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

Daily Photo Parable

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

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

Stay on Track
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 31, 2015

I recently took a little train trip in British Columbia.  The train, called the Kaoham Shuttle, is a small two car train that takes people up and down the length of Seton Lake which is near Lillooet if you are familiar with the area.  (Fountain View Academy is nearby and this beautiful lake also features in some of their DVD's and on line videos.)

By taking this train trip, one can avoid a two hour car trip to reach Lillooet from Seton Portage.  Since there is usually only one trip each direction per day and we weren't there on  Friday when the train makes two trips and you can start in Lillooet, we did the road trip to the village, took the train back and forth and then did the road trip to get back to Lillooet.  It was quite the adventure that involved switchbacks with a 14% grade!

This section of the tracks has a 4,000 foot tunnel and apparently the sharpest curve on the CN track.  We were going at a slow enough speed, however, that the curves were not a problem.  This also gave us time to see the wildlife - an osprey, a bear and mountain sheep on the way to Lillooet and more mountain sheep on the way back to Seton Portage.  

There were some rocks on the track (and sheep!) but not enough to have to stop to remove them or to cause a derailment.  

Staying on track can be vital - on trains or in life!

Let me give you some good advice;
    I’m looking you in the eye
    and giving it to you straight:
“Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule
    that needs bit and bridle
    to stay on track.”
God-defiers are always in trouble;
    GOD-affirmers find themselves loved
    every time they turn around.
Psalm 32:8-10 (The Message)

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 30, 2015

The harsh elements of the weather have had an effect on the tree in my photo taken at Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah.  Its trunk looks like it’s probably quite old, with branches previously broken.  Even though damaged, it has continued to live on this rocky outcrop.

This photo immediately above, taken nearby, shows a different kind of tree no longer able to stand on its own and has fallen to the ground, but still alive and growing. In order to remain standing, these trees need a firmer foundation in which to grow or protection from the hard weather.

Like these trees, we need a firm foundation and protection.  How about leaning on Jesus?

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?  
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms. (Hoffman, Showalter)

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The Jesus Candy
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 29, 2015

I’ve got to be careful here so I don’t step too hard on well-meaning toes, but you know what makes my flesh crawl? It’s when the names of the Divinity are used to sell products to Christians. (Isn’t there even a candy called “divinity”?)

Last Saturday night Shelley and I visited a Christian bookstore and discovered, hanging handily on a rack by the registers, the above two candy bags (along with several other varieties of the same brand, but these were the two most interesting).

The manufacturer’s motives, as you see if you can read the small print, are perfectly pure: “Each piece wrapped in Scripture!” The consumer opens the bag, unwraps the candy, is edified by the verse, and enjoys the sweetness, and this may indeed connect salvation to salivation. (Or let’s hope so.) But to me, Jesus’ name on a candy sack seems a bit over the edge.

However, there is absolutely no doubt that as He spread God’s love and teachings around Palestine, Jesus was both “tangy” and “old fashioned.” And we have documentation to support the fact that people enjoyed what He had to say. Mark 12:37 (NJKV) says, “The common people heard Him gladly.”

For a two-screen bio of your Creator and Redeemer, made up of little else besides Bible verses, click the link immediately below.

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Three Times Cleaner?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 28, 2015

Wednesday evening on our way home from prayer meeting, Shelley and I made a quick stop at a grocery store several blocks south of the church. We needed paper towels, and as Shelley was expertly scanning the various products and prices, she spotted a package bearing in one corner the proud slogan you see in the photo above.

I don’t have a degree in marketing, but I studied that slogan for a few seconds, trying to figure out exactly what it was saying. So let’s say we have a germy dishcloth. To make the math easy, let’s say it has 1,000 germs on it. Does this mean that one of those paper towels, being three times as clean, has a mere 333.3 germs? Or am I doing the math right?

I have a feeling that the original idea was simply to emphatically announce that paper towels are cleaner than germy dishcloths. No question there, right? But then, some harried ad copywriter remembered that many other products, not content to say they’re merely better, try to quantify this betterness with a percentage. “Our lightbulb is 60 percent brighter . . . .”

I can picture the ad writer pausing. “Okay. What’s a nice-sounding comparison? How about 3x? Let’s use that.” And thoughtful readers start to get a bit squeamish. Wait a minute. Shouldn’t a paper towel be totally clean, rather than merely a bit cleaner than a germy dishcloth?

Thinking of a germy dishcloth reminded me of Isaiah’s stark pronouncement:

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.  Isaiah 64:6 [NKJV]

The older the Christian becomes, the more true he or she discovers those words are. But even though we are indeed steeped in what the old theologians called “total depravity,” God promises us perfect cleansing. To quote an earlier Isaiah verse:

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

To get the full story, of course, you need to read more in the Bible, especially the Gospel of John. But here’s one more Isaiah passage which tells God’s longterm promise for us if we accept His Son’s death for our sins:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying.  Isaiah 65:7 – 9

For more about God’s forgiveness, and how we should respond, click the link immediately below.

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Fortress of Safety
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, August 27, 2015

A nice trail with very little elevation gain can be found at the Iron Goat trail on Hwy 2.  The reason it is so nice is the trail is on an old railroad grade that ran over Steven's Pass.  I was impressed with these huge concrete walls that must have been there for an important reason.  Fortunately there were signs along the way that explained their purpose.

In 1910 a huge snowstorm stranded several trains a few miles farther up from the location in this picture.  As roughly 50 feet of snow accumulated, an avalanche washed the trains off the tracks killing over 90 people.  That spring when the snow thawed and recovery efforts were complete, work began on building protection from the snow.  The result was a chain of concrete walls with wooden roofs over the tracks to allow trains safe harbor.  A few years later, new tracks were built in a safer location and this track became a trail.

Psalm 18: 1-2 says "I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

There are so many ways the Lord provides protection.  And when we truly follow Him, even through diversity, our way becomes easier because He has prepared it ahead of us.

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Break On Through
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A few years back, we had a chance to spend a weekend in beautiful Victoria, BC.  From the hotel balcony, we could see the harbor.  We could watch the float planes take off and land, watch as the various boats and ferries, would come and go.  The day was quite sunny and pleasant. By the late afternoon, the clouds had rolled in and the view was quite dramatic.  The clouds were tight and it seemed like the sun was trying its best to crack a sliver through the thick clouds.  Then it happened. The sun broke through the darkness of the sky.
To me, this is how I view God – cracking through the dark, bleak world.  Jesus is the Light of the world, we can read how He explains this very concept, in John 8:12-20:
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me. Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true.  I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.” So they were saying to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.
I enjoy sunny days more than I enjoy cloudy days. That said when I see a cloudy day, I long for the Light to break through and show us what we are longing for – Him.

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

They are both flies.  Beyond that I am ignorant, at least until I’ve finished putting down my thoughts concerning them, for that serves my purpose.  I’ve noticed we have a way of prejudging based upon appearances.  That’s not limited to the way we look at each other, but extends into other areas, even something so banal as flies.  For the average person, flies rank somewhere below the rest of the world of insects.  Somehow we think of them as being dirty, transmitters of disease, and worse.  But even within the order Diptera we have subconsciously established a rank of acceptability based upon nothing more than appearance.  See if you don’t agree with me on this.
Some might suggest our predisposition might be based upon association, but in the case of these two flies, they were found on the same flower, doing the same thing.  Yet my reaction to each was decidedly different.  Without telling you which was which, let me describe my gut reaction.  One was somewhat repulsive, the junk-yard-dog of the fly world.  The other gave me the impression of being refined, of having a certain elegance which might even elevate it beyond being a fly.
Since I really know nothing about either of these insects, my conclusions are baseless.  But that doesn’t make them any the less real.  They are part of my prejudices, buried somewhere deep within my psyche.  Perhaps the best I can do is to seek to learn more about what I see before jumping to conclusions.  Christians, of all people, should be willing to do this. After all, Christ didn’t wait for us to become perfect before valuing us.

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Decisions, Decisions
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 24, 2015

Life is full of choices.  We had a recent children's story in church about all of the different choices we have to make every day.  

Some of our choices are minor things such as which cereal to have for breakfast while other decisions can have a monumental impact on our lives.  

We always wonder if we are making the right decision or making the best decision or if another decision would have been better.  

We are not able to see the future but we do have a God who knows the future.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

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Challenges, Choices and Risks
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 23, 2015

 If you closely look at the photo above, you’ll see two people getting ready for a challenge on a monolith in Arches National Park.  We had seen them earlier, with all of their ropes and other gear ready for some fun.  My next photo shows two other people climbing one of the steep cliffs in Zion National Park where many climbers were practicing their skills on the sandstone cliffs.

Rain on the 11,000 foot Colorado Plateau races downhill to the Virgin River, carving the soft layers of soil and rock.  It widens cracks and erodes the canyon, leaving a series of cliffs and slopes.  After Yosemite, Zion is our nation’s most popular big-wall climbing area. Climbers are cautioned because the sandstone is much more fragile than Yosemite’s granite and can easily crumble and flake especially when wet.  Beginners are advised to avoid these walls.

As well as being challenging, some activities like rock climbing carry risks.  But, we don’t have to be climbers to have challenges and take risks!  All of us make many choices.  Some of our choices are good and some not-so-good.  These choices can affect our well-being and actual risk of dying.   The most common causes of death of people in the U. S. are heart disease, cancer and stroke.  What is your risk of these?   Often, our choices have an effect on these diseases. What choices have you made to have a healthier life?   We have many resources for guidance on having a healthier lifestyle.  If you scroll further down on our church website, you’ll see “Let’s Grow Healthy!” that offers tips to healthier living. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  (I Corinthians 10:31)

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 22, 2015

This Friday afternoon Shelley and I visited our local library briefly, and while she was browsing through the books, I worked on my sermon at a counter-like table. In a plastic rack at my eye-level I spotted these three “suggested reading” cards.

As you can see from the above photo, each card bears a large-print title of a book or series of books kids have found interesting. The titles in smaller print are books written in the same genre, or story-type—in some cases by authors who deliberately try to imitate the original in order to ride the wave of its success.

As someone who wrestles weekly with the Bible in order to create sermons, I am deeply in love with the original writings inspired by God. Therefore, I tend to be very cautious about books about the Bible, because over the years I have read some really strange ones, which sound good but which ignore the some of the Bible’s truth.

And looking at the three cards above, I’m sure there are young people who—having read the originals—will turn up their noses at the imitators. I’m hoping I’ll always have that feeling when it comes to ideas which try to counterfeit God’s Word.

For more about what the Bible has to say about itself, click the link immediately below.

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Admitting Department
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 21, 2015

Last weekend Shelley and I were visiting one of our church members in a hospital, and I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera when I saw the above sign.

A few years back I had the opportunity to visit the vast St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and saw the dark, gloss-polished wood confessional cabinets, where faithful Catholics go to be absolved.

In the Bible, confession is a lot simpler, and though it neither commands nor requires a cabinet or closet, we all have sinned,  and do need to be forgiven. For four Bible texts about confession, click the link immediately below. For a more in-depth treatment of sin and what to do with it, click the link below that.

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Hidden Treasure
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, August 20, 2015

When I first saw this object, I thought it might be a weird but beautiful flower because I could only see the top. It turned out to be a pinecone broken in half. I was surprised at how colorful it was.

Normally we don't see the inside of a pinecone. We either see pinecones hanging high in trees, or open and dry on the ground. A pinecone usually doesn't look like much to us, but to a squirrel the seeds inside a good cone are a treasure.

Matthew 13:44 says: "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Standing at the observation deck of the Tokyo tower, walking on glass more than 750 feet above the ground…the word “faith” comes to mind.  Faith that the glass holds and I don’t tumble down.  My short stay on the glass got me thinking.  Faith is more than, “strong belief or trust in someone or something.” It’s the feeling we have when we believe in our relationship with our heavenly Father. That relationship fuels our faith.
This power of belief started thousands of years ago – we can read story after story of men and women of the Bible, giving their whole lives based on this faith. Thousands of years later, in 2015, we can tell ourselves we have this faith. We can believe in God and model this belief in our day-to-day activities, showing our love to our creator. But that “faith”, that feeling in your heart that we can cling to the promise of life beyond this planet, comes with daily interaction. Daily prayer and commitment. It’s not always easy but it’s what we as believers should be striving for.
In Matthew 8, we can read about a man, in a desperate time, having amazing faith.  In fact, Jesus says He has not seen such faith, (5-13) “And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.
We may not have the opportunity to interact with Jesus face-to-face right now, but we can have the faith, that day is not too far off. Make the commitment to have that faith, each and every day.

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Confusion at the Golden Arches                                                                             
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 18, 2015

She must have felt a bit like I did after I spotted this sign.  We had just pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot when I spotted the notice.  The result? Confusion.  Mine was minor, perhaps even a bit amused, but still left wondering what the one responsible and in charge had in mind.  Hers? Quite a different story.

The words were spoken to Martha; spoken at a most difficult time in her life.  Her brother had just died when a friend she had come to trust showed up.  “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25,26 NIV)  Martha had come to believe that her friend Jesus was truly the One who would deliver Israel.  Not only that, but He would deliver mankind from the grip of sin and death.  So for her, the hope of seeing her brother once again at the resurrection was assured.

 But that didn’t answer the question of the moment.  And most of us live in the moment.  We want answers that address the “whys” that try to strip us of our assurance.  So it’s not surprising that Martha didn’t grasp what Jesus had in mind. His answer was far beyond her comprehension, yet Jesus also understood her inability to grasp what He was going to do. And maybe that’s the miraculous part of the story we often miss; that He not only has the power to bring the dead back to life, but that He understands us.  He understands how clouded, how limited, our appreciation of His love really is.  And still He continues to lavish us with undiminished love.

There are still plenty of confusing messages around us; messages not only on street signs but also messages from the One who loves us.  The good news?  I can’t say for the road signs, but those others will one day be made clear and the answer will be much better than we could have ever imagined.

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Be Still and Know That I Am God
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 17, 2015

If you've read my blogs before, you know that hiking with any major elevation gain or loss is not something I really like to do.  I do, however, make a couple of exceptions - Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park in Washington and The Hidden Lake Overlook Trail at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park in Montana.  

Even though there is elevation gain on these trails, the amazing scenery, wild animals and beautiful flowers make it well worth the effort.  

These pictures were taken on the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail at the beginning of July of this year.  This 1 1/2 mile (each way) trail starts out at the Logan Pass visitor's center at 6,646 feet and goes up to the Hidden Lake Overlook at 7,140 feet.

As you can see, the snow hadn't completely melted off the trail in some places and I'm sure the people wearing flip flops regretted their footwear choice that day!  There is stunning scenery wherever you look wherever you are on this trail.  I saw numerous varieties of wildflowers, mountain goats, marmots and squirrels and there was even a grizzly one could see with binoculars where a stream drained the lake.

I don't know if the man looking at the view in the top picture of Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain (it still has some snow on it) believes in God or not, but everyone who reaches this point just stops and stares at the display in front of them.   

Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

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A Firm Foundation
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Double Arch in Arches National Park is truly spectacular. This is just one of over 2,000 arches in the Park. While many of the others are interesting, this one seems outstanding because an arch is formed within another arch.  This first photo shows people walking to Double Arch, not fully knowing what to find.  By getting closer, one has a better view.

By being under the arch, it’s hard to imagine all of the change that occurred through time creating this double phenomenon.  

As mentioned last week, an underlying salt bed is partly responsible for the formation of arches and eroded monoliths.  Thousands of feet thick in places, salt under pressure is unstable.  Weight of the rocks is involved with causing the salt layer to shift and reposition itself causing domes and cavities in the sandstone.

Maybe these rock structures and their unstable foundations can be a parable for us.  Like salt, sand is unstable for a foundation.  Jesus talked about a firm foundation in one of His parables:  “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”  (Mathew 7:14-27)  “Be alert; stand firm in the faith; be valiant and strong.”  (I Corinthians 16:13 NEB)

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So Near and Yet So Far
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 15, 2015

A couple of weekends ago Shelley and I took a mini-getaway to Washington’s peninsula. We paused in Port Angeles to visit a bookstore, and noticed something interesting happening at the large mural across the street to the north.

The mural was painted by artist Cory Ench (links below). My photo above shows just a portion of the giant painting, which depicts the ferry Kalakala (for a brief period the world’s second most-photographed object after the Eiffel Tower) arriving at a Puget Sound dock. Three children and a dog await its arrival.

What drew our attention to the mural this time was that a real family was having their little boy pose in front of the painted kids. Just as I snapped my own photo, the boy had started walking back toward mom and dad, but had slowed to study the realistic-looking children.

An indefinable wave of something like nostalgia washes over me as I look at this scene. Even though the real boy’s nose is just inches from the painted wall, he’s in an entirely different universe than the other kids are. In a moment he’ll be back in the car with mom and dad, riding home. And he’ll grow up while moving cautiously through a weary and wary planet, hoping to survive.

But the kids in the painting will be unchanged in their sunny paradise (and if the real little boy could step into the painting and join them, they would always be nice to him). The dog will always be friendly, the water always a ripply blue, and the grand silver ferry always just about to touch the dock.

Don’t you ache for Paradise? Don’t you ache for happy friends, gentle animals, creative days without worry, danger or death?

Before you look at the other links I’ve given below, click on this one, which will present you with Bible passages which talk about heaven.

Here’s a link which shows the entire mural:

And here is the artist’s website:

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Yard Waste
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 14, 2015

Shelley and I were delighted to watch a wordless drama play out this week in our neighborhood. Wednesday is garbage day, when we put out regular trash (blue bin), recycling (green bin), and yard waste (gray bin).

This Wednesday on our morning walk we were startled to observe the above gray yard waste bin bursting with foliage, the result of merciless pruning. We wondered what would happen when the yard waste truck trundled by.

On Thursday morning’s walk, we learned the answer. There stood the yard waste bin, still exploding with prunings. We’re presuming that the truck driver probably has a printed note prepared for events like this, tersely explaning that the truck doesn’t have a chopper or other tools to make this load manageable, and cutting that greenery down to size is the responsibility of the householder.

One of the Bible’s most amazing truths is how sin gets dealt with. God can handle it, no matter how big or bad. His garbage-collection truck will never pass us by. As far back as Eden, God provided substitute sacrifices for Adam and Eve (the animals whose skins provided clothing for the naked, shivering pair, and whose sacrifice pointed to Christ).

And the wilderness sanctuary, and its later permanent structures, demonstrated clearly how powerfully and generously God deals with sin. “If you sin,” He says through the sanctuary services, “don’t run away. Don’t flagellate yourself. Don’t commit suicide.  Instead, bring that sin—revolting as it is—into My presence. I can handle it, and forgive you.”

Have you taken advantage of God’s offer, made possible through the substitutionary death of Jesus? For a full-fledged Bible study on sin and what God will do with it if I bring mine to Him, click the link immediately below.

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness covers a large area of the central Cascades just East of Seattle.  This wilderness up in the mountains contains over 700 lakes, each with its own character.  One may have turquoise green water while the next lake may be deep blue.  This picture is of Lake Julius just on the other side of Steven's Pass.  It has a character with deep serenity as if modern life could never touch it.

People each have their own special characters.  The Bible teaches how a person can develop a deep character.

Psalm 119: 33-40 says:
Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees,
    that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
    and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
    for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
    and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,
    so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread,
    for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
    In your righteousness preserve my life.

I believe others find it refreshing and encouraging to come across someone who builds their character with God at the center.

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It’s In The Details
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
The definition of “creation” is: the act of making something that did not exist before. As Christians we believe in our Heavenly Father and the act of Creation. The part of the definition I like the most, is the “…did not exist before.”  When we look at God’s creations, like this little guy, we can’t fathom it being an accident out of a “big-bang.” If you can believe it, this little frog wasn’t much bigger than a dime.  Small, but still could jump a long way. I grabbed a couple of shots before he was onto another location.
When God knows and cares about all the details, as we can read in Matthew 10:30, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered,” we can safely assume He put that much detail into the creation of all living things.
I know how easy it is to get through your day and miss out on the little things, the things that matter to our Creator. Balancing life isn’t always easy. We (I’m including myself here) need to take the time to slow things down and take stock of all we have.  All the things God has created and given to us.

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Perhaps you can remember someone being referred to as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Or worse yet, you were the recipient or the deliverer of such a name.  Whatever the case, it probably wasn’t meant as a compliment.  It’s likely that whoever delivered this slam didn’t recognize it was the name of a real North American species.  Somehow, the name just sounded like it should be demeaning.  But then again, words are often used that way, without really any understanding of their meaning.  Such is the misfortune of ignorance.

However, the use of such names and their calling is not limited to those wishing to hurl insults.  There are times when apathy causes us to ignore when we have been called, for a right purpose and by the right name.  Scripture contains a number of examples; the name of Isaiah comes to mind.  We often refer to chapter 6 of Isaiah to support this idea.  But Oswald Chambers in his book, My Utmost for His Highest, presents another way of looking at this.  “God did not direct His call to Isaiah – Isaiah overheard God saying, ‘who will go for Us?’ The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone.  Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.”
Being addressed in a derisive way may cause us to withdraw, to avoid contact.  In contrast with this, when we are called by God, it is a call demanding involvement on our part.  The good news is this call is from Someone who knows us so intimately that that call will fit us perfectly, quite unlike being referred to as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

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Consider the Lilies
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 10, 2015

The flash of orange at the side of the road caught my eye as I was driving from Glacier National Park into Waterton National Park.  I thought I knew what it was but I wasn't sure until I had stopped and gone back to check it out.  

Sure enough, it was a patch of beautiful wood lilies (lilium philadelphicum) and they were the only ones I saw on my whole trip.  

I don't know if you are glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person but it's so easy to spend our whole lives worrying about all of the things that can go wrong.  Sometimes, it helps just to pay attention to the lilies at the side of the road!

Worrying does not do any good; who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying?
Nor should you worry about clothes. Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning.
Matthew 6:27-28 (The Voice)

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Small Beginnings
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 9, 2015

For the next several weeks, I’ll continue sharing photos taken on our 3-week hiking trip in our southwest parks and monuments.  You might think this first photo isn’t very impressive – but it shows the beginning of something that will result in being very impressive.  Notice the shape of an arch on the sandstone cliff.   Given enough time, it will be something like this Wilson Arch, as shown in the photo just below.

Both photos were taken from our moving van.  The first was taken in Capitol Reef National park while the second photo was taken from the road between Monticello and Moab, Utah. Apparently, the stress of downward pressure and erosion as well as the underlying salt bed are involved in creating these shapes.  As time goes on, elements of nature such as water, ice, extreme temperatures and wind can influence this formation.

What or who has been involved with shaping your life?  Before we were born, genetics and environmental influences shaped our lives.  Soon after, our parents and family likely influenced our early life.  As we grew older, friends became important.  Today, the media and technology play a major role in people’s lives and can influence us in positive or negative ways. How is your life being shaped?  I Peter 1:14-15 states the following, “As obedient children, do not let your characters be shaped any longer by the desires you cherished in your days of ignorance.  The One who called you is holy; like him, be holy in all your behavior, because Scripture says, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

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The Journey Begins
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 8, 2015

Thursday afternoon Shelley and I attended a delightful wedding near Puget Sound. The weather was perfect, and whoever did the décor had capitalized on the stunning view and arranged a “window frame” with curtains.

Being something of a “wedding professional” myself, I snapped a few pictures. But now that I look at this one more closely, I see a great parable beyond that charming window frame. Here’s a closeup:

If you live in the Puget Sound area, you know that this is one of the Washington State ferries, poised to receive passengers and sail across the Sound. And isn’t that what the young couple were about to do after their wedding—step metaphorically through that window and begin a journey together?

The basis of a lasting marriage is a lasting love. To read some Bible texts on true love, click the link immediately below.

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. . . And It’s In Tune!
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 7, 2015

Thursday afternoon, on our way to a wedding, Shelley and I briefly stopped at the Shoreline Public Library. There we discovered a patriotic upright piano outdoors under the library’s covered entryway. Shelley snapped a few pictures of me tickling the ivories.     

And just below is a view of the piano’s front, so you can see how much work the decorators went to.

I’d vaguely heard about an arts project having to do with outdoor pianos, but when I looked online, all I could find was “Pianos in the Parks” (a project to get Seattle people out into their parks)  along with a map. This Shoreline Library piano wasn’t listed among them, so it may have been added later.

When I first saw this piano I strolled over to it and plunked a chord, and lo and behold, this piano was in tune! Ornately decorated as it was—with what look like commemorative dinner plates—this piano was still very playable. So I sat down and spent an enjoyable couple of minutes playing it.

In both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, God and His Son speak very clearly about how external appearance and apparel and adornment are far less important than our character.

God reminded the prophet Samuel, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV). Jesus insisted, for example, that two notorious sins—murder and adultery—are just as evil when they’re in the heart, even though they might not be perpetrated (Matthew 5:21 – 30).

To learn more about how to allow God to tune your heart, check out the Bible verses at the link immediately below:  

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, August 6, 2015

This is a floating fishing hut on Lake Sebu in the southern Philippines. The economy of the Lake Sebu area is mostly based on farming Tilapia fish in large fish cages. The upper edges of these cages could be seen floating all over the lake. Floating huts like the one in the picture were scattered along the groups of cages. I think most of the huts were work huts to take breaks in or to store supplies.

Matthew 13:47 (ESV): “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind."

Matthew 4:19 (ESV): "And he [Jesus] said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.'"

Fishermen go to great effort to raise or catch their fish. God wants us to fish for men with the same or greater determination as the normal fisherman.

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
I know this won’t be a surprise to many of you, but I am a huge Seahawks fan. Our house “bleeds” Blue and Green.  The above image is the Super Bowl trophy, from the Seahawks victory in the 2014 season.  If you follow football at all, you’ll know the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl again this last season.  Although they didn’t come up victorious, having back-to-back Super Bowl appearances is a pretty big deal.  In fact, I believe that’s one of the reasons I am anticipating this coming season even more.  What will they be able to accomplish in the 2015-2016 season?
When I put my excitement and eagerness about the upcoming NFL season into perspective, it pales in comparison to the excitement and anticipation for the second coming of our Creator. In John 14, we can read and see the reason we should be very excited: (verses 1 - 6), “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Jesus said He’s going and preparing homes for us.  Not only will we have a place to live, but we’ll live with Him for eternity. Say it with me--“Eternity”! If that doesn’t fill us with anticipation, we may need to check our pulse.
I’m looking forward to the NFL starting and cheering on my favorite team – Seattle Seahawks (Go Hawks!). That said my true excitement is the opportunity to spend eternity with our Heavenly Father (Go God!).  

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Clay-colored Sparrow
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A common resident of the shrubby grasslands of the Northern Great Plains, this sparrow is not a bird that immediately grabs our attention.  The Clay-colored Sparrow is rather plain looking, a fact confirmed by its boring-sounding name, and can be easily overlooked as it feeds low in the bushes or on the ground.  Indeed, even its toneless, buzzy song could be mistaken for an insect’s monotonous call.  One writer commented they were often overlooked because “their plumage, habit and voice – all expertly contribute to an introverted lifestyle.”  While this human conclusion may not be shared by members of the tribe, it does give us an idea of this small, slender sparrow.

Such a brief summary may however paint a less than accurate picture of this species, for the male, upon arriving at its breeding grounds, will ascend to the top of a prominent perch and from there declare his rightful kingdom.  It is one of only a few songbirds that feed outside of their nesting territory.  This means they have smaller territories to defend.  But not many of us are stuck in the feudal way of thinking that wealth and importance are to be measured solely by land holdings, particularly since most of us commute to our place of work away from our home.

And yet it seems we have a strong tendency to measure by externals.  James recognized this and provided a caution against such a superficial reckoning:  “But if you treat people according to their outward appearance, you are guilty of sin, and the Law condemns you as a lawbreaker.”  (James 2:9 GNT)  While not as direct as James, perhaps this subtle mid-continent resident can remind us of our temptation to measure by externals.

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Looking Back
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 3, 2015

Do you ever read the Exodus story and think about the Israelites and marvel at all of the miracles they experienced?  Yet, every time something new came up, they forgot all about the past and how God had led them and began to complain and murmur.  

Sadly, we are no different today than they were then.  It's so easy to forget where we came from and how God has led us to get us to where we are now.   

This picture was taken of my side view mirror as I was leaving Waterton National Park in Alberta.  The view in the mirror, unsurprisingly, was of where I had just come from.   Sometimes it can be very helpful to look back at where we've been so that we have confidence to continue forward into the unknown.

We have nothing to fear for the future except as we forget how God has led us in the past.  E. G. White

 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians4:19 (KJV)

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Twists and Turns
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 2, 2015

The San Juan River makes a series of twists and turns known as goosenecks as it meanders from the San Juan Mountains to the Colorado River.  This photo shows the river about 1000 feet down from appropriately called Goosenecks State Park in Utah.  The river serpentines more than five miles while progressing only one linear mile. The San Juan River was named for San Juan Bautista, Spanish for John, the Baptist.

Life seems to have many twists and turns too.  Sometimes the unexpected happens and we have to deal with it.  There are times we need to evaluate where we are and what we should do.  Psalms 37:1-9 offers advice for us, including don’t fret or be envious, trust in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord, wait patiently for God and refrain from anger.  Trust in God and don’t let your heart be troubled.  (John 14:1)

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He’s Still There
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 1, 2015

In my July 17 edition of this blog, I wrote about how a mysterious letter “J” had appeared on my computer monitor shortly after I bought it, and how it’s still there after several years.

‘Way back in 2007, when I began these Daily Photo Parables (back then it was called “Devotional Photo Blog”), one of my first entries was a photo of a white splotch of paint on a sidewalk in our neighborhood. About a week ago I took the above photo of that same paint-splotch, and it looks virtually the same after eight  years (it’s probably a durable highway-stripe paint).

To me (maybe I have a weird imagination), that splotch looked like a cartoonish version of the devil. If your imagination isn’t as weird as mine and you can’t see it, I’ve traced over it in yellow:

To me, it’s good news that the letter “J” is still on my monitor, because it reminds me of how faithful and ever-present Jesus is. But it’s bad news that the devil—for now—seems just as durable.

But the good news is that while Jesus will be with us forever, the devil won’t. For a two-screen Bible study on who Satan is and what will happen to him, click the link immediately below.

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