity is centered around our employment. 

Should that question be asked of those working on this boat, they could proudly answer that they work for the government doing research involving the health of the Orca Whale population in the Puget Sound area.  A worthwhile profession, one that even your mother-in-law would be proud to share with her inquiring friends. 



But if the conversation continued along these lines, the respondent might find it difficult to answer without compromising the prestige of the job title.  For instance, should the dog on board, appropriately protected with an orange flotation device, be asked the question, he would be forced to respond that his job was simply to sniff out Orca poop.  Not exactly a higher calling. 

But how do you do research on the health of an Orca?  Those conducting the study found by examining the excrement of the whales, they could determine what they were eating as well as the general health of the animal.  As a result, the accompanying canine had been instructed to respond to the waste of the Orca, just as drug sniffing dogs have been trained.   The feces would then be netted, examined, and recorded for further study.  

There may be days when we feel our life has the same quality as the dog’s on the boat; not exactly what you’d like to write home about.  The drudgery of walking the Christian walk may seem to have lost that glow once felt when you first decided to follow the Lord.  Perhaps it’s at this time we would do well to remember the words of Oswald Chambers, the author of My Utmost For His Highest.   “If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome. Do we so appreciate the marvelous salvation of Jesus Christ that we are our utmost for His highest?”


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Tired and Worn Out?
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 20, 2012

I saw this plant growing out of an old shoe at the Bellevue Demonstration Garden a couple of weeks ago.  I thought it was a great way to recycle. 

Sometimes we may feel as tired and worn out as that old sneaker.  Jesus gave us a solution:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."  Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)

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Aphrodisias
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 19, 2012

As I've mentioned before, people in Asia Minor worshiped a variety of gods during Biblical times. By the 8th century BC, Aphrodisias was famous as the city of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. (Also called Venus by the Romans) People from other areas considered this an important city so it was therefore a pilgrimage destination. The city was built near a marble quarry which provided marble for sculptures throughout the Roman and Greek empires. Its monuments are unusually well-preserved, making it one of the most important archaeological sites in Turkey.

Christians demolished the temple of Aphrodite, the focal point of the town, breaking up its many columns and erected a church where the temple had stood. Emperor Justinian was determined to eradicate the pagan cults. Because if became a significant Christian city, around 640 AD its name was changed to Stauropolis or City of the Cross. The church remained in use until around A.D. 1200.

The ruins of Aphrodisias are situalted among fertile fields and cypress groves. Today, one can see the impressive ruins of the gateway (shown in top photo), theater, agora or public square, large baths and a stadium seating around 30,000 spectators. Some scholars suggest that Aphrodisias might be added to the list of Ten Towns of Asia known to have been first-century centers of Christian witness.


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How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch

Sabbath, August 18, 2012 

Behind glass at a used-book store I saw this book with a truly horrifying title. As you'll see by the promo below, you won’t find this in the instructional materials section at your local camera store. Instead it's a grisly look back at what might have been.

Here’s the paragraph, along with its link:

How To Photograph an Atomic Bomb is a visually compelling documentation combining awe-inspiring photography and fascinating technical detail about the stories and techniques behind the photography of the bomb. Author Peter Kuran's engrossing and powerful arrangement of these complex photographic techniques along with the astonishing photographs themselves creates an intriguing intersection at which the viewpoint of the casual observer becomes one of insightful witness. The culmination of over ten years of research, this book reveals newly declassified and previously secret photographs from US atomic weapons tests conducted between 1945 and 1963.

Website: http://www.tower.com/how-photograph-atomic-bomb-peter-kuran-hardcover/wapi/111513593

Growing up as I did in the right-hand half of South Dakota, we prairie Cold War kids didn't have to go through the get-under-your-desk nuclear attack drills which boys and girls on the coasts took part in. But a number of missile silos lurked beneath our Dakota grasslands, ready to be aimed and triggered if needed. Adventist evangelistic brochures featured highly colored mushroom clouds and clocks with the minute-hand 2 minutes from midnight.

How will the world end? With a whimper? With a bang? There's only one dependable source whose hints can taken to the bank – the Holy Bible. Here's a link to study:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/second-coming-jesus


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Camels!
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday-Friday, August 16 & 17, 2012

Next time you wander into a used-book store (and I suggest you do this every once in a while), wander over to the "Clearance" section. There you will find a valiant selection of volumes originally printed with the high hopes of both author and publisher, but which for one reason or another didn't endure (in other words, didn't sell a whole lot of copies).

I was scanning through the relics in the Clearance section in a bookstore I visited in late July, and discovered – next to Boccacio’s Decameron -- a book with the startling title Camels!

I could tell by the binding that here was a book from 80 or 90 years ago, and sure enough, it was published in 1926 or 1927. I almost laughed out loud when I read the title. A simple Camels with no exclamation mark would have signaled that here we had a book on desert dromedaries or perhaps a brand of cigarettes. But whoever exclamation-pointed that title, author or publisher, put this book in a class by itself. Here was an author who had strong opinions about camels, and was hoping to galvanize our own interest in them, probably in a humorous way.

I'm afraid I didn't take the time to page through the book and give the author an opportunity to entrap me into a study of his favorite subject, but I did do some web searching and came up with a review of this very book, published in 1927. The review (I've got a link to it below) was written in a rather amateur-humorist style itself, as though the reviewer were trying to parade his own talents as well as introduce us to the book.

One thing that fascinates me about Creation is that God Himself is probably immensely fascinated by everything He created. According to my Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes, British biochemist J. B. S. Haldane (1892-1964) was asked, “What inference might one draw about the nature of God from a study of his works?" Haldane replied: "An inordinate fondness for beetles."

Which is probably true. Every time I see a beetle hustling along its busy way, I marvel at a God who didn't cut corners on even His humblest creations.

I'm looking forward to the New Earth, where – with creatures finally free from their tendency to destroy each other – we can study the fathomless works of our Maker.

Here’s a link to the Camels! review:

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1927/10/17/camels-by-daniel-w-streeter-g/


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Father, Son . . . and Holy Ghost

Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
 
A few weeks back, we had the privilege of having one of my best friends in town.  He was able to bring his two young sons to visit as well.  As you can see in this picture there is a strong bond and a great love for each other.  You can see the complete joy and the full trust the boy has in his dad. 
 
When I think of the Trinity -- The Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit, I think of the connection, the bond.  Three in one.  I suppose our 'earthly minds' aren't able to fully comprehend the magnitude, nor the complexity of that true partnership.  However it works, I am glad that it is there -- helping us, as we struggle on this sinful planet as well as we look toward the ultimate goal - eternal life.
 
The bond with a father and son (or mother and daughter) is strong.  Even while we live on Earth, the bond is strong.  Imagine what that relationship will be like once we get to heaven.  I look forward the extreme joy, the relief and the incredible feeling of living out eternity with our heavenly Father.


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Right in Front of Your Eyes
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It’s one of those things you have always intended to do but just put it off until company from out of town arrived and you felt impelled to show off the wonders of your local area.  That’s why we were aboard a whale-watching voyage, looking for the Orcas which inhabit Puget Sound.  We were told our chances of seeing a pod were very good, so with high hopes we stepped on board. We were blessed with a pretty day which made the setting even more attractive.  We were tempted to tell our company it was always like this but figured they already knew better so just let them enjoy the sunshine.  Sure enough, just where they were expected the whales showed up and we enjoyed watching the pod feeding.  But we were not alone.  Recreational boaters were also out on the water along with other whale-watching boats whose owners recognized a profitable opportunity to cash in on the public’s interest in these aquatic giants.

One of those boats reminded me of Christ’s words recorded in Mark 4:11,12 where He is responding to the disciples inquiry about why He taught using parables.  “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those who do not know the secret, everything remains in parables, so that, ‘seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.’”  (J.B.Phillips)

It’s assumed that those on board the ship were there for the purpose of seeing Orcas.  And yet, at least in this picture, they were all looking in the wrong direction.  The boat is listing to the port side since all the onlookers were positioned there, while the Orca was swimming just out of arm’s reach on the starboard side.  Apparently it’s not enough to just be open to truth; we must look for it in the right places if we really want to find it. 

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Seeking the Lost
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 13, 2012

Have you ever lost something that was important to you?  You probably went back to the place you last saw the item and looked in every likely and unlikely spot you could think of to try and locate it.  

I saw these keys lying on the ground near one of the parking lots at Green Lake in Seattle a few weeks ago.   I left them where they were because there wasn't really a place to turn them in and because I thought that the person who lost them might be coming back to try and find them. 

The Bible doesn't actually have a story about missing keys but Luke 15 does have stories about a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.   It's clear that God is passionate about finding us when we are lost. 

Jesus said, “In the same way there is more happiness in heaven because of one sinner who turns to God than over ninety-nine good people who don’t need to.”  Luke 15:7 (CEV)


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Our Daily Bread
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Our traditional Turkish breakfasts including tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheese, bread, jams, hard boiled egg and tea satisfied our hunger for several hours. But, when we arrived in Pammukale in the afternoon by bus we were hungry! A woman at our lodging was there to provide lunch for us and other hungry travelers. As you can see in my photo, she was seated in a corner of the dining room with all of her cooking supplies. Within a few minutes our lunch was ready – a tasty gozleme - a savory hand rolled bread with a filling of greens, cheese and egg fully cooked over a griddle.

During the Biblical times, bread was the very center of life. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray (Mathew 6:9-13) He included,” Give us this day our daily bread.” Bread means life. At the last supper, Jesus took bread and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” (Mathew 26:26) Why did Jesus use bread as a symbol for Himself? Did He want us to think of Him each time we eat? Is He your Bread of Life?

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Empty!
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 11, 2012

Not long ago I was in a sad shopping mall which, because of its awkward location, is now nearly empty. This photo was taken from the mall’s interior, looking through a roll-down grating into an empty store. Through the windows you can see a couple of parked cars—actually patronizing the next store over, which is still struggling along.

As I snapped this shot I thought of one of Jesus’ strangest and (to me as a child) most frightening parables:

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43 – 45 NKJV)

Even after 30 years of pastoring, I’ll confess that I don’t fully understand every ramification of that story. But several points seem clear.

First, we’re not talking about a house but a human being. Second, whatever that “spirit” is, it’s good to have it gone. Third, it’s vitally important to fill that spirit’s place with something rather than leaving oneself empty, because that spirit might come back with extra baggage, and the human will be worse off than before.

Again, I’m not sure whether Jesus was talking about literal demons at this point or not. But it’s very clear that our mental “houses” need to be furnished with wholesome things rather than left empty. One reason might be that—as in the case of this store—those who come seeking will find something worthwhile rather than an empty shell.

Maybe one answer to Jesus’ parable-puzzle can be found in Paul’s familiar words:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Here are a couple of links to Bible topics which might help:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/heart

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/mind


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Grafitti
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 10, 2012

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a graffiti scrawl, my stomach-muscles tighten just a bit. For one thing, I can rarely make out what the design says, or even means, though the implied message is, no doubt, “Be afraid! Only we initiated gang members know what this means, and we are oh-so-tough!”

Therefore, when my eyes fell upon the above black-marker scribble, I felt similarly uneasy. That is, until I took in the wider perspective . . . .

As you can see, what I thought was a dread warning was merely a cartoon face convulsed in glee.

I can tell you from my personal opinion that I would much rather live a life which included belly-laughs rather than scowls, noonday niceness rather than midnight mayhem, the Christ-like turning of the other cheek rather than the avenging of perceived insults.

This might be a good time to measure our own hearts—civilized citizens though we may think ourselves—against the Bible’s truth about forgiveness. To find out more, click the link below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/forgiveness


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Next Day Glasses
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch

Thursday, August 9, 2012 

Somebody ought to to write a book about advertising signs which innocently express deep philosophical ideas. Like the one above, for example, which I spotted a little over a week ago. Wouldn’t it be interesting to actually own a pair of “next-day glasses,” which you could put on if you wanted to see into the future?

On second thoughts, I’d find such prophetic insight terrifying. Imagine if you peered through the lenses and discovered that within 24 hours your spouse or child would die, or a domestic terrorist act would devastate the city where you lived and worked.

God, of course, possesses spectacles which allow Him to gaze beyond the next 24 hours into centuries and millennia yet to come. The Bible clearly states—and demonstrates—that He indeed knows the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done (Isaiah 46:10). 

And very carefully—and with a gentlemanly, merciful vagueness of detail—He has provided us just enough foretelling to get us ready for earth’s momentous end.  

If you’d like to know more about what the Bible says about prophecy, click the link below.

 

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/prophecy    



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Eye on the Prize?
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Have you ever wanted something so bad, you forget about everything else?  I know I have.  I can think of a few occasions, when I was a kid, and I had to have a certain toy…nothing else mattered.  I needed to have that toy.  I put everything else aside and constantly worried about that toy.  This image reminds me of that.  I have seen the car around our area a few times but never got an up close look at it until it was parked at the grocery store.  As you can see, the owner of this car is a HUGE Yankees fan.  In fact, they took the liberty to paint their car with the Yankee logo on the hood of the car, attach decals on the side and (obviously) the rear window. 

I can appreciate rooting for your team and even being a little zealous, but as you can see by the vanity license plate – they took it one step further. 



Not only do they want us to know they are absolutely bonkers for the Yankees and want them to win,  but they are just as adamant about the Boston Red Sox losing. If you know much about MLB, the Yankees and the Red Sox are not friendly toward each other.  You CAN NOT be a fan of both.  Choose your side.  Clearly this car owner has.

What if the owner of the car has a focus so intent on the H8 (hate) of the Bo Sox….that he/she loses sight of their real interest – the Yankees. What about other things in our lives?  Are we ensuring we are moving to the right target?  Are we focused on God or do our steps and actions take us in another direction – even if we don’t intend to?  In the rat race of life, it is very easy to take our eyes off the prize, or end goal – living eternally with our Heavenly Father.  We need to continually stay focused and plugged into the power source of God.  I am not saying it’s easy, but if we continue to concentrate on that, He will give us the focus and power to make it happen. 


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The Old Fishing Pond 
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The glassy surface of the pond mirrored the flitting dragonflies that hovered near its edges, only occasionally disrupted with ripples as a fish broke the surface sending miniature waves dancing through the otherwise placid waters.  Others had been there before, as evidenced by the dangling fishing line with its floater still attached, now entangled in the overhanging limbs.   

Switch to another scene, one not nearly so tranquil.  A partial description of this encounter is found in Matthew 15 where a Canaanite woman has approached Jesus.  She is desperate, for her daughter is demon possessed and she pleads with The Teacher to deliver her from this hell.  Strangely, Jesus seems to ignore her, but the woman persists and begs Him to intervene.  It’s at this point we read Jesus’ strange words, words that seem totally out of place for one so loving.  “Then Jesus replied, “I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.”  At this the woman came and fell at his feet.  “Help me, sir!” she said.  Jesus answered, “It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” (verses 25 and 26 Today’s English Version)  It’s possible His reply didn’t shock the disciples, but to our culturally tuned ears they sound harsh and insensitive, totally unlike the Jesus we’ve come to know. 

Both scenes, the fishing hole and the frantic mother, share a common quality.  Something is missing.  As I looked at the tangled fishing line I wondered how it got there.  It was reasonably clear that its final resting place was a mistake, certainly not what was intended by the would-be angler.  Perhaps the individual on the end of the pole was a beginner, a young boy out for the first time with his experienced grandfather, learning the ropes from one with years of experience.

Maybe another scenario created the dangling mishap.  We just don’t know.  The same is true of Christ’s encounter with this mother.  What was the tone of Christ’s voice?  What parts of the conversation were not included?  Once again, we just don’t know.  What we can be reasonably certain of is the fish undoubtedly got away.  And secondly, the Man on the Cross was the same Man interacting with this mother.  The love that put Him on Calvary was the same love that spoke that day to an aching mother’s heart.


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Road Curving Up a Mountain
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 6, 2012 

This picture was taken on the way up to Sunrise in Mt. Rainier National Park.  The road winds up and up through forests, past streams and eventually ends up in a meadow at 6,400 feet.  Along the way, one can stop and view valleys and mountains, small ponds and lakes.  Bright orange tiger lilies add a cheerful note. 

This time of year, it is a pleasure to take the trip as the flowers (including lupines, magenta paintbrush, anemones and glacier lilies) are at their peak and line the roadsides and mountain meadows.  The snow has almost all melted and trails appear and are rapidly put to use during the short summers at those high altitudes.

On a clear day, the views of Mt. Rainier are spectacular from here. 

Psalm 84 in the NKJV talks about the blessedness of dwelling in the house of God.  I like this paraphrase in the Message:

And how blessed all those in whom you live,
      whose lives become roads you travel;
   They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
      discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
   God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
      at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!
  Psalm 84: 5-7 (Message)



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A Lukewarm City
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 5, 2012 

Did you read last Sunday's Daily Photo Parable? If not, you might want to read it first! As I mentioned, another city near ancient Hieropolis is referred to in the Bible. While staying in Pamukkale, Turkey, we wanted to see two other historical sites, with Laodicea being one of them.

We caught the small dolmus (local bus) and got off at the village near the site of the Laodicea ruins. After a hike up the hill in the hot morning sun, we came to the flower-dotted fields, then the ruins of the city. Even though we had heard that not much existed at Laodicea, we were amazed that perhaps 60-70 workers were busy excavating! Once a prosperous commercial city at the junction of major trade routes, Laodicea was famous for its black wool, banking and medicines. It had a large Jewish community and prominent Christian congregation, and was one of the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. One can see the white mountain of Pamukkale/Hieropolis from Laodicea.

Being about 90 miles east of Ephesus, it is likely to have been established during Paul's ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). After a devastating earthquake in A.D.60, the town refused aid from the Roman empire and used its own wealth to pay for reconstruction. All seemed well except their water supply arriving dirty and lukewarm. that came from Colosse through an underground aqueduct Because of the large amount of calcium in the water (like at Hieropolis), the pipes would clog. And, we know that the water at Hieropolis was hot; that of Colosse was cold, but was lukewarm by the time it reached Laodicea.

The Christians at Laodicea have been used as an example of those whose faith became “lukewarm” because they put as much (or more) trust and faith in their financial wealth as they had in God, seeking worldly weath rather than eternal riches. John probably had the hot springs at Hierapolis in mind when he spoke of lukewarm water, warning against a lukewarm, self-sufficient and self-satisfied attitude. “To the angel of the church at Laodicea write: '”These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the prime source of all God's creation: I know all your ways; you are neither hot nor cold. How I wish you were either hot or cold! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:14-16 NEB


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Drive-up Teller Service
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 4, 2012

A week ago Shelley and I took a walk which brought us near this local bank. When I caught sight of the "Drive-up Teller Service," I suddenly got a humorous picture in my mind of the man in the white pickup driving close to the "teller’s" window and getting all the latest neighborhood gossip! ("Have I got a story to tell you!")

Gossip may be a subject for comedy (as in the right-on-the-mark “Pick-a-little, talk-a-little” gossip parody in The Music Man), but the Bible considers it a vicious vice. Check out the verses at the link below. Might be a good time to check oneself for the virus:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/gossip


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Let There Be Light
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 3, 2012

If you happened to glance at yesterday's Daily Photo Parable, you might remember that last Sabbath afternoon Shelley and I toured the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.

It was nearing sunset, but as we rounded a corner the sun was still high enough in the sky to illuminate these leaves from behind, making them glow with green brilliance. As I snapped this photo, I thought, That’s a garden (and the original Garden)  in a nutshell: light strikes leaves, or grass-stems, or flower petals, and through the magic of photosynthesis, enables the plant to perform its wondrous work of perfect interaction with its environment.

Light--in a spiritual sense—is equally powerful for the soul. Spiritual light emanates from the Creator, as John describes in this beautiful passage:

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  1 John 1:5 – 7 NKJV

So how do we walk in the light? We allow the Light of the World to "photosynthesize" with us. Jesus gives details:

Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.  John 12:44 - 46


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Only God Can Make a Tree
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, August 2, 2012

Late this past Sabbath afternoon Shelley and I wandered through the Bellevue Botanical Gardens for an hour or two. I don't think we had ever gone there to look at the flowers and trees – our previous visits have been close to Christmas time, and in the darkness, so that we could see the annual Christmas light display.

The weather was perfect on Sabbath. I saw trees and plants and flowers I had never even seen or heard of, and I thought, "This must be something of what Eden was like."

I consider myself more of a "word guy” then a "garden guy," and I was delighted to observe, positioned at several spots about the garden, these planks on which poetry had been printed. The first one I saw stretched for 50 or 60 feet beside a path, something like a low wooden fence. The above poem was arranged like the spokes of a wagon wheel and was suspended from a tree with chains. A plaintive sign nearby urged kids to please not swing on, or hang from, the poetry!

Poetry lovers in the past few decades have tended to regard Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” with a bit of condescension, since it doesn't contain loads of obscurity and angst the way other modern poems do. Yet “Trees” tells in poetry the truth about gardens and their Creator, which is why I am going to reprint it here:

Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

   --Joyce Kilmer 1886–1918


(Thanks to www.poetryfoundation.org.)

To learn more about the poet behind the Botanical Gardens’ plank-poetry, click the link below:

http://blog.4culture.org/2012/06/site-specific-poetry-at-bellevue-botanical-garden/


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In the Shadow of the Corporation
Photo and Commentary ©2012 by Maylan Schurch
Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I think the above photo might be a "first" for me – a Daily Photo Parable which I have uploaded on the very day I snapped its photo. On Tuesday our hard-working and company-hosting Wednesday photo blogger Darren Milam put out a desperate plea for me to stand in for him, so I said to myself, "Perfect. I’ll use the photo I took this afternoon."

What happened was that I needed to adjust my cell phone account, and I decided to go to the T-Mobile store in Bellevue’s Factoria Mall area. I did this for two reasons: (1) this store was on my way home, and (2) this store is—at least during the morning hours—literally in the shadow of T-Mobile’s USA headquarters.

Take a closer look at the above photo. On the right, you see the store I patronized. But do you also see the white-and-beige multistory building in the distance? You might be just able to make out a faint pink spot just below the roofline. In case you can’t spot it, here’s a closeup.

You follow my thinking, right? With Corporate literally towering over them, there’s a good possibility that not only does this store have top-notch staff, but each is perpetually on his or her toes to provide the best possible customer service to anybody and everybody who enters. Who knows, maybe it's their "flagship store"? And that’s exactly what I found this afternoon. A gracious store manager handed me over to a gracious expert who had things adjusted immediately, and who then anxiously asked me if I had had all my questions answered.

Do you suspect where I’m going with this? How would your and my behavior change if we remembered that our Creator and Redeemer is much closer than the above headquarters building? How would we treat our kids, our siblings, our parents, our neighbors, our co-workers, our teachers, not to mention people we think we'll never see again?

And those who’ve thoroughly grounded themselves in their Bibles know very well that God isn’t a grim corporate CEO but a loving Parent, who wants us to give the best Christian “customer service” not to make His stockholders happy but to win Him eternal friends who badly need His love.


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