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

Daily Photo Parable -  February 2014

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.








New Year’s Day Prayer
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 28, 2014

If you’ve been a reader of my Daily Photo Parable segments for very long, you may have picked up that I rarely drive by a thrift store without squealing to a stop and rummaging amongst the books—or as is the case with the photo above, amongst the used office supplies.

Sure enough, on Tuesday of this week I yielded to my addiction again, and was rewarded with a poignant discovery. What you see is someone’s first entry in a prayer journal. It’s dated “1 – 1 – 2013,” and is written in a handwriting which could be of either gender. For privacy, I have inserted white boxes to cover names or initials.

The journal begins, “Prayers for 2013 – to be open to change and God’s direction in my life. To surrender control and anxieties about my future w/work and my relationship with [an inserted white box].”

A little further down, the writer writes, “To put God at the center—to trust his promise to guide my life, to strengthen my faith . . .”  And finally, I was startled to read the final phrase on the page: “Safe travels to FL and return to Moscow.” Whether this refers to Moscow, Russia or Moscow, Idaho I’m not certain.

Sadly, after two or three more pages, the journal entries stop, and the book eventually made its way into a “donate to thrift store” box. As you can see by what I quoted, those are noble prayers, and I would imagine that the journaler’s plan was to fill it full of similar prayers, and perhaps answers. But other activities took priority.

One of the joys of our Wednesday evening 7:30 prayer meetings is seeing the attendees’ prayer notebooks fill full. One man has filled one notebook and has almost filled a second. These are people who truly believe Paul’s advice to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV). Not spending several hours in prayer all at once, but day after day, week after week.

How’s your own prayer life? Remember, it doesn’t have to be heroic. And it doesn't have to be New Year's Day. You don’t need to live in a Russian or American Moscow in order to find something to pray about.

If you’d like to learn several Bible facts about prayer, including why sometimes God doesn’t seem to answer, click the link immediately below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/why-does-god-not-answer-my-prayer


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Soaring Like the Eagles
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, February 27, 2014

Last November we spotted this glider flying over our house looking for a good thermal or updraft. I think it is a Fournier RF-5, a type of two-seated motor glider. According to the FIA International Gliding Commission, "A motor glider is a fixed wing aerodyne equipped with a MoP (Means of Propulsion), capable of sustained soaring flight without thrust from the MoP." Although I've seen quite a few of the typical sailplanes, I had never seen a glider like this before. Here are a couple close-ups.








During the reign of Hezekiah, just after Isaiah had foretold that Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Babylonians, Isaiah encourages the people with these words:

". . . but those who hope in the Lord
  will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
  they will run and not grow weary,
  they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

Especially when we are feeling worn out, this passage and the promise of strength can still give us encouragement today when we face difficulties.


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Slow Down and Listen
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Good advice--and I also realize it’s not the easiest thing to do.  Life is so busy.  Whether it’s work, school, family – life can get very full. I also realize, that’s not an excuse.  God can be talking to us and if we don’t take the chance to slow down and listen, we’ll never hear Him.

This last weekend we went up to Snoqualmie Pass.  We spent some time sledding and playing in the snow.  At one point, we were a little ways into the forest and I laid down in the snow, looking up at the sky, watching the snowflakes slowly fall to earth.  No noise. No computers. No work.  It was very peaceful and quiet.  Those are the moments, we can hear our Creator.  I need to take more of those moments – in the snowy forest, driving in the car, or in the living room at home.  Just listening.

What if we were a little more like Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”. Let’s see what God has to say to us.


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Snow Goose II
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Same field, same day, same flock, even same camera and lens but entirely different results.  What made the difference?  The simple answer, the fog.  The instructive answer was to wait, for in just a few hours after the first image was taken the fog had burned off and the mountains, and the Snow Geese, were left to bask in the clear, crisp winter air.  All that had to be done was wait.

There’s a lot of waiting going on in the Bible.  The individual who probably gets the most bad press for his failure to wait was King Saul as recorded in 1 Samuel 13.  He had been instructed by the prophet Samuel to wait for him seven days, but after seven days had passed the troops were abandoning him due to lack of activity, and he took matters into his own hands and offered the sacrifice himself.  I always felt a little sorry for Saul, probably because I have trouble waiting myself. 

But numerous other writers recognize waiting on God is really their only hope.  Two will suffice.  The first is from a prophet in the Old Testament.  Micah lived before the fall of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel and he writes:  “Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7 NKJ)  The other appears at the end of the New Testament and he too found that the only hope was to wait for God’s answer.  “Stay always within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and bless you.  Wait patiently for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you.”  (Jude 1:21 Living Bible)  What practical advice, but sometimes so hard to do.  Just to wait. 


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Armor
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 24, 2014

This photo is of the bark of a ponderosa pine.  I think these are beautiful trees and you can find them locally in south central British Columbia and east of the Cascades in Washington.  A ponderosa forest looks very different from the wetter forests found west of the Cascades; it's drier and a lot more open.

The bark of the ponderosa pine is thick like armor and it protects the mature trees during a fire (unless the fire is able to get into the crown).  When the sun warms the bark, it smells like vanilla. 

These trees can live to be 600 years old.  This armor does not, however, make the tree invincible.  It is still susceptible to pine beetles, intense fires that reach its crown and humans.

The Bible talks about Christians putting on the armor of God:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.   Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)


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Reflections
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 23, 2014

Do you enjoy looking at reflections in still water? It's amazing that a beautiful scene can be duplicated!This was my experience while in the village of Svolvaer in the Lofoten Islands in Norway. They've modeled a hotel or robuhotel to resemble colorful, old fishermen's cottages that are abundant in the area.

Do we take the opportunity to reflect on God's love and be more loving to others in response? He asks us to love Him and each other. In Philippians 2:1,2 (NEB) Paul said “If then our common life in Christ yields anything to stir the heart, any loving consolation, any sharing of the Spirit, any warmth of affection or compassion, fill up my cup of happiness by thinking and feeling alike, with the same love for one another, the same turn of mind, and a common care for unity.” God asks us to be interested in and caring for others. How are you reflecting God's love? May our love toward others be a tiny reflection of His love!


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The Eye
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 22, 2014

Though it’s probably an anatomically mixed metaphor, I have a bone to pick with my eye doctor. Nothing against his abilities – he’s one of the best. It’s just that he is also under the firm conviction that The Waiting Patient Must Be Educated. And what better time to educate the patient then when he or she is trapped in the waiting area until his eyes become dilated enough so that his retinas can be fully examined?

Just under a couple of weeks ago, as I crept cautiously into this waiting area (eyes still stinging from the dilating drops), I noticed to my relief that the monitor you see in the photo above was pure black. Whoever had the duty that day of turning on the propaganda machinery must have forgotten to do so, which meant that my dilating eyes would not be forced to witness (in realistic CGI animation), the sucking out of a cataract-infested lens, and its replacement with an artificial one. This procedure is unnerving enough when viewed with human-sized pupils. Seen with those of the Great Snowy Owl, which my dilated ones resembled in the mirror, the heart freezes.

I had given myself over to thoughtful meditation when suddenly a black-clad optometry assistant appeared, and poked energetically at buttons on the side of the monitor. Please, no, I thought. Leave it alone.

The monitor remaining blank, he quickly darted into an open door and disappeared, and then poked his head around the edge of the door to look anxiously at the still-dark screen. He disappeared again, and suddenly the above eye manifested itself as an image frozen on the screen. The assistant reappeared, stared disconsolately at the eye for a couple of seconds, and disappeared again. Several minutes later, nothing had changed, and he finally gave up on his (or his boss’s) educational objectives.

So there we were, The Eye watching over us all. I had been planning to rub my own eye, but guiltily decided not to.

I think it’s in his book Tom Sawyer that Mark Twain wrote about something Tom experienced, though it’s realistic enough to make one assume that the young Sam Clemens himself saw such a sight as a boy. Tom was attending church with his aunt Polly, and at the peak of a stained-glass window was a very realistic painting of the human eye. Tom squirms under its glowing gaze, imagining it as the eye of God.

I’m reading my way through a biography of evangelist Dwight L. Moody, who preached during the last half of the 19th century. I was surprised to discover that until his views were corrected by humble British lay preacher, Moody taught – and earnestly believed – that God hated not only sin but also each unrepentant sinner. Once the lay preacher had shown him differently, Moody began to emphasize a God of love rather than a vengeful judge.

At the end of today’s service in my church, are going to be singing the following song, which seems to have been written to combat the God-really-hates-me idea.

For God so loved us,
He sent the Savior:
For God so loved us,
And loves me too.

Chorus:

Love so unending!
I’ll sing His praises,
God loves His children,
Loves even me.

He sent the Savior,

The blest Redeemer;
He sent the Savior
To set me free.

He bade me welcome,

O word of mercy;
He bade me welcome,
O voice divine.

Glory and honor,

O Love eternal,
To Him be given
While life shall last.


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Caution! Construction Area!
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 21, 2014

This past Sunday as Shelley and I were taking a walk through our neighborhood we came upon this line of dark posts, which separate the neighborhood on the right from the walking trail on the left.

Actually, we were approaching from the right when we first spotted the yellow construction tape, and assumed that it was the trail itself that was under renovation. But after cautiously crossing onto the trail (at the point from which I snapped this photo), we could see no evidence of construction going on. It was then that we realized that some of those posts were new, and that the line of posts itself was the construction area.

Of course, if we been walking along the when we'd first spotted the yellow tape leading into the neighborhood, I might have thought for a fleeting instant that perhaps something in the neighborhood was undergoing construction--maybe road repair?

It’s a good thing to keep in mind that, as we drive through our neighborhood on the way to or from work, that it truly is a construction site. The Holy Spirit is indeed at work on each heart in each home.

This means that those of us who are Christian need to behave in neighborly ways that will represent our Construction Foreman to those He’s working on.

And of course we need to make sure that spiritual growth is happening within our own hearts as well. That’s the subject of the link immediately below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/spiritual-growth


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What is Your Passion?
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 20, 2014

You might wonder what this photo of tools has to do with passion.  A person's passion might come out in many different ways.  A person with a passion for the homeless might volunteer their time in some way.  A passion for a job might lead to overtime.  Passion for the Seahawks might lead a person to wear blue more often than they realize.

God is passionate about us.  I like the fact that God loves us and wants us to love each other.   Jesus' sacrifice is referred to as the passion of the Christ.  He is so passionate about us that he would endure a horrible death to save us.

Developed in the right way, our passion can lead to good things that help others.

Oh, and the tools in the picture; they were left on the counter after my son's project to construct a custom LED light.  I think those interests and the other interests of our youth will lead to many good things that help other people.  What is your passion?


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True Peace
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

This last weekend, I was fortunate to visit a long-time church member, not in the greatest of health.  She is a true believer, a strong individual and given her current circumstances – I only hope I can have the peace she has.  She truly is an inspiration to us all.

Life’s tough.  We live in a sinful world and the forces of evil push upon us and throw stuff at us all day long.  It can be quite discouraging at times.  Then I stop and look at what I have – job, family, health, etc. I have nothing to complain about.  I have God on my side and that should be all that matters.  Of course, as humans, we realize that is a lot easier said than done – except for my friend laying in a bed, giving all to God.  At peace.  Ready for whatever His plan is.  Amazing.

Let this verse, allow us to feel just a bit of that peace. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4


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Old Mining Claim
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Time had definitely taken its toll.  Designed more than a century ago for the purpose of protecting cigarettes, it had served its purpose faithfully, buried in a pile of sunburned rocks.  My cousin owned 40 acres in the vastness of the Arizona desert, upon which was hidden a gold mine.  In earlier years it had been worked and amply rewarded those who labored there with gratifying amounts of that mineral that sets dreamers dreaming.  Now abandoned, it remained unused, except for illegal immigrants who sought the coolness of its tunnels, a refuge from the burning summer sun.  

The mine had been duly registered at the local county clerk’s office.  But in addition, corner posts on the land were erected clearly stating the date, the owner’s name, and description of the geographical location of the claim using roads or other visible landmarks.   And that’s where the Union Leader tobacco tin came into play.  For many years it had enclosed the required information, offering a degree of protection from the elements underneath the stack of rocks.  

Writing to the Children of Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses stressed the importance of honoring these symbols.  “Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess.” (Deuteronomy 19:14 NIV)  Integrity was stressed, especially as it focused upon that which had come before.  Today, those who resist change within the church often refer to this passage as a reminder that we should be slow to relinquish those “landmarks” which have set us apart.  And they are of course right.  Our real challenge comes however in determining what truly is a landmark and what is just a pile of rocks built upon crumbling cultural mores. 


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Stay on Track
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 17, 2014

Have you ever been horseback riding?  That used to be the highlight of my week at summer camp when I was a kid.  There was a horseback riding place not far from our camp and they used to take us there for one afternoon session during the week. 

One year I was given a horse named Tiny Tim to ride!  Fortunately, Tiny Tim was pretty docile and did what he was supposed to do and didn't try to tiptoe through the tulips.  I've read horror stories of horses taking off and doing their own thing and the rider gets thrown and/or injured or worse.  (I'm sure you've heard the story of Absolom!)

Psalm 32 gives us some good advice on why we need to stay on track:

GOD’s my island hideaway,
    keeps danger far from the shore,
    throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.

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.

Celebrate GOD.

    Sing together—everyone!
    All you honest hearts, raise the roof!
Psalm 32:7-11 (The Message)


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Blessed are the Peacemakers
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 16, 2014

Every year between 100 and 250 individuals or organizations are nominated for the Nobel Prize. On January 19, I wrote about Martin Luther King, Jr receiving this award in 1964. Of the 94 Nobel Peace Prizes awarded, how many U. S. presidents do you think have been given this prize?

Well, the answer is four. Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the prize in 1906 (just 5 years after the first prize) for his mediation to end the Russo-Japanese war. Next was Woodrow Wilson, in 1919, for founding the League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations. Jimmy Carter was awarded the prize in 2002 for his decades of effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development. Last, Barack Obama was awarded the Prize in 2009 for his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

I took today's photo at one of the displays when visiting the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. If you happen to be there, spend some time learning how individuals and organizations have worked for peace.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Mathew 5:9


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Watch Out, Wally!
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 15, 2014

If I ever get arrested, it will probably be for uttering loud hoots of laughter in the used-book section of a thrift store. Luckily I kept control of myself a couple of days ago as I saw the book cover above, but just gazing at it now makes me laugh, over and over.

So what’s so funny? First, you need to know that this is the cover of a National Rifle Association gun owner’s safety manual from 1990. And rather than use a macho male as the model, they chose this woman, from whose activities we gather that gun cleaning is not only doable by slender and less muscular fingers—and if done correctly won’t even stain a nice sweater—but is something the fair sex needs to learn about, possibly so that she can not only broil the day’s kill but also clean the weapon used to dispatch it.

But do you see the expression on the woman’s face? Notice the chill, resolute calm—and the slightly cynical smile. One suspects that she is not thinking about a Betty Crocker cookbook recipe, but is instead contemplating what she is planning to do with that pistol once she gets it loaded and cocked. And what, or who, might be her target?

Maybe the guy in the background? Here’s a closer look at him.


 


 

For some reason I think of him as “Wally.” (In the real world, of course, the photographer posed him there to let us know that if the Little Woman is properly trained, any husband can trust her with a firearm). But the eerie thing is that Wally is doing nothing—not reading a newspaper, not even perusing the latest NRA journal. He’s just sitting there, waiting. Waiting for the Inevitable? (Frighteningly, he looks exactly like I looked at about the time I met my own wife—calm, bespectacled and clueless! I wore striped shirts like that too!)

Once I had arrived at the fantasy conclusions above, I Googled this book, and was delighted that someone had added it to their “Awful Library Books” website for the same reasons. “The dude in the chair had better watch himself,” that person wrote.

What’s sad is that my fantasy ramblings above aren’t quite so fantastic. Scarcely a week goes by that we don’t hear of a domestic dispute which ends tragically. And Paul foresaw this time:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power . . . . 2 Timothy 3:1 -1 5 NKJV

And later in the same chapter, Paul advises us how to keep our courage and our perspective in the face of these last-day horrors:

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (verses 14 – 17)

Are you spending time every day in the Word of God?


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Much Loved
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 14, 2014

Almost exactly a week ago in a bookstore I spotted this arresting photo book cover. Photographer Mark Nixon has filled the entire volume with children’s favorite (and therefore quite battered) stuffed animals, including this pink-and-white bear, whose expression seems to reflect the damage done to him. (For a link to other photos from this book, see below for how to find them.)

On this Valentine’s Day, let’s think not only of the people in our lives whom we love and who love us, but let’s also think of the universe’s Supreme Lover. God’s adoration doesn’t damage us, but instead repairs and refurbishes and renews us.

Want to read a three-screen Bible bio about God? You’ll find it encouraging.

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

You can see more of the toys from Much Loved if you go to Google Images and type the words “much loved Mark Nixon” (without the quote marks).


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Ice Formations
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, February 13, 2014

A week ago during some days of freezing weather, we found this patch of ice-covered grass. It was next to a small stream's waterfall on a trail behind our house. The water was splashing in the water below and coating the grass with ice, making interesting formations.

There aren't very many verses in the bible about ice, but this passage seemed fitting.

Job 38:25-30 (The Message paraphrase):
“Who do you suppose carves canyons
    for the downpours of rain, and charts
    the route of thunderstorms
That bring water to unvisited fields,
    deserts no one ever lays eyes on,
Drenching the useless wastelands
    so they’re carpeted with wildflowers and grass?
And who do you think is the father of rain and dew,
    the mother of ice and frost?
You don’t for a minute imagine
    these marvels of weather just happen, do you?"

Although it can be harsh, the weather is more interesting when we try to look for nature's beauty.


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Thankful
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I believe I have mentioned in the past but it’s worth mentioning again.  One of my best friends, finds himself (again) acting as a single father, while his wife is deployed for another 6 months of Air Force duties.  They are both in the Air Force and both have served several times.  I’ll be the first to say that they don’t complain, as they realize it's part of their job, but it doesn’t make it easy when there are two young boys at home.  Of course there are thousands of others, serving at home and away.  We salute you and thank you!

As Sara is deployed, a verse comes to mind as each day brings on new challenges, complications and needs.  Philippians 4:19 & 20, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” It’s great to be reminded of God’s action in our lives.  His daily action.  There are plenty of times, I forget to thank Him for all He gives, but that doesn’t stop Him from giving.

The image above, is a reminder – whether Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter (or in this case, a little of both) – God continues to provide, giving exactly what we need – when we need it.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kinglets are among the smallest of North American birds, weighing about a quarter of an ounce. But what makes them a challenge to photograph is that they seem to be in a constant state of hyperactivity.  As they flit from limb to limb in search of insects, they are constantly flicking their wings, perhaps to scare insects into revealing their hiding place.  The name kinglet also reflects their diminutive size, conveying the idea of a little king.  The genus name, Regulus, from which we also get the word regal, leaves the reader no doubt of this bird’s kingly status.  So what is it about this bird that makes us think of it as royalty?  And while it is not readily visible, the otherwise nondescript grayish-green bird wears a brilliant crown, just as does a king.  The Ruby-crowned Kinglet only flashes its colors when agitated or on display. 

Living in a democratic society, we may not be accustomed to thinking of ourselves as crowned sovereigns, but that is what God has called us to be. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:8-10 NIV)  This means we are special in God’s sight, called to wear a royal crown.  And just maybe the kinglet models a behavior that is appropriate for us as well; not flashing our qualifications around to impress the world, but confidently living out a royal life knowing we have been called by the King of Kings.


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Peace
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 10, 2014

This photo is of the Peace Arch Border Crossing between Surrey, British Columbia, Canada and Blaine, WA, USA.  The arch itself is built right on the border according to Wikipedia.  The inscription on the Canadian side, reads:  Brethren Dwelling Together in Unity.  Both Canadian and American flags fly on top of the arch. 

Don't you long for world peace and wish everyone did dwell together in unity?  All you have to do is read the news headlines to see that we are far from having peace in the world - whether it be locally or farther afield.  

Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,
    but those who promote peace have joy.
Proverbs 12:20 (NIV)

Jesus said:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV)


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Heart = Love
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 9, 2014

Throughout the ages the heart symbol has been known for love or affection. In ancient times, people believed their heart was the center of emotion. Since love is a strong emotion, the heart became a symbol of love. The word lavender (can you see the lavender fields through the openings in the heart?) originates from the word “lavare” which means to wash. Isn't it fitting for a heart to be in a field of lavender!

Lavender, known as spikenard, was referred to several times in the Bible. It is thought that Mary used it to wash or anoint the feet of Jesus. It was also one of the herbs used in the temple. During the Middle Ages, the heart symbol was used to represent Jesus Christ and His love and was introduced into art during that time. They also thought of it as rebirth and hope of the resurrection. “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 The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. I John 1:7 Thank you, Jesus!


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What Are You Selling?
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 8, 2014

One day in late January, as I happened to be walking through a mall right about the time the stores were opening, I came upon these three kiosks. As you can see, the most distant one looks almost ready for business, its products on display. But the two closer ones still have heavy curtains around them.

Though I’m about to step into parable-land with this, we all know the real reason the heavy curtains hang there during off-hours. There are light-fingered thieves who, if it were easy for them, would cheerfully reduce the inventory.

But as I snapped the above photo, I was thinking, Isn’t this what I have often done with my Christianity “products”? I'm the local agent for a Supplier whose goods include forgiveness, happiness, a sense of purpose, and eternal life. But from shyness, or sometimes out of fear of potential ridicule, or maybe just from uncertainty about faith-salesmanship, I keep my beliefs concealed.

My congregation includes quite a few people who, from practice, have discovered not only how to live as ethical, moral people, but also how to hold themselves ready to talk about faith in a tactful and non-preachy, non-pressure-y way. These folks are adroit at the art of the single sentence or phrase dropped into a conversation, after having prayerfully and perceptively taken the spiritual temperature of the person they’re talking to.

Want to read four Bible texts that tell the necessity of that sometime fearful word “witnessing”? Click the link immediately below.

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


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They Did It!
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 7, 2014

Yes, my friends, what you see above is not a warehouse, nor is it any more merely a training place for a brash young football team who had the incredible chutzpah to believe that with a lot of non-first-round draft picks, and a five-foot-eleven quarterback just one year away from being a rookie, they could aim for the Big One.

And sure enough, as the Seahawks strutted into last weekend, sages of the game were cautious. “It’ll be a close one,” they said. “Denver has the best offense in football. Peyton Manning is experienced.” The even cagier sages in Las Vegas had the Broncos beating Seattle.

But if you're from the Pacific Northwest, and if you paid even the vaguest attention on Sunday, you know the final score: 43 to 8. Seattle.

So now, be so kind as to gaze at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center (which I pass on the way to the church office) with a bit more respect. Because it is now the home of the 2014 Superbowl Champions.

How did they get there? Again, even non-football fans have picked up the fact that coach Pete Carroll, aided by his serious young quarterback, have been preaching to the players that they should approach every game—even Game One of the season, even games against laughably bad opponents—approach every game as a championship game. Give your best to every play, every game. Even if you beat your opponent soundly, don’t rest on your laurels, but study the videos of the game for anything you can improve.

And listen to your coach.

Look at the photo again. Think of that building as this planet. Think of our coach as Jesus. And what does He say? Don’t worry about tomorrow—live for today, just as worry seemed totally absent from the Seahawks’ hearts on Sunday.

Want to read some more encouraging texts about the real game of life? They’re found at the link below:

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


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Waiting for Jesus
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 6, 2014

With my office just a block away from the Seahawk's parade yesterday, I stepped out to see the activity.  In this picture near Westlake Park on the corner of 4th Ave. and Pike street, the crowd became impenetrable.  As I stood there waiting with the crowd for the Seahawks to come through, I was able to observe several things.  People were happy and excited.  They were polite with each other.  Even though people were packed tight, when someone needed through, a pathway opened up to allow relatively easy passage.

It strongly made me think of Jesus' soon coming.  If you could imagine the best thing to happen, where people have won the game of life because Jesus died for them, it would be an infinitely more perfect version of the Seahawks parade.  No further worries of possible failures would mar people's thoughts. The goal has been achieved!

Revelation 19:6-7 says,

"Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

'Hallelujah!

    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.' "

It is reported that around 700,000 people turned out to watch this parade.  However, reading Revelation makes me think there will be a much bigger crowd when Jesus comes.  When I think about how Jesus freely forgives and saves us, I want to live for Him now.  I want to be a follower, not just a fan.


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Celebration
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Unless you live under a rock, you most likely heard about the outcome of the Super Bowl. Even if you aren’t a Seahawks fan, or a fan of the NFL, you had to have heard about it.  It’s been on the TV (non-stop), paper, radio, internet – everywhere.  Today, in Seattle, there is a huge parade – welcoming home the World Champions….Seattle Seahawks!  The image you see above is of the celebration, after the Super Bowl.  Yes, I am a big fan of the Seahawks but that’s not the point of this blog.

The city of Seattle will continue the celebration of this team.  In contrast, the real celebration, the TRUE celebration for Christians around the globe isn’t based on game.  No, we will have something far bigger to celebrate.  The celebration of Christ’s second coming.  Think of any celebration you have been to, or have witnessed.  How much great of a celebration will be the TRUE homecoming?  How much more excited will we be then?  Being reunited with loved ones.  Seeing the face of Jesus.  Much to celebrate.

Revelation 1:7 & 8, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”.

Let’s get ready to celebrate.


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Lincoln’s Sparrow II
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It’s interesting how we respond.  In one set of circumstances a cold drink of water is the best a man stranded in the desert could hope for.  In another setting, cold is the enemy, seeping warmth from a freezing body.  It must have been one of those second kind of days when Zechariah wrote to his fellow Jews in exile about the restoration:  “When that time comes, there will no longer be cold or frost, nor any darkness.  There will always be daylight, even at nighttime.  When this will happen is known only to the Lord.”  (Zechariah 14:6-7  GNT)

t was a frosty morning in January when those with more sense were ensconced safely inside. But I and this Lincoln’s Sparrow met in the thickets bordering a large field.  Such is the wintering grounds for this species.  It must enjoy cooler temperatures, for during the breeding season it migrates to higher elevations and nests around the brushy fringes of meadows.  Maybe it was comfortable sitting there among the brambles, but I definitely was not.  My cold hands wanted to stick to the legs of the tripod and it was only after several shots were taken that I had the common sense to put on gloves that offered some relief. 

Perhaps Zechariah was speaking figuratively, or maybe we should understand this literally. I just don’t know.  I am certain that the One who has promised us deliverance will offer us more than we can imagine.  Something tells me our new home won’t be a static one degree temperature.  But what do I know?  I was the one just standing out in the cold with my gloves off.


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Now That's Power
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 3, 2014

Unless you're living in a remote jungle somewhere without any electricity at all, you've seen power lines of some sort.  We pretty much take having electricity for granted - until the power goes out!

According to Wikipedia:

Overhead power transmission lines are classified in the electrical power industry by the range of voltages:

Low voltage (LV) – less than 1000 volts, used for connection between a residential or small commercial customer and the utility.
Medium voltage (MV; distribution) – between 1000 volts (1 kV) and to about 33 kV, used for distribution in urban and rural areas.
High voltage (HV; subtransmission less than 100 kV; subtransmission or transmission at voltage such as 115 kV and 138 kV), used for sub-transmission and transmission of bulk quantities of electric power and connection to very large consumers.
Extra high voltage (EHV; transmission) – over 230 kV, up to about 800 kV, used for long distance, very high power transmission.
Ultra high voltage (UHV) – higher than 800 kV.

There are a number of different definitions of the word "power."  It can be used as a noun or a verb.  Someone in power may be trying to run our lives.  Power can also refer to energy. 

The power found in our human generated electricity and the power of rulers among the nations is amazing but it is nothing compared to the power of the God of the Universe.

Have you not been paying attention?
    Have you not been listening?
Haven’t you heard these stories all your life?
    Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?
God sits high above the round ball of earth.
    The people look like mere ants.
He stretches out the skies like a canvas—
    yes, like a tent canvas to live under.
He ignores what all the princes say and do.
    The rulers of the earth count for nothing.
Princes and rulers don’t amount to much.
    Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted,
They shrivel when God blows on them.
    Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind.
“So—who is like me?
    Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy.
Look at the night skies:
    Who do you think made all this?
Who marches this army of stars out each night,
    counts them off, calls each by name
—so magnificent! so powerful!—
    and never overlooks a single one?
Isaiah 40:24-26  (The Message)

 


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Pulling Ropes?
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 2, 2014

This large sailing ship moored in the harbor at Bergen, Norway got our attention. We noticed that tourists were being let on board, so we joined them! We learned that it was a Mexican Navy Ship, the Cuauhtemoc BE-01, on its officer training cruise through Europe. Not being a sailor, I was amazed with all the ropes that were used to set the sails. The sailors certainly have to know what ropes to pull to make the ship go were they want it to!

Some people think they can “pull ropes” to get to heaven. Maybe what they do are good things to do, but doing them isn't how to get there! “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 The Bible also tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus is the only answer. He died on the cross, rose from the grave and paid the penalty for our sins. He provided the way. It's our choice to accept Him as our Savior, trusting and following Him – no ropes to pull!


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What Became of Matthew?

Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 1, 2014

A couple of weeks ago in a thrift store I noticed the above gleaming shelf of sports trophies. I paused long enough to read a couple of the names, and was startled to discover that both bore the name “Matthew.”

I leaned in to read other names, and found that several had that name on it. In fact, zooming in on my high-resolution photo, I can see no less than five “Matthew” trophies, and I think that there are a couple of others which weren’t lined up right for the camera. A baseball trophy says that Matthew was a “Wild Thing” in 1995, another puts him with the “Black Knights” in 1997, and in 1998 he was with “The Red Machine.” You can see the latter two in the photo just below.





So what became of Matthew? Why are his trophies on a thrift store shelf? If he was in Junior High or his teens when he won them, he’d be in his mid-thirties now, so maybe he’s tossed them into a junk box, then was cleaning house and decided to donate them along with other items to the thrift store. Maybe his current life has given him satisfactions which far surpass the emotion he felt when his coaches handed him these trophies.

Back in 1913, a man named George Bennard wrote a song called “The Old Rugged Cross,” which contains the lines, “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, when my trophies at last I lay down.” Here are the complete lyrics, which tenderly repeat the story of the world’s greatest trophy, the cross.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:
     So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
     Till my trophies at last I lay down;
     I will cling to the old rugged cross,
     And exchange it some day for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

 


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