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

Daily Photo Parable -  January 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.

Simplify Your Life With Kids!
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 31, 2014

As someone who’s done a bit of writing myself, I guess I should be more paranoid about article and book titles. A little over a week ago I was in a thrift store and discovered the above volume.

The first thing I thought as I read the title was, “Is this author kidding? You can simplify your life by having children?” I don’t have kids myself, but as a close observer of my congregation’s first-time parents, I don’t think I have seen even one couple whose lives were simplified by the arrival of kids. Exactly the opposite.

I’m assuming what the author intended to communicate was that, if you do have children and you find your life complex and even chaotic, this book will contain principles that will help you organize your family’s life.

As I studied the title above, I thought of God the Creator. If there’s one thing clear about history – which is of course His-story – God’s life was far from simplified by creating humanity, especially after Lucifer introduced distrust into the Garden.

But just as many earthly parents staring into an uncertain future as they are deciding to have children, yet go ahead with it because of the love and joy they want to lavish upon their own, God was still so in love with His unborn “babies” that he went right ahead and created Adam and Eve. That is love.

Yet it’s not supreme love. That was demonstrated by Jesus, who so loved the world that He joined His Father in taking part in salvation’s plan. If you ever feel as though who you are and what you are doing is too complicated and rebellious for God to handle, remember that – above all else – He loves you.

Want to read what the Bible says about that amazing love? Click the link immediately below.

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Power Lines
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, January 30, 2014

A number of months ago, a power line work crew went though changing the spacers on the primary transmission lines just down the road from us. Each set of three wires has spacers every so often, and these spacers need to be replaced every five years. To do that, a helicopter hovers with a "trolley" (I don't know what they are called) as close to the line as it can, and a worker hooks the trolley to the line. This trolley thing weighs roughly 800lbs even though it looks small from the ground. It also has a motor on it, so that the worker can climb on and drive the trolley down the lines, changing spacers until they get to the next tower; then the helicopter would carry it to the other side of the tower. I didn't get a pic of everything in one shot, so here is a wider-angle view.

Our relationship with God is like these huge power lines. If we put a lot of effort into maintaining the connection, it will stay strong. If the connection gets broken, it can be repaired, but it is very costly in many ways for those involved.

2 Samuel 22:33 (NKJV) says:
"God is my strength and power,
And He makes my way perfect."

Isaiah 40:29:
"He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength."

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Let There Be Light
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
God is so powerful.  With a wave of a hand, a simple thought or a few spoken words, God can do anything.  I feel we (I am included in this for sure) take that for granted. We sometimes forget the power of God.  We may not always see the end plan, or the reason behind what is going on in our lives currently, but we can rest assured He does.
A couple weeks ago we took a short hike up to the lower falls of Wallace Falls, just outside of Index, Washington.  If you live in the area, it’s a great spot for a Sabbath afternoon hike.  As we were headed back to the car, the fog started to roll in.  I only had my phone camera (shame on me for leaving my camera behind), so the quality isn’t perfect but you get the idea.  The light was streaming through the fog and the branches of the trees.  As I was capturing a few of these images, it reminded me how powerful our God is.
Creation is where we see the power of God at hand, the most.  As He said the words, it happened.  Just like that.  The entire world was created at his hands and voice.  I recommend (I’m listening to my own recommendation) the next time you find yourself concerned about a situation, or at a crossroads of a decision, trust God is ready to take action.  Just like that.

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Dirty Trumpeter Swan
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Three pair of swan alighted on the water not far from our home.  These large, majestic birds can be seen from a great distance as their white plumage contrasts with the winter blue cold of the lake.  Swans forage for food close to the surface of the water, but their long necks enable them to reach further down than the ducks feeding nearby.  In so doing, they often become stained with the mud they encounter at the bottom.  One of the pair was so marked, and this made them easy to distinguish from the others.

While they appeared to forage together amicably, the camera caught them in a moment that reminded me of the way humans tend to interact, a way that isn’t always the way it should be.  Think of the social ostracism the dreaded disease of leprosy caused to the unfortunate ones who contracted this affliction. We can imagine the stigma placed upon an individual of Christ’s time who was required to proclaim himself unclean so as to avoid contaminating others.  

But human nature is complex and in this illustration the dirty Trumpeter Swan seems to be driving the clean individual away.  They are not, but this appears to be the case.  Unfortunately, this is too often seen within mankind, where the guilty ostracize the blameless, perhaps because their “dirtiness” becomes even more apparent next to the pure whiteness of the innocent.  All swan get dirty from the way they feed.  All humans are guilty of sin, every single one of us.  If my guilt has been washed away, I should live appreciatively in that grace, recognizing that there, but for the grace of God, go I.

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Spring Showers On The Garden
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, January 27, 2014

Like Darren, I thought it would be good to show some color at this time of year.  These are some of the thousands of rhododendron flowers which bloom in the Washington Park Arboretum around April and May.  All of the lovely rain we get here in the greater Seattle area makes for ideal rhododendron growing conditions.

This scripture is a song that was given to Moses by God just before Moses died and the Children of Israel went into the Promised Land.  Moses taught it to the people,  We also need God's teaching to fall on us like spring showers on the garden so that we can grow.

Listen, Heavens, I have something to tell you.
    Attention, Earth, I’ve got a mouth full of words.
    My teaching, let it fall like a gentle rain,
        my words arrive like morning dew,
    Like a sprinkling rain on new grass,
        like spring showers on the garden.
    For it’s GOD’s Name I’m preaching—
        respond to the greatness of our God!
    The Rock: His works are perfect,
        and the way he works is fair and just;
    A God you can depend upon, no exceptions,
        a straight-arrow God.
    His messed-up, mixed-up children, his non-children,
        throw mud at him but none of it sticks.
Don’t you realize it is GOD you are treating like this?
        This is crazy; don’t you have any sense of reverence?
    Isn’t this your father who created you,
        who made you and gave you a place on Earth?
    Read up on what happened before you were born;
        dig into the past, understand your roots.
    Ask your parents what it was like before you were born;
        ask the old-ones, they’ll tell you a thing or two.
                        --Deuteronomy 32: 1-7 (The Message)

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Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, January 26, 2014

The cold, dry winter environment in northern Norway, especially in the Lofoten islands, is ideal for drying fish as a method of preservation. Fish is hung outside on the hjell, or fish-drying rack, from February to May. Hjells were a common site, in this first photo as we came in to a harbor in the Lofotens. (I might mention that I did not appreciate the smells!) After that, it is matured for another two to three months indoors in a dry environment. All the fish nutrients are maintained but about 80% of the water in the fish evaporates. Fish, usually cod, preserved this way is called stockfish.

The second photo (immediately above) shows more fish drying. Drying of food is believed to be the world's oldest food preservation method. Salting fish is another old method of fish preservation.

A fish, the oldest Christian symbol, tied together fishing and Christian qualities. I'm told that the letters in the Greek word for “fish” form the acronym for the first letters (in Greek) of the phrase Jesus Christ Son of God Savior. The Bible is full of stories about fish and fishermen. Jesus traveled with fishermen and chose them to spread His word. The local people depended on fish and bread as staple food. In His time, the city of Magdala was the center for salting and drying fish for preservation. From there, fish was put in baskets and exported to such places as Rome.

This last photo features Fish Soup for sale at the harbor in Bergen. Five loaves of bread and two fish fed five thousand people as recorded in Mark 6:35-40.

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Do You Feel Like a Rushed Pineapple?
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 25, 2014

Midway through last month I happened to catch sight of this can of pineapple chunks in our pantry. The sale sticker was pasted over the “C,” so what we have here is a can of “rushed pineapple”!

These days the news is fairly well-populated with stories about foods which have been genetically modified, mainly to speed up their production. Animals are fed drugs to hurry their maturity toward their slaughter. And it goes without saying that the information our kids are exposed to often rushes them toward a maturity they don’t need that early.

Do you sometimes feel like a “rushed pineapple”? Does it seem incredibly difficult to follow God’s Psalm 46:10 advice to “Be still and know that I am God”? That’s what the Sabbath is for, the wonderful seventh-day slice of eternity which God prescribed even for His two sinless first children. More and more thoughtful Christians of many faiths are turning appraising eyes on God’s prescription for human sanity in a rushed, off-kilter world.

The first three choices you’ll find at the link below give you a thorough Bible mini-course on the seventh-day Sabbath treasure:

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Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 24, 2014

Several years ago, when this blog was called Devotional Photo Blog, I posted a photo similar to the one above. On New Year’s Day of this year, as Shelley and I walked along a hiking trail just beyond our neighborhood, I couldn’t resist snapping another photo of the wonderful little spider webs at the top of this chain link fence.

The photo shows you only a fraction of these webs. I haven’t checked, but theye probably stretch for miles. I know that they’re at present on a few hundred yards of the fencing on the part of the trail we walk.

Talk about persistence . . . .  I can’t be certain, of course, that they were created by just one spider. But think of what the insect has to go through to create just one strand.

First, the spider ascends to the top of one of the wire twists, and anchors a thread.  Second, he (she?) probably has to crawl back down and walk across the pipe, trailing silk. Third, up the other wire twist, pull the thread tight, and anchor it. Fourth, do a bit of reinforcement spinning. Then on to the next strand.

Jaw-dropping, right? All on the off-chance that a fly or other winged critter will zoom along and get caught in that small space. Amazing.

Roughly three thousand years ago, a wise proverb-write named Agur the son of Jakeh studied nature with similar astonishment. Here’s what he had to say about—among other wonders—the spider:

There are four things which are little on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
The ants are a people not strong,
Yet they prepare their food in the summer;
The rock badgers are a feeble folk,
Yet they make their homes in the crags;
The locusts have no king,
Yet they all advance in ranks;
The spider skillfully grasps with its hands,
And it is in kings’ palaces.
         --Proverbs 30:24 – 28 NKJV

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Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, January 23, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I pulled up behind this car at a red light. Though I would never mount a quirky license plate on a car I myself owned, I love it when other people do (okay, call me a hypocrite!).

I immediately started trying to decipher what that plate meant. Does an old grump drive that vehicle? Did the old grump’s wife buy the plate? Did a friend buy the plate?

But then I looked more closely. The resolution isn’t the best given the number of pixels the website likes me to use for photos, so all you may be able to see on the license plate frame are little fuzzy black circles.

But look more closely:


Now can you see the meaning? The paw-prints signal that animal lovers own this vehicle, and that “GRRUUFF” isn’t a sound to be feared, but the beloved vocalizations of a favorite dog.

Shelley and I love animals—but we love them too much to subject them to the crazy pastoral mostly-gone-from-home lifestyle we live. So we tell ourselves that we’ll have pets in heaven. God made many wonderful creatures which give joy, even in an imperfect world.

Which of course brings up the age-old question: Do our pets go to heaven? For a balanced look at that question, click the link immediately below.

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Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So many options as to what "EP" might mean.  Given no context, the options are endless.  The image was taken in a house, a couple years ago, when I had the chance to visit a famous location in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Guess it yet?  If not, that’s OK.  The EP on the wall stood for Elvis Presley. Yes, I visited “Graceland” and did the tour of Elvis’ house, grounds and all the museums you can imagine.  It was a fun experience but not something I will need to do in the near future.  That said, I have met a few (at least 3) people that told me they visit this location every year.  These are people I chatted with, after going to Graceland, so it’s not like I met them there.  I’m not sure if that is dedication or something else.  

Now I want to talk about a different “EP." This one also deals with a bit of traveling.  The EP I want to focus on is Eternal Paradise.  John 3:16 & 17, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Everlasting life – Eternal paradise.

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Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ask the average, uninformed American to name ten different birds.  The response, right after Donald and The Roadrunner, would most likely include the crow.  Even those with absolutely no ear for calls could probably at least mutter a hoarse “caw” if encouraged to mimic some species.  Part of the reason for this familiarity with crows is its penchant for people.  Unlike its relative the raven which is found in remote, wilderness areas, the crow is usually found somewhere in the proximity of humans.  It has a healthy respect for Homo sapiens but apparently recognizes where two-legged citizens abound, there too is the promise of food.  There are actually several species of crow found in the United States, the one pictured above being a Northwestern Crow, though some would dispute any distinction between it and the more familiar American Crow.

Crows seem to be pragmatic creatures. Like many of us who subsist on convenience, crows seem to have a vending machine mentality.  Not that such thinking limits one’s choices.  I recently read that besides the traditional fare of soda, candy, and crackers, such machines are now equipped to deliver pizza, shoes, bicycles, swimsuits, and even gold bullion on demand.  While crows apparently have no sense of smell, they are considered one of the most intelligent birds.  A recent shopper at Costco observing a crow tearing into a covered box which contained consumable food was caused to remark that either the bird could smell or else it could read.  The obvious third alternative would be a previous encounter with a similar box, but partially open, which provided accessible nourishment.  No one suggested they couldn’t learn quickly.

We frequently applaud Solomon’s appeal for wisdom when God inquired what He could do for him.  The Living Bible offers another quality worth seeking, a quality often seen among crows but all too infrequently among humans.  “Lord, deal with me in lovingkindness, and teach me, your servant, to obey; for I am your servant; therefore give me common sense to apply your rules to everything I do.  (Psalms 119:124,125)

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What's In A Name
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, January 20, 2014

I took this picture of a tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor) in Everglades National Park a few years ago.   It was great to see the huge variety of herons and egrets (and other creatures) in that part of the country (Florida) since here we generally just see great blue herons and if we are in the right place at the right time, we may see green herons or bitterns. 

When I looked up some information on this bird, I found out that it used to be called a Louisiana Heron but the name was changed in 1982 because it has a much broader range than just Louisiana.  It's found in a number of states and even down into South America.

The name Louisiana Heron was not a bad name but it was limiting and was not an accurate description because it sounded like the only place you could see this bird was to go to that state.

Some names have very bad connotations because someone with that name did something pretty horrific.  You don't find too many parents naming their children Cain or Judas because of the horrendous things they did which are noted in the Bible (Cain killed his brother and Judas betrayed Jesus).

Some people are considered heroes or saints or are idolized for their celebrity status and you will find people naming their children after them.

Our family names can be important too.  If one family member brings disgrace on himself or herself, it often brings disgrace on the whole family.  Some family members even change their names after something like this happens because they don't want to be identified with the person who is notorious for something horrible.

Proverbs 22:1 (NIV) states:
A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

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I Have a Dream
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, January 19, 2014

When in Oslo, Norway, we visited the Nobel Peace Center and learned of the many people honored for their work in peace and conflict resolution. On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Additionally, in 1986 a federal holiday was established in his honor, which we celebrate this week. His father changed both of their names (both were Michael King) in honor of the reformer Martin Luther. King's faith was based on wanting to do God's will and loving your neighbor as yourself. His non-violent thought was based on turning the other cheek from The Sermon on the Mount and putting your sword away. As we know, he led the movement for equal civil rights for blacks During the march on Washington in 1963, King delivered a speech known as “I Have a Dream”. The March and King's speech helped the laws for civil and voting rights to be passed.

“Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who treat you spitefully. When a man hits you on the cheek, offer him the other cheek too; when a man takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give everyone who asks you; when a man takes what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others as you would like them to treat you.” Luke 6:28-31 NEB What is your dream for peace?

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Upside Down World
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 18, 2014

Three days into the new year, when Shelley and I were on a morning walk, she noticed this twig, from which hung fat bright droplets of water. I took several photos, and finally found that the best way to “show off” the droplets was to make sure that the dark fence was behind them.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes life’s greatest beauty can be best recognized against the dark backdrop of sorrow? A few weeks ago I paid a hospital visit to a church member who in a few minutes would be moved from there to a hospice care center. His voice was weak, but his faith in a resurrecting Savior shone bright and clear.

I see another lesson in the water droplets. They’re transparent, of course, and a tiny image of the world beyond them shines through. But notice something interesting. Take a closer look.

Do you see it? In each droplet the image is upside down. The sky is on the bottom, and the dark line of the fence on top.

Acts 17 offers dramatic evidence of how world-jolting Christianity was. When Paul and his fellow-travelers arrived in the town of Thessalonica, some of the local Jewish people tried to stir up the citizens against the apostle. Their talking point: “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” (Acts 17:6 NKJV)

Does the world seem a strange and topsy-turvey place? Take courage—we’re looking at it upside down. The Bible helps us see it as it should be: humility rather than pride, childlike trust rather than jaded cynicism, being ready to lose your life for Christ rather than preserve it, laying up treasure in heaven rather than keeping it in a bank, and so on.

Want to read two texts where Jesus tells us how to relate to the world? Click the link immediately below.

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The Broken Debit Card
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 17, 2014

Earlier this week in a grocery store parking lot, I caught sight of this right-hand half of a debit card. As I stare at its picture now, I wonder what thought-process its destructive owner was going through.

If you can make out the expiration date, you can see that it’s 2017, so this card would still be usable if it were whole. Wells Fargo is a reputable bank which hasn’t gone under. And this is a debit (not a credit) card—so its owner couldn’t build up a mountain of consumer debt with it. And this card is not lying near a casino but a grocery store, a place where you pick up many of life’s survival essentials. So, what happened to cause this person to deliberately destroy a usable debit card?

It suddenly struck me—and I’ve since confirmed this—that the particular grocery store which owns that parking lot has a Wells Fargo bank branch in it! So we can now reconstruct a possible scenario: A person visits the bank branch in the store. Something happens to cause that person to stop being enamored with the bank. The person proceeds from the bank to his or her car, and at some points snaps the non-expired card, thus severing electronic contact with his or her checking account.

You and I both know that I’m guessing. I don’t know what really happened. But as a pastor, I do know that there are a lot of people who, because of reasons which perhaps could have been solved with some patience and humility, cut themselves off from the treasure-filled storehouse which is a good, Bible-believing, Bible-behaving church.

I don’t know if there truly was some sort of misunderstanding in that bank branch. Maybe the customer said, “I’m done with this bank!” The teller may have said, “Could I bring the manager to talk with you?” “No!” shouts the customer. “I’ve had it!” and stomps out.

Again, who knows what happened in the bank? I, however, know what sometimes happens between Christians and the churches they attend. Insensitive words are spoken, and rather than patiently asking for clarification, ties are cut. It’s too bad. It ruins lives, sours the hearts of children, and causes spiritual cement to harden around hearts.

For three potent Bible texts on reconciliation, click the link just below:

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Photo©2014 by Amber Jurgensen
Commentary©2014 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sometimes we encounter switchbacks on the trail of life.  We might wonder why these curves in life come along.  The photo above shows an example of a switchback.  On this particular trail near Stevens Pass there are 29 switchback legs in a row.  In the background of the picture you can see the hillside ascending steeply to the right.  It would be too steep to manage if the trail went straight up.  On this mountain of rocky cliffs, it was the only place a trail could safely get to the top.

Psalms 23:3 says, "He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake."   We can't answer all the questions of why switchbacks come in life where sin causes many problems.  I pray that we follow God's leading on paths that lead to Him.

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Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

God loves color.  Look around and see all the color He has created.  Of course, this time of year in the Northwest, it seems like the color is a bit bland but it’s still there.  I wanted to bring a little (bright) color to your day, with this image – captured at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.

When you read through the Bible, you see the level of detail God is involved in.  That’s by design, obviously. He created and cares for each one of us.  He sees the big picture as well as the tiny little details, including color.  He easily could have created a world, lacking in detail or variety, but He chose to do the exact opposite.  Now, let’s fast forward when the end of this sinful world comes to fruition.  We look around heaven – the REAL home God has prepared for us.  If we think we see detail and color now, we are in for a great surprise.  I look forward to taking lots and lots of mental pictures around heaven. 

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Pearls Before Swine
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The phrase has become part of the culture and thinking of our time.  I don’t know if it originated with Christ or He borrowed a common idiom of His time, but it conveys the same meaning today as it did 2000 years ago:  something valuable shouldn’t be given to those who won’t appreciate it.  “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.”  (Matthew 7:6)  This comment from the Sermon on the Mount follows directly after His counsel on not judging before you have your own act cleaned up.  It’s likely that Christ intended to use this mixed metaphor to emphasize the contrast between the two subjects.  Pigs and pearls just don’t fit together in the same sentence.  

A rainy morning in the Pacific Northwest provided another insight into this passage.  The cobwebs had been transformed into dainty strings of pearls following the morning shower and a passage in Amos came to mind:  “The days are coming declares the Sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11 NIV)  To fully appreciate this contrast you will need to have spent at least some time in the desert which is the home of the Collard Peccary or javelina.  This pig of the Southwest is able to survive and thrive in dry, dusty desert conditions and would most likely feel out of place should it be transplanted to one of our rain forests.  To follow this line of thinking further, I have to ask myself if I really long for the words of truth He has given us.  Numerous translations are lined up together on my bookshelf but they don’t do much more than collect dust if they aren’t read.  Dust, after all, isn’t found only in the desert you know; maybe it’s time to go looking for some pearls.

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Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, January 13, 2014

I took this picture while waiting in line for a ferry.  Waiting in lines in not my strong suit, whether it be ferry lines or amusement park rides or check out lines in a grocery store. 

According to the Bible, waiting upon the Lord is a different experience:

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV)

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Safe in the...
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kittiwakes, in the gull family, usually make their nests on steep cliffs and ledges away from the threat of many predators. Many species of chicks walk around as soon as they hatch, but not the Kittikwakes. Because of the location of their nests, they remain still to avoid falling down the cliff. In addition to seeing these birds on cliffs in northern Norway, we saw many colonies that had built their nests on roofs or ledges of houses, other buildings or even on bridges. The black-legged Kittiwake is the only gull that dives underwater to get its food. As you can see in the photos, their nests are composed of mud and vegetation. The young hatchings are covered with white and soft gray down, fledgling when they are around 40 days old. In the meantime, they remain safe in their nests.

Sometimes we might feel uncomfortable where we are or what we are doing. If you have that feeling, it might be wise to investigate your surroundings. If in danger, get away! When traveling, it's wise to be vigilant and watchful in order to remain safe. In a spiritual sense, we can be safe in the arms of Jesus. We all know the song by Fanny Crosby, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus”.

Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast -
Here by His love o'er-shaded,
Sweetly my soul doth rest.

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The Lights of Home
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 11, 2014

According to the little date recorder on my digital camera, it was the evening of December 25 when Shelley and I stopped our car so she could take a photo of a neighborhood Christmas light display.

Once she’d taken the photo, I glanced to the west and saw what you see above. A warm yellow porch light glowed in the foreground, but far out into space I could see the moon (for some reason it always looks smaller when you take a photo of it), and a bright evening star below. The contrast was heart-tugging—the friendly house light and the icy glare of the celestial orbs.

Looking at the photo now, I think about the One whose birth we celebrate, even though He was born nowhere near December 25 (more likely in early to mid-autumn). The Bible says that He was the Creator of the moon and stars, but also so in love with those He created that He decided to make earth His “hometown.” And Revelation 21 says that eventually this planet will be the home of the heavenly city the New Jerusalem. God will move that city to this planet!

So even though the Creator is at home anywhere He may go among His far-flung galaxies, His heart is here. And one day He’ll be back.

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Men at Work
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 10, 2014

This past Tuesday morning I was heading north traveling on what I call my “weasel route,” which is a trail of side streets I take when northbound I-405 is jammed with the morning commute. Just before one of the I-405 overpasses I glanced left and saw the building beyond the stop sign.

An uninitiated person might say, “What’s so great about that building? Looks like a warehouse to me.” But 70,000 screaming fans who will occupy their seats at Seattle’s CenturyLink stadium this weekend would passionately answer, “That’s not just any building! That’s where the Seattle Seahawks practice!”

Sure enough, this weekend a very important game will take place, and the Seahawks must win it. It looks like rain is in the forecast, and everybody is hoping that the downpour will dampen the spirits of, and the football for, the visiting Saints. And all week, there are large bunches of highly-muscled men at work within this building.

As I gaze at this photo, it reminds me that our planet is something like this practice facility (called, by the way, the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, or V-MAC) Each of us is a player—more accurately a warrior—in the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Unlike my northbound commute, there are no "weasel routes"--the opposing team must be met directly, and dealt with. Like the Seahawks wear their uniforms, God encourages us to put on His armor, so that in the heat of battle (fought for infinitely higher stakes than a Superbowl possibility) we will be victorious.

That armor is discussed in the link below. And just as the Seahawks have been closely studying their opponents, we need to be very aware of the devil and his plans. Check out this link: 

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Little Tiger
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, January 9, 2014

This might look like a fierce cat, but he really is very friendly. We sometimes call our pet cat Brownie a little tiger because he can be fiercely playful and has stripes going down his sides. He is an inside cat, but sometimes we let him out for a little while and he likes to sit on our picnic table and watch the humming birds at the feeder (which is out of his reach).

The Bible talks about how in heaven all creatures will get along peacefully.

Isaiah 11:6 NIV: "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them."

I can't picture Brownie lying down with our goat or chicken (the photo below, which was my November 28 Daily Photo Parable) because he is scared of both of them.

Isaiah 11:7-9 goes on to say: “The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

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Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A couple years back, I was fortunate to go to Kenya and work with the Masai tribe.  We helped build part of their medical clinic as well as took a day to visit their amazing Masai Mara National Park.  During our visit, we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of one of only a few Black Rhinos in the park.  Looking at this creature, you can see that its skin is very thick in order to serve as an armor.  This armor is to protect them from other animals, and insects, as well as thick, thorny brush in which they hide -- for another type of protection (from poachers).

God gives us armor.  Not to ward off insects or thorny brush but to protect us from the evil of this world.  In Ephesians 6 (10-13) we can read all about it, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

In this sinful world, we are soldiers and we need all the armor and protection we can get.  If God is willing to provide armor to this Black Rhino, He is more than willing to provide it to you and I.

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The Dark Side of the Moon
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Primitive societies have long held the moon in high regard.  That silver orb in the night sky seemed to hold some mysterious power beyond the control of man.  Modern man may view this satellite in a different light since having walked upon its surface, but the mystery is not gone.  Lovers still seem transfixed by its light and tides still respond to its pull, but there’s one portion that seems beyond our inspection.  This unknown is often referred to as the “dark side of the moon.” It’s not that the moon doesn’t rotate; rather it has fallen into a synchronous orbit with the earth which means it spins around our planet at precisely the same rate as our own rotation, thus keeping the same face towards us. 

This name even carried with it connotations of the forbidden, that which was beyond inspection or consideration.  In truth, there really is no dark side, only a side not visible from the surface of our earth.  Astronauts have now photographed in detail the surface which was not previously observable to us, so some of the mystery has dissipated.

Perhaps it would be well for us to remember that the only light the moon produces is reflected light.  What we refer to as “the dark side” is in fact fully illuminated by the sun at the proper time. It’s just that we aren’t in a position to see it.  What may be abundantly clear to one individual may be totally obscured to another.  As Jesus walked with the two on the road to Emmaus following His resurrection, they were in a position which prohibited them from seeing what was right before their faces until their eyes were opened.  (Luke 24:33)   The Light was there, only they were not in a mental state to receive it.  Thank God for His patience in helping us to open our eyes.

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The Destination
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, January 6, 2014

One of my friends suggested a hike to Bridal Veil Falls on New Year's Day.  I looked it up in my guide books and found out that it was a 4.2 mile (return trip) hike with 800-1000 feet elevation gain (depending on which book I read!). I wasn't sure I could make it as I haven't been exercising as much as I should and certainly not with any elevation.

It turned out to be a really nice day for hiking as the weather was good and there was no snow on the trail which is close to Mt Index and off of Highway 2, east of Monroe.  Lots of other hikers were on the trail as well and some of them continued up to Lake Serene but the waterfall was a good turnaround point for me. 

The trail was quite rocky in places, we had to cross some streams by balancing on rocks and there were lots and lots of stairs but the final destination was worth the effort. 

Our heavenly home with Jesus is our ultimate destination.  We are on a journey through life where we often have to watch our steps or climb over what seems like insurmountable obstacles but we need to remember where we are headed.

Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. . . But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. Philippians 3:13-14 and 20-21 (The Message)

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Beacon of Light
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Kjeungskjaer lighthouse on a tiny Island north of Trondheim, Norway was built in the year 1880 and automated in 1987. The lighthouse operator lived on the lower floors of this 68 foot structure before it was automated. Because the midnight sun provides light 24 hours a day during the late spring and early summer, it was not lit when our ship passed by. Lighthouses are an aid to navigation, marking dangerous coastlines, islands or reefs. Originally lit by open fires, then candles and on to electricity, carbide and solar-charged batteries. Lighthouses existed before the time of Christ, helping provide safety for those on the water.

Like lighthouses save many lives by showing the way, Jesus can be our Lighthouse. He is there, shining as a beacon of light to show us the way. Without His light, we can get off course in the dark and become lost. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12  May our lives be beacons of light leading the way to Jesus.

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First Student
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 4, 2014

In early December I noticed this (to me) strangely-labeled school bus. A quick search online showed how out-of-the-loop I was, probably because I don’t have kids. First Student, according to its website, claims to be “America’s Largest School Bus Company,” offering charter buses to transport students.

As I snapped this photo—well be before doing online research--my mind went back to this planet’s “first students,” Adam and Eve. Genesis 1 describes God creating their “playground,” a garden whose contents He repeatedly insisted were “good,” and finally “very good” (Genesis 1).

Having created a perfect environment, and peopling it with two perfect human beings, God wasn’t going to skimp on their instruction. First He gave them the gift of being made in His own image, and then the five senses which would allow them to enjoy and appreciate His garden fully. Then He gave them what He called “dominion,” the responsibility of guiding and shaping His creation. He also gave them the ability to create and train new human beings so that they too would retain the image of God.

What a wonderful schoolroom! And the best news of all is that once this old planet’s history is over, God is going to re-create the earth so that those who’ve discovered how much He loves them—and how much they love Him—can live and learn forever!

Want to learn more about what the Bible says about heaven—and how you and I can become God’s students for eternity? Click the link immediately below.

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At Last--Truth in Advertising!
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 3, 2014

It was Shelley—well trained in discerning what’s nutritional and what’s not—who spotted this refreshingly candid sign hanging above the aisle of a grocery store in mid-December. Usually, food marketers go to great lengths to minimize their products’ deficiencies, but the creator of this sign (with approval from higher-ups) evidently said, “Hey, let’s cut to the chase. People came to this store to get food they like, and a lot of folks like salty snacks, so let’s tell ‘em where they are.”

If only the devil were so candid about the ways in which he tries to destroy our bodies and our souls. But he’s not. Jesus flatly called him a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

Providentially (and I mean that literally) the Bible contains some crucial counsel about how to spot and resist temptation. For some of that counsel, click the link immediately below.

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Moving Mountains
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, January 2, 2014

As I was walking the dog on New Year's Day, I was pleased to get above the fog to see this scene of Mount Rainier.  It is interesting to think about God's power to move mountains.  We all face plenty of problems that loom like mountains.  It is comforting to know that God has the power to solve any problem.

In looking through texts about mountains, I came across 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, which says,  "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."

I like it that the Bible points out that as we go about life moving mountains, the most important thing is love.  I resolve to show more love in my life.

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Fresh Start
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
I am sure I have said it numerous times but here it is again....I love water.  I love the sound of it. I love watching it move. I love getting in it. And of course, I love taking images of it.  So, to start 2014 (Happy New Year!) off correctly, here is a shot of water.  To be more specific, it's the Pacific ocean, with Rabbit Island, just off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.
Did I choose this particular image because I think everyone should head to somewhere tropical in 2014? Yes, but that's not the main reason. I chose this image as it looks  like a place for a fresh start.  Out away from everything. Only beautiful blue ocean and sky ahead.  That's what a lot of people think of each new year -- a chance to start fresh -- kick some bad habits, start some good ones.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but we as Christians have better news.  With God, you don't have to wait for the beginning of a calendar year to receive a fresh start.  In fact, you don't have to wait at all.  Ask and it's yours.
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." How much better of a fresh start could we ask for? Does it say we have to wait until we can make New Years Resolutions? No. It says, "...whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.". Eternal life. No limit.
If you are ready for a fresh start, look no further. God has given all that we need and it's ours for the taking. Believe and receive. Period.
Happy 2014.

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