Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church
Daily Photo Parable 2017

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 th

Clapper Rail
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

We humans are a funny lot when it comes to the issue of change.  It appears we can’t make up our minds whether to embrace it or despise it.  In Acts 6:14 it’s recorded that false witnesses were brought forward to testify against Stephen with trumped up charges that this Jesus he kept talking about had threatened to change the customs given to them by Moses.  Such a thought was unthinkable.   On the other extreme,Scripture contains numerous examples of people grumbling about the monotony of their daily routine, but we don’t have to look beyond our own lives to find contemporary examples of this same behavior.

What seems socially acceptable for one generation may become anathema for another. Today the National Audubon Society champions the protection of bird species.  This is not limited to only the rare and endangered species but extends to the preservation of natural habitats in general.  But the Father of American Ornithology, John James Audubon, after whom the society was named, spoke of hundreds of Clapper Rail being shot by a few hunters in just a few hours.  He himself did all of his collecting at the end of a gun barrel and boasted of collecting 72 dozen eggs of this species in one day in New Jersey. Apparently such an outing wasn’t unusual for local eggers.  While today such practices have been outlawed, these rails of the tidal marshes are threatened even more by the draining of wetlands.

Fortunately for us there is One who is not dependent upon the most recent press release of new information in order to establish a sound policy, be it ecological, societal, or personal. The writers of Psalm 102 and Malachi 3 both recognized man's changeability, but rejoiced in the consistency of an all-wise God.  We should progress as our understanding broadens, but then again, it’s likely we would arrive there much sooner if we would just listen to the One who already has the answers

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The Lord is Great
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 27, 2017

This amazing view of the mountains is from the Gold Creek Pond picnic area up near Snoqualmie Pass.  It's a great place to take small children or anybody who needs a wheelchair as it is ADA accessible.  

There is 1.2 mile path around the pond and beautiful wildflowers in the spring and summer. You'll need a Northwest Forest Pass.
This pond used to be a gravel pit when I-90 was being built.  I think that it was a brilliant idea to turn it into something beautiful that people can enjoy and where they can go and admire the natural beauty.

For the LORD is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
Psalm 95:3-4 (NIV)

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Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Zagreb Botanical Garden, managed by the University of Zagreb in Croatia, is home to over 10,000 plant species.  Also, it has large ponds for aquatic plants as I’ve shared in earlier Photo Parables. In addition to the large leaves, I was attracted to the frogs in the pond!  Some of them jumped into the water when I got close.  This frog remained on a leaf even though I was near.  These big leaves seemed to be a perfect resting place for the frogs!

Even though modern technology claims to make our lives easier, there are times it seems (to me at least!) to burden us with figuring out their operation and the latest updates. Sometimes we get distracted from the important things in life, like taking time for our spiritual well-being and a relationship with God.  Jesus promises spiritual rest to those who come to Him; freedom from the many cares of this world.  Peace and joy can be found as we trust and rest in Him.  He says, “I will give you rest.” (Mathew 11:28)  Isn’t that a good offer for each of us today?

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Neurosurgery, Anyone?
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 25, 2017

Not long ago in an antique shop I spotted the book you see in the photo above. The author’s name is “Sharpe,” but I’m afraid my camera’s focus didn’t live up to his name.

As you can see by the book’s title, its topic is an important one. But as you can also see, the book doesn’t appear recent. In fact, I opened to its copyright page, and this is what I saw:

Let me pause a moment and count decades on my fingers. If I manipulated my digits right, this book is nearly 90 years old!

So let me ask you this. If you needed neurosurgery, and you knew a doctor who hadn’t studied anything on that topic later than when this book was written, how would you feel about going under that doctor’s knife?

No way, right? Here’s another question: When’s the last time you read large portions of the Bible? If you haven’t read even the familiar stories about Abraham, Joseph, Gideon, Samuel, David, Daniel, and Jesus for several years, how prepared are you to bring seasoned, grownup Bible interpretations to bear on the life challenges you face? The question answers itself, right?

Here’s how you can remedy any Bible vagueness you may be feeling. Jump into our Bible reading plan! Who cares if you didn’t start January 1? At the link below you’ll find the plan which is printed at the back of the Andrews Study Bible, and which assigns you a short New Testament passage in the morning, and a longer one in the evening. I’m following this plan too, and most Sabbaths I preach, I base my sermon on a passage from somewhere in that week’s reading.

Check it out! Jump in! Here’s the link!

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Thanksgiving Large and Small
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 24, 2017

On January 14, the Islamic Center of Eastside mosque, six blocks east of our church, was torched by an arsonist. In the photo above, behind the banner, you see the relatively unharmed front façade, but the fire was lit from the back, and gutted the interior and made it unusable.

Since January 14 was a Sabbath, one of our member couples stopped by a little group of men standing outside a yellow police tape, and offered our facilities for prayer. I and a couple of other members hurried over after the service to see if there was anything we could do. A Mormon church right next to the mosque has provided a classroom for prayer six days a week. Since the Mormons use their church very fully on Sunday, our own congregation has provided our fellowship hall for prayers on that day.

As you can see by what’s printed on the banner, the Islamic Center people are deeply grateful for the outpouring of community support. But the print on the banner isn’t the only thanks.

On the banner, already beginning to fade with the sunlight, are equally fervent expressions of gratitude from members of the Muslim congregation.

Gratitude is not only a gracious practice, but it’s good for the soul too. It keeps us humble, and it reminds us Who deserves our most fervent thanks for all He has done. For four Bible texts about this topic, click the link just below:

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Like the Deer
Photos ©2017 by Amber Jurgensen
Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sometimes deer gather near our neighbor's house possibly for safety at the edge of Tiger Mountain State Forest.  These shots were taken in low light so are a bit hard to see because they blend right in to the woods.  One picture shows six deer and the other has three of the deer closer up.

Deer seem like solid dependable people of the woods.  (A reference to Sam Campbell)  They are very soft spoken and might even listen to a few words.  It makes me think of the third commandment in Exodus 20:7, "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

It seems like our culture takes an opposite approach to this commandment and encourages swearing to show passion or to be funny.  But it is fairly thoughtless.  It would be much better to think through the situation and say something relevant and constructive.  Maybe here are some alternative ideas:

Tripping on a curb: "Oops that was a 9 out of 10 in the tripping Olympics!"

The electric bill is higher than expected: "That does it for the Christmas light show.  Next year, candles!"

Buddy runs over your lunch box with his SUV:  "That's ok, I needed to fill in that spot on the drive anyway."

This is too much for the deer to listen to, and they roll their eyes and walk away.  Oh well.  Let's put our passion and thoughts to work in loving others and pointing them to Jesus.

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Full Immersion
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This past week in Sabbath School class, we talked about John the Baptist’s story and how important it was to pave the way for the coming Messiah. We discussed the work John did – sharing of God’s love, salvation and all the baptizing he did – including Jesus Himself. We also discussed how our lives, may not be an exact match with Johns’, but we are also preparing others for the return of the Messiah. The work we do – sharing the message, sharing the promise of salvation and our ability to help influence others’ decisions – allows many more to be ready. We are witnessing today – like John was, in his time.
In Matthew 28, we see what Jesus asks of His disciples and in turn, is asking us as well –“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We’ve been called. We need to be ready, whenever God wants to use us and whatever purpose He asks of us.

Snoqualmie Falls - Washington

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Minimum Maintenance Road
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I hate stupidity.  I also hate government waste.  What imbecile needs this sign to inform him that this path is not a four lane freeway anyway?  About the only useful purpose it appears to serve is as a stationary target for those having little regard for the law in the first place.
Then again, are we really that different from those of long ago?  A rather strange story is related in Ezekiel 21 which, I confess, I don’t clearly understand.  The Lord had already prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed because of its wickedness and disregard for the Lord.  Beginning with verse 18 He gives more specifics, including who would lead the devastation as well as specific directions for the prophet himself.  Those directions are what I find most interesting and confusing.  Ezekiel is told to erect a signpost on one of the roads leading from Babylon to Jerusalem.  At the intersection, the sign should point one way to the capital of the Ammonites while the other should point to Jerusalem.
Why the signpost was needed is unclear since the king of Babylon, after reading the sign, still wouldn’t know what to do. Instead, he would use divination to help him determine which path of destruction to take.  He would cast lots using arrows, consult his idols, and examine the liver of a sheep or other animal to look for clear signs pointing him which way to go.  Stupid.  Mindless.
Rather than looking at the condition of the would-be road, or using reason to determine the best plan of attack, we humans often opt for a fatalistic, mindless option where God, or the gods, determines the best choice for us.  That in no way means we should disregard the power of prayer, but it does mean we should look at the evidence He has already provided. If the road is two feet deep in mud, I shouldn’t need a sign to tell me what to do.

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Marvelous Workmanship
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 20, 2017

You may have seen these sand collars on the local beaches.  They are made by the Lewis's Moon Snail.  These common snails can be found from Vancouver Island down to Baja, Mexico.  

The sand collars are actually egg cases which contain thousands of eggs.  

For more on the moon snail, go to:

David talks about how wonderfully complex humans are but I find it also amazing that the animal kingdom has such infinite variety, complexity and design as well.  

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Psalm 139:14 (NLT)

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Safe and Secure
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Lotrscak Tower, shown above, sits high on the hill in Gornji grad or the old part of Zagreb, Croatia. It was built in the 13th century to guard the southern gate of the town wall.  Notice the very top where a bell is hung.  It was rung each evening to signal it was time for the town folks to return to the town from the fields before the gate was closed for the night.  (People at that time didn’t have watches to tell the time.)  Once inside the town wall with the gates closed for the night, people felt safe and secure from any thieves.  A cannon was fired at 12 o’clock noon from the tower, to give the correct time for the bell-ringers of the city’s churches to begin ringing their bells.  According to a 15th century legend, a cannon shot from the tower landed on a platter of chicken on an invading Ottoman encampment.  Afraid of fearsome sharpshooters, the Turks fled!  Since the cannon was shot at noon, that practice continues.  None the less, the Lotrscak Tower and secured town wall kept the town folk safe and secure!

Do you feel insecure at times?  God wants us to feel secure and not live with fear.  God is love.  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  We love Him because He first loved us.”  I John 4:18, 19 (NKJV) God has unconditional love for each one of us which should make us feel safe and secure.

     The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
     The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
     Psalms 17:1 (NKJV)

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My Accordion Disappointment
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 18, 2017

Yeah, I know all about accordion jokes. Like, “What’s a gentleman? Someone who knows how to play the accordion but doesn’t.” Or “What’s the difference between an accordion player and a terrorist? A terrorist has sympathizers.” Or, “What is the range of an accordion? Twenty yards if you’ve got a good arm.”

Yet last Sunday, in a Value Village thrift store, an accordion caused me deep disappointment—and not because of its reputation of being too loud and incessant.

I know how to play the accordion, in a humble and rudimentary way. I actually have one, a small Hoehner I picked up in—of all places—Moscow, Russia. But the accordion I saw in Value Village (the beautiful instrument in the photo above) was larger than mine, and the number of square buttons above the keyboard promised a wider variety of sounds. And the price wasn’t cheap, but within reason.

So I lifted it out of its case and strapped it on. Great sound. And sure enough, pushing those square buttons provided me with high tones, low tones, medium tones, vibrato.

Hoping against hope, I fingered my way up the keyboard scale. But two-thirds of the way along, right when I was getting to the notes which one would play most often in performance, I discovered why this scene was happening at Value Village and not in a music store. Probably seven or eight crucial notes did not sound. I’d press the keys, and nothing would happen. So I sadly unstrapped the useless accordion and gently lowered it into its case again.

To me, an accordion is like a church, each key representing one of the members. God, of course, is the musician, and the Holy Spirit is the air which makes beautiful music. But if I don’t become an enthusiastic—and present—part of my church family, the music will be missing something, and the gaps will be noticed, and ruin the song.

How about you? Are you attending a Bible-believing church? Do you, like any self-respecting accordion key, remember that someone’s heart might be encouraged by your part in the joy God wants all His children to feel? You may not think that you have the greatest personality in the world, but yours might be just want someone else needs to encourage him or her. You just need to show up, and be ready to sound at the touch of the Master’s hand.

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What’s the Point?
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 17, 2017

Every Tuesday (weather permitting, which it didn’t a couple of weeks back) I volunteer at our two Adventist schools located a few miles north of our church. This past Tuesday I took two things Shelley provided for me—a kid’s picture book on the invention of the Slinky toy, and an actual Slinky, which you see in the photo above.

I kept the toy concealed until I’d read the book and showed its pictures to the kids. Then I pulled out the coil-y step descender and showed them how it worked.

They were fascinated. I have a feeling that most of the kids had never seen a Slinky before, and the few who had really didn’t know how it worked. So I had them line up and let the Slinky hop down from a box to a table surface and then down into my hand.

The kids may have gotten a lot of fun out of that Slinky demo, but I got an even bigger kick out of what one little second-grade boy said. I don’t know his name, and of course wouldn’t tell you if I did, but he had a fresh, open face and a blond crew-cut. He was one of the last to try out the Slinky, and after he’d done so, he looked up at me, serious and puzzled. “But what’s the point?” he asked.

That stopped me cold for a moment. I’d never heard a kid that young ask that question, period, let alone about a toy everyone was having fun with. Finally I said, “The point is to have fun.”

I still can’t helping laughing when I think of what that kid said. He must have thought there was some serious purpose behind the Slinky, and since he was at a school, it was his duty to make sure he knew what it was.

Woe be unto those of us who can’t see that God is a God of fun as well as seriousness. Think of monkeys, puppies, baby birds, little chicks, frisking calves, the giggling infants on the YouTube “funny babies” collections. Woe unto someone who might point to these frivolities and say, “What’s the point?”

The point, as God often said, is joy. Joy, says the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, is “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”  

Joy is good. God gives joy. To read four verses about His joy, and how to receive it, click the link immediately below.

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Sky meets Earth
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 16, 2017

We get snow so rarely around here that it is hard to know if our recent snow will be the last of the winter.  We might also feel like it is a rare thing to be close to God.  So it is good to regularly read God's promises.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.  Hebrews 6: 17,18

Remember that God does not change and is closer than we think.  Through Jesus we are freely forgiven. But, it takes regular decisions to choose God and His way.  One way to keep God close is to follow the first commandment in Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me."

Keeping God first in our lives is an excellent step towards being closer to Him.

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L. O. V. E.
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tuesday was Valentine’s Day (as you know), a day to remember your loved ones, or when we you were in grade school – a day to pass out little cards, hope you get some back and maybe a cookie or chocolate. When I was reminiscing, about the 3rd grade and the “loot” I collected, it got me thinking…what if God was like this?  What if God gave His love, once a year. Yikes!  What a horrible thought.
In 1 Corinthians 13 – we can read all about the topic of love – 4-7 & 13:
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance……..(13)Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” Please go and read the whole chapter, verses 1-13.
What can we learn? We can read what love is and what love isn’t. We can also see that a few things will last forever, and love is the greatest of them. Do we want to only show love every once in a while? Or be SHOWN love every once in a while? I doubt it. I think we want it all the time and we should WANT to share it all the time.

God doesn’t wait for one day out of the year to show His love to us, nor should we wait to show it to others. Since, Valentine’s day was yesterday – reach out to someone and show them love today…and the next day...keep it going all year long.

Image captured at Bellevue Botanical Gardens – Bellevue, WA.

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Black-backed Woodpecker
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Our world is in a constant state of change, so much so that one would be hard spent to find any aspect of it that remains static.  Some of these changes we look at and automatically categorize them as detrimental, generally because they affect our own sense of well-being. While we need  not abandon this notion entirely, in a larger sense these “catastrophes” may have a very positive other side.  One of the most obvious of these interruptions is fire.  No one walking through a burned over area can ignore the devastation that has taken place. But a closer look may also reveal a beneficial side as well.
Frequently noted is the necessity of fire for the release of seeds in Jack and Nob-cone Pine.  But equally dependent upon fire is the success of an uncommon North American species, the Black-backed Woodpecker.  It, along with the closely related American Three-toed Woodpecker, are two of only three extant birds in the world which have only three toes.  These woodpeckers usually arrive several months following a fire to feed upon the larvae of harmful wood-boring beetles that reside just under the loose bark.  Black-backs hunt for these by stripping away large patches of loose bark which hide these insects.  This ephemeral environment can be productive for the woodpeckers for a number of years following the burn.
We shouldn’t seek to minimize a person’s adversity by moralizing how good can come out of such, yet, if we can stand back far enough from the event, many times we can see things differently.  We can feel the agony in Naomi’s response to her daughter-in-law when she responds:  “Don’t call me Naomi (pleasant), she told them.  ‘Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.  I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi?  The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”  (Ruth 1:20, 21 NIV)  We love the romance and how this distraught woman once again has her life filled to the brim, and to top it off, becomes one of the ancestors of the coming Messiah.  Life is a series of changes, both for nature and those experiencing adversity.

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His Works Are So Great
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 13, 2017

Aside from being easy to identify (at least the males), I think that these Northern Pintail ducks are very beautiful.  You'll often see them with their tails up in the air as they are foraging for food in shallow water.

I give thanks to GOD with everything I’ve got—
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
GOD’s works are so great, worth
A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial—
This GOD of Grace, this GOD of Love.
He gave food to those who fear him,
He remembered to keep his ancient promise.
He proved to his people that he could do what he said:
Hand them the nations on a platter—a gift!
He manufactures truth and justice;
All his products are guaranteed to last—
Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof.
All that he makes and does is honest and true:
He paid the ransom for his people,
He ordered his Covenant kept forever.
He’s so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.
The good life begins in the fear of GOD—
Do that and you’ll know the blessing of GOD.
His Hallelujah lasts forever!
Psalm 111:1-10 (The Message)

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Heavy Laden
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Dolac Market, an outdoor farmer’s market in the center of Zagreb, Croatia has been operating for many decades.  It’s been a place where local people buy and sell vegetables, fruit, flowers and dairy products.  This bronze statue of a peasant market woman, named Kumica Barica, (above) represents the thousands of women of past times who, with big woven baskets of food items on their heads, walked to the market from their villages. Some of them had to walk many miles to get there.  What would a full basket of potatoes, beets and carrots or milk and eggs weigh?  Can you image doing this today?  They were definitely “heavy laden.”

Jesus has a message for the heavy laden.  He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  Mathew 11:28-30. (NKJV)  He gives rest to those who are heavy laden physically as well as mentally or psychologically.  All He says is “Come.”

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The Switch
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 11, 2017

Earlier this month, walking into our laundry room, I flicked the switch and nothing happened. (Have you ever tried to do laundry in a dark, windowless room? Not for the faint of heart.)

Actually, with the aid of a flashlight, I muddled through. But I knew that I needed to tackle the problem. First I replaced the light bulb. Still dark. Since the light socket seemed okay, I gingerly prodded the wires on the right-hand switch in the photo above, and got no reaction. So I assumed the switch was the issue, and snapped this photo and took it to the hardware store, spent $1.41, and brought the new switch home. Bottom line, everything works fine.

How’s your spiritual switch? Behind the switches above there’s quite a bit of power—110 volts, as my dad used to solemnly warn me. But if the switch is bad, that power can’t do what it’s supposed to do.

Don’t ask me what happens within an electrical switch to make it go bad. But the Bible tells me how important it is to connect firmly and correctly to the true source of power. In Acts 1:8 (NKJV), just before His ascension, Jesus told His disciples, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” In Ephesians 4:30 – 32, Paul—who at his conversion had definitely experienced divine power, has this to say:

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 So part of the Holy Spirit’s power happens through our Christlike behavior to others, because “ . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . .” Galatians 5:22-23

So it’s probably a good idea to stop thinking of the power of the Holy Spirit as some overwhelming force which takes possession of you. Instead, it gives you Jesus’ sweet and loving nature, which reflects the love of the Father.

For more of what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, click the link immediately below:  

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The Missing Journals
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 10, 2017

This past Sunday, having heard that the Bellevue branch of the University of Washington bookstore would be closing soon, Shelley and I were right there on the spot, checking out what was left.

These particular displays (emptied and stored off to the side) spoke deeply to me. Both are brand names of writing journals. Both are good quality. The Paperblanks journals are fancier-looking, and the Moleskines are plainer. I have a lot of black Moleskines, but they come in other colors too. I’ve used them to outline my sermons for years.

It’s touching to see that these displays are empty—evidence that a lot of people hungrily took advantage of the store’s 50-percent-off discount to snatch up these blank books, no doubt planning to journal their way to a memoir eventually, or at any rate to record their lives and their thoughts.

In talking about the Judgment, the Bible mentions books several times. Our lives are being recorded, and we will have to give an account of what we have done. But there’s a great deal of wonderful encouragement about the judgment, which you’ll discover if you click on the link immediately below:  

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Endless Snow?
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 9, 2017

I enjoy all kinds of weather, and this snow is a great event after having several years with no significant snow.  This image is on my roof where I shoveled off the carport to reduce the weight across the span.  Later we had more fun going out hiking in the snow.

Lately, I've been thinking about how God's commandments make us happier.  I'm not sure how snow relates to the tenth commandment in Exodus 20:17, "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

It is one of those logical things that makes sense to realize that if we are busy wishing we had someone else's things or position, we are led into temptation.  Perhaps worse, we don't think about the good things we could be doing with what we have, and we lose out on opportunities to improve ourselves and help others.

Maybe I was coveting Portland's snow a little bit.  But now I'm happy to have some snow here.  Even if we aren't all snow lovers, let's remember to be happy for other people when they have nice things, and thank the Lord for the blessings in our own lives.

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Thanks For Everything
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

There is always something to thank God for, it’s just a matter of us thinking about all the things we have. It could be health, or a job, or the house you live in. Maybe you’re thankful for the snow we recently received in the Seattle area, or maybe you’re thankful it’s melting away. Whatever it is, there hundreds of things we can be thankful for – daily.
Just about every time I work on a Daily Photo Parable blog and go to attach an image – it’s an example of something I thank God for. This shot is no different – I thank God for trees, water and the images they create, when put together. This one was captured at a lake, near Mt. Fuji, in Japan.
With all the things I have mentioned we should be thanking God for, they all pale in comparison to the gift we read about in Ephesians 2.
Ephesians 2: 8-10 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Let’s remember God’s gift of grace through faith, not by something we do.

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Crocodile Tears
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

You may have heard the expression used in reference to one whose sincerity of emotion was questioned.  It could be he was faking remorse or possibly that he was incapable of genuine sincerity.  Whatever the case, to "weep crocodile tears" implies an insincere show of sorrow.  It was first used this way by the Archbishop of York and Canterbury in 1563 when he wrote, “I begin to fear, lest his humility…be a counterfeit humility, and his tears crocodile tears.”

And just like most myths, this one too contains some partial truths which lend credibility to the events.  For it is true, crocodiles, just like humans, have lachrymal glands which produce tears, and these, along with nictitating membranes, aid in protecting the eyes. Apparently some observers watching these creatures devouring their prey did see watering of the eye and concluded that however horrendous the act, the crocodile must have felt some remorse.  Most of us today are skeptical about such emotions being the cause of such tearing, and thus the expression was born.

Since all of us desire genuineness in our relationships, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Lord also seeks this from His children.  “But even now,” says the Lord, “repent sincerely and return to me with fasting and weeping and mourning.”  (Joel 2:12 GNT)  It must be that the temptation to fake it has been around almost as long as the crocodiles have been crying.
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Trying to Get a Better View
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 6, 2017

This photograph is of the Observation Tower at Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta, British Columbia.  As you can see, people move up higher to get a clearer view of what is in the marsh.  

The Bible talks about us not having a clear view:

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (The Message)

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Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 5, 2017

Signs.  I’m sure you’ve seen signposts with many signs on them, be they road signs or trail signs indicating directions to a particular place.  You might not understand the first language on each of the above signs, but notice the second is in English!  If you closely look, you might be able to figure out it’s in the city of Zagreb, Croatia.  Signs can be very useful in pointing the way to a church, museum, town; lake, mountain, ridge or a number of other places.  Some signs can be or include symbols, such as stripes of red, white and red with numbers, as shown in my second image that points to various trails or mountains in northern Tuscany. (Another trail maintenance group has the color of green and white!)

Even with the advent of the GPS, I like maps with lots of information about the destination and sites or landmarks along the way.  Would you agree that it’s important to have directions to your destination?

God has provided us with “directions”.  It’s called the Bible.  With the many translations available today, you should be able to find one that’s easy for you to read and understand. In fact, our church is promoting reading of the Bible through in 2017, as can be seen on the website Home page.  Additional information can be obtained by clicking the following link: See what “direction” God has in store for you this year!

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Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 4, 2017

Great photo for the Sabbath day, right? I took this photo from inside the Portland (WA) Adventist Book Center. Portland isn’t the easiest town for me to navigate, having grown up on the firmly grid-format prairies and having finally conquered downtown Seattle’s tangles.

So it was a welcome sight to view, through this towering bank of windows, the towering trees in their full, peaceful glory. (Do you see the carved word "Relax" on the window sill at the bottom?)

Can you imagine how wonderful Eden’s first Sabbath must have been? God created Adam and Eve not on Sunday, to make them work a week to earn their rest. Instead, He created them well into Friday, so that their first full day of life would be a day of rest and relaxation.

Seventh-day Adventists and a growing number of other denominations are learning to treasure God’s special seventh day, not only for its potential for relaxation but for its reminder that our Creator is gracious and kind.

To learn or review what the Bible says about the Sabbath’s many benefits, click the link immediately below.

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Get Through It!
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 3, 2017

Not long ago I swallowed a bit of liquid the wrong way and went into a quite harmless but noisy coughing fit. As the hacking began to subside, someone slipped me a cough drop. Later, when got a look at it, I noticed the terse printed message you see above.

That earnest exhortation hit me wrong. The impression I got was of a drill sergeant towering menacingly over the cot of a basic trainee who’d caught the flu, urging him to rise above the weakness.

An online search revealed some other slogans which are printed on these wrappers—and each wrapper has several such messages:

“Don’t waste a precious minute.”
“Don’t wait to get started.”
“Keep your chin up.”
“Seize the day.”
“Flex your ‘can do’ muscle”
“Fire up those engines!”
“Hi five yourself.”
“Put a little strut in it.”
“Let’s hear your battle cry!”
“Nothing you can’t handle.”
“You’ve survived tougher.”
“Don’t give up on yourself.”
“Get through it”
“Power Through!”
“You can do it and you know it.”
“Put your game face on.”
“Get back in the game.”
“Get back in there champ!”

All very inspiring, no doubt, if barked out at a red-blooded sales motivational seminar, but for a sufferer?

God’s attitude is entirely different. He’s no “Outta your bunk and give me twenty push-ups, soldier!” drill sergeant. Instead, Psalm 103 (and Jesus in His teaching) show God to be a perceptive Parent:

As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
(Psalm 103:13 – 18 NKJV)

Notice the accountability in that last verse? God wants follow-through. He wants us to behave as though we are good citizens of Heaven.

If you’re feeling a bit “down,” and not in the mood for a cough-drop motivational phrase, click the following link for some true Bible encouragement:

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Old is New Again
Photo ©2017 by Amber Jurgensen
Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 2, 2017

Our Pathfinder youth club is learning about canning in jars, and here they are heating the ingredients for grape jelly and raspberry jam.  Some of the kids are excited about learning a skill that was common in the "old days."  To them it is brand new.  One boy even brought his mom in hopes they might learn to do canning together at home!

Discovering Bible concepts can be like learning tried and true cooking methods.  It is especially exciting when a Bible concept makes your life better.  Consider Exodus 20:16, "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

What if we followed the idea of this commandment to be honest and truthful in all things.  Possible benefits would be that people trust us more, we don't have to continually cover up previous falsehoods, we can relax our fear of getting found out, and we don't hurt friends and family like dishonesty does.

Perhaps some think we won't get as much by being honest.  However, by creatively applying the same amount of effort, we will accomplish much more.  Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Let's rediscover the sweet tasty principles in the Bible to increase our happiness.

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Are You Connected?

Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I took this image in downtown Portland a few years back. When I saw it, I thought of a network, or a group of vines connected to a larger branch. In John, Jesus talks about what it means to be connected and what happens when we aren’t.
(John 15 5-8) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
He says it right there – if we are away/not connected, we can do nothing – we are thrown away. On the flip side, we stay connected to Him and we can produce fruit. Which sounds better to you – thrown away, or being productive? I think we all know where we’d like to be – connected!

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