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.

Photo (c)2016 by Amber Jurgensen
Commentary (c)2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, June 30, 2016

The crows were making a racket, and Amber thought there must be an owl nearby, and went looking up in the treetops before she spotted it at about head level on a branch.  It seemed to be patiently waiting for dark and seemed mindless of the pestering crows.  As it got darker the owl flew silently into the woods as if nothing had been out of the ordinary.

It may seem like that in life where problems of life seem to be doing everything possible to distract us to attack back.  Perhaps we can take a lesson from the owl and wait patiently while keeping an eye on our goal.  An interesting verse in Ecclesiastes 7:8 seems worth pondering:

The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
    and patience is better than pride.

The owl seemed to live by these words!

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God’s Got My Back

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday and Thursday, June 29 - 30, 2016
This rock we live on, which we call earth, is full of sin. Full of traps, snares and pitfalls. There are so many places we can look and see all the trouble we can not only get into but may be in already. It’s like being in the woods at night, and you are wandering around – stumbling, kicking, hitting, tripping – because you can’t see anything. Then we ask, and God gives us the necessary light so we can safely find our way.
Psalm 138:7,
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
    with your right hand you save me.”
How does that feel?  Better – right? God’s there for us. He’s walking with us, taking care of us the whole time.

The image above was taken in the Masai Mara, National Reserve-Kenya.

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Hooded Oriole       
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

“Symbiosis” (from Ancient Greek σύν “together”and βίωσις “living”) signifies a close and often long-term interaction between two or more different biological species.  Commensalism:  a class of relationships between two organisms where one organism benefits without affecting the other.
Mutualism:  a relationship in which both organisms benefit.  While these three terms are often loosely used interchangeably, a progression towards the specific can be easily observed.  The presence of mutualism in nature can be frequently seen, such as when hummingbirds gain nourishment from a flowering plant and in turn help pollinate the flower.  We see this so frequently that its absence sometimes draws more attention than its presence.
The Hooded Oriole is one of 24 oriole species found around the world.  Many are brightly colored and have attractive songs which make them a favorite among those who find them in their garden or nearby trees.  This species seems especially fond of palms which it uses for nesting material and its range has expanded as more ornamental plants are introduced.  This oriole may hang upside down like a chickadee as it probes tubular flowers while looking for insects.  It also will pierce the base of flowers to obtain nectar, but in so doing, fails to pollinate the flower.
Paul encourages us to make sure our names are found under those listed as practicing mutualism.  Notice his encouraging words in Romans 14:19. “So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other.  Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.”  (The Message)  While the pure biologist might object to our using the term this way by arguing we’re not dealing with two different organisms, even they might have to agree it’s the best way to live.

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Under His Wings

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, June 27, 2016

When I was visiting my family recently, I looked out the window and saw this male California Quail standing on top of the air conditioner while below were two females and about 20 recently hatched chicks.   It looked like another male was patrolling on the other side of the hedge they were close to.  At one point, you could just see what looked like two very fat females with little legs hanging down from beneath them.  Afterwards, they must have felt more secure because the chicks were running around but the adults were keeping a very close eye on them.

Earlier, I had seen a number of pairs of quail and a couple of families with tiny little chicks across the road.  Suddenly, the quails disappeared into the shrubbery on the bank and a red tailed hawk landed where the families had been.  About six magpies also flew in.  As far as I could tell, the hawk missed its meal but the danger had been real. 

I think David must have also seen a similar scene in nature.  I like this verse:

Be merciful to me, God; be merciful to me
because I come to you for protection.

Let me hide under the shadow of your wings
until the trouble has passed.

Psalm 57:1 (NCV)

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Photo © 2016 by Chelsea Jurgensen

Commentary © 2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Friday – Sabbath, June 24 – 25, 2016

With summer starting, it is great to get outside.  Our dog is never happier than when she is outside and with people at the same time.  Chelsea nearly got bowled over getting this shot of Taffy running joyfully down the hill.

It makes me think about how God must feel when we are happy and trusting in Him.  Psalm 28:7 says,

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.

My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.

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Father’s Day – Everyday

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
No, I am not suggesting we lobby the necessary political groups in order for Father’s Day to be celebrated every day. That said, this past Sunday got me thinking. As I am a father of two, I can recognize where I may have not always made the right decision, or given the perfect advice. I’m human. The great news is that I can always point my children to the one TRUE Father. He is the only that can make the correct decisions, give the best advice and love unconditionally.
Now that we are a few days past the recognized calendar holiday celebrating all the earthly fathers, let’s spend the next 360+ days focusing in on the Father we all have. How do we do that? Simple – make sure you are spending quality time with Him. Prayer time. Reading from His word. Reflecting on the things He has given you. He deserves all the celebration we can give.  
The above photo is of a great friend, Jim, and one of his two boys. I use this picture since Jim is a fantastic father, and he and I have conversations all the time, making sure we point our kids to their Heavenly Father.  

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Wilson’s Phalarope
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Many of us have strong ideas about what is appropriate and what is inappropriate in terms of human behavior.  It’s clear we need parameters to establish a stable society, but what these boundaries should be is in constant flux.  The way we interpret a piece of Scripture is influenced by our culture and time and this variation can lead to division within the church.  One example of this is the challenge of establishing proper guidelines for the role of women in the church.  Much has been written clearly expounding both sides of the issue, and the need for wisdom in reaching a proper conclusion is evident.
We may think nature has dictated certain rules which must be adhered to without exemption, but consider the Wilson’s Phalarope, one of three species of phalarope which inhabit North America.  These dainty shorebirds are buoyant and ride high in the water.  But what sets this family apart is their apparent gender role reversal.  The female is more brightly colored than the male and she is the one that leads out in courting and competing for nesting territory.  Once this is established she will aggressively defend their nest and her chosen mate.  The female still is the one who lays the eggs but the male, not long before incubation begins, sheds feathers on the abdomen which creates two brood patches that provide closer contact with the eggs.  The female, interestingly enough, does not do so and the male is the one that does all the incubating!  Once the eggs are laid the female may move on to mate with another male practicing what is known as serial polyandry.  Following the laying of eggs, the females begin their southward migration, followed by the males, and lastly the offspring.
Such role reversal may seem out of place and inappropriate as a model for human behavior, and it probably is.  But it works for the phalaropes.  Is it possible we should be less dogmatic as to what is, and is not suitable in the human realm as well?  We certainly wouldn’t want to use Mark Twain’s writings as the basis for our religious thinking, but he does have a certain common sense approach to life.  Such an example comes from Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar and states, “The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

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A Reputation We Can Trust

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, June 20, 2016

This picture is of a male cowbird and I took it through a window so it lost some sharpness but I couldn't approach it from outside without it flying away.  Anyway,  cowbirds have quite a reputation and a bad name among a lot of bird lovers.  The reason for this is because of their unusual behavior where the females may remove an egg from a nest of another species and replace it with one of their own.  Their egg is then hatched and the chick fed and raised by the other species.

According to the Cornell University's Ornithology website,, the female can lay more than 3 dozen eggs in one summer!  Because cowbirds have become widespread in North America, some smaller songbird populations are declining because of this practice.

Reputations can be good or bad.  They can be well deserved or based on fabrications.  Sometimes, we find that we don't really know certain people but we form opinions and ideas about them based solely on their reputations.

There is only one reputation we can really trust:
The revelation of GOD is whole
    and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
    and point out the right road.
The life-maps of GOD are right,
    showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain
    and easy on the eyes.
GOD’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
    with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of GOD are accurate
    down to the nth degree.
Psalm 19:7-9 (The Message)

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The Caring Baboons

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, June 19, 2016

It was fun to watch the many baboons as they scampered around with young on the backs or under the bellies of their mothers.  I was amazed to observe how loving and caring the mothers were toward their young.

Mother baboons carry their infants next to their stomachs, holding them with one hand as they run and jump.  When the young baboons reach five or six weeks of age, they are strong enough to ride on their mother's back, hanging on by all four limbs.  When they get older, they ride jockey style, sitting upright.  Many baboons lived near us at the Baobab Lodge in Chobe National Park in Botswana.  In fact, troops of baboons would jump from the high trees onto the roofs of our tented camps, making horrific noises.  Camp staff would often have to shoo them away because they were being pests!

With five species of these Old World Monkeys, these chacma baboons are the largest, weighing up to 90 pounds.  It was evident that baboons were very sociable and intelligent animals.  Often, we saw them grooming one another, which is a key way of forming bonds as well as keeping clean and free of parasites.  They live together for protection and are constantly on the lookout for predators.  If threatened, they make loud barks with the males running to attack and the females and young climbing to safety in the trees. Fighting or arguing male baboons can make a lot of noise! During the daytime, baboons roam on the ground, while at night they usually sleep in the safety of trees.  They chatter and communicate with over 30 vocal calls, facial expressions (yawns or lip smacking) and signaling with their tails or shoulders. They definitely cared for one another in their troop.  And, the mothers definitely cared for their young!

Do you know there’s Someone who cares for you?  In fact, He gave His life for you and me.  “Throw all your worry on him, because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7 ISV

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The Blindfolded Woman

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, June 18, 2016

A week ago I was standing in the Jurgensen driveway (Russell, Caleb, and occasionally Chelsea and Amber fill our Thursday “Daily Photo Parable” slot). We were gathering with a group of other people to celebrate Caleb’s high school graduation.

Glancing down at the concrete, I noticed an image caused by drying rainwater. “Look at that,” I said. “See the woman’s face?” A few people chuckled in recognition as I snapped the above photo.

Now that I look at the photo again, I think I recognize the woman—Eve. Standing in the Garden near the forbidden tree, she hears the serpent’s voice, urging her not only to disobey her Creator, but to believe that He is selfishly withholding from her what is truly best for her.

Eve has a choice. She can say, “No thank you. I trust the One who made me. I’m leaving.” Even though the devil promised her that her eyes would be opened, what she was really doing was blindfolding her eyes with selfishness, and allowing the Accuser to lead her into his death-trap.

You can read the whole sad story in Genesis 3, but read all the way to the end, where God walks sadly to where He knows they’ve hidden themselves, and gently provides them clothing made from animal skins (perhaps the first sacrificial substitute pointing toward the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world).

Here are two links to Bible texts which flesh out this truth in more detail.

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Support Group

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, June 17, 2016

On the one of our morning walks earlier this week, Shelley pointed out the above scene. Somebody in that house had needed to saw some wood, and set up a pair of sawhorses – and shot from this particular angle, they spell out “AA.”

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 to help alcoholics become sober and stay sober. Its members are encouraged to remain anonymous, often calling each other by first names only in group meetings. Other addiction groups have often adopted AA’s “12 Steps” and “12 Traditions.”

Those two sawhorses, of course, form a small “support group.” When you’re cutting a piece of wood, it’s very difficult to use just one sawhorse. But with two, it’s easy.

There is overwhelming Bible evidence that you and I can’t be the most effective Christians all by ourselves. In some crises and emergencies, this does happen. But God’s ideal is not for us to crouch in a mountain cave and contemplate our navels. Instead, we are to gather, join, and mutually encourage.

As you scan through Bible history, you discover that God calls individuals – but He calls them to groups. He created Adam and Eve with the ability to create their own family groups. When He released his slaves from Egyptian captivity, He didn't slip them across the border furtively one by one – He marched them out in tribes. When Jesus came, He gathered groups about Him. He chose not just one but 12 disciples. After Jesus’ death, they scattered to Europe and Asia not converting disciples one by one to meditate alone, but to gather in the first Christian churches.

Are you a part of a Bible-believing church? To read about what the Bible says about how important they are, check out the link immediately below:

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Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, June 16, 2016

It is graduation season, and it is great to see some of the youth in our lives take big steps when they graduate.  I am a proud parent of a high-school graduate, and I know others who are graduating.  You probably know some as well.

We send our warmest wishes to our graduates as they embark on the next legs of their education.  Let's keep in touch with them to provide encouragement and support.

Luke 2:52 says, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

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A Tiny Bit Goes a Long Way

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
This last week in Sabbath School class, we discussed faith and doubt, and what it means in the grand scheme. I won’t go into great detail of our discussion (feel free to come visit/join our class for full details) but I will say we had a good discussion, and in the end we agreed that much of it is based on the relationship we have with God. There will be times we have tons of faith and then there are times where doubt starts to creep in. Sometimes the doubt is from a situation we are experiencing or maybe a question that was asked, where you weren’t quite sure of the answer.
The best example of how we can work through those times of doubt is the story we read in Matthew. Here is a desperate father, with an ill son. All the father wants is to have his son healed. He comes to Jesus to beg for mercy and healing power.
Matthew 17:14-20:
  When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
  “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
  Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
  He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
It’s the best. Jesus tells the father, "Just have a tiny bit of faith and you can move a mountain." Jesus recognizes that what WE need is a starting point. A little bit of faith can turn into all the faith we’ll ever need, and we get that little faith from the relationship with have with our Creator. Let get ready to move mountains.

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Cassin’s Vireo               
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

If vireos were to appear in the credits of a movie on the woodlands, they would most likely appear somewhere down the list, perhaps hidden under the heading of audio technicians or some related field.  For vireos are generally not seen, their gray-green coloration blending in perfectly with the foliage.  But what they lack in color, they make up for in song.  The Cassin’s Vireo, like others in its family, persistently fills the trees with melody.  To many human ears the song gives the impression of a two part dialogue.  The first portion is phrased like a question, directly followed by an answer to the posed question.  The white spectacles suggest a professorial appearance appropriate to one asking so many questions.
Its domestic life is illustrated in the accompanying pictures.  In courtship, the male will fluff out conspicuous yellow feathers on his flanks while singing to the female.  He will occasionally start building one or more nests even before pairing is established (below).  These are placed low in bushes or trees.  This particular one was below eyelevel in a shaded serviceberry.

In most of our families the members likewise have established roles.  Those which work best are mutually agreed upon and consistently followed.  “The two who unite their interest in life will have distinct characteristics and individual responsibilities.  Each one will have his or her work…” (Adventist Home, page 114)  Appreciation of the contributions of each go a long way to ensuring the happiness of the home.  If the vireos can do this, shouldn’t we be able to as well?

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God's Plans vs. Chance
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, June 13, 2016

Some people truly believe that if they find a four leaf clover then they will have good fortune. As you can see, I only found a three leaf clover but it had a very pretty flower!

We heard the following verse in church recently during a baby dedication. I also like this verse because, though it is part of a letter written to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, I believe it tells us how God feels about each one of us.  

For I know the plans I have for you,  says the LORD.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT)

We don't have to go looking for a four leaf clover or go looking for some other talisman or lucky charm.

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The Patient Leopard

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, June 12, 2016

It was exciting to ride in this small Cessna 206 for our one-hour flight to Banoka, our tented camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.  Even more exciting was spending about an hour watching this 3-year old male leopard relaxing high in a tree.

Our guide first noticed other animals looking at the tree.  Then, camouflaged by leaves and shadows, we saw this beautiful leopard, one of the five “big cats”!  Its dark irregular spots are called rosettes because they resemble the shape of a rose. Leopards often rest on tree branches during the day, like this one.  They usually hunt for prey from dusk until dawn. To prevent other animals like lions and hyenas from taking their killed prey, leopards will carry their food high in a tree.  Pound for pound, they are said to be the strongest of the big cats.  We patiently watched this leopard as he watched us.  He was patiently waiting to catch is next meal at dusk.

Leopards are mentioned several times in the Bible as fierce, swift, wild beasts where they patiently watched for their prey.  In fact, leopards still survive in the Middle East.  What instances in the Bible can you recall that mention leopards?  The prophet Jeremiah was familiar with leopards.  Daniel’s vision included a leopard.  Habakkuk knew leopards were swift. Solomon knew there were leopards in the mountains.  My favorite:  “Then the wolf shall live with the sheep, and the leopard lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall grow up together, and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6 NEB Are you patiently waiting for that great day to see Jesus?  If not, what’s keeping you?

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Wait Just a Cotton-pickin’ Minute!

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, June 11, 2016

Last November, while passing by a store shelf, my hackles rose as I saw the name on this product – “Dakota Free.” It is true that I no longer live in my home state of South Dakota, and haven’t resided there since 1976, but I didn’t like the implication that it was desirable to banish either of the Dakotas from one's life.

However, the truth calmed me down a bit. If you can make out the lines of print below the word “Moisturizer” on each bottle, you will see assertions that this product, which happens to be made in North Dakota, is “free” from both fragrances and gluten. This is okay with me. Just don’t disrespect the Dakotas! Presumably each canister’s label instead means, “This product is made in one of the Dakotas, and we have made it free from lots of noxious things so that you can be healthier.”

In John 1:45 and 46, a man named Philip has become acquainted with Jesus, and is so impressed that he seeks out his friend Nathanael. When Nathanael learns the name of Jesus’ hometown, he says a bit contemptuously, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Jesus’ beginnings were indeed humble—but that was exactly the point. In Philippians 2:5 – 8, Paul spells this out:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

The bottom line, of course, is that He loves us that much—and more. Have you returned that love, from your heart?

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Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, June 10, 2016

Back in mid-March I took my Honda to North Seattle to the repair place I’ve been patronizing since the mid-1980s. As always, I dropped off the car and hopped a bus to the University district. While waiting for a “Walk” signal at the corner of 45th and University Way, I spotted this nearly-empty vodka bottle on a stone ledge which also supported an imposing pillar of the building which is now the Wells Fargo bank.

Aside from a sip of something I mistakenly thought was a soft drink at a little café in London, I have never drunk anything alcoholic in my life. Neither of my parents drank – in fact, my mother was furious at the thought of anyone drinking beer. Her father imbibed from time to time, and even though it never caused him to abuse his family, she says that alcohol changed his personality enough so that he became someone she didn’t recognize. “It wasn’t my dad anymore,” she would snap at me.

Sadly, human history has shown that even institutions with apparently solid foundations can crumble under the influence of alcohol. To find several emphatic Bible statements against liquor—as well as a powerful alternative found in the final text in the list—click the link immediately below.

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Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, June 9, 2016

Old mansions are extremely fascinating.  Almost more for show than for comfortable living, they stand as museums to times past.  This mansion is around 150 years old, but it will not likely last forever.  The Bible does tell us of something that will last forever.  In Luke 1:32-32, an angel says this about Jesus, "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."

I was pleasantly surprised to find that an ongoing science experiment does not disprove the "forever" part of this promise.  The Super-Kamiokande experiment in Japan is still ongoing, but they can calculate that protons have a half-life of at least 5xE33 years.  That is a 5 with 33 zeros after it:

5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.  

This proton half-life could grow a lot more as the experiment continues.  That is a pretty big number.  Consider that the current estimate for the age of the universe is about 13 billion years.  

13,000,000,000 years

Sometimes it is hard to believe God really means it when he says "forever".  It is kind of fun when science can put out an interesting fact that makes us stop in our tracks and look at what God is saying from a new perspective.

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Are You Listening?

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
This past weekend, we had our 4 year old (almost 5) niece over for the weekend. There were multiple times where we would ask her something, or tell her something and her “go to” response was – “What?” The first couple of times, it was almost cute – a quick reaction/response to anything we would say. Multiply that by 30-50 times, it’s a bit silly and we started to wonder if she was listening at all.
How many times do we do this to God? He’s trying to talk with us, tell us something. He’s giving instructions or guidance, and when we finally “hear” Him, our first response is – “What?”
In Deuteronomy 32:1-4,

“Listen, you heavens, and I will speak;
    hear, you earth, the words of my mouth.
Let my teaching fall like rain
    and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
    like abundant rain on tender plants.
I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
    and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is he.”

At least in the part of the world where my family lives, we know about rain. This should be an easy one for us. Allow His teachings to “fall like rain and my words to descend like dew . . . .” Instead of the quick response of  “What?”, allow God’s word to soak in and take hold. If we do that, I presume our response will be – “I’m listening.”

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Bushtit II

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

His name is mentioned in only one chapter in the Bible, Luke 11, yet most Christians have at least some familiarity with this wee, little man.  Even if this were all the information given about him, most would be able to identify Zacchaeus as the subject.  Interesting, isn’t it, that we should pay so much attention to his height.  The fact that he was a tax collector, and more importantly, a reformed tax collector, comes in at a distant second place.  Even more significant than his changed life was his ability to climb trees, especially sycamore trees.  Perhaps we can blame this misperception on our childhood upbringing, where we experienced the vicarious joy of tree climbing that accompanied playing the role of Zacchaeus.

It’s also interesting that Matthew, a fellow tax collector, fails to make mention of him.  It’s just possible that as children we were attracted to Zacchaeus because for us, everyone else seemed big, and this in turn meant that they had more access to the Savior.  Such are the distortions of the human mind.

A parallel in the avian realm might be the Bushtit.  Certainly they fit the diminutive profile, and they are almost always found in trees.  Their physical adornment is on the plain side which means they might easily be ignored.  But praise God, they are not too small as to be overlooked by their Creator.  Which in turn means that we, whatever our stature or level of spiritual growth, have access to Someone who would like to have dinner with us.

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Fruit Season

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, June 6, 2016

I was up in the Okanagan in British Columbia recently and saw this cherry tree in a botanical garden.   As you can see, the cherries are almost ready to be picked.  Cherry season is a couple of weeks ahead of schedule this year due to the warm weather they have been having there.

The Okanagan is known for its fruit and there are fruit stands all over the place.  I did see people picking strawberries already and grapes, plums, apricots, raspberries, peaches and apples will be following soon.

The Bible talks about a different kind of fruit; the kind of fruit that can be reflected in our lives.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  Galations 5:22-23 (NLT)

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Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hundreds of Cape buffalo wandered along the banks of the Chobe River in Botswana, Africa.  Many stopped to rest in pools of mud to keep cool, to ward off biting flies and to control parasites.  Even though their skin is thick, insects and parasites bother them.  

They seemed peaceful and content as we drove near them in our safari jeeps.  It was hard to believe they are very dangerous, goring and killing over 200 people every year.  

Cape buffalo aren’t alone in taking mud baths!  For thousands of years, people have believed in the healing power of mud.  Mud baths claim to relieve muscle and joint aches and pains, to promote relaxation, to detoxify the body, to soften the skin and to improve circulation.  The closest thing I’ve had to a mud bath is being in the salty, gel-like Dead Sea.  Just west of there in the City of David lies the Pool of Siloam that’s mentioned several times in the Bible.  When Jesus saw a man blind since birth, he spit on the ground to make mud.  After putting the mud on the man’s eyes, Jesus told the man to go wash in in the Pool of Siloam.  Amazed, those who knew the man asked him how his eyes were opened.  He told them, “The man called Jesus made a paste and smeared my eyes with it, and told me to go to Siloam and wash.  I went and washed, and gained my sight.”  John 9:11 NEB Yes, Jesus can heal, even with mud!

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Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, June 4, 2016

Yesterday, strolling by a snack-dispensing machine (and yes, deliberating about whether any were even slightly healthy), I spotted something very puzzling.

Take a close look at the word “Wonderful” on the pistachio package. Do you see that little circular white symbol toward the upper end of the “l”? That looks for all the world like a “Registered Tradmark” symbol. In fact, let’s take an even closer look:

Sure enough, that seems to be a ®. But you can’t trademark a word like that. If you could get “dibs” on “wonderful,” no other advertiser could ever describe his or her product using that word.

So what gives? The only thing I can figure out—and you’ll spot it if you take a look at the word again—is that the “o” isn’t an “o” but a little heart. And since it’s a symbol and not just a letter, that little ® is legitimate. (I verified this by going to the company’s website, and sure enough, there’s the trademark.)

To me, it seems a bit audacious to commandeer “wonderful,” because I happen to know Somebody who can claim full rights to it:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV)

Want to know more—or review what you know—about your wonderful Savior? Click the link immediately below:

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Mythology Oversize

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, June 3, 2016

Shelley and I used part of last Monday’s Memorial Day holiday to check out a used-book store. I always head for the Religion section, and since Mythology is right next to it, I couldn’t help noticing the two shelf-labels in the photo.

Obviously, the labels refer to the size of the books, but I got to wondering, “What would an oversize myth be?” Would it be a really, really “tall tale”? Would it be a myth so brazenly and repeatedly proclaimed that—though unbelievable on its face—would be accepted as true nevertheless?

If you were to back me into a corner and ask me to name such a supersize oversize myth like this, I would have to say it would be macroevolution, the idea that every living thing on this planet slowly evolved from lower life-forms, and that those lower life-forms came into being by lightning striking a swamp.

I went to a state college for my bachelor’s and first master’s degree, and evolution was considered a fact. No debate, no question about it. Books and teachers assumed it without questioning it.

But I didn’t believe it—first, because the Bible insisted that God is the Creator. But secondly, over the years, I have learned to look at nature’s complexities and ponder, “How many millions of years would it take for a tear-duct to invent itself so perfectly that an eyeball’s movements would be lubricated? Which came first, the eyeball or the tear duct? Which came first, the lungs and stomach, or the trachea which has a little valve to prevent food from going into the lungs?” And on and on. And on. And on.

And as I always do in the bookstores, I turn my back on Mythology (oversized or not) and head toward Religion.

To read more about God’s creative genius, click the link immediately below:

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Photo and Commentary by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, June 2, 2016

This is our pet chicken in the process of digging a hole in the lawn. Chickens like to lie on the ground (usually dirt) and kick dirt into their feathers (dust bathing) to get rid of any bugs that might be on them. But sometimes they get carried away and do this on grass. We don't like it when she destroys the lawn so we always run outside and put her under the bushes where there is nice dirt and no grass.

However, she is a helpful reminder that it is good for our health to relax.

Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30

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Not The Whole Picture
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
At a zoo in Miami, Florida I captured this image of a flamingo, getting a drink right down by its feet (yes, the legs and the head are of the same bird). It reminded me that even when we don’t have the full view, we have the belief there is more to it. We are willing to trust what know and assume there must be more.  
Just recently in our Sabbath School class we were discussing faith and the relationship with God. We talked about how we may not always know what the outcome will look like but we still have the faith to trust in God. I think of all the times when in my own life, a “door” I was convinced God wanted me to go through was suddenly closed and I couldn’t figure out why. Later, when I looked back, that door got closed so a better one could be opened. It reminds me that we won’t always see the whole picture, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have our full view in mind – in fact, He does and He will guide us if we let him.
Pray, daily, that you have the courage and faith to allow God to direct you. Trust that He has seen the past and the future, and knows exactly what is best for us.

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