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

Daily Photo Parable -  August 2013

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--The Russell 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 the left.

The Eighty-eight
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 31, 2013

A couple of weeks ago I spotted this car in a parking lot. (I’ve put a white box over the license plate to preserve the privacy of the owner.) I’d never seen a bumper sticker featuring a piano keyboard.

When you think of it, the piano’s 88 keys are something like a typewriter’s or computer’s keyboard. Within a limited number of options, all sorts of really amazing art can be produced. Think of Emily Dickinson’s brief but powerful poems; think of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata’: think of “Amazing Grace” or “Jesus Loves Me,” both of which need only the black keys.

In order for the literary or musical artists to work their magic, of course, both the computer keyboard and the piano keyboard need to abide by some ground rules. First, each key needs to stand in its place until needed. Second, each key needs to do what it was designed to do. Third, each key needs to understand that because there are different kinds of artistic expression, it might be awhile before it is needed. (The very highest and lowest piano keys, for example, are seldom used, as well as the “X” and “Q” keys on the computer.)

All of this makes a pretty good parable for the human race, right? God calls individuals, but He calls them to groups, and wants only for them to use their gifts in the way He knows is best. And as John Milton observed in his sonnet “On His Blindness” (written as he was going blind in his 50s), “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Why not begin—or continue—praying that God will use you in whichever way He chooses?

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The Seer in the Sewer
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 30, 2013

Almost exactly a month ago while walking, I spotted this man-hole (person-hole?) cover on a sidewalk. As usual, this cover is labeled with the type of subterranean system beneath it, in this case a sewer. However, something has happened to the “W,” which leaves “Seer.”

A seer is an ancient name for a prophet—someone who through divine aid saw what ordinary, uninspired humanity could not see. As it happens, the Bible records the story of how the prophet Jeremiah was thrown into a sewer, or at least a cistern (or as the KJV puts it, a “dungeon”), and that he “sank in the mire.” (Jeremiah 38:6). So whatever was in the bottom of that hole, it was muddy, and he sank into it.

If you read the whole chapter, and the chapter before it, you’ll see that this action was to punish Jeremiah for speaking some very unpopular and even seemingly treasonous words during the time leading up to Judah’s defeat at the hands of the Babylonians. Most of the king’s loyal servants, including his spiritual advisors, were earnestly telling the king what he wanted to hear—Babylon would not attack after all.

But Jeremiah, who had heard directly from God, knew differently. And at that pointed he needed to make a choice. Should he simply follow the rest of the advisors and speak soothing words to the king, or should he sound the alarm? He resolutely chose the latter course, and has gone down in history as the “seer in the sewer.”

So—what do I do now that I know this? Every Christian who has any knowledge of his or her Bible knows that while being on God’s side is to be truly in the majority, it’s not easy, mainly because the majority is invisible, and the minority (most of whom belong to the speak-popular-words crowd) are the visible ones.

Jesus had some startling advice to those who are persecuted for their faith. He did NOT say, “Keep your head low. Play it safe.” He did NOT say, “Hunker down and take whatever they inflict.” Here’s what He DID say:

“BLESSED are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. REJOICE and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12, NKJV)

In other words, if you’re persecuted for following God’s advice rather than human wisdom when the two conflict, don’t just duck your head and take it. Be glad! If you’re not standing for God in your “arena,” then who will?

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Mountains and God
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mt. Baker offers some beautiful wilderness hiking with grand views of surrounding mountain ranges. The smell of flowers, snow, and fresh air all seem to infuse a person with fresh energy.

Something in particular that draws my attention and makes me think are the rocks. The mountain, of course, is made up of rocks. The trail is often on the surface of boulders. As I step on the rocks and boulders and feel their hardness, I often think about the permanence of God. Psalm 90:2 says, "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God."

It is comforting to know that God is always there, and I enjoy the good solid energy when walking on the rocks He created.

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
We all have days we feel, in the grand scheme of everything, insignificant.  Not saying we feel worthless or not useful, but small or tiny, in this big world.  This image (with the help of a little software) shows the tiny toy-like bike under the similar looking palm trees.  It reminds me of how we can feel as humans, while we wander around this relatively large planet.  The great news – God doesn’t see us that way at all.  On the contrary, He sees us as the most important part of this planet.  He sees us as the treasure He has longed to have in His possession.  What a difference He sees us in, versus how we typically view ourselves.
To me, there is no greater example of what God thinks of us and how important we are to Him, then the (well know) verse – John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”.  The next time you feel small, tiny and insignificant, think of God giving up His Son to die for you.  That act of love is VERY significant and so are we.

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Have you ever been envious of another person?  Dumb question, let me rephrase.  When was the last time you can remember you were envious of another person?  If only I could sing like that.  If I only had his brains.  The “If onlies” are endless.  I can still remember memorizing the Ten Commandments as a child and the tenth always seemed to lack the import of the others.  Perhaps it was because I was exhausted by the time I got through learning the first nine and believed my mental capabilities had reached their max.  Or maybe it was because it didn’t have the clarity of a four word “Thou shall not __________.  Whatever the reason, the one about coveting didn’t seem to carry the clout of the others for me.  That is, until later.  As I’ve grown older I’ve come to recognize how applicable the demands of the tenth commandment are on my own life.  In one sense, it’s a summary of the previous nine.  My desire to be #1, to place myself on the throne instead of God, all of these miscues are addressed in God’s directions about coveting.

Have you ever noticed how God really gives us no reason to be envious?  He supplies us with exactly the gifts we need to accomplish the task set before us.  Take the two birds pictured above.  Both are flycatchers, and as their name implies, they make their living catching flies and other insects. The rather drab Pacific-slope Flycatcher (top photo) might arguably be envious of the long, graceful tail of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (below) but then again, what would it do with those long extensions chasing flies around the forest edges where it makes its home?  The open grasslands might accommodate those feathers but not close quarters offered by the woods.  I’m glad we have both, the woods and the prairies, and the creatures that inhabit them.  After all, think how unpleasant it would be to take a walk through the woods if there were no flycatchers there to keep the insect population down!  He provides for all our needs, and does so with grace and beauty.

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 26, 2013

This caterpillar was heading the wrong way!  I don't think it would have survived if it kept going in the direction it was headed because it was going away from a moderate sized green space and heading across a sidewalk which was right next to a road.  If it managed to make it across the road, there was another sidewalk and then an airfield.  It could very easily have been stepped on or run over by a bicycle, a car or a plane. 

I believe it's the caterpillar of a type of tiger swallowtail butterfly.  There are a lot of pictures of similar looking green caterpillars on the Internet but there was also some reference made that the green caterpillars turn brown before they pupate.

I picked it up and took it away from danger because I knew the potential it had to become a beautiful butterfly.  I was able to pick it up with a twig and set it up in a bush that grew in the green space on the opposite side of the sidewalk where I hope to see swallowtail butterflies flying around next summer.

How much more so does God, who loves us enough to have sent His Son to die for us, turn us around and rescue us from heading down the wrong path. 

"God remembered us when we were down,
    His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
    His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need.
    His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all!
    His love never quits!"
(Psalm 136:23-26)  The Message


P.S.  If you haven't seen the butterfly documentary Metamorphoses (about the miraculous transformation that takes place when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly), I would highly recommend it.

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 25, 2013

The ongoing massive waterfront redevelopment project in Oslo (Norway) has their new Opera House as a centerpiece (top photo). It was designed to resemble a glacier floating in the waters off Oslo. Visitors can walk on the roof as well as inside the building. I took the second photo in their cloak room where it seems concert-goers can leave their coats and umbrellas safely unattended. Since a concert wasn't scheduled at that time, the racks were empty except for two coats hanging together – all alone. I wondered if their owners were somewhere in the Opera House or if they had been forgotten.

God didn't leave us here on earth alone and forgotten. He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us. In fact, His Spirit can live with us. In Ezekiel 36-26-27 the Israelites were told, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statues, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” We often hear that our body is the temple of God. That's recorded in I Corinthians 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Therefore if you believe and trust in God, His Spirit is with you – you are not alone!

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I’ve Got a Mansion
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 24, 2013


A little over a week ago I was up at our church camp for a pastoral seminar. The camp is located outside the little town of Wilkeson, which boasts its own castle. I couldn’t resist swinging into town and snapping the above photos. The link at the end of this blog entry will tell you more about it, including how it got built.


It made me think, of course, about heaven. The Bible gives relatively few details about it, but Revelation 21 does say that there will be a vast city made of gold, whose foundations are of precious stones.


As I look at the earthly “castle” above, I can’t help feeling a tingle of excitement. Its turrets and curved- or spire-topped windows remind me of medieval stories I’ve read. Maybe its chief fascination is that it seems to be from another time, and calls me away from the day-to-dayness of the life we often live now. But heaven’s castles, or mansions, are far more real than anything earth has ever seen.


I'm satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that's silver lined


Don't think me poor or deserted or lonely
I'm not discouraged I'm heaven bound
I'm but a pilgrim in search of the city
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown


I've got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold


To read more about the Wilkeson castle, click this link:

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Trail Abandoned
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Russell Jurgensen
Friday, August 23, 2013

On the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) near Glacier Lake, not too far from Stevens Pass, lies an abandoned section of trail.  In the photo it shows a small sign that says, "TRAIL ABANDONED".   Surprise Gap is visible behind the sign.  The reason the trail was abandoned is the grade is too steep for livestock that sometimes travel the PCT.

A new trail heads to the right and is not visible in the picture.  The new trail is wider and has a more gradual grade.  Both trails meet up again on the other side of the mountain.  For the adventurous traveler, it is still possible to follow the old trail.  It turns out there are several advantages to following the old trail.  It is about two miles shorter and has less elevation to climb.  An added bonus at the gap is a trail to the right that leads to Surprise Mountain.  Following this trail offers a real surprise because at the summit, hikers are presented with a 360 degree view of the entire area (photo below).


It struck me as I looked through pictures of the trip, that the old abandoned trail in the top photo is a little like following the Lord.  Some people say it is too hard and not worth the effort.  But, in Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus says, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

A good friend happened to know this particular section of the PCT and led us up there.  In life, let's follow our friend and helper, Jesus, on the narrow way to happiness.

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Wok With Me
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, August 22, 2013

Don’t you love it when a product’s advertising team show a subtle sense of humor? The above bottles are labeled with multilayer meanings.

First, there’s the obvious takeoff on “Walk with me.” Then there’s the play on “Wok,” the Asian cooking utensil. Then there’s the fact that this is a bottle of some kind of sauce you can put into a stir-fry mixture, so you’re literally wok-ing “with” the bottle’s contents.

I have no idea whether the sauce tastes good or not, because I left it undisturbed on the Safeway shelf. But don’t those pictured vegetables on the label make your mouth water?

Walking together is something Shelley and I try to do every morning. And it’s more fun—and motivating—when you’ve got a walking partner. We actually say our morning prayers while out on our walk as well.

And as we do this, we’re of course “walking” with Jesus too. People rode on horses, and in chariots, in the time of Christ, but the only riding Jesus did was perhaps a half-hour journey on a donkey into Jerusalem on the Sunday of crucifixion week. The rest of the time, He walked. And He didn’t walk only to dinners with the rich, but to parties with disreputable people who had become very interested in what He was talking about.

When you ride in a car with someone, somebody’s got to drive, and therefore can’t give the passenger full attention. But if you’re  both walking, you can really get acquainted. And that’s what Jesus hopes that you will do with Him.

Why not take a walk tomorrow morning and try praying aloud as you do so? Or print out a Bible chapter in large font and carry it with you and read it? Because this is important, as 1 John 2:6 says: “He [someone who claims to be a Christian] who says he abides in Him [Jesus] ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Some days, that is what I need.  I feel like I am always running and there are plenty of times, I need more peace. The image above, to me, gives me peace.  The colors blend together around the edges and it has a soothing effect. 
We can get peace can come from many different ways, but TRUE peace comes from God.  Reading in Psalms, I thought of chapter 29, regarding the peace that comes from God.

Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;
Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
The God of glory thunders;
The LORD is over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars,
Yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes them also skip like a calf,
Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire.

The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
The LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth,
And strips the forests bare;
And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”

The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood,
And the LORD sits as King forever.
The LORD will give strength to His people;
The LORD will bless His people with peace.

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Purple Loosestrife
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

With its tall spires of magenta flowers adding color to our wetlands during late summer, what’s not to like about the Purple Loosestrife?  As far back as the Middle Ages its beauty was extolled in European garden books.  In the 1900’s it was sold by the nursery industry as a garden flower.  But even prior to that, it was likely brought to the United States accidently by way of ships from Europe whose ballasts contained seeds of this plant which was also valued as a medicinal herb for treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, and ulcers.  These hardy plants can grow to nine feet and readily spread to surrounding areas as a single plant can produce over two million seeds which are easily spread by wind and water.  Because of this, it is now considered a Class B. noxious weed and it is illegal to buy, sell, or transport this plant in Washington.  

The reason for concern is that this vigorous plant can crowd out other plants, including native species such as cattails, thus eliminating food and cover needed for a healthy ecosystem.  It can also cause a major disruption in the flow of water in irrigation systems as well as rivers and canals.  Once established it is extremely difficult to keep in check.  Because it has as strong rootstock, methods used to control it such as cutting, burning, and the uses of herbicides have proven to be ineffective.  Consequently, the U.S. Fish and wildlife Service report Purple Loosestrife now occurs in every state except Florida.  The one method of control that has seemed to be the most effective is the introduction of five species of beetle which naturally feed on it.

In Deuteronomy 28 the Lord clearly outlines the blessings which will accompany obedience to Him and the results of disobedience.  Verses 43 and 44 outline one of these consequences.  “The aliens who live among you will succeed where you fail.  They will become more and more influential and you will become less and less important, even in your own country.  They will be the ones who will loan you money, not the other way around.  They will be the head and you will be the tail.”  (Clear Word)  We all know how invasive sin can be in our lives; how appealing it may appear, yet how destructive it is in reality.  While it’s unlikely we should need a reminder of this fact, consider a patch of desert wetland in Eastern Washington to which Purple Loosestrife was introduced in the 1970’s.  In less than 20 years it had expanded to cover 23,000 acres resulting in a sterile monoculture.  Thank God He has provided a cure, the only effective antidote to sin, His own blood. 

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Throwing Caution To The Wind
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 19, 2013

I saw this caution cone when I was walking along a road in the arboretum where cars were parking in order to go to a plant sale that was being held nearby.  There was a lot of congestion between traffic and pedestrians and the road cones were strategically placed so that people would not park in a certain areas where they would contribute to complete gridlock.

Some of us proceed through life very cautiously and need to take time to think things out before committing to anything.  We take our time weighing pros and cons before making decisions. 

I'm not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing but this approach can spill over into our giving to the point that we are thinking more about ourselves than the needs of others.  Are we too cautious with how we spend our time, our money and our talents?  Obviously, we should be mindful and careful with how we use these things we have been given but God  is not miserly with His gifts:

Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,

He throws caution to the winds,
    giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
    never run out, never wear out.

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.  2 Corinthians 6:8-11 (The Message)

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Revolutionary Ideas?
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 18, 2013

Before the Titanic, the Fram was the most famous ship in the world. Today's photo is of a diorama of the Fram in the Polarship Fram Museum near Oslo (Norway). It was used in expeditions of the Arctic and Antarctic regions by Norwegian explorers. Unlike previous ships, it's shape was built to freeze into the ice sheet and float with the ice. Previously, the freezing ice would crush the ships. Designed and built in 1893, it was carefully insulated so the crew could live on board for up to five years and had a windmill which ran a generator to provide electric power. It actually became an Arctic station rather than a ship! The idea to build a ship to be encased in ice was unheard of before this – a revolutionary idea!

The Bible talks about several revolutionists, including Jesus. He attacked the religious leaders and authorities of His day with revolutionary boldness. He ran the money-changers out of the temple. He was friends of the Zealots, whose goal was to drive the Romans out of Palestine. Some elected officials were concerned only with their own interests, whereas Jesus taught to feed the hungry and cloth the naked. He ate with beggars, whores and sinners. Some said He was a disturber of peace. Caiaphas, the High Priest said that Jesus claimed to be king of the Jews. His revolutionary ideas and teachings caused an upheaval in His society – what he thought, said and did was different then the establishment of His day. Are you sitting comfortably on the sidelines or are you taking charge of your life and doing what needs being changed? And are people changed by knowing you and seeing Him in you? “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3

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Foot Traffic Only
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 17, 2013

I snapped the photo above this past Tuesday at Sunset Lake, our church camp not too far from Mount Rainier. Sunset Lake is a wonderful getaway for families—in fact, “Family Camp” was happening at the same time as the pastoral seminar I was attending there.

The lane you see above actually encircles the lake itself, and the sign has been posted to remind you not to ride your bike (nor motorcycles nor four-wheelers nor any other mechanical device) along this trail, because around a corner someone might be musing slowly along in a thoughtful stroll, and you might break both his mood and his back!

“Foot Traffic Only” might also be a good sign to erect each time you open the pages of your Bible. Because in both the Old and New Testaments, “walk” (not “run” or “ride”) is the word used to describe our spiritual life. “Enoch walked with God,” says Genesis 5:22 - 24. “Noah walked with God,” says Genesis 6:9.

And in Leviticus 18:4 God Himself says, “You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the Lord your God.” The Psalms and Proverbs are loaded with “spiritual walk” references, as are Isaiah and other prophetic writings. Romans 13:13 carries on the tradition: “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

Notice—“walk,” not “run.” People ran in Bible times. They rode horses. But the Bible advised them--and us--to walk. Walking means you have time to think, and to listen to the person you’re walking with.

Don’t you and I need a Walking Partner right now, as Egypt explodes and the rest of the world wonders what’s next?

To get better acquainted—or renew your acquaintance with—Jesus, click the link immediately below:

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Carpe Sweetum
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 16, 2013

We’ve been having a spell of hot (for us) weather recently, and back in early August I took a walk near our church. Eight blocks north is a corner drugstore, and while waiting for the “Walk” sign to light up, the back of my neck running with sweat, I nearly stepped in what you see in the photo.

Two separate candy bars, one still with its “cookie” sandwich parts, had splatted on the sidewalk, and the hot sidewalk had melted them, probably within thirty seconds. I’m guessing that a couple of kids were looking forward to devouring them, but rather than holding on tight and starting to chomp, they let the goodies fall from their grasp.

Carpe diem is a Latin phrase meaning “Seize the day,” and urges us to not procrastinate, not simply react to what happens, but grasp hold of the opportunities of the moment. Whoever let go of those candy bars should have remembered to carpe those sweetums.

Jesus was a master of living in (and for) the moment.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:25 – 27 NKJV)

Carpe diem, then. Don't let worry freeze you into missing worthwhile and soul-fulfilling opportunities which might never come your way again. Be sensible, of course. The same Jesus who asks us to live for the moment also inspired the Book of Proverbs, which says much about hard work and dependability and planning ahead. The point is to live the way we were created—to enjoy life right now, and to do so in healthy and constructive ways, and to rest in our Savior.

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Dragon Tower
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, August 15, 2013

Harbin, China could be a sister city to Seattle.  The population is similar to the greater Seattle area.  It has greenery and a similar tower.  I was glad to see this open space in the midst of the city.  The tower, however, surprised me.  When I asked about it, I learned it is the Dragon Tower.  In China, the dragon represents strength and good fortune.  So the tower, while providing television broadcasts and tourist opportunities, represents something that the Chinese value.

My first impression of the tower was it looked like a giant monument pointing to God in heaven.  Maybe, even in a secular society it can silently represent a desire for God.  After all, the good things they value come from God.  It is God who sustains us in our daily lives.  Psalm 3:5 says, "I lie down and sleep;  I wake again, because the LORD sustains me."

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Starbucks What?
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I couldn’t help doing a double-take when I saw this sign a couple of weeks ago. It seems that on about every third street corner here in the Seattle area there’s a Starbucks coffee shop, but the sign color and logo are entirely different from the towing company sign above.

The coffee company got its name from Starbuck, the first mate of the Pequod, a whaling ship in the novel Moby Dick. (Believe it or not, the company’s founders originally thought of calling the company Pequod, but that didn’t fly with some of the investors. Good decision, right?)

Anyway, back to our towing company. I don’t have information about where they got their own “Starbuck” from, but an online search tells me that the name has a long and wide-ranging history.

Which brings me to the point of this Daily Photo Parable. The name “Christian” has far more “brandings” than even the ubiquitous Starbucks. I’ve heard of political parties in foreign countries called Christian Democrats who sometimes seemed neither Christian nor democratic.

After all, the term Christian brings a sour taste to the mouths of those who have been offended or abused by people who wore the label. And there are those who have been repulsed by an unbiblical version of Chrisianity whose hearts have been won to the Lord by the influence of an individual or a congregation who were truly and selflessly Christian.

If two people were talk about you, and one murmured to the other that you were a Christian, what would the reaction be? Could your gentleness, your decision never to take yourself too seriously, your smile, your chuckle, your willingness to give others the benefit of the doubt, cause that person to leap over any hurdle which had been placed before them, and give your faith another chance?

Something to think about, right?

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Inca Dove
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In the Southwestern arid habitat is found the Inca Dove, a small, rather tame species that seems to settle near human habitation.  They will raise up to five broods a year and their endless call, which sounds like blowing across the end of a pop bottle, fills the desert with its soothing melody.  The parents can be frequently seen perched together on a limb, and when the young are old enough to leave the nest, they will frequently nestle down between the adults and increase the size of the huddle.

Many birds are inappropriately named, and there are those who wish to change this bird’s name to one that more correctly reflects its lifestyle.  It is found from the southwestern part of the U.S. southward through Central America to Costa Rica.  And where did the Incas live?  Not in the area just described.  Instead, their empire was established further south, along the western coast of South America.  Those who are seeking for more accuracy would like to change the name to Aztec Dove, for reasons that should be apparent.

Names are important, not only for utilitarian purposes, but because they tell as something about the person or thing involved.  Consider the words used by Handel in the Messiah to describe the coming Savior.  “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)  It would be equally appropriate to paraphrase the verse and state it this way.  “He will be wonderful, a counselor, for He is God, our everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.” 

I don’t personally have a burden to change the bird’s name, something which would force me to make changes in my list, but I do appreciate the motivation behind those who are seeking that change.  Truth is a scarce commodity, and maybe it’s a small step towards truth in advertising. 

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Day Five
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm afraid I didn't get the name of this jellyfish I saw recently at the Vancouver Aquarium and an Internet search has not produced any helpful results.  Anyway, it was a kind I hadn't seen before and I thought it was pretty amazing - from the intricacies of its design to the color accent.

We think that there is a huge amount of diversity in the creatures we can see on land and in the air, but there is whole lot of variety in the creatures most of us never get to see. 

We can read the creation account in Genesis:

"In the beginning, God created everything: the heavens above and the earth below. Here’s what happened: . . .

God:  Waters, swarm with fish and sea creatures. Let birds soar high above the earth in the broad expanse of sky.

So God created huge sea creatures, all the swarm of life in the waters, and every kind and species of flying birds—each able to reproduce its own kind. And God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good.  And God spoke this blessing over them:

God: Be fruitful and multiply. Let creatures fill the seas. Let birds reproduce and cover the earth.

Evening gave way to morning. That was day five."
  Genesis 1:1 and 1:20-23 (The Voice)

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The Next Life
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Viking Ship Museum near Oslo (Norway) contains the best preserved Viking ships in the world. One of them, the Oseberg Ship, from around 834 AD, (in photo) contained numerous grave goods and two female skeletons. Built of oak, Viking ships were pulled ashore and used as tombs for nobility who were buried with all they expected to need in the next life: jewels, furniture, food and servants. This ship also had the skeletal remains of 14 horses, an ox and three dogs. It held four elaborately decorated sleighs, a carved wooden cart, bed posts and wooden chests. Because the grave had been “robbed”, precious metals were absent. The Vikings did what they thought best to prepare for their next life.

We are fortunate to have the Bible that gives us information about “the next life” and what we need to do. As Christians, we believe that God gave His Son, Jesus to come to earth in order for us to have “a next” life. His suffering, death and resurrection provided atonement for our sin. By accepting Christ into our lives, we have the promise of eternal life with Him. We become His children. He will grant eternal life to those He has redeemed. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16-17. For more information on Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, go to our church's website, click on Seventh-day Adventist Church, then Adventist Beliefs.

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Is He Riding With You?
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 10, 2013

This past Wednesday morning on a walk in our neighborhood, I snapped this photo. A cross is hanging from this car’s rear-view mirror, and the sun is casting its shadow on the passenger side.

What if the crucified and risen Savior were indeed riding with you and me in our cars wherever we went? Not only might His presence act as a curb to road-rage tendencies, but it seems to me that it might also allow us to see the world—and choose our route through it—with a more eternal perspective. Grudges against other drivers, or against friends or family members, sor distracting worries, would tend to evaporate in the presence of the One who has forgiven us—and promised us—so much.

In fact, in the pithy words of a popular Christian bumpersticker—“If God is your co-pilot, switch seats!”

For a two-screen Bible biography of Jesus, click the link immediately below:

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Free Clothing Here
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 9, 2013

Every once in awhile Marion, the head of our church’s free Community Services clothing bank, asks me to mount this sign on our readerboard. On Wednesday mornings Marion and her volunteers greet individuals and sometimes entire families who gratefully receive clothing at no charge.

This sign reminds me of another Clothing Bank Coordinator who, when people realize how spiritually bespotted and unclothed they are, offers them free robes symbolizing His pure righteousness. Here’s Jesus’ “readerboard sign” to the church in the Turkish town of Laodicea (often considered a prophetic symbol of present-day Christianity):

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." [Revelation 3:17 - 20 NKJV]

Want to learn more? Click the links immediately below:

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A Solid Foundation
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, August 8, 2013

I recently had the opportunity to help install a turbine inspection system in Harbin, China.  Interestingly, the system needs a special foundation to avoid vibration produced by other machinery in the building.  In the picture, the white block at the bottom is a 20,000 lb piece of granite sitting on rubber isolation pads.  The blue inspection system stands only on the granite in order to be safe from vibration as it measures the roundness and flatness of turbine parts.

The granite reminds me of Jesus when he said that when we listen to his words and put them into practice it is like building on a rock. (Matthew 7:24-27)  When the world tries to shake us, standing only on Jesus is the way to be safe.


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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Clearly I like nature.  I love the creative aspect of God’s handiwork.  I especially like, our Creator's attention to detail.  As we can see in this image, the vast amount of color and detail, is abundant in this orchid (no clue what variety).  The attention to detail goes way above and beyond the colors in a flower.  He sees the details of our lives, He knows the details of our situation and cares for all of them.  In Psalms, David writes about God watching over us and caring for us, (37:23) “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”

I love that line – ‘holds them by the hand’.  I picture a young parent, ensuring no harm comes to their child.  God is concerned about the details and watches us intently. If God is concerned for my wellbeing on this sinful planet, I look forward to the day when I am in heaven and He can hold my hand, not because of concern, but out of pure love and joy.

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Lazuli Bunting      
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It’s easy to see why the Lazuli Bunting is a favorite among its many fans.  Not only does it brighten up the grassy woodlands where it lives but its song is generously given to anyone willing to listen.  While generally secretive, the male will sing endlessly from an open perch to establish and defend his territory. 

Named after the semi-precious gemstone, lapis lazuli, the bird’s intense blue color parallels the blue of this valued stone.  In ancient times it was sometimes used interchangeably with sapphire.  Cleopatra used powdered lapis in her eyeshadow and it was employed to add beauty to the Taj Mahal in India. 

The NIV uses it a number of times in the Old Testament to describe the beauty of the subject being covered.  Among those are: the pavement under the feet of God (Ex 24:10, one of the stones on the High Priest’s breastplate (Ex 39:11), wisdom (Job 28:16), the arms of the lover in Canticles (Song of Solomon 5:14), the rebuilt Jerusalem (Isaiah 54:11), the princes of Sodom (Lamentations 4:7), the throne of God (Ezekiel 10:1), and even the adornment of Lucifer before he fell (Ezekiel 28:13). 

With all this beauty, it would seem impossible to miss; but miss we do.  This singer was found just outside the parameters of the recent Washington campmeeting.  My guess is fewer noticed it perched among the berry vines than those who took notice of Cleopatra.

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 5, 2013

This photo is of the speculum of a female mallard duck.  While her coloration is otherwise quite drab, she has this amazingly colorful patch of feathers in her wings. 

While evidence of a Creator is all around us, God doesn't forget the details.  The more we look, the more there is to see.  The patterns and the diversity are truly awe inspiring . . .

". . . because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened."

Romans 1:19-21 (NET-New English Translation)

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A Special Time
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Norwegian Folk Museum, near Oslo is open-air and includes more than 140 buildings gathered from around the country. It includes old barns, elevated stabbur or raised storehouses and farmhouses with sod roofs. My photo shows that girls gathered at the entrance of one of these buildings are involved in conversation. I don't know what they were saying. Even if I heard them, I wouldn't know, because it would undoubtedly be in Norwegian! It looks like they are having a special time being together.

Visiting, communicating, listening, sharing - we'll have a special opportunity for this when many guests will be joining us at church for our 50 year anniversary and homecoming the weekend of September 13-15. Many of our charter and former members will be visiting to renew acquaintances and make new friends. And all of our (living) former pastors will be with us for the weekend. Many members of our congregation are involved in one or more of our weekend programs to make it an inspirational time for all. We hope many of you will join us for this special time!

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Refresh Now!
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 3, 2013

Over the years, I’ve noticed that my various computers have changed from being subservient tools to nagging nannies. In mid-July I saw the above message come up (no, not the headline about the Senate moving toward a showdown—that’s nothing new!):

“You have been inactive for awhile. Refresh now!”

What it’s talking about, of course, is that my America Online screen hadn’t been clicked on for awhile—either that, or AOL was craftily trying to sell me some kind of new service which would either earn their advertisers more money or at least keep me loyally subscribing to them.

How fresh is your Christian faith? Sad to say, I’ve known people who haven’t really opened a Bible since their childhood. That “inactivity” means that when facing life’s serious questions, all they’ve got to go on is what they might have heard a Sunday- or Sabbath-school teacher say to them, or an imperfectly-remembered comment from a pastor.

When my AOL screen says I’ve been “inactive,” I click on something to get back and touch. And when I feel that sad, dry desert-sand feeling in my heart which means I’ve drifted away from God, I need to take similar steps. Here are some steps to take to return:

Pray. Thank God for His daily sustaining power. List as many blessing as you can think of, and express your gratitude. Ask Him to forgive you for being so inattentive, and to continue to keep your conscience fresh.

Then open the Bible. If you haven’t read it in awhile, start with the Gospel of John, or the little book of First John. Then branch out to other Bible stories. The stories are where you’ll find the heart of God in action.

Join a Bible study group. Once you get back into the habit of studying the Bible in a nurturing, supportive group, you’ll find your faith becoming as fresh as tomorrow’s challenges.

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Slightly Blemished
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 2, 2013

A week ago today (Friday), Shelley and I hurried into a grocery store for weekend provisions. I got a chuckle out of this sign located near some fruit which evidently wasn’t quite up to par, and which was probably being sold for a lower price.

“Not many wise . . . ,” Paul wrote about Christian recruits in 1 Corinthians 1:26, “not many mighty, not many noble are called.” God has a long and dramatic history of using the defective rather than the perfect, the weak rather than the strong. In Judges 2:7 God insists that Gideon drastically trim the size of his army, because otherwise they might think that God’s eventual victory was because of the strength of their numbers. In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan and his armorbearer defeat an entire Philistine garrison. As Jonathan explained it, “Nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.”

David sent the entire Philistine army screaming away by defeating the giant Goliath, not with an elite SWAT team but by a well-aimed (and probably divinely guided) sling-stone (1 Samuel 17). A little olive oil and a handful of flour kept a woman and her son alive during many months of famine (1 Kings 17).

Twelve idealistic unarmed men, who knew for sure that their Master was the ascended Son of God, faced ridicule, persecution and death to eventually wrap a planet in God’s truth.

So as you think about your own role in this planet-wrapping, don’t say, “I’m weak and insignificant, so I’m useless.” Instead say, “I’m weak and insignificant—which means that when God uses me, and succeeds, He will get all the glory!”

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The Determined Robin
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, August 1, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, Shelley and I spotted this early-morning robin standing on a driveway. We walked closer, and while any other robin of my acquaintance would have skittered nervously away, this one stood his ground.

“What’s wrong with him?” I murmured.

“He’s got a worm,” Shelley said.

And he sure enough did—a long, juicy one—and if I guess correctly, this bird’s delay in departing was so that he could get a firm and balanced grip on his breakfast food before heading back to Mama and the nest.

I imagine God’s eyebrows are arching humorously right now. Because He already knows where I’m going with this. Have you carved out some time each day—preferably early while your brain is fresh—to make sure you get a firm hold on your spiritual “breakfast”?

They say that a literal breakfast is the most important meal of the day. My wife fixes me a hearty one every morning, and it’s been good for me. But a breakfast on a chapter of your Bible is even more important. Try it! A chapter a day! And don’t let anyone or anything distract you until you’ve secured that nourishment!

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