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

Daily Photo Parable

Thanks to all the photographers who have kindly accepted my invitation to provide their photos and commentary. Here's the schedule of those whose excellent, thought-provoking and encouraging work you'll be seeing, and when: SUNDAY--Bev Riter; MONDAY--Cheryl Boardman; TUESDAY--Robert Howson; WEDNESDAY--Darren Milam; THURSDAY-- someone from the Jurgensen family. I handle Friday and Sabbath, generally using photos from the point-and-shoot camera I keep on my belt.-- Pastor Maylan Schurch


NOTE: To see previous photos from this current month, simply scroll down. To see previous months' blogs, click the month you want on the menu at the left.







Reflective Pavement Markers

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, July 29, 2015


On our walk Wednesday morning of this week Shelley and I were crossing one of our neighborhood streets when I spotted these two “reflective pavement markers,” as Wikipedia calls them. As you can see, both are pretty beat up from car tires hitting them.

This damage would not be a big deal if it weren’t for the critical role these markers play. I’m not sure about the right-hand one (maybe its duty is to reflect a silvery-white light to call attention to the other), but the one on the left still has some of its blue lens, which tells me it signals that a fire hydrant is near. In other words, whenever a fire truck is rumbling toward a fire day or night, its operators can know where to get water to douse the inferno.

As a Christian, you and I are like those road markers. This old planet is indeed one day going to be destroyed by fire, and Jesus wants His disciples to stand ready, when needed, to point people to inexhaustible supplies of “living water.” He also warned us that we would have tribulation—think heedless car tires—because few people really seem to care what the Bible says about human destiny.

But, battered though we might be, we need to stand in our place as beacons of rescue. And we need to encourage other beacons to reflect the Savior’s winsome warning.

For a brief Bible study on faith-sharing, containing mostly the words of Jesus Himself, click the link immediately below.

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


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Security Blanket            
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Pictured above is our chocolate lab puppy – Taima.  He’s sleeping in the warm sunshine of our backyard, with his paws wrapped around one of his security “blankets” – his rope.  He loves his rope.  He runs around the yard with it in his mouth and at any point (when he’s awake) you are more than welcome to play tug-of-war with him. If you do, there’s about a 90% chance he’ll win.  As I mentioned, this is one of his security blankets--he has others.  In fact, one of them, is an actual blanket.  It’s a small red blanket he sleeps with every night, inside his crate. As he is asked to go to sleep, he slowly walks into his crate and grabs hold of his blanket – feeling much more secure.

I’m not sure how many of you grew up with a security blanket.  I did.  I had a couple of stuffed animals over the years, as well as a real blanket or two (depending on the cleanliness of it and/or the location). They make us feel safe and comfortable. It’s something we can hold onto and it’s familiar. 

Yet even though the name sounds like it can protect us, the truth is – it can’t.  Clearly the ‘security’ is in our mind. The great news – we have a REAL security blanket, covering us all. In Deuteronomy 33:12, we read Moses providing a blessing, from God, 

“May the beloved of the Lord dwell in security by Him,

Who shields him all the day,
And he dwells between His shoulders.”


This blessing of security was specifically presented to Benjamin but the promise holds true to us today.  God is the one TRUE security blanket.


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Master Blister Beetle
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The history of medicine is a strange and twisted one.  What we practiced in the past may today seem distorted and even cruel, but such is the nature of mankind.  At one time a preparation of dried meloid beetles was used as a cure-all and was thought to effectively deal with gout, carbuncles, rheumatism as well as other disorders.  During the Revolutionary War it was used as a treatment for those suffering from the indignities caused by that conflict.  In more recent times it has been used to remove warts.
 
The active agent was obtained from species such as this Master Blister Beetle, so named because it produces a defensive secretion known as cantharidin which acts as a blistering agent.   While contact with it can cause skin irritation to humans, it can be highly toxic to horses and can prove fatal if a few beetles are consumed while feeding on alfalfa hay.   During the nineteenth century, cantharidin was considered comparable in degree to strychnine and cyanide in toxicity.  
 
Today, there is a plethora of information available, not only on effective medical cures but also on spiritual remedies.  When one feels the need of help one may be tempted to reach out to anything that promises a quick solution.  But let the buyer beware. The English Standard Version translates Proverbs 14:12 this way:  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” It’s a wise person that tests the cure to make sure it’s not worse than the problem.

We owe thanks to the Great Physician who has given us His word which can be trusted.


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Watering the Earth
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, July 27, 2015

On my recent trip to Glacier National Park, I was hiking on the Hidden Lake Trail and passed this small patch of snow.  It was melting fast but it was interesting to see that green shoots were pushing through the snow.

It reminds me that God has given us his Word to help us grow.

"I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        GOD’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
Isaiah 55:8-11 (The Message)

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A Dwelling Place
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, July 26, 2015

About AD 550, Ancestral Pueblo people living in the Four Corners region moved into what became known as Mesa Verde in Colorado.  They built elaborate stone communities in sheltered alcoves of canyon walls.  Fires were used for cooking and also for heating in the winter months. They grew beans, corn and squash and gathered wild plants for food.  They hunted deer, rabbits, squirrels and other animals.  Their domestic animals were dogs and turkeys. The Spruce Tree House, above, is the third largest and best preserved cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde.  This is one of more than 600 cliff dwellings within Mesa Verde National Park.





This next photo shows a dwelling up close.  Do you see the three holes in the flooring; with two have ladders going down?  The ladders lead down into kivas or gathering places for religious observances, social activities and weaving.  The earth served as excellent insulation during the cold winter months.




This last photo shows the inside of a kiva at another location.  As you can see, it was cozy and it protected the people from the harsh elements of the climate.  Jesus described heaven as having many dwellings or rooms (John 14:1-3) which are reserved for each of us. Streets might be of gold (Revelation 21:21) and walls comprised of precious stones and jewels (verses19-20), but the most important thing is being with God.  Are you looking forward to being there?


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Spill Response
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 25, 2015

Tuesday night while Shelley and I were shopping at a Fred Meyer store, I spotted this sign at the top edge of a shelf. Evidently a container with cleanup supplies must have been parked above the sign, but must either have been in use or repositioned elsewhere. Now all that’s left is this sign with its arrow pointing upward.

This got me to thinking about God and His ability (and His promises) to repair and restore and heal. For thousands of years, our ancestors have been making messes, but through His Word, God makes promises like this:

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  Isaiah 1:18 NKJV

He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19

And He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new. Revelation 21:5

To learn what the Bible says about the event which will inaugurate this “spill response” renewal, click the link immediately below:

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


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Angel Readings
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 24, 2015

I’m deliberately not showing you this whole sign, because it isn’t my purpose to cast aspersions on anyone’s livelihood, but I caught sight of this surprising announcement earlier this week and couldn’t resist snapping a photo.

I had never heard of “angel readings” before. From the context – the rest of the sign – it is definitely a “new age” type of practice. I would imagine that the practitioner, in the manner of someone reading a client’s aura, would attempt to get in touch with that person’s guardian angel to pass along some helpful information.

To a Christian who knows his or her Bible, the idea that an angel could – or should – be consulted about one’s day-to-day concerns is ludicrous. The only communication-role angels performed in Scripture was to visit individuals and announce to them God’s plans or commands about portentous events. These heavenly messengers deliberately kept their messages brief, and forbade humans to worship them.

For a two-screen Bible study on who angels are and what they really do, click the link immediately below. And don’t forget to thank God for these faithful, powerful servants.

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



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Promises
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, July 23, 2015

We had a chance to visit a mountain lake in the Philippines, and saw these kids at the lake's edge.  At first I thought it was totally a tourist setup with cute kids in an old fashioned dug out canoe.  Certainly they did a good job entertaining us by posing for pictures and jumping and diving into the water.  They played in the water for over an hour and were still playing when we left. They also sold us some guava fruit.

After touring around the lake, we saw that the locals really did use these boats for everyday use while they worked and traveled on the lake.  The dads dressed like the boys with just trunks.  They usually sat right on that little wooden section at the end of the boat.  It appeared they were happy and also had some modern conveniences.  We saw a couple 32" computer screens at a business in a tin roofed bamboo hut.  

It makes me think about God's promises in the Bible.  We don't need a lot to approach the Lord.  2 Peter 1: 3,4 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."

Perhaps we can think about the things we need to live for the Lord, and hold on to His promises.


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You Say Apple, I Say Pluto
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Several years back, we planted an apple tree in our yard.  It’s not a huge tree by any stretch of the imagination, but we get fruit from it (evidence included above). It’s always fun to see the transition, from a few branches, some flowers and leaves, to heavy branches sagging with fruit. When I see the apples growing, I think of our Creator.  It’s absolutely mind-boggling to think of what He is capable of.
 
With the recent images of Pluto, the scientists continued their chatter – planet or not? Two sides sharing their arguments of their theories.  Of course, to me (us), it seems silly to put too much stock in the discussions, because God created it and He created a whole lot more than that too.
 
Genesis 1:11 & 12: Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree thatyields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
 
If you believe the above verses, the fact that Pluto is/isn’t a dwarf planet, or the apple is/isn’t delicious (no pun intended) is irrelevant. What is relevant is, who did the creating? Molding both out of His own hands with a single thought. Who did that? Our one and only Creator. Period.


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Cattle Guard  
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

For those growing up in rural America, the scene is a familiar one.  The open range stretches out toward the horizon yet simple horizontal bars effectively serve their intended purpose.  Country roads are not encumbered by such, so dusty pickups carry on their duties without having to stop to open and close gates.  Yet cattle are effectively kept within their assigned grazing grounds.  Simple, yet effective; the cattle guard deserves some kind of award.  Apparently it’s been around a long time.  Cleopatra had several around her palace and the ancient Chinese constructed a similar device using bamboo.  But credit in the American arena goes to William J. Hickey from Reno, Nevada who on January 19, 1915 received patent number 1125095 for his cattle guard.   
 
Now bovines have never been considered one of the smartest of God’s creatures.  But they are smart enough to figure out cloven hooves and narrow metal bars are not a good combination.  Enter man on the scene, gifted with the best intellectual gifts given.  And yet in spite of this, he ventures into the one area God had stated was off limits.  It would not be unreasonable to think that even a cow could have figured that one out.  But fail man did.
 
Since that time other guards have been erected, not so much to limit our freedom but to protect us from that which would do us harm.  Unlike the cattle, we have at times ventured outside of those protective measures and ended up with broken legs, bodies, and hearts.  The grass may indeed look greener on the other side of that guard, but that may be because our vision has also been damaged over time.  It’s doubtful that cows have ever shown much appreciation for William J. Hickey, but we should be wise enough to recognize a loving God who only wants the very best for us.


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Playing Tricks, or The Bear I Didn’t See!
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, July 20, 2015

On my recent trip to the Rocky Mountains, I was driving through Waterton National Park in Alberta, Canada, when I saw this scene.  At first glance, it looks like I had come across one of the park bears.  Closer inspection of the "bear," however, showed it to just be a cut out picture of a bear. I think it was there to give people an idea of what to look for and to give people safe (if slightly deceiving) photo ops!

I did see a grizzly on that trip (in Glacier National Park) but it was about a mile and a half away (about the distance I like to see bears when I'm walking!) and I was only able to see it with binoculars.  Other people had seen it and told me where to look for it fishing in a creek at the outlet from a lake.   

A group from Alaska couldn't believe that the trail ahead was closed for a bear that was a mile and half away!  Someone else mentioned that the trail went right past the point where the bear was fishing and I did meet a couple of hikers later who told me that they had been dangling their feet in that same stream the day before I had seen the bear when they started hearing some strange sounds.  At first they thought it was people but then realized it was coming from an animal.  They decided to leave the area with haste and the man said he didn't even wait to put his shoes on!

I actually think the cut out was a good idea because people need to be aware of possible dangers in the environment.  The Bible warns us about dangers we can encounter and it also tells us how we can be deceived if we are not paying attention but I like what it says about God:

My dearly loved brothers and sisters, don’t be misled. Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows.

James 1:16-17 (The Voice)

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Shaped
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, July 19, 2015

The unique orange-red sandstone formations at Monument Valley were formed throughout the years by erosion from water, wind and ice.  The red color comes from iron oxide whereas the blue-gray rocks get their color from manganese oxide.  A mesa or table is usually the first stage of erosion.  As erosion continues, a butte or smaller rock formation forms.  Lastly, the rock formation becomes narrow and free standing known as a spire, becoming a pedestal for the monuments. The largest butte reaches about 1,000 feet above the valley floor.  These stages of erosion can be seen in these photos I’m sharing with you. 





The Bible records several illustrations of God shaping people like a potter shapes clay.  God told Jeremiah to go to a potter’s house to watch a pot being shaped, then He gave a prophecy of how He will shape the people of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:1-6)  “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”  (Isaiah 64:8)  God is at work in our lives, shaping us to become His work of art!


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Impaled
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 18, 2015

There comes a moment—especially in a locale filled with pine trees which cast their needles in profusion—when a man must vacuum the interior of his car. For me, this moment arrived on Thursday.

I stopped at a carwash vaccum station, and before putting four quarters into the machinery, I first removed all the floor mats. On the bottom of the driver’s floor mat I discovered this leaf impaled on the mat’s rubber grippers.

To me, this is a perfect parable about nature’s collision with humanity. If you and I were still living in Eden, this leaf would be attached to a tree, throbbing with life. There would be no fossil fuels, and therefore no combustion engines, and therefore no need for car mats, and therefore no impaled leaves.

Want to read four Bible texts about nature and how God will finally restore it?
 
http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/nature

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The “J” is Still There
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 17, 2015

I really don’t know what to make of it. Several years ago I bought a large-ish flat-screen computer monitor for my home office. I'm still using it. Shortly after I got it up and running, the letter “J” suddenly appeared on the screen, two inches down from the top and about five inches from the right-hand edge. And there it has remained ever since. Whenever the monitor is turned on and the computer running, there’s that J.

What’s so strange is that I do not remember having anything on the screen with that font. And why just that one letter? And why, since then, have there not been any other letters or images burned onto the screen like that? I wrote about this phenomenon shortly after it appeared, in one of these Daily Photo Parable blogs.

And it’s still there. The photo above, which I took a couple of days ago, shows the J hanging in the sky of the beautiful photo on my desktop.

So what happened? Coincidence? Strange computer quirk? Or did some benign supernatural (heavenly) event happen to remind Pastor Maylan Schurch that his computer must always be used for the glory of his Savior?

I simply do not know. But I do look at it from time to time, and remember Jesus Christ and what He has done for me and what He needs me to share about Him.

So why not click the link immediately below and let the Bible remind you of how much He loves us?

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


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Watch Your Head
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, July 16, 2015

This is a wooden beam with a metal rain gutter under it, and it was right at my eye level. As you can see, there is a sizable dent in the gutter. I had to wonder which came first: The dent? Or the "watch your head" sign?

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NIV):  "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!"

Whoever or whatever made that dent probably thought they were standing firm. But they should have been more careful. Verse 13 goes on to say this:

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

God doesn't want us to have hardships, but when we bonk our literal and figurative heads on things, God will help us through.


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Promises, promises
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
 
In Sabbath School, the last couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing the Children of Israel and different aspects of their journey.  Some of the discussions have centered around their enslavement and the hardship they encountered. Some have been about their stubbornness, once being freed, still not willing to listen to God.  We read about them being cared for, protected and fed. Stories we can take to heart and learn from what they learned, mistakes and all.  A common thread throughout all these stories is God’s presence. He sent Moses to have them set free. Once they were free, He promised not to leave them. He kept His promise: A cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.
 
In Exodus 13:20-23, we can read about His presence:
 
So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness.

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.
 
God promised many things to the Children of Israel and He kept those promises. Fast forward to our daily lives, in 2015.  We need to trust and believe, when God gives us a promise, He will follow-through with it.  When we go to Him in prayer, whether in a crisis or simply connecting with our heavenly Father about our day to day activities, He is there for us. He’s always there for us.
 
--This particular image is what was directly overhead in White Sands, New Mexico.



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Greater Earless Lizard
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The book of Proverbs mentions four small creatures that are exceptionally wise.  At least that was the observation of Agur, son of Jakeh to whom these words are attributed.  While we might not elect to use the word wise, this line of thinking is certainly in line with the rest of the book.  

Whatever term is employed, the idea is that there are four creatures which are limited in their abilities, yet each is able to accomplish remarkable tasks.  In the case of the lizard, which is easy enough to catch, still it is able to sneak past the vigilant palace guards and enter into the royal sanctum.    (Proverbs  30:28)

However, the qualities of the Greater Earless Lizard go beyond this.  A species endemic to the southwestern part of the United States and Mexico, despite its name, still has ears.  What it doesn’t have are external ear openings, perhaps to keep sand from entering the body.  It maintains a higher body temperature (101.5 degrees Fahrenheit) than most lizards.  It is able to regulate this temperature by correctly positioning its body.  If it needs to increase its temperature, it simply turns its body broadside, thus exposing more of its body to more of the rays of the sun. Correspondingly, if its temperature needs to be lowered, that can be accomplished by simply repositioning its body so less of it is exposed or by hiding in the shade.  At night it burrows into the warm sand to conserve heat loss.  When it gets really cold during the late fall and winter, it simply goes into hibernation.

It all sounds so simple, so different from our frantic quest to alter our environment to fit our personal convenience.  Ralph Waldo Emerson, romantic that he was, had a different way of looking  at things.  He observed, “Nature never hurries.  Atom by atom, little by little she achieves her work.”  Perhaps we could add that to the lessons we could learn from God’s second book.

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The Works of the Lord are Great
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, July 13, 2015

I was recently able to take a short vacation and decided to drive through Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton National Park in Alberta.  In 1932, they became the first International Peace Park.

I didn't have enough time to spend at either place as you can easily spend a week at each park and barely touch the surface of what there is to see.  If you've never been to these parks, I would highly recommend them as great places to see the Rocky Mountains.  There are amazing wildflower displays, mountain views and animals such as mountain goats, mountain sheep, moose, grizzlies, hoary marmots, bison, ground squirrels, elk and many more.  

This picture is from the trail to Blakiston Falls in Waterton National Park.

The works of the LORD are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
His work is honorable and glorious,
And His righteousness endures forever.
He has made His wonderful works to be remembered;
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
Psalm 111:2-4 (NKJV)


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The Path
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, July 12, 2015

Looking down from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the trail curved around the contour of the landscape as it made its way down to Colorado River as you can see in my photo.  Hikers were barely visible far below.  The North Rim just10 miles across the Canyon seemed close but was actually far away.  To get there, one has to hike down more than 4000 feet, then back up covering 12 to 13 miles or drive 215 miles.  Brochures and rangers promote safety when choosing a hiking trail or path.  They say to never try to hike from the rim to the Colorado River and back in one day.  Since the canyon temperature can reach over 100 degrees F during summer months people are advised to drink a gallon of water each day and of course, wear a hat and use sunscreen.  As you can imagine, it takes careful planning and preparation to take this path.

Likewise, one needs to carefully plan their path in life.  Psalms 16:11 states, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” When our plans include Christ, He will help us and guide us along our path of life.



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Fighter’s Manual
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 11, 2015

I actually don’t remember where I took the photo above. It was late May, and I must have been in a used bookstore. And the above boxing manual must have been already open for display, because I’m not interested enough in manual combat to page through such books myself.

As you can probably tell by the illustration, the book looks to be at least a half-century old. In fact, the boxer appears to be treating the punching bag so gently that we wonder whether he might be coyly discussing philosophy with it!

However, the printed material on the right-hand page is full of all sorts of manly talk about the benefits of the uppercut. And from the yellow highlighting and red underlining, it’s clear that the instruction spoke to the heart of at least one reader.

Though the Savior was firmly in favor of the “turn the other cheek” approach, the Bible does talk about spiritual warfare. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but the Lord provides weapons far mightier than bare knuckles.

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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— Ephesians 6:10 – 18 NKJV


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Be You, Not Them
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 10, 2015

One rainy afternoon in May I was in a traffic lineup slightly behind the above pickup. I got a chuckle out of the slogan on the window, but can’t quite agree with it. On the one hand, it’s good not to let other people set your agenda—but is it really good if you become the driven, success-oriented people whose possessions and lifestyle you’ve been envying?

I think a better slogan is the one below, which I saw on a calendar Shelley bought, and which I put up on church readerboard not long back:





Isn’t that better? I think so—especially if you’re allowing the “you” to be changed each day by Him.

How do you do this? Click the link immediately below:

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

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Blessings
Photo ©2015 by Chelsea Jurgensen
Commentary ©2015  by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, July 9, 2015

The weather has been nice and sunny lately.  Even the animals notice the heat and they enjoy cooling off!  I think Chelsea also enjoyed helping in this case.  

The dog may not count her blessings, although we can tell she appreciates good things.  We on the other hand, can count our blessings even when things are hard.  Let's keep looking for the ways that the Lord works in our lives.  

"The LORD is gracious and righteous;  our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me."  Psalm 116:5,6

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More Ice Please
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
 
In our neck of the woods, it’s been hot the last couple of weeks. I know some of you may live in parts of the world where 90+ degrees (Fahrenheit) is normal for this time of year, but in the Seattle area it’s not. We may have a few days that creep up to 95 or even up and over 100 (for a day or two) but not in June or early July.  No, we are used to the mid to upper 70’s, sneaking into low 80’s this time of year.  Whatever the reason, the last few weeks have been hot and all we talk about is, who has AC? Or – How many fans do you have running, during the day and night?  I thought it was only appropriate to throw some ice on the subject, so we can all cool off.
 
This shot was taken in Alaska – Mendenhall Glacier to be precise. It was taken while I was on a cruise, stopping at several Alaskan destinations. It’s ironic, as I remember the day I took the shot, it was sunny and hot – I was out on the deck in shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops….taking in the breathtaking views of millions of pounds of ice.
 
If you look in your Bible for references to “ice”, you won’t find many. Then again, the ice isn’t the point.  The point is, our “needs.”  When it’s hot, we want to cool down.  When it’s cold, we want to warm up.  When we’re hungry, we need food. When we’re thirsty, we need drink.  You see, God provides. There are too many times, I (not saying you – but you may be in the same boat) forget to ask for the help I need.  Does that stop God from helping me? Nope.  He’s always giving, helping, loving and providing for me – whether I ask or not.
 
What a loving God we serve.  He knows our needs, wants and desires – before we utter a word or send up a prayer. I know I want to get better about asking AND thanking Him for all He does….starting now – Thank you, God, for all you do! (including the ice).

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Purple Martin and Gila Woodpecker
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Purple Martin are cavity nesters.  It must be inscribed in their DNA, for they all elect to build their nests in some sort of fissure, hole, or opening.  This could be in a natural tree cavity, a niche in a cliff, or a man-made birdhouse.  They aren’t especially picky, just so long as it’s close to water. Then there’s the exception.  A population of martin has taken up residence in the Southwest desert, far from any body of water, and on top of that, there are few available nesting holes in which to place their eggs in that arid region.  That’s when you need a good neighbor.





This largest of the North American swallow clan has a beak totally unsuitable for excavating holes in trees, but it does exceptionally well at capturing flying insects.  Enter the good neighbor in the form of the Gila Woodpecker.  And the tree upon which it devotes much of its attention is the long-lived Saguaro Cactus.  The Saguaro in turn secretes a hardening substance around the newly formed opening which makes an ideal custom-made entrance for the nesting martin.  It  works out to the benefit of all, except perhaps for the Saguaro.

A similar example of this can be found as the Children of Israel returned from captivity in Babylon having been given permission by Cyrus.  But God impressed Cyrus to go beyond simply granting permission.  Notice his instructions:  “If any of his people in exile need help to return, their neighbors are to give them this help.  They are to provide them with silver and gold, supplies and pack animals, as well as offerings to present in the Temple of God in Jerusalem.”  (Ezra 1:4 GNB) Should we ever doubt that God is aware of our needs and has unlimited resources to fill those needs, we have two reminders of His foresight: returning captives and a pair of martin living in a custom made cactus.


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Staying on the Path
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, July 6, 2015

I went hiking with some friends recently on the Chain Lakes Loop Trail which we started at Artist's Point.  We went in two cars so that we could avoid the .8 mile uphill climb at the end.  

The hike started out fairly level for the first mile and there were great views of Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan.   There were wildflowers blooming along the trail and the sun disappeared behind clouds soon after we started.  That was a great blessing because it was still really hot.  We came to a junction and took the trail that wound down to the Chain Lakes.  We were crossing talus slopes and going through forested sections.  It was all quite enjoyable and even though we had some rain drops, we didn't get any big downpours or any lightening.  

The lakes were beautiful but we didn't have much time to stop because we still had to go up to a saddle and then down into the Bagley Lakes basin and then up again to the parking lot at Heather Meadows. 





The trail stopped being enjoyable for me after we left the lakes.  If you are in good shape, I would recommend that you do that hike because the scenery is amazing.  If, like me, you do some easy weekend hiking but are not that active during the week, don't even think about doing this hike!

The worst part was coming down multiple switchback after we got over the saddle.  These were mostly over talus slopes so the path was very rocky and we had to watch each step because it would have been very easy to slip or twist an ankle. I did have hiking poles and they were very useful.  After we eventually made it down to the Bagley Lakes, we had to cross over a stone bridge and then climb another .3 miles to the parking lot.  

I think our lives are a journey and we need to remember to watch each step carefully so that we don't fall.

My steps have held to your paths;
    my feet have not stumbled.
Psalm 17:5  (NIV)

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The Grand, Grand Canyon
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, July 5, 2015

Those of you who have been to the Grand Canyon know that it’s indeed grand!  Being an average of 10 miles wide and nearly 1 mile deep, it’s one of the wonders of the natural world.  Throughout the many years, the 177 river-mile length of the Colorado River in the Park and its tributaries have gradually shaped and widened the canyon. The various rock layers in the canyon walls respond to erosion differently forming slopes and cliffs.  The red, yellow and green hues are due to various minerals in the soil.





The Grand Canyon is not only grand, but it’s also huge! This second photo makes people look very small compared to the Canyon – almost insignificant.  We might think we’re insignificant in the scheme of the huge world, but in God’s view, each one of us is important.  He even sent His Son to earth so that each one of us can be saved and have life eternal! (John 3:16)  What must we do?  Only believe!


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Parade Prep
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 4, 2015

This past Thursday I happened to be driving through the town of Bothell, famous for its lavish Fourth of July parades. On a main thoroughfare I noticed all these chairs lined up, arm to arm and seat to seat, on the edge of the curb—a full two days in advance of the Fourth!

Okay, fellow Sherlocks, let’s do a bit of deducing. What do all these chairs tell us about how the Bothellites (Bothellonians?) feel about this community event?

No doubt about it, Bothell people are looking forward to this parade. Saturday morning at breakfast they’re not going to suddenly say, “Oh, that’s right! Today’s the parade! I wonder if we should go down and see it. What do you think? I sure hope we get a good place to view it from.”

Nope, these folks have already foraged in their garages, dusted off their beach chairs (or made arrangements to borrow folding chairs from their church), and have hauled this hardware down to the parade route. I noticed that in many cases they secured those chairs to each other and to nearby trees with locking bicycle cables. In other words, they took precautions to make sure their parade-watching position would still be there Saturday morning.

And what’s most surprising—and maybe even most touching—is that these people plan to be front-and-center for that parade even though the day will be a hot one. Weather forecasts indicate that Bothell’s temperature on the Fourth will be a toasty, cloudless 88 degrees or more, so wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses and water bottles will be the accessories of the day.

The Bothell parade—and the local love for it even in spite of potential discomfort—reminds me of another Event. Jesus often warned His followers to “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matthew 25:13 NKJV

His urgent warning is the capstone of an important parable which He tells in the verses just before:

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

“But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’

Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’

“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:1 - 13

For a very informative Bible study on Jesus’ return and how to be ready, click the link immediately below:

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


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The Puzzling Bouquet
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 3, 2015

This past Monday on our morning walk (where Shelley and I see many interesting things if we keep our eyes open) I noticed a bouquet of flowers propped against the driver’s door of this white car, and what looks like an envelope beside it.

Jumping to a natural conclusion, I said to myself, “Now that is pretty romantic. The guy comes early to his girl’s house with bouquet and note, and puts them where she’ll see them when she goes to work (or summer classes).”

But a closeup raises some questions . . .





 . . . questions like, Why is the bouquet’s wrapping so dirty? And why is the note similarly bedraggled? Were these flowers and note initially scorned and tossed aside, and did the giver return to prop them against the car door in a gesture of humble entreaty?

Ah, let’s keep it simple. Guy loves girl. Guy props bouquet against door. Bouquet falls on the damp sidewalk (wasn’t it Sunday night we got all that thunder and rain?) Guy re-props bouquet and lays down note. Maybe a breeze later blows the note into the gutter. It’s like the guy is saying, Good morning, my love. Hope your day goes well.

One of the Bible’s most powerful metaphors about God is of a lover—a Groom who adores His Bride. And His kindness is fresh every day:

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:21 – 23 NKJV

 Good morning, My love, He murmurs. Let’s talk, shall we, before the day begins? I can help your day go well.


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Raceway!
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, July 2, 2015

I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to ants, because they’re so tiny and they don’t stand still long enough for me to focus on them. One second they’re scrambling across the sidewalk in an apparently erratic fashion, and the next they’ve disappeared among grass roots, probably in search of food for the tribe. Seriousness of purpose. All work and no play.

However, a couple of days ago I noticed something that struck me funny. Our garden hose lay along a length of our sidewalk, and the ants had discovered it. When I say “ants,” I mean only one or two at a time. The hordes who build the anthills seemed to consider the hose a frivolous distraction from Real Work.

But every once in awhile an individual ant would clamber up on top of the hose and start running along it, using it like a freeway. But it didn't run continuously the way it does on a sidewalk, but would jerk to a stop every few inches. It’s like it was saying, “Okay, this is a nice smooth raceway, but where’s the food? Where are sand-grains I can carry to the anthill project?” Then they'd run for another six inches and stop again.

Word must have gotten around about the uselessness of the hose, because after a couple of days I didn’t see a single ant on it. In fact, at one point I saw an ant race across the sidewalk toward the hose, clamber up over the top and down the other side, and resume his sidewalk journey.

Jesus often insisted that you and I must distrust the easy path:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV

In other words, exercise delayed gratification—which is part of maturity. To learn more about being a spiritual grownup, click the link immediately below.

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

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Winter Has Passed
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Even in Japan the weather is changing.  I spotted these azalea shrubs during a lunch break while on a bus tour of the Tokyo countryside.  The brightness and abundance made me think of better weather.  This particular day was a bit cloudy and rainy, but the color that popped in my view finder said something different.

In the Northwest, you can feel it.  It's summer time.  In fact, if you aren't in the local area, you can read about it -- we are having a heat wave and the sun is most definitely (and defiantly) out. It's hot (dare to say, too hot).  Things are changing.

I know Song of Solomon is a love story but these particular versus seemed like a good match to the joy God has given us, with the weather and the plants that come along with it. Chapter 2:11 & 12:

For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.

Wherever you are, regardless if you feel winter has passed or not, enjoy what God has given you.


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