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.






Moving Forward
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 29, 2016

This is a picture of the Seattle Great Wheel.  I haven't actually been on it yet but I am sure that there are some great views from that height.  I have, however, been on other Ferris wheels and the thing about a Ferris wheel is that it takes you back to the same place you started.  You can't really move forward.  You get different views and it can be a great experience but at the end of the ride, you get off at the same place you got on or even behind where you initially got on.

The Bible talks about us running "the race."  This would indicate moving forwards towards a destination and not taking side loops (I'm talking about life detours - not Ferris wheel rides!) that might cause us to lose the race.

So we have many people of faith around us. Their lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way. And we should remove the sin that so easily catches us. Let us look only to Jesus. He is the one who began our faith, and he makes our faith perfect. Jesus suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing. He did this because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2 International Children's Bible (ICB)




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Reflecting
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Villa d’Este gardens and fountains (one of which is shown above) in Tivoli, east of Rome provided a refreshing retreat from the heat of the day and demands of travel.  This 16th century villa has a multitude of fountains in the various gardens. (Actually there are 51 fountains and 64 waterfalls!)  In the center of this photo, a water organ which moves exclusively due to the force of gravity, provided music.  As you can see, reflections also play a part in this dynamic masterpiece that has been created for people to enjoy.  Not only do people enjoy the view once, but twice due to the mirroring effect.

Reflecting.  Paul said, as recorded in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  The Holy Spirit will be reflected in our lives if we follow these words of wisdom.  Think of examples when Jesus demonstrated each of these “fruits”.  Also, think of how you can apply these in your life.  Can others see Jesus reflected in you?


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Service Station
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 26, 2016

Last month I caught sight of this interesting sight—a gas station and an old church, back-to-back. The one meets a lot of everyday, practical needs. If your car—or you—is in need of quick nourishment, drive in and fill ‘er up.

But what about the church? Could it be a service station too? If so, what needs might it meet? And would those with these needs know to come there to have them met—or would they scramble for substitutes?

Why do church, anyway? Gas stations we need, which is why there are so many of them. They’re not optional. But is church optional? Not according to Jesus, who founded the Christian church.

Want to read what God says about church? Here are a couple of links:

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

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/church-attendance


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Lots of Love
Photo by Chelsea Jurgensen
Commentary by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 25, 2016

People put some interesting things on their vanity license plates.  Sometimes they do seem a little bit vain, and sometimes they are descriptive or funny.  This license plate contains "LOL" followed by some additional letters (blurred here to protect the identity).  Probably it means "Laughing Out Loud," but I like to think it means "Lots of Love."

Jesus talked about how we should love each other.  In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

When we are on the road it is easy to show the opposite of love.  I like it that in the northwest people generally are polite drivers and we hear very little honking.  Let's keep encouraging civil driving and show lots of love whenever we can!

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God’s Already There
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 13, 2016

Here’s the sign which is currently on our church readerboard: “Don’t fear the future—God’s already there.”

God knows what’s going to happen. He can indeed examine the future whenever He wants. Isaiah quotes Him as saying:

“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ Isaiah 46:9 – 10 NKJV

And when you match that with His love—which He has proven again and again—that should not alarm us but comfort us.

For more about God’s foreknowledge and the few individuals He occasionally entrusts it with, click the link immediately below:

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


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Pronghorn  II 
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The wide open places of the interior of western and central North America make up the home of the Pronghorn, the fastest mammal on the continent.  Lewis and Clark were responsible for introducing them to the scientific community when they encountered them in what is today South Dakota.  These explorers were impressed with the speed of the Pronghorn, just as we are today.  They are often cited as being the second fastest mammal, next to the cheetah.  But even that hunter wouldn’t stand a chance if the race covered any distance at all.
 
Not only can they get out of the blocks fast, but this pace can be kept up for long distances.  Factors that contribute to this are many.  For their size they have a large heart, windpipe and lungs, all factors which allow them to inhale large amounts of oxygen.  Weight is kept to a minimum with hollow hair and light bone structure.  Such adaptations qualify them to excel as marathon runners, but interestingly enough, they aren’t particularly good at jumping.  When they come to a fence, they will try to crawl under it rather than jump over it.
 
The book of Jeremiah contains advice which the Children of Israel were having a hard time following:  “Once again give them this message from the Lord:  When a person falls, he jumps up again; when he is on the wrong road and discovers his mistake, he goes back to the fork where he made the wrong turn.”  (Jeremiah 8:4 Living Bible)  Lord, give us that wisdom to jump up and try again when we fall, to be willing to correct those mistakes which we make so often.  Help us to humble ourselves and submit to your will, believing your way is always the best way.


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Where is Your Treasure?
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 22, 2016

I saw this old car in somebody's yard while I was taking a walk a few years ago.   As you can see, at least one of the tires is flat (most likely all of them), there is rust and moss on the car and the blackberry bushes are taking over.   

I imagine at one point it was somebody's pride and joy (treasure) and was washed regularly, vacuumed regularly and had routine maintenance done; now it is only an abandoned pile of junk which the owner will likely have to pay to get removed.

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.  Matthew 6:19-21 (The Message)


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Growth
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 21, 2016

Here’s another photo of a picturesque farm in southern Tuscany.  For you farmers out there, do you know what crop this is?  If you guessed sorghum, you’re right!  Sorghum is an ancient cereal grain collected over 8000 years ago in Egypt, then domesticated in other countries.  The many varieties of sorghum provide food for people and animals, both as a grain and as molasses.  It’s also being used in biofuel, wallboard and packing materials. As you can see, this grain, which grows well in dry land, will yield a good crop this year. It apparently has what it needs for good growth.

In a spiritual sense, what is needed for growth?  Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”.  (Mathew 18:3) What qualities do little children possess that can help us in our spiritual growth and development?  We need to ask ourselves, “Do I have a childlike faith, dependent on Jesus and Jesus alone for entering the kingdom of heaven?



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Aloof?
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 20, 2016

Sunday through Tuesday of this week I attended a seminar in Seattle called The One Project, endeavoring to make Jesus far more central to what happens in our Adventist congregations.

Tuesday’s session was held in a large room right next to Seattle’s monorail tracks. At one point I stood by the window, poised with my iPad camera, to snap a photo as the train passed by. (As you can see from the blur, it wasn’t wasting any time getting to its destination.)

As I watched it pass, I thought, I hope that as a Christian I’m not like that monorail train—moving briskly toward a destination but remaining aloof above the traffic on the street below.

To read what the Bible says about what a church should be, click the link immediately below:

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

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Shoes
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 19, 2016

A week ago Friday night I spent an enjoyable couple of hours at a young adult gathering in an apartment in Seattle. I’d been asked to present the half-hour Bible study segment, and I found the 18 or so young people deeply perceptive and responsive. And not only that, but they all seemed to care for each other, and feel comfortable with each other. It was as though they were part of one big family.

As I was preparing to leave, I snapped a photo of all the shoes by the door (which was open invitingly to the hall for late-arrivers). That footwear could be fodder for all sorts of parable material. Each of the soles had been scuffed by the concrete of a gritty and sometimes unfriendly world, just as each of the souls in the room may have been puzzled and even wounded by how people treat each other. Each pair of shoes is individual, with a particular price and a particular purpose, some rather formal, some informal.

Yet as these young people arrived at this Friday evening “sanctuary,” they put off those shoes, along with that sole- and soul-scuffing, to be together, and be equal, and be present with their loving Savior.

Want to learn some of what the Bible says about God’s love? Click the link immediately below.

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


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Agility in Nature
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 18, 2016


While sitting at a stop light I saw this Elk roll bar on a pickup ahead and managed to snap the picture just as the lights turned green.  It would be interesting to know if the owners put this decorative roll bar on their truck because they like hunting elk or because they are celebrating the strength and freedom of Elk in the wilderness.  Maybe they just liked the look of it when they decided to add a safety roll bar.

The Bible also celebrates freedom and agility.  When talking about what the Lord will do for us, Isaiah 35:5-7 says,

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
    and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
    the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
    grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.


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Switch On
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How many times a day do we take light for granted?  I know I take it for granted hourly.  Think about it--when you’re getting ready to head off to school or work and it’s 5:30, 6, 6:30 in the morning. Can you see without it?  Here in the Pacific Northwest, at that time of day, we are in complete darkness. But we flip on the light switch and BAM – there’s the light we need to get ready. We don’t think twice about the light not being there.
 
In John chapter 1, John speaks of Jesus’ soon arrival and what it means to the world:
 
The Word (Christ) was in the beginning. The Word was with God. The Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. He made all things. Nothing was made without Him making it. Life began by Him. His Life was the Light for men. The Light shines in the darkness. The darkness has never been able to put out the Light.
 
John references Jesus as the Light. He mentions that the “darkness” has not been able to put out this Light. What a great way of describing our Savior – this source of power that can’t be turned off.
 
As much as we count on (take for granted) the electrical lights we use on a daily basis, we know for sure our spiritual Light will always be there for us.  Just like the sunrise in the Masai Mara, Kenya (seen above), Jesus is there for us – making sure the darkness doesn’t win.


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Hoodoos  
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
       
Rising to great heights, Hoodoos, can be found around the world, especially in semi-arid regions. These were located in the Santa Catalina Mountains, specifically, Mount Lemon in Arizona.  An even more spectacular display can be found in Bryce Canyon, Utah, which has been made into a national park.  Hoodoos are geological formations caused by erosion which rise up from the bedrock to form bizarre and beautiful shapes.  They are generally formed from sedimentary particles which have been cemented together with calcite, silica, or iron oxide.  Softer portions are eroded away more quickly than those made of harder rock producing their unusual appearance.

Another theory as to their origin suggests that spirits from the spirit world came to dwell among humans but behaved badly and as a result were frozen in place for their punishment.  We may smile at such folklore, yet Hoodoo exists today as a deviant form of Christianity practiced mainly in the Caribbean.  This belief places an emphasis upon magical healings as well as casting of spells for love and money – all for a price of course.

The world longs for answers, answers that have credibility.  Peter recognized this need when he guaranteed his readers that what he brought to them was indeed based upon reality.  “ For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”  (2 Peter 1:16 ASV)  I’m not sure I would even be willing to refer to some of the above stated beliefs as being “cunningly devised”, yet the fact that some believe it tells us how desperately people need truth; truth that begins and ends with a Man named Jesus.

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Weathering the Storm
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 15, 2016

Do you sometimes feel like your life is caught up in the maelstrom of a storm?  All you want is peace and quiet and there is just turmoil all around you.  The Bible offers some hope:

My insides are turned inside out;
    specters of death have me down.
I shake with fear,
    I shudder from head to foot.
“Who will give me wings,” I ask—
    “wings like a dove?”
Get me out of here on dove wings;
    I want some peace and quiet.
I want a walk in the country,
    I want a cabin in the woods.
I’m desperate for a change
    from rage and stormy weather.
55:4-8 (The Message)

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught."  John 14:25-27 (The Message)


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Work
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 14, 2016

Another search for a “most photographed” place in Tuscany led us on remote, rough roads along vineyards, pastures of sheep and crops of wheat as seen in my photo.  This idyllic countryside is home to farmers and their animals.  To maintain the character, restrictions have been placed on new development.  Farmhouses can be remodeled or rebuilt on their original footprint but need to maintain their original style. These hard-worked fields continue yielding crops as they have for hundreds of years.  Weeds need to be dealt with in order to yield a good crop.  Farmers know that their land requires much hard work to yield good and profitable crops.

This is like the command God gave to Adam (Genesis 3) after sin.  He was to work the soil even though thorns and thistles would grow.  This hard work would cause him to sweat in order to obtain food.  Before the fall, work was a joy; after the fall people would be burdened with it.  Thorns and thistles would hamper man’s work and require extra effort and energy.  People would sweat from work because it required a lot of effort and energy.  While your work might not be in the field, you still might have workplace stresses and pressures.  Remember that work itself is not cursed, but its fruit a gift from God.  (Ecclesiastes 3:13)


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What’s On Your List?
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 12, 2016

Shelley and I do some of our shopping at a chain of stores where we can build up “gasoline points,” which means that we can then stop at affiliated gas stations and fill our tank at delightfully low prices.

A couple of Sundays ago was our latest such “points” fuel-up, and as this was happening I happened to glance at the little screen on the gas pump. The question you see there is closely connected to the store chain, because they’ve used it in their musical radio jingles. The singers ask the question, and then answer it by brighitly caroling the name of the store.

But the question is a serious one. What’s on your list today? Years ago as a young pastor I attended a seminar where a more experienced pastor suggested that, since pastoring isn’t ever a nine-to-five job with a punch clock, one way a pastor can keep himself or herself focused is by writing on an index card a list of seven things to do for that particular day, and checking them off as they’re accomplished.

Which is something like what Jesus suggested, about two-thirds of the way through the Sermon on the Mount. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,” He insisted, “for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 NKJV)

To get the context, of course, you should read the entire chapter, and even the entire Sermon. But Jesus’ point is that moment-by-moment life is crucially important. And though the following isn’t a Bible verse, it is definitely Bible truth:

Don’t worry about tomorrow. God is already there.

Want to learn how “present” in the future God is? Click the link immediately below:

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


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Pruning
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, February 11, 2016

This is one end of a wire saw. The ring on the right is about one inch wide, and the wire is about 0.04 inches wide (1mm) and two feet long. The wire has a spiral cut around it that acts as many very fine teeth:



One of the reasons we got this saw was to cut a bolt that was way out of reach. We tied strings to each end of the saw and managed to thread it around the bolt, then pulled the saw back and forth until it cut through. It worked surprisingly well even though it was only intended for cutting branches.

In John 15:1-4, Jesus says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."

God the Father is the gardener, and we are the branches that He carefully prunes to help us grow. And just like a gardener pruning a tree, He will still try to reach us wherever we are.


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Perfect Vision
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
 
We don’t always see the big picture. In fact, there are plenty of times, where I (we) can see only a tiny portion of what God has planned for us. I know I have found myself praying earnestly for one outcome, as that’s the only logical outcome . . . that I can see.  Of course God has the visibility we don’t have, and His answer may not be what we thought would be the “right” way, but we have to trust Him – He knows the way.
 
Just like this rock formation (above photo), in Garden of the Gods, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  This particular formation is named the Siamese Twins.



The image immediately above is the view I got peering through the opening (at the base), between the Siamese Twins. A few weeks after taking these images, I thought of how we (as humans) try to see everything but we have to (need to) rely on God’s  vision, not our own.

 
Jeremiah 29:11 says it best, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope.’”
 
I know of a few loved ones, currently struggling with this very situation – they may not see the end goal, or the full picture, but they can cling to the truth that God has a plan for them.  He’s always opening (and closing) doors for us to go through. All the while, giving us glimpses of what may lie ahead. Whether you find yourself in this exact situation or not, we can always rely on God’s guidance and assistance, each and every day.

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Wire Fence and Yellow-rumped Warbler         
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

It was well-designed, of sturdy construction, and still in impeccable shape in spite of having weathered many seasons.  Yet it was totally ineffective as a way of preventing a Yellow-rumped Warbler from passing through its barricade. In fact, one might argue, it assisted the warbler by providing a perch upon which to sit.  But then again, the fence wasn’t designed to keep warblers in, or out, for that matter.

And so it is with the law.  You can’t expect the law to do something it wasn’t designed to do.  We humans have tried to twist it into functioning that way, but that was never God’s intent.  Other analogies could be used to illustrate the same thing:  a wire bird cage makes a lousy aquarium; baking powder as a primary ingredient makes a poor frosting for chocolate cake.

These comparisons would be considered no more reasonable to the Apostle Paul than trying to gain righteousness by keeping the law.  “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have put aside all else, counting it worth less than nothing, in order that I can have Christ, and become one with him, no longer counting on being saved by being good enough or by obeying God’s laws, but by trusting Christ to save me; for God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith—counting on Christ alone.”  Philippians 3: 8-9 Living Bible)   Thank God for fences, for warblers, and for His grace.


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Sustained by God
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 8, 2016

I saw this little gosling taking a rest from all of the activity around it.  The parents and siblings were looking for food
and I'm sure this young bird joined them soon after this photo was taken.

It's amazing to see how little creatures so newly hatched and small have the knowledge and ability to survive.

You are the Eternal, the only One.
        The skies are Your work alone—
    You made the heavens above those skies
        and the stars that fill them.
    You made the earth and everything upon it,
        the seas and all that lives within their depths.
    Your creation lives and is sustained by You,
        and those who dwell in the heavens
    Fall down before You and worship.
Nehemiah 9:6 (The Voice)

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Searching
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 7, 2016

Rolling hills dotted with cypress trees paint the scenery of southern Tuscany, where I spent time this fall.  These classic landscapes appear on their many post cards and calendars as well as other souvenirs.  During this trip, I wanted to actually locate some of the places where other photographers capture their masterpieces.  One of the most common photographs is of the Madonna di Vitaleta Chapel (pictured above) located in a wheat field, in the Val d’orcia, west of Pienza. When searching for it, I thought it would be closer to the road, but it was way in the distance!  After driving a short way between two fields, then walking through a field, we actually reached The Chapel.  It was completely isolated next to an old farmhouse where stubble from the last cutting stuck up from the ground.  Our search for this chapel was successful!



What have you searched for in your life?  Has it included searching for God?  Have you found Him?  If not, He’s there, waiting for you to find Him!

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We Need Each Other
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 5, 2016

I’d been struggling for several days with the nastiest cold I’ve had in a long time, when a new symptom—puffiness in my throat—made me wonder, Strep? (I hasten to assure you that no, I do NOT have strep, confirmed by the MD’s swab test.)

That swab test was taken in the building above, the Virginia Mason clinic in Issaquah, this past Wednedsay morning. As I drove into the lot, I had to thread my way among these two ambulances and one fire truck. All their lights were flashing.

This confused me at first. What’s going on? I asked myself. This is a clinic. This is where people get treated. And if the medical crisis was great enough, wouldn’t the ambulances transport people in grave crisis to the large hospital just up the hill? And why the fire truck?

I started sniffing the air for smoke. Even a clinic is not immune to conflagration, though I saw no people shivering outside while firefighters did their work. There was no smoke smell, so as I walked toward the lobby I imagined maybe I would see all sorts of emergency personnel in the lobby, working on someone with a severe heart attack. But no, the lobby was serene. And when the doctor had examined me and I walked out of the building, the emergency vehicles were gone. I never did discover the reason for their presence.

But I was glad they were there, because they must have had a good reason. And I was glad the clinic was there too, and the large hospital on the hill. I was encouraged by all these helpers who are so willing to help each other—and for the doctor who encouraged me about my own health!

Want to hear how important encouragement is to God? Click the link immediately below—and you don’t even need your own fire truck!

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

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The End of Winter?
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 4, 2016

This picture was taken roughly a month ago on Christmas day.  January typically has the coldest temperatures, and now in February we are looking forward to spring.

When things seem gray, we can look for the beauty where we are at right now.  We can also think ahead to how we can make things better.

Philippians 4: 8-9 has some good words of advice:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

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Again?
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 3, 2016

If you’ve seen the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day," starring Bill Murray, you might have seen the picture above, and thought you we’re reliving the day over again also.  No, this isn’t a groundhog (it’s a Marmot I came across, while hiking in the Cascades) and you’re not stuck on February 2…that was yesterday. In the film, Bill Murray’s character (Phil), is a weatherman and finds himself reporting on the Punxsutawney, PA groundhog that is claimed to predict the weather.  The trouble is, after spending the entire day in Punxsutawney, which he hated, he wakes up the next morning and it’s Feb. 2nd again. The next day, same thing. I’m not going to go into great detail but Phil finds himself “stuck” in the same day and the choices he makes each day are interesting – from stealing, lying and cheating, to helping, learning and growing. It’s a silly story but has a great lesson. As Phil, on more than one occasion, is faced with the question: “what if tomorrow never comes?”
 
I truly believe there are people in this world that go through life with that idea – “…what if tomorrow never comes?” They believe there are no rules, no punishment. They can get away with anything. They can do just about anything.  Of course with that line of thinking, there is also, no hope. It all depends on your outlook of life and what the purpose is.
 
As believers, we have a different way of looking at things. We choose to attempt to be better people. To serve others. To share the gifts God has given us. The idea of going through life, with little or no reason for living, is very sad. Without the hope of a future – something beyond this sinful world, it’s downright depressing.
 
Back to the movie – Phil is stuck in the same day and he feels helpless. We don’t have to feel this way.  We have our faith. We have the knowledge of what God has in store for us.  We have paradise to look forward to. We look forward to the time, when there is no time. A place where we wake up and we get to be “stuck” in God’s presence for all of time. I can’t wait for that day….over and over again.



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Trash Container – No Trash     
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It seemed like such a contradiction, an industrial-sized trash container placed firmly on a hard, level surface as per instructions pasted on the right hand of the receptacle.  Yet, there was the sign, “NO TRASH”.  Clearly something was wrong, something was missing.  This was not a modified piece of work, a remake to do a job not originally intended.  No, this bin was designed to hold trash.  But one should always read the fine print, print that indicated it was to be used for recyclable material.  If one was still in doubt, a rather lengthy list of acceptable and unacceptable items was listed; phone books and paperback books were acceptable while Styrofoam peanuts were not.  It made sense once the intent was understood.
 
Ephesians 2:8, 9 is a favorite text among Christians, clearly stating that our salvation is based upon faith rather than our own performance.  This is especially important since we are inclined to be proud of our own accomplishment or swing to the opposite extreme and wallow in our insufficiency when we fail to perform.  Thank God for that assurance!  Yet the verse that immediately follows might be considered the fine print, that which clarifies and states the purpose behind it.  Consequently, we should include this passage in our thinking to grasp the big picture.  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)


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Warning
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 1, 2016

We see these orange cones and barrels all over the place and they indicate that we need to pay attention.  There could be a bump in the road, there could be a drop or a washout or they may simply indicate that we can't park in a particular spot.  Taking heed of the warning is usually in our best interest.

The Bible also gives us notices and indicates where we need to pay particular attention. Here are some words of Jesus:

 “Anyone who hears my words and does not obey them, I do not judge, because I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.  There is a judge for those who refuse to believe in me and do not accept my words. The word I have taught will be their judge on the last day. The things I taught were not from myself. The Father who sent me told me what to say and what to teach.  And I know that eternal life comes from what the Father commands. So whatever I say is what the Father told me to say.”  John 12:47-50 (NCV)

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