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


Daily Photo Parable -  July 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--either Russell or Caleb Jurgensen. 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.










Unity
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, July 31, 2014

This falls is on the hike to Rachel Lake near Snoqualmie Pass.  The trail has many creek crossings during snow melt and sometimes they are quite pretty.  This creek crossing at Beehive Falls was the most impressive.  I can see why it has the name Beehive because there are so many channels of water and they keep changing.

It reminds me of a group of people working together to achieve a common goal.  Not every person goes down the same path, and their roles sometimes change as they go.  The Bible has some interesting things to say about unity.

Romans 12:4-5 says, "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 Paul says again, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

And, Jesus tells us what our mission is in Matthew 28:19-20.  "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

When people are working toward a common goal, it might seem a bit chaotic, but the end result is beautiful.

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Looking Past Their Faults
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I believe I have I mentioned it before – Great Blue Herons are not my favorite.  Yes, they are God’s creation. Yes, they are bright and beautiful.  The problem I have personally with them is that they have come and eaten my Koi fish out of my pond, which cost me a couple hundred dollars, in fish and in lining of the pond.  That said, if I overlook their tendency to look for poor, defenseless, ponds . . . I do think they are beautiful creatures.

God has made numerous beautiful, creative, colorful creatures for us to enjoy.  It reminds me of a familiar song:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:

The Lord God made them all.

Each little flow’r that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

The purple-headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

Thank you God for your creative work, even when we live on this sinful planet.  I long for what you have in store for us in heaven.


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Wide River
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rivers are frequently a topic of interest throughout the Bible.  From the second chapter of Genesis where a river flows from Eden offering life to the rest of the planet, to the last chapter in the Bible where a river of life is found in Eden restored, rivers play a significant role.  In fluvial societies, those which developed along rivers, this moving body of water brought not only means for irrigation but also provided a method of contact and commercial exchange with neighboring areas.  But along with the benefits offered by living close to a river came certain drawbacks.  While you might transport your products to a foreign nation, that same avenue of transportation could also be used by your enemy to sail into your own land.  The story of the fall of Babylon comes to mind in this context.  
 
Imagine in your mind a political map showing the outlines of various nations.  Even in an age of military airpower, rivers still frequently mark the boundary line between countries.  In much the same way a castle was protected by a moat, so too rivers symbolized a degree of protection.  When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, that act in and of itself, became symbolic of something bigger than just a tactical maneuver.  
 
Isaiah understood these implications and for this reason compared the Lord to a river.  But to assure the fearful, he clarified his model so none would have cause to be afraid.  “The Lord will be our Might One.  He will be like a wide river of protection that no enemy can cross, that no enemy ship can sail upon.” (Isaiah 33:21 NLT)  It’s good he added his clarifications, for this river is like none other.  And just maybe that’s why he wrote it that way, for truly there is none other like Him.  


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Bursting Out With Joy
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, July 28, 2014

This photo is of some beautiful columbines.  The picture reminds me of this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson — "The earth laughs in flowers."

The Bible tells us why:

Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
    Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
    Let the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he is coming!
    He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
    and the nations with his truth.
Psalm 96:11-13 (NLT)

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Miracle of Casting Out Demons
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Staying at a kibbutz in the Golan Heights was a highlight of our travels in Israel.  It was peaceful, green and landscaped with beautiful flowers. Additionally, it was high above and overlooked the Sea of Galilee, bringing us an evening breeze.  We had the opportunity to talk with members of this collective community that was based on agriculture.  Much of Israel’s agricultural crops are grown in a kibbutz community.  

Each morning, breakfast (see photo above) was brought to our cabin which we ate on the porch as we looked out over the Sea of Galilee.  As I mentioned, the Golan Heights is high above the Sea of Galilee.  A large ledge between us and the water was an area where wild animals roamed.  A number of wild boars or pigs called this place home. One is in my photo immediately below.  





It was probably just south of here where a man possessed with demons went to Jesus who told the devils to “go”.  The unclean spirits came out of the man and went into the large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside. The herd, about two thousand, rushed to the edge of the cliff, fell into the Sea of Galilee and drowned.  The people went to the city and told everyone what happened to the man who was possessed with the demons.  And the multitudes went out to meet Jesus. (Mark 5:1-20; Mathew 8:28-34)  The pigs that the demons went into at the time of this miracle were probably domesticated and not like this wild boar.  Our guide told us that today there is a law in Israel that forbids pigs to be grown on Israel’s land.  Those who want to farm pigs get around this law by keeping them on platforms above the land!?

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Automation
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 26, 2014

This past Thursday I stopped and snapped the above photo. If you’ve never seen a machine like this, you’re not alone—I’d never seen such a thing either. It’s an automated sign-waver, promoting Little Caesar’s Pizza.

You’ve seen human sign-wavers, of course. On a corner just beyond this machine, for at least two or three years, an athletic young man had been holding a Caesar’s sign like this, and it was entertaining to watch his antics. He’d waggle the sign, then flip it horizontally and vertically, then pass it behind his back, then throw it spinning up into the air, and unfailingly catch it.

The only problem was that, amid all that razzle-dazzle, he rarely held the sign still enough so that we could see the name of the company who paid his salary, and who wanted us to hurry in and buy pizza. So eventually, management had to make a decision—pay this guy to do tricks, or buy a mechanical device with less adrenaline but a clearer message.

So now, if you’re an occupant of the SUV near the photo’s right edge, you see movement—a rocking rolling action—yet you can also clearly read the company name. Through rain or shine, snow or sleet, this hungerless and thirstless and fifteen-minute-break-less device will dutifully waggle that sign for as long as its battery holds out.

Can you sense where I’m going with this? Celestial Management has a product—salvation. And, like any pizza company CEO, God knows that few if any people will seek out His product without hearing about it. The apostle Paul makes this point with remorseless logic: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14 NKJV)

And guess whom He has called to “preach” to the people in your life who consider you credible but who would probably tune out a pastor in a black suit—or a mechanical sign? Your preachings won’t be 28-minute, 3-point sermons with an intro and an appeal. And you won’t need to—nor should you--deliver the message with athletic antics. Your message will instead be tailored by your lifestyle, your deep interest in your friends, and your prayerful discovery that a knowledge of, and experience with, God is what all your friends desperately need.

For more Bible exhortation about sharing your faith, click the link immediately below.

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

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Toe Prints
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 25, 2014

The day before the Fourth of July I had stopped at a station to gas up my car, and as I was coming out of the doorway after pre-paying, I was delighted to see these yellow toe-prints on the pavement. I glanced behind me, and sure enough, the step-up curb in front of the door had recently been painted a bright safety-yellow. Somebody (and it looks like a barefoot somebody) had stepped in it, and had repeated their toe-prints at intervals out to where the cars were parked. And yesterday I gassed up there again, and those toe-prints were just as bright, and just as permanent.

Can you see how these toe-marks might be leading us toward a Daily Photo Parable moment? First, we’re sure the walker was at least initially ignorant that he (the toes looked big enough to be male) was leaving a trail. Second, he was heading in a certain direction.

One of the truths the Bible makes abundantly clear is that you and I will be held accountable for decisions we make, and paths we take—and even words we speak. “But I say to you,” Jesus once soberly told a group of Pharisees, “that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your word you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36 – 37 NKJV)

For more of what the Bible says about decisions and how to make better ones, click the following link:

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

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Growing
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, July 24, 2014

This spring and summer has seen an explosion of growth in the woods and around our house.  It is exciting to see the earth come to life like that.  It also makes me think about growth in our own lives.  

I love that God gives us salvation as a free gift and not by any works that we do.  However, God does want us to grow.  If we continued doing things that are hurtful to ourselves and others, it wouldn't seem like we cared about God's grace to us.  Here are a few cool verses about salvation and growing in Christ.

Colossians 1:13-14 says, "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

Psalm 1:1 says, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."

Ephesians 5:19-20 says, "speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

So let's not only accept God's salvation, but also come to life with love for Him and others.


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Dew You Believe?
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
 
I know, my pun is painful to read, isn’t it?  If so, just view at the image – taken at the beautiful Bellevue Botanical Gardens.  It’s been a while since I have been there but I drove by the other day and it appears they have done more work to the park (so if you haven’t been, you must go).   A single blade of grass, weighed down by the morning dew.  The water clings to the blade, hanging on for dear life.
 
In the Bible (specifically New King James Version) the word ‘dew’ is referenced over 30 times.  Everything from when the Israelites were to collect their manna in the morning dew, to “Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon…” (found in Psalms).

The text I wanted to discuss is found in the first book of the Bible – Genesis, specifically in chapter 27.  Let me set the stage. Jacob is about to steal Esau’s blessing.  Jacob and his mother decide to deceive Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing instead of the rightful owner – Esau.  Verses 27-29:

So Jacob went over and kissed him. And when Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he was finally convinced, and he blessed his son. He said, “Ah! The smell of my son is like the smell of the outdoors, which the LORD has blessed!

“From the dew of heaven
    and the richness of the earth,
may God always give you abundant harvests of grain
    and bountiful new wine.
May many nations become your servants,
    and may they bow down to you.
May you be the master over your brothers,
    and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
All who curse you will be cursed,
    and all who bless you will be blessed.”

In the end times, we are warned that we will be deceived by the great deceiver, just as Isaac was deceived and blessed the “wrong” son. The blessing was great but it went to the wrong son. To have the dew of heaven and the richness of the earth be a blessing to us, would be fantastic.  Of course we don’t store our treasures on earth, since our ultimate prize is not on this planet.  So, as we move closer and closer to the end, let's pray we know the TRUTH from the darkness and we believe in the TRUE dew from heaven.

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MacGillivary’s Warbler
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

MacGillvary's Warbler is a sulking warbler that frequently stays hidden in the thick undergrowth.  It is named after a Scottish ornithologist who wrote much of the technical information for Audubon’s Ornithological Biography.  In turn, Audubon paid him two pounds for every eighteen pages he wrote.  While Audubon named the warbler after him, prior to this John Townsend had apparently already discovered the bird and named it after Dr. William T. Tolmie, a doctor who worked for Hudson’s Bay Company and was also given credit for being the first white man to climb Mt. Rainier.  Even though MacGillvary never set foot in America, and even though it was contrary to common practice, the name Audubon used became the accepted title.  Perhaps as a consolation prize, Tolmie’s name is remembered in the scientific name, tolmiei.

Inconsistency can also be seen when comparing MacGillvary’s, which lives in the West, with the very similar Mourning Warbler which resides in the East.  Besides different geographical ranges, the Mourning Warbler does not have the partial white eye-crescent worn by MacGillvary’s; usually that is.  But what happens if I am birding in the East and see what appears to be a Mourning, but it has those white markings above and below the eye?  For a definitive answer one must capture the bird, and determine if the wing length minus tail length is less than 10mm.  If so, then you have a MacGillivary’s Warbler.  It all sounds rather ridiculous to those not enamored with such details.  Why can’t they just be consistent?

But birds aren’t the only inconsistent creatures, and our lack of consistency has much greater consequences.  Notice Paul’s advice to the church at Rome.  “Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others.  You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent.  But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe – some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them – then you know that you’re out of line.  If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.”  (Romans 14:22-23 The Message)

 


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When Did You Last Take a Sabbatical?
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, July 21, 2014

I saw this boat recently and it had the name "Sabbatical" painted on it.  I like that name!  I take it that the owner of the boat uses it to take a break and get away from things. 

According to my Oxford dictionary, "sabbatical" means "adj. 1 (of leave) granted at intervals to a professor or teacher for study or travel, originally every seventh year.  2. of or appropriate to the Sabbath. n. a period of sabbatical leave.

The Sabbath originated at the time of creation: 

On the seventh day, having finished his task, God rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation.
Genesis 2:2-3 NLT

The weekly Sabbath comes around every seven days, just as it has from the beginning.  The Sabbath is a day set apart where we can take a break from our everyday activities and worship our Creator. 

The commandment about the Sabbath is the only one that starts out with the word "remember." 

Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lordyour God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
Exodus 20:8-11 NLT

Remember to take your break.


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Miracle of Feeding Five Thousand
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fish is a common food in the area of the Sea of Galilee today, just as it was during the time of Jesus. My photo above shows what is called Peter’s fish or tilapia. While in Tiberias, we ate at an interesting outdoor restaurant that featured fish.  We sat looking into the water of the Sea of Galilee with many fish swimming below us – big ones and little ones! Posted on the window (photo below) was a poster featuring the various types of available fish. Also, notice the huge tree coming out of the building.

 

 

Jesus and His disciples were tired and wanted to be alone so went to a place on the Sea of Galilee they thought would be secluded.  However, a large crowd who had seen Him healing the sick followed them.  Even though He needed to rest, Jesus talked with the people about the kingdom of God and healed others until the evening time.  The disciples asked if He should send them away for the night, but Jesus said to give them something to eat.  But they said, “All we have is five loaves and two fishes”.  Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of fifty or so.  When they were seated, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fishes, looked up to heaven and said a blessing, broke them and gave them to the disciples to distribute.  All 5,000 men plus women and children were filled with enough left over to fill twelve large baskets.  What a miracle!  (Mathew 14:13-21 and Luke 9:10-17)


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Have ID Ready
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 19, 2014

Back in early June I dropped in at the University of Washington bookstore and spotted this sign directing students to where they could pick up their graduation paraphernalia. As you can see, the sign makes very clear that not just anybody can pick up a cap and gown. I happen to have earned two master’s degree, but even though I’ve marched in other graduation ceremonies before, the UW staff beyond that "Entrance" door wouldn’t have given me a cap and gown. Even if I had brought in $200, or $1000, and laid it down and said, “Here, I’d like to buy a cap and gown and march with you,” I still would have been rejected.

No, the only way I could have stood in that line, confident that I would get that cap and gown, would have been if I’d presented them with the proper ID. And not my driver’s license. Not my social security number. No, the ID would have had to be University of Washington-issued, and their records would have to have showed that I’d successfully completed a particular degree’s course of study.

Luke 15 is the Bible’s famous “lost and found” chapter, and it concludes with the story of the rich father’s wayward prodigal son. When the filthy and famished boy comes to his senses and staggers back toward home, dad runs to meet him, shouting for the servants to bring a respectable robe. While they fetch one, dad slips onto his son’s finger the “ID ring” which means he’s part of the family again. He’s in. He’s home.

Do you have your ID ready? Heaven’s ID is different from a university identification card. To get your heavenly robe you don’t have to complete a two- or four-year course of study. No passing knowledge tests or competing with other students for top grades. You simply follow through on the verses you’ll find at http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/search/node/salvation


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Earthquake Button
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 18, 2014

One day late in May, Shelley and I ascended in an elevator to the clinic where I was to receive the first of my two cataract-removal procedures. Though I had been carefully prepared for this event (which, by the way, went wonderfully), I was a little nervous. And my nervousness was not lessened by the sight of this little button on the elevator wall.

I had never seen an “Earthquake” button in an elevator, let alone anywhere else. Being an experienced man of the world, I was fairly certain that pushing this button wouldn’t actually cause an earthquake, so I assumed that one pushed it once an earthquake had begun.

But then I pictured myself within this elevator car, and suddenly there’s this horrible shuddering and jolting. If one pushed the button at that point, what would happen? Would some emergency mechanism allow the car to slowly descend to the safety of the basement? But was the basement really the safest place to be? Or would the car automatically stop at the next lowest floor? And would the door open? Or would pushing the button summon the aid of an Earthquake Specialist on duty somewhere in the building?

And, horror of horrors, what if the earthquake began just as my physician was lowering the knife toward my cataracted lens?

I don’t know. I would imagine that a well-thought-out phrase typed into Google or Bing, plus a couple of keystrokes, would set my mind at rest on some of those points. But what made me take this photo as I ascended for the first of my two eye operations was knowing that Someone Up There—far above the floor where the cataract clinic was located—knows all about earthquakes, and has the power to get people through them.

An earthquake, after all, happened at the death of Jesus on the cross, and another earthquake jolted His tomb at His resurrection. And the Lord of earthquakes has everything in His control, and my wisest course is to commit my life into His care at the beginning of every day.


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Moths
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, July 17, 2014

A few days ago I saw this moth on one of our windows. I usually don't mind bugs, but these moths are so big and hairy that I've never really liked them. But in detail (if you ignore the regular insect characteristics like the antennae) they don't look very different from a normal fluffy animal. It almost looks like it has a face. So, I had a little fun in photoshop to make what is currently my computer's desktop background. Behold, a weird rabbit with paws and wings:





Here is a link to an hd wallpaper version that you can save if you want: http://i.imgur.com/72Mgl2f.jpg

A number of years ago, my uncle brought home a beautiful wool wall hanging from his travels in the Middle East. Then he went to Jordan and spent the summer doing an archaeology dig. When he came back, his wall hanging was completely ruined by moths, and it was a challenge for him to get rid of all of them. Matthew 6:19 says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;"

Maybe in heaven we will have bunny rabbit moths that eat only the carrots we feed them. Either way, let's remember to put our treasure in heaven by spending our time and money on things of eternal value.

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Reflection
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A few days ago, while sitting in our living room, I glanced at something bright in the sky and saw a gorgeous moon.  Grabbed my gear and headed outside.  The moon is a tricky one -- it's dark all around but the moon itself is very bright.  It's crazy that the "brightness" is the result of a big "rock" reflecting the bright light of the sun, on the other side of our world.  God is very creative.

When I think of the moon's light and how it doesn't come from within, but instead it reflects the light of the sun, it makes me think of us -- having the ability to reflect Jesus to others.  Do we?  Do we reflect His kindness, His compassion, His love?

In 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter is all about love and what it is and what it's not.  When you have a chance, go back and read the chapter (it's only 13 verses).  Here are the last 3 verses:

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
With that, lets be sure to reflect the greatest one of these - Love

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Vermillion Lakes and Mt. Rundle, Banff
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Remember when you were young?  Remember being caught inside due to the constant rain outside which seemed to you like the forty days and forty nights mentioned in the Genesis account of the flood?  Our childish parallels tend to dwarf the immensity of what really went on as the earth convulsed in the reshaping process.  Ellen White gives the briefest comment on this in Patriarchs and Prophets in her chapter “After the Flood”: “The earth presented an appearance of confusion and desolation impossible to describe.  The mountains, once so beautiful in their perfect symmetry, had become broken and irregular.  Stones, ledges, and ragged rocks were now scattered upon the surface of the earth.  In many places hills and mountains had disappeared, leaving no trace where they once stood; plains had given place to mountain ranges.”  (page 108)  

While I would fail to qualify even as an armchair geologist, my belief in the literalness of the flood story finds confirmation that should be almost impossible for even the most callous to ignore. In a place frequented by throngs of tourists each year rises Mt. Rundle, not far from Banff, in Alberta, Canada.  It takes little imagination to envision the surface of the earth lifting upward until the force of gravity pulls the highest portions downward with unbelievable force, leaving behind the ragged edge which now marks the abrupt crest of the mountain.  

But many do miss it.  Perhaps they are lulled into complacency by the placid reflection mirrored in the Vermillion Lakes.  Perhaps our short-sightedness leads us into thinking things have always been this way since the mountains themselves seem immovable by their immensity. I do know that I find beauty in the raw, broken, irregularity that dwarfs man and his measure.  I also know I don’t want to miss what God has to say to me through this image.

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Create In Me a Clean Heart
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, July 14, 2014

I was walking along a pier recently and spotted this man pressure washing a dock.  You can see where he has cleaned and where he has not.  The pressure washing was pretty slow going as the dock was quite grimy and he hadn't even reached the part that birds had been using to drop their prey and crack it open.  There were mussel shells and sea urchin shells (or tests) with the spines still attached littering the end of the cement covered dock.  

I think our hearts can be like that dock.  The Bible tells us we have a sin problem in this world and that we are all sinners.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;Romans 3:23 (KJV).

There is only one way to get our hearts cleaned:

Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalm 51:9-11 (NKJV)


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Miracle of Healing a Paralyzed Man
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, July 13, 2014

The historic site of Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee is the location where Jesus settled after leaving Nazareth (Mathew 4:12) and performed many of His miracles. It was here where He chose many of His apostles; some were fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, John) and Mathew, a publican. Capernaum was a border town that received revenue from collecting customs.  Other sources of revenue came from fishing, agriculture and trade. The photo above shows the plaza leading to the Sea of Galilee.  Ruins of the old synagogue are to the left. 





Adjacent to the synagogue is the traditional house of Peter (ruins in the photo immediately above).


While Jesus was in Capernaum, a group of men tried to bring a paralyzed man to Him for healing.  Because the crowd was so large, they had to think of another way to get the paralyzed man to Jesus.  They went up on the roof (probably flat) and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.  Seeing their faith, Jesus told him his sins are forgiven.  The Pharisees and scribes questioned, “Who can forgive sins but God?”  Jesus knew what they were thinking, so asked which is easier to say “Your sins are forgiven” or “Get up and Walk”?  He told them the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.  Then, he told the paralyzed man to get up, take his mat and go home.  The man stood up and went home praising God.  Everyone was amazed and praised God.  (Luke 5:18-26 NIV)


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Hospital in Heaven!
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 12, 2014

A couple of days into July I happened to be in the downtown Seattle Virginia Mason hospital (thankfully, not as a patient!), and when I saw what was on this wall, I immediately exercised both my grin-muscles and my pull-my-camera-out-of-its-belt-case muscles.

You can see the blue Virginia Mason logo at the upper left, and almost out of sight at the center the phrase “Campus Directory,” and then panel after panel of frames. You may not be able to make out what it says in tinier print at the tops of the upper frames, so I’ll tell you. It says, “Physicians and Providers.” But there aren’t any there!

I happened to know that at this particular moment, the building was actually teeming with physicians and providers. So this wall directory must have been installed so recently that the names hadn’t yet been compiled in a format to be posted in those frames. But for a moment I fantasized that maybe this was a hospital in heaven—and since nobody will ever get sick there, no doctors or providers will need to stand ready for emergencies.

Christian physicians grin approvingly (and “Amen” heartily) when people tell them they’ll be out of a job in the New Earth. They know the documentation for that: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NKJV)

So in heaven, maybe the only “hospitals” will be museums—tributes to the tireless health professionals through the centuries, and to the Great Physician who gave them their skills.


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Fragile
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Friday, July 11, 2014

Over the past couple of weeks, we have had an overabundance of rabbits in our front and backyard.  With the rise of the bunnies, it has brought in more and more wildlife (lack of dogs in the yard will allow that).  The other day, as I was mowing our yard, something caught my eye.  This little egg (I could only find the one), I believe is a quail egg.  I witnessed two California Quails, hanging around some of the brush, in the exact location I later found the egg.

From my research, the female California Quail will typically lay about 12 eggs at a time.  Since I only found the one, I can only assume, several were stolen by predators, or something scared the quail couple away, leaving this poor lone egg.  As a recently laid egg, there wasn’t much it could do on its own – if anything.  It was too fragile, to survive.

If you think about it, life is fragile.  Not secure: unlikely to withstand any sever stresses and strains. OR physically weak: in a weak bodily condition, usually as a result of an illness.  Some may think, when we’re speaking of fragile the first definition first best, others might argue the latter is the best description.  I feel that, when we are speaking of life on this sinful planet – we’re fragile in both definitions.  We, the human race, will not be able to withstand any stress or strain, without God protecting us.  Also, our bodies are weak and it IS a result of an illness – sin, is that horrible illness.

Regardless of the specific definition you feel fits best, the best news of all is God protects us.  We are fragile, but He is All Powerful.  We are weak with illness, but He is the Great Physician. We are not able to withstand stress, but He is our Rock.


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Reclaiming
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, July 10, 2014

This seemingly abandoned bench is near a neighbor's house overlooking a small pond in the woods.  It only looks abandoned; I know the owners will trim the blackberry vines back to reclaim their bench.  It shows the explosive growth of vegetation in the woods this spring. 


The experience of salvation might be something like this bench.  When the tentacles of sin have surrounded us, we can turn to the Lord for salvation.

Titus 3:3-7 says, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

The great thing is we don't have to wait for the owner to come clean things up; we can rely on God to send the Holy Spirit right now!

 


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Canyon Wren
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Two unrelated stories from the Bible share at least one common denominator.  The first comes from the Old Testament, specifically Deuteronomy 4:11-13, where the Lord reminds the Children of Israel of their experience around Mount Sinai when He gave them the Ten Commandments.  It says, “You stood in deep darkness and thick clouds.  God spoke to you out of the fire.  You heard the sound of words but you saw nothing – no form, only a voice.”  (The Message)  The second comes from the New Testament, this time Acts 9:7-9.  This is the story of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus and includes the reaction of his traveling partners.  “His companions on the journey stood there speechless, for they had heard the voice but could see no one.”  In both instances those involved heard a voice but were not able to see who was speaking. 


A similar yet much less supernatural occurrence happens regularly in the arid mountains and canyons of Western North America.  This is the home of the Canyon Wren, a tiny but very vocal songster whose solo can often be heard before the bird is seen.  Its song has been described as a clear cascade of descending notes which carry a long distance.  It has never been observed drinking water so apparently it gets all it needs from the insects and spiders which make up its diet.  It is aided in doing so by a vertebral column that is attached higher on the skull than in most birds.  Along with this, its skull is more flattened which allows it to use its long beak getting into tighter rock crevices to extract its prey. 

Those who experienced the giving of the law as well as those who saw the dramatic change that came about in Saul’s life were right to be in awe.  Perhaps a bit of mystery was added by being unable to see the Speaker.  But is God any less at work when we hear the everyday song of one of His creatures?



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God Will Provide
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, July 7, 2014

I came across these two young, hungry birds hanging out of a hole in a soffit which was connecting the bottom of a roof to the wall.  They weren't making any noise and the only evidence they were there was the mess on the pavement underneath the hole.  You couldn't actually see the nest.  They seemed to be eagerly awaiting the return of a parent with some food.
 
As humans, we have a tendency to worry about all sorts of things; where is our next meal coming from, how are we going to pay the rent or the mortgage payment or how can we even afford new clothes.
 
So I tell you, don’t worry about the food or drink you need to live, or about the clothes you need for your body. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothes. Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. And you know that you are worth much more than the birds. You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it.
Matthew 6:25-27 (NCV)  


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Miracle of Calming the Sea

Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Bev Riter
Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Sea of Galilee (actually a lake) was calm during the days we were there, as shown in the photo above. You can see some travelers stepping into the water that was warm from the heat of the day.  We were at the old settlement of Capernaum where Jesus referred as His “own city” (Mathew 9:1).  This is where He began to preach and teach, including in the synagogue of Capernaum.  



This photo shows part of the remains of a synagogue now in ruins that was built on top of an earlier synagogue, the one during the time of Jesus.  This is just a few steps from the northern end of the Sea of Galilee.

While in Capernaum, Jesus performed many miracles.  One is when He calmed the Sea of Galilee during a storm.  You’ve probably heard the story of Jesus and His disciples being in a boat. Jesus must have been tired because He had fallen asleep.  A great storm arose on the lake causing waves to break over the boat, but He kept on sleeping.  Finally the disciples woke Him; afraid they were sinking and pleaded for Him to save them.  He asked why they were cowards and where was their faith!  He stood up, rebuked the wind and the sea, making them calm.  The disciples were astonished, saying that even the wind and the sea obey Him!  (Mathew 8:23-27)


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The Forks Fourth
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 5, 2014

A year ago on Fourth of July weekend, Shelley and I took a mini-getaway to the town of Forks, 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean on Washington’s coast. Despite Fork’s unexpected stardom in the “Twilight” vampire novel and movie series, it is and has always been a thoroughly all-American town.

And when it comes to the Fourth of July, Forks goes all-out. US Highway 101 passes north-and-south through the town, and though it’s the main travel route for thousands of summer tourists, the town resolutely closes down a mile’s worth of it and detours travelers along side streets. And for (if I remember right) about three hours, kids and pet goats and beauty queen contestants and Native American canoes and logging trucks and fire engines and ambulances, and—leading the procession—a troup of marching veterans proudly bearing flags, parade at a leisurely pace past hundreds of onlookers.

The float above pretty much sums up the city’s pride in our great nation. People don’t flee away from our borders, but toward them and through them. Desperate parents, hearing a rumor, are willing to thrust their children away from them and send them north, trusting that if the kids can make it into the USA, they have half a chance at a happier future.

One of these days—and I believe it will be soon—there’ll be another grand parade, led by another war Veteran, the Champion of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. And as His cavalcade bends around our planet, He will invite all who have waited for Him to join the procession, as He leads us home to heaven.

For a preview of this parade, and to find out how to get ready, click the link immediately below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/second-coming-jesus

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Freedom
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 4, 2014

I’m writing this Thursday night, Independence Day Eve, and even though it'll be 24 hours until the big booms, Shelley and I are already hearing the thud and crackle of fireworks from neighborhoods all around us.

A bit earlier this evening I took a walk through our neighborhood, studying a sheaf of papers on which I’d printed the sermon passage I’ll be speaking on this coming Sabbath. My theme will be how, even though God is in control, He has given us free choice, and wants us to experience His freedom.

At one point during my “sermon walk” I followed a path which took me away from our neighborhood and onto a trail which borders a large wildlife preserve, which in turn surrounds Lake Youngs, one of Seattle’s important sources of water. The few humans who enter that preserve are water system employees. Nobody else gets inside.

As soon as I emerged onto the trail, I saw two deer near a tall woven-wire fence. One drifted off the closer I came, but the deer in the photo—the younger of the two—remained, staring curiously at me.

As I stared back, I thought of the word “freedom.” Already, as I type this, I can hear the occasional crackle of a string of fireworks, and I imagine that as the celebrations increase in volume Friday night, this deer and its companion will shrink further back into the forest toward the lake.

But though surrounded by the sounds of war, these deer are about as free as they can be on a captive planet. Behind the fence they can roam at will, with lush greenery to munch on, and pure water to drink.

And as a Bible student, I know that Jesus constantly reminded us that if we are His children, we can experience freedom and peace even in the midst of the devil’s enemy hostilities.

For a brief Bible study on peace and how to find it for yourself, click the link immediately below.

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

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Rats and Crumbs
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, July 3, 2014

Several weeks ago I looked out the window and saw a rat under our bird feeder. It was getting dark so I didn't notice the baby rat until after I had taken a few pictures and was looking at them. We weren't exactly thrilled to have rats under our bird feeder, but rats are a lot cuter than people realize.





These rats eating crumbs from under the bird feeder reminded me of a story in the Bible. In Matthew 15:25-28 a Gentile woman with a demon possessed daughter came to Jesus:

"Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, 'Lord, help me!' But He answered and said, 'It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.' And she said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.' Then Jesus answered and said to her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour."

Jesus rewarded the woman for her faith and at the same time taught his disciples, who had wanted to send the woman away, the vital lesson that all people are of equal value.

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National Pride
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Forgive me if I have used this image before, but it’s worth seeing again…I think.  The Bald eagle.  This was a shot I got at the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center in…any guesses?....Ketchikan, Alaska. This facility had a few different programs but included caring for injured eagles.  From a quick Bing search, I understand that due to funding that particular program had to be closed, with the eagles be moved to a similar facility in Sitka.


The image, pardon the (visual) pun, screams of National Pride.  I first became very interested in Bald eagles early in my school learning, when I read of its classification of our National Symbol. In numerous book reports and class projects, I learned about these majestic birds and the strength, size and power they have.  It has been the symbol of our country, since June 20, 1782, when Congress adopted the Great Seal of The United States – including the bald eagle, grasping 13 arrows and an olive branch.

We are only a few days away from celebrating our great nation’s birthday.  On the 4thof July, we remember the cost of our freedom.  We celebrate with family and friends. There are times we slip into (I’m guilty of it too) looking at the day as a day off work, an opportunity to eat food and play a game of softball.  Obviously the day means so much more than that.

This particular 4th I have the opportunity to spend it with a great friend of mine (and his boys).  Jim is in the Air Force and his wife Sara, also in the AF, is currently deployed for 6 months and missing her family greatly. I mention this because today (even if it’s not quite the 4th) is a great day to remember all the servicemen and women around the globe – serving us, keeping us free.  Also, there are those that have served in past, let’s not forget to thank them as well.

The 4th is a day or remembering, celebrating and overall a day to show our National Pride.  I thank God daily that I live in a country that allows me to worship as we I choose. We may not have that freedom forever, so while we do, let’s not take it for granted.


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Cactus Flower
Photo and Commentary ©2014 by Robert Howson

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


British author G. K. Chesterton has often been called the “prince of paradox,” a name that fits him particularly well.  For his dry, understated humor reflects the thinking, sometimes cynical, of many of the writers in the first part of the twentieth century.  He loved to point out the all too frequent inconsistencies of mankind and few of his subjects escaped his scrutiny without emerging with at least some battle scars. But he also possessed a deeper side, one which revealed his careful consideration and reverence of the Divine.


In much the same way, the photograph of the bloom of this desert cactus illustrates the same type of contrast.  Surrounded by a thorny exterior exists the most delicate of blossoms.  The petals look almost out of place in such a harsh setting, but exist and flourish they do.  And perhaps it is because of this contrast that we are drawn to appreciate its beauty.  Lack of comprehension does not negate our awe.  Put in Chesterton’s words, “The most astonishing thing about miracles is that they happen.”


In the harsh world of thorn and claw it is easy to become benumbed to the exquisite, to allow ourselves to overlook beauty because we are so intent on protecting ourselves from ugliness.  In 1909, Chesterton, writing in Tremendous Trifles, gave us a gentle reminder of our precarious situation and an unspoken prompt to increase our awareness:  “The world will never starve for wonder, but only for the want of wonder.”  May we always be open to that beauty.



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