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

Daily Photo Parable -  May 2013

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. I handle Thursday, 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.





Judging a Book by Its Lover
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 31, 2013

Earlier this week, during a quick scamper through a book store, I spotted this interesting volume, its title an obvious takeoff on the saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover." From a glance at its table of contents, I see that it contains a number of essays, most of them humorous, about the books people love. Shelley and I have bought books on the recommendation of certain people we know are good judges of quality writing and important content.

In your home you have a library of 66 books—the Bible. Have you grown to really love that book, not because you’re supposed to, but because you’ve actually opened it and have discovered that it’s intensely, emotionally interesting? Right now, as I write this, I’m staring at a hardcover King James Version published by the Christian Science organization. (There’s nothing Christian-sciencey about it—it’s just the King James Bible with no footnotes or supplementary helps.) The print is so irresistibly readable that I use it as my devotional Bible, and treasure each paragraph.

The key thing to remember about Bible reading is that not all the parts are equally interesting. Or putting another way, not all parts are equally interesting at any given moment. Today, for example, I might appreciate an encouraging Psalm. Tomorrow I might be in the mood for the political intrigue I find in the story of David or the kings which succeeded him. This weekend I might want to meander through some of the Genesis stories, or sample some Philippians joy.

Bottom line? Treat the Bible as a library. Be patient with yourself—and with it—and you’ll learn to appreciate it more. And you’ll learn to love its Author more deeply, and explore the vast treasure of His deeds on your behalf.

For more information on how to get the most out of your Bible reading, click the link immediately below.

http://www.bellevueadventist.org/bible-reading-plan


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The God Watch
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, May 30, 2013

Exactly a week ago today (Thursday), I stopped in at a Chevron gas station to fill up my little Honda with (as you will notice if you are proficient at reading gas-pump displays) “Regular with Techron.”

While thus engaged in nourishing my car, I rarely stare at the gas-pumps for inspiration. But this time I heard a small voice, and then is when I noticed the little TV screen. I snorted in annoyance. Will commercialism never cease? I thought bitterly. Can’t a harried citizen fill his tank in peace? Must I be pursued by persistent purveyors of products? (Full disclosure: I didn’t actually think of all those “p” words until just now as I’m writing this. But I was indeed annoyed and bitter.)

So I didn’t even glance at the screen again, not even when I snapped the photo above. But now that I look at it, I see that this is an AccuWeather broadcast, and the man—in a voice too tiny and tinny to compete with the traffic at the busy intersection—was telling me something really useful about the following day’s forecast.

This reminds me of how, even in the rush of the ordinary, God can speak to us if we will stop to listen. Shelley and I take a morning walk together, and often our minds are thinking about the busy day ahead. But from a nearby treetop an incredibly loud robin will often break in on our thoughts, and his clear and good-humored tones remind us of a creative God. A glance at the sky from a workplace window can reorient us from harried employees to princes and princesses of the universe, children of a Father King.

You do what you want, but I’m going to keep alert for such “God sightings.” A member of our church who each year is an enthusiastic Vacation Bible School helper wears on his wrist a rubber bracelet called a “God Watch,” for this very purpose. Whatever it takes, let's remember to watch for Him. It can literally mean the difference between a hopelessly discouraging day and a bearable one.



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Loosened Strings
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Wednesday, May 29, 2013

We’ve been doing some long-overdue renovating at our church, and sometimes the decisions have to do with what can be renovated and what must be discarded.

With a sigh, we consigned our battered old fellowship hall piano to the discard list. Its inner workings had failed so badly that the lid over the keys only opened halfway, which left perhaps an inch and a half of white keys available for performance.

So it was decided—that is, I decided—that during an upcoming church work bee we would conduct a piano-smashing event. Earnest youngsters, fists gripping a ten-pound sledgehammer and eyes protected by safety goggles, would get three blows at it before having to go to the back of the line.

In preparation for this event (which, by the way, turned out to be a huge and totally safe success), I loosened all the strings so a hammer-blow wouldn’t zoinggg one end of a tensed string into someone’s eye.

After I’d loosened the strings, I paused to play “Jesus Loves Me.” I even recorded it on my digital recorder, and if I could have somehow changed the format to MP3 or MP4 I would have given you a link. The “Jesus Loves Me” rhythm was there, but the melody had vanished, and in its place was a mournful clicking and clanking and rattling from which a “Guess That Tune” contestant wouldn’t have had a chance.

Alert Daily Photo Parable readers are already picking up the scent of where I’m going with this. Pretend you’re a piano, and pretend ten of your strings are the Ten Commandments, and the other strings are Jesus’ statements in the Sermon on the Mount and other places in the gospel.

If each of those strings is tightened and tuned to match the correct pitch—in other words, if you're in the habit of taking great care with the commandments of God and His Son and Their inspired Bible writers, God can play very accurate and beautiful  heavenly music through you. But if you’ve let yourself get out of tune—or worse yet, unturned yourself by deliberately ignoring God’s will—your chances of being used by God are pretty much zilch.

When’s the last time you checked what the Bible had to say about God’s revealed will? If it’s been awhile, click the link immediately below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/law-god


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Wilson’s Warbler
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Like a dab of liquid sunlight, the Wilson’s Warbler lights up the moist woodland thickets where it nests. Like other warblers, it is primarily insectivorous, and feeds by gleaning in the lower level of trees and occasionally darting out to catch flying insects. At one time it was called Pileated Warbler, after the male’s black cap or pileum. This patch on the top of its head is reduced or entirely missing in the female, although females in Western Washington frequently display black caps. It generally spends about three months in its northern breeding grounds before returning to its tropical winter home in Central America. Interestingly, the western population of this species that breeds the furthest north, migrates the furthest south to winter.

Perhaps you’ve known people like this. They tend to take things to the extreme; for them it’s all or nothing. These people are not always the easiest to be around. Paul is a good example of this kind of person. Before meeting Christ on the road to Damascus, he was an avowed enemy of the Christian church. But after his conversion, he became an unstoppable champion of The Way. His very life seemed to bring out this quality in others. For instance, at one moment in Lystra they were ready to call him a god, and the next moment they were stoning him. (Acts 14) This inner passion which was his by nature, was refined and directed by his call from God. “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’” Acts 18:9,10 NIV) Thank God for people who are willing to go to extremes for Him.


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Found
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 27, 2013

My sister's family lost their cat recently. They looked for her and posted fliers with her picture around the neighborhood but couldn't find her anywhere. People told them that coyotes in the area would take pets. She was missing for more than a couple of weeks and I had pretty much given up hope that they would ever see her again when someone called to tell them that they had seen a cat matching her description by a local creek a few miles away from where they live. They went to check out the lead and sure enough, it was Daisy Moo!

Luke 15 talks about a lot sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. The ultimate message from these parables Jesus told is that their is great rejoicing in heaven over lost people who become found. They actually become found because they make a conscious decision to turn their lives around.

Jesus (with another parable): Wouldn’t every single one of you, if you have 100 sheep and lose one, leave the 99 in their grazing lands and go out searching for the lost sheep until you find it? When you find the lost sheep, wouldn’t you hoist it up on your shoulders, feeling wonderful? And when you go home, wouldn’t you call together your friends and neighbors? Wouldn’t you say, “Come over and celebrate with me, because I’ve found my lost sheep”? This is how it is in heaven. They’re happier over one sinner who changes his way of life than they are over 99 good and just people who don’t need to change their ways of life.

AMAZING GRACE (John Newton)

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.


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The Speedy Hummingbirds
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 26, 2013

I'd like for you to sit down with a watch having a second hand or timer. Find your pulse and count your heart rate for 60 seconds (or 30 seconds times 2). What number do you get? Somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute? Now consider the little hummingbirds, like the Green Violet Ear Hummingbird in my photo, whose heartbeat can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute. Yes, that's right, their hearts can beat over a thousand times per minute.

Another question: How much do you weigh and what is the weight of the food you eat in an average day? (Parents, you might want to consider weighing your child and having them weight their food for a day!) With considering water and other liquids, it might be just a few pounds a day. Because hummingbirds spend many hours in flight, they consume more than their own weight in nectar each day by visiting hundreds of flowers and feeders. I don't think we'd do well eating our weight in food every day! Luckily for them, at night they enter a hibernation-like state, reducing the need for food at that time.

Most hummingbirds have long bills to help them reach the nectar in flowers. On our recent trip to Costa Rica we saw many beautiful hummingbirds, some of which pierced the bases of flowers to get nectar. Often, their tiny wings seem a blur because they beat so rapidly. My second photo (below) shows this hummingbird caught in flight. The wings of medium-sized hummingbirds usually beat between 20 to 30 times per second, and the smallest can reach 100 beats per second. That is fast!



Let's thank God for the variety and beauty of His creation for our enjoyment! Think of the words of this familiar hymn written by Folliott Pierpoint in 1864:

“For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.”


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Baby Changing Station
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 25, 2013

Thanks to a growing number of perceptive and enlightened merchants, even men’s restrooms contain the helpful device above. I’ve never had kids, but I can imagine the relief a dad might feel upon discovering this fold-down table—and I can picture many a father carrying in his mind a mental GPS map of stores or other business places whose restrooms are thus equipped.

Let me tell you about another kind of “baby changing station.” In the church I pastor, this station occupies several rooms, most of them on the first floor of our “educational wing.” They’re our children’s Sabbath School classes.

For an hour and fifteen minutes every Saturday morning, kids ages birth through teen learn about God our Creator, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit our Comforter and Guide. Dedicated teachers who love kids only slightly less than they love God tell the familiar Bible stories and draw lessons from them.

And the results are powerful, and can shake a family’s foundations. Over and over again I hear how once a child falls in love with the Bible and the stories it tells about a God who really cares, they start beseeching a sometimes indifferent parent to take them to church each week.

God is indeed in the business of changing babies, but we need to cooperate. If you’re a parent and not currently attending church, I strongly urge you to find a Bible-believing congregation (like ours!) where kids and their training are high priority.

Because the Bible has a lot to say about children. Check out the first three or four topics at the following link:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/search/node/children


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Be Vegan—Make Peace
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 24, 2013

I’m not sure I totally follow the logic on the above bumpersticker I saw this Wednesday, but I applaud the direction it’s beckoning us toward.

As a South Dakota farm boy, I understood that red-blooded American boys eat meat. So I was rarely without a hamburger or an order of chicken. My folks stopped eating pork early on, but every spring my dad bought ten steers at the sale barn, and fattened them up on our absolutely organic and hormone-free pasture grass. In the fall, he would sell nine (considerably bulked up by then) at the sale barn, and the tenth would mysteriously vanish, only to reappear in the form of white paper packages packed with—you guessed it—hamburger.

As a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I of course knew that Genesis 1:30 says that in the Garden of Eden both animals and humans were vegetarian. I knew that Isaiah says that in the New Earth, the lion will lie down with the lamb, and “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain” (Isaiah 65:25). No hamburgers in heaven, then.

But just as I was turning 30 I stopped eating meat, mainly because I married a woman who, among her many other talents, set out to discover how good vegetarian food can really be. And unless you are fresh off the spaceship from the Planet Mars, you too have discovered that the best thing that has happened to American vegetarianism has been the arrival of wonderful foods from all over the world, eaten and enjoyed by people whose economic status made acquiring large quantities of meat impossible. (Earlier this week I read a newspaper article which says that studies are showing that immigrants who come to live in America will die an average of two years earlier than they would have in their own countries! It’s mainly because of our high-fat, high-sugar, high-processed, high-meat diet.)

Anyway, take it from a farm boy who, at his state college, gobbled down three hamburgers a day and a Dr. Pepper with each one, but who is now 98 percent vegan—and who (I am telling you the absolute truth here) loves what he eats roughly 800% more than when meat occupied the center of his plate.

Check it out, folks. Veggie eating is magnificent nowadays. Veganism might not directly create peace like the bumpersticker asserts, but the time is coming when the Prince of Peace Himself will arrive in the skies above this planet, and we’ll all be vegans again.


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Hide It Under a Cover? No!
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, May 23, 2013

A week or two ago on a Sabbath afternoon walk in our neighborhood, Shelley and I spotted this huge car enshrouded in a protective cover. From its length, I could tell that this automobile was manufactured in the long-ago mists of time when its purchaser need be concerned about neither gas mileage nor Japanese imports.

And because such care has been taken to protect it, I imagine that it has been painted and waxed to such a pristine condition that it must be a glory to behold. But because of the shroud, this glory cannot be seen. In fact, I am such a non-expert on vintage cars that I cannot tell you if it is the 1960s-era Cadillac I suspect it is, or some other elegant behemoth.

Some Christians—and I know I’ve been one of them at times—have received tender nurture and even rough-edge-removing polishing from their Creator, and His handiwork needs to be put on display. In Matthew 5, Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

If someone were to pull the shroud off this car, we would see its mirror-finish beauty, but we wouldn’t give any credit to the car but to its owner. And that’s the point of letting our light shine, of not hiding it under a bushel-basket, of being that city built on a hill so that all can see.


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Sing to the Lord
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Recently, I was reading in the book of Psalms and especially enjoyed chapter 96. As you know, I am a big fan of God’s second book -- nature. The creations are lovely to look at and I love enjoying them by getting out and camping in and around them. This particular shot was taken while camping at Fish Lake.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Next time you're around some trees, be listening for them to sing for joy.


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Bridled Titmouse
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The smallest of the North American titmice is the Bridled Titmouse. It is also the most dramatically attired with its striking crest and facial pattern. Just like the chickadees to which they are related, they nest in cavities in trees, but unlike their crestless counterparts, they do not excavate these holes. There is a great deal of variety in the way different species raise their families, but each is equipped with those tools and skills needed for them to be successful.

The brood patch is a good example of that. Not all birds possess this bare patch of skin on the breast which allows the body warmth of the parent to warm the egg to a sufficient temperature to ensure hatching. In some species only the female has a brood patch, and not surprisingly, it is only the female which incubates the eggs. In a few cases, only the male has this patch, and it falls upon him to conduct the incubation duties. But, as with a number of other species, both the male and female of the Bridled Titmouse share in this responsibility and possess this modification. Isn’t it interesting that even those of us who are avowed creationists resort to using words like “modification”, a word that has evolutionary ties, to express our ideas?

Rather than belaboring the inference of such words, let’s return to a biblical world view of how nature works. And while this undoubtedly was not the purpose Paul had in mind as he was writing to the Philippians, we probably do not do it a disservice to employ it this way, for over and over again in nature we see this truth being carried out. “And with all his abundant wealth through Christ Jesus, my God will supply all your needs.” Philippians 4:19 GNT) And if it’s true of a titmouse and a clam, don’t you think it would be true for us as well?


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The Right Equipment
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 20, 2013

I was walking past an area where scuba divers were getting all of their gear laid out so that they would have everything they needed when they entered the water on their dive.

It reminds me of making sure, as Christians, that we put on the whole armor of God:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks. Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing. So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest. On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One. Accept God’s salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NCV)


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The Amazing Toucan

Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 19, 2013

How would you like to have a mouth with saw-like edges like this Keel-billed Toucan in my photo? Toucans find that useful when tearing off parts of large fruit to eat. Their bill is also used to squash berries and fruit as well as skinning fruit. Even though big, their bills are lightweight because they contain a lot of air in the honeycomb formation. You might think their bills make good weapons, but they are actually more for show, as well as being useful when eating. When courting, toucans play catch by tossing berries to each other!

Believing this bird is beautiful and special, many companies use the colorful toucan as a symbol for their organization or product. Toucans are something like Joseph in having a beautiful “coat” of many colors (Genesis 37:3).


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Expressing Your Individuality
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 18, 2013

Earlier this week I attended a two-day ministerial convention, and by chance happened to park beside a black car whose trunk lid and bumpers were covered with stickers of godly exhortation (such as “Remember the Sabbath! God never changed it!”)

I am a hypocrite when it comes to bumper stickers. I would never plant one on my own bumper, but I delightedly devour those on others’.

But I got my greatest joy when I discovered that, down under the right taillight, this pastor had also mounted the sticker you see above. Here’s a guy who’s not afraid to poke fun at himself, and even gently accuse himself of being contradictory.

At first, as I studied this sticker, I thought, “Yeah, that’s right. All those stickers on his trunk are indeed mass-produced. Where’s the individuality in that?”

But then I thought, “But after all, individuality isn’t really the point, is it? This guy has some truths he wants to get across in a provocative and rather in-your-face way, The truths may be on mass-produced stickers, but if this pastor hadn’t put them on his trunk, they would not arouse fellow-commuters’ thinking.”

Christianity does a lot of mass-producing. Bibles are abundant, as are devotional books, Bible study guides, prayer books, Bible promise books, music CDs, and on and on. Christian bookstores are crammed with them, and all this commercialism can sometimes be off-putting.

However, that’s not the point. The point is to take these products one by one and place them in the line-of-sight of someone who needs them. A single Bible verse, or the lyrics of a song, or a poster of Jesus embracing a sinner, has changed lives.

This doesn’t mean that I myself am going to start using bumper stickers. It does mean that I’m going to pray every day that the Lord will lead me, or an email I write, or a phone call I make, to someone who needs me.


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3-Chord Praise
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 17, 2013

Last month at a Christian bookstore I spotted the above collection of sheet music. If you’ve had some experience playing guitar, ukelele or any other instrument which produces chords, you’ll probably get the point of the book’s title.

For the uninitiated, most simple sacred or secular songs have three basic chords. They are called—depending on how you were taught—the tonic, subdominant and dominant, or the one-chord, the four-chord and the five-chord. In the key of C, the one-chord would be C, the four-chord F, and the five-chord G. And all the other keys have their one, four and five chords too.

Let me show you how this works. Let’s say you have been drafted by the leader of a children’s Bible class to accompany the kids as they sing “Jesus Loves Me.” The first thing you do is to start playing a C chord with a suitable rhythm. The kids sing “Je-sus loves me, this I know,” and then you kick into an F-chord while they warble, “For the Bi-ble” (and you quickly shift back to C) “tells me so.”

And then you do it again. Stay on that C for “Lit-tle ones to Him be-long,” then jump to the F for “They are,” then swoop back to C for an instant while they sing “weak but,” and hit the G for “He is” and finally the C for “strong.” And so on.

It would be nice – but probably yawningly boring – if all songs used just three easy chords like that. Contemporary Christian music, especially, uses several more (the two chord, the three chord and the six chord, and sevenths and minors and augmenteds and dimisheds among others, but we won’t go into that right now).

But the book in the photo was written for people who love Christian music, and would like to play it, but who don’t have the time to learn a lot of chords. I picked up the book, and sure enough, each song has just three chords. And the songs are written in easy-to-play keys like C and G.

So why am I presenting a bit of “music theory lite” today? It’s because a lot of people are intimidated by the Bible. They think its ideas are so deep and complicated that the average person without degrees in Greek and Hebrew can’t do it justice. To these intimidated folks, the Bible might just as well be a Mozart sonata’s sheet music, black with notes.

But the truth is that the Bible can be understood on even the most basic level. John 3:16 is what you might call a three-chord verse – simple and direct. Paul, of course, is the theological Mozart, his ideas beautiful but complicated.

Let me give you suggestions for some three-chord Bible reading: the Gospel of John, the book of Ruth, Genesis, Matthew, Philippians, James. Psalm 23 is simple and beautiful. The point is to read. The Bible itself gives wisdom to those who prayerfully open its pages.


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The Blue Lightning of Love
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, May 16, 2013

I find going to used-book stores enjoyable. I also, occasionally, find it absolutely jaw-dropping. Passing a bookshelf in the “spirituality” section of a Half-Price Books, I saw a title which promised me that a particular volume, if opened and studied, would convey to me the “secrets” of “ascended masters.”

Normally I roll my eyes and pass onward in search of more tangible wisdom, but this time I decided to open the book at random.  It opened to the page I have reproduced above.

The author (by his name I know it’s a “he”) is addressing his readers  as “Blessed Ones,” and asserts that they are using various “Decrees” with commendable “snap and power.” And this activity has resulted in something called the Blue Lightning of Divine Love which is evidently so amazing that it merits an invented word, “outpicturing.” (I seem to see the “ascended master” slapping down that word on the page  and saying with satisfaction, “There. That’ll stop ‘em in their tracks.”)

I’m afraid I did not pause to examine the context in which this master’s words appear. That’s because I regard those words as about as useful to me as the scribblings of Karl Marx or Hitler. Why? Because I am so steeped and marinated in the absolutely soul-satisfying words of the Bible.

I’m sure this Blue Lightning book may have the occasional valid thing to say, just as Marx or even Hitler may have written a logical passage here or there. But my Bible was inspired by the One who existed before me, who created me, who loves me devotedly, and who has the keys to the grave so that if I surrender my life to Him, He can unlock for me a happy eternity.

Know what I’m going to do? I’m going to turn my back on the blue lightning flickering uncertainly on the horizon, and review God’s plan of salvation, a summary of which is found at the link just below.

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


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Stop Right There
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It appears that’s exactly what happened on the image above – someone was putting up a fence along their property and someone yelled, Stop right there! Now, since I don’t know the family that lives at this particular home, I have no clue if that is what happened. What I do know is, they didn’t finish their fence – for whatever reason.

I am sure there have been numerous projects I have started and for whatever reason, chose to stop. I am so glad our God is not like me when it comes to projects, or like the builder of this fence. No, our God sees things through. He started the plan of salvation and even though the human race continues to wander away from the truth, He continues the plan.

John 3:16 & 17 perfectly summarizes God’s willingness to not give up on us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

I am so thankful our God decided not to stop and instead continues to love and forgive us.


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Orange-crowned Warbler and Twinberry Honeysuckle
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Don’t you wish you knew Latin? Well, maybe not enough to really study it, but it certainly would be handy to know when reading those otherwise meaningless scientific names. For instance, if you were proficient in that dead language, you would know that Vermivora celata is the name for the Orange-crowned Warbler but it would also provide you with additional information. The genus name Vermivora simply refers to one who devours worms, something it is seeking to do as it forages through the Twinberry Honeysuckle. Celata literally means concealed, a reference to its orange crown which is often not visible, especially on the female.

But let’s focus on the plant upon which it is feeding for a moment. Twinberry Honeysuckle is a hardy plant which is common in damp areas of the American West. The Indians that Lewis and Clark encountered used its berries for a variety of medicinal purposes, almost like a magical potion. They, along with later generations, used to rub it on their hair to prevent it from turning gray, in other words, as a dye. The stain from ripe berries was also used to paint the faces of dolls and color basket materials. This shrub has the ability to absorb toxic substances such as herbicides and pesticides without being adversely affected. It is resistant to air pollution as well as pollutants found in the water and soil.

Unfortunately, we as humans do not have that same resistance. We seem to naturally absorb all the evil around us. That is why Paul insists we must have a change of orientation, not just a superficial makeover. When we are truly in Christ, we see the world differently. “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and conscience are corrupted.” (Titus 1:15 NIV) Oh, to see the world as Christ sees it; not to be lured by its temptations but to see what it might become once transformed by its Maker. To gain that perspective requires a truly magical potion, but one that has been promised us by the only One who can keep that promise.


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The Narrow Way
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 13, 2013

Here is the advice found in Matthew 7 (from three different Bible versions) and given by Jesus regarding finding the way to eternal life:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV)

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. Matthew 7:13-14 (The Message)

The Andrews Study Bible study notes state that: "The image of two ways was common in first century Jewish and non-Jewish philosophy. Jesus' description of a narrow gate and road is meant to show that the countercultural new law that He presented in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is not easy or popular to live and practice. Jesus' teachings on religious works and worship, violence and relations to one's enemies, and relation to material goods all went against the popular cultural norms of the day."


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The Colorful Scarlet Macaws
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 12, 2013

We were amazed to watch at least a dozen yard-long Scarlet Macaws flying overhead and stopping on tall tree tops. Since they were juveniles and “courting”, getting ready to mate for life, they were flying around in pairs as you can see in my first photo. Their bright red, yellow and blue feathers and long wings were almost unbelievable!

Scarlet macaws are said to be one of the most beautiful birds in the parrot family. Macaws are the largest parrots in the world and inhabit humid, subtropical rainforests near rivers in Central and South America. They use their strong, curved beaks to crack hard nuts and seeds, their primary diet. Not only that, but their tongue can hold onto the nut kernels to pull it from the shell. Many live to be 50 years or so in the wild and up to 80 years in captivity. We listened to their very loud, throaty squawks and screams as they flew above us.



Notice the beautiful outstretched wings of the macaw in the photo just above. God can take us under His wings. “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious; for I have made thee my refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of thy wings until the storms are past. Psalms 57:1 NEB


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(Note from Maylan: Those of you who follow this Photo Parable daily may have noticed a couple of slight variations from the day-to-day schedule over the last week and a half. That's because Shelley and I traveled to South Dakota for the wedding of one of my nephews, and sometimes internet connections--and therefore my ability to smoothly update this blog each evening--were a bit wavery. Now we're back, and to atone for not being able to upload Darren Milam's blog on Wednesday, I'm giving him both Friday and Sabbath for his thoughtful comments and great photo above. Then we'll be back to the usual schedule. Thanks for your patience--and thanks for visiting!)

Don’t Slip
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Friday and Sabbath, May 10 - 11, 2013

It may not look pretty but it’s about function. This isn’t a railroad track, it’s a rail system used to move boats in and out of the water. It’s simple but it serves the purpose. With this system, the boat won’t slip to one side or another as it’s being pulled in – the track keeps it moving straight.

I wonder how much easier it may be for our lives to be kept going straight, not slipping from side to side, if we had a track to steer us. We do. We have our conscience – reminding us good from evil and we also have the Holy Spirit guiding us in the correct direction.

In the book of Psalms we can read about David’s life. We know that it wasn’t always on the correct path, as he slipped from time to time but with forgiveness from our loving God, David was able to get back on track. In Chapter 17:3-5, David is sure of his final salvation, based on God’s work in his life.

You have tested my heart;
You have visited me in the night;
You have tried me and have found nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Concerning the works of men,
By the word of Your lips,
I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.

Strive to have that same assurance and confidence in your final salvation. Allow the tools God has given each one of us to steer us in the right direction, that our footsteps may not slip.


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Mole Hill
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We hate it when they seem to appear out of nowhere, especially when they disrupt the manicured perfection of our front lawn. After all, our investment has been considerable: the small fortune spent on fertilizer and herbicides, the hours spent with the thatcher, edger, and mower. We have the right to expect the admiration of all our envious neighbors. But appear they do, and sometimes repeatedly. It’s not that we particularly dislike moles. In fact we’d be perfectly happy to coexist with them, just so long as they perpetually remained below the surface. But that’s not what moles do, they surface, and in so doing create an ugly blemish on the perfect complexion of our existence.

As a socially conservative Christian I take a certain amount of pride in having my act together. I want my fellow church members to recognize how well I complement the social norms expected of those who make up our membership. It makes me comfortable to be associated with a group that seeks to maintain a certain standard of behavior. But it’s just about then that those mole hills begin to appear. For most of us, it’s pride. After all, that’s what upset us so badly when they first appeared. The effort had been put forth and we had the right to be proud of the uniform, putting green turf that surrounds our homes. We’d be perfectly happy if those moles wanted to play their games in the cow pasture on the other side of town. Just don’t let it happen here.

Some of you may think I’m making a mountain out of a, well you know, but it may be that we need a reminder that it’s what’s inside that really counts. I’m not seeking to promote any particular pest control solution, but it stands to reason that if we got rid of the moles, those mole hills would vanish too.

 


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Fleeting Beauty

Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 6, 2013 

I took a picture of these flowers (blue-eyed grass) and then went back a few days later and there was no sign of them. They were so small and fragile yet amazingly beautiful. Unfortunately, they didn't last very long. I think it is awesome that God took the time to create so much beauty in the world whether we choose to see it or not.

Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? Luke 12:24-26 The Message


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The Beautiful Resplendent Quetzal
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 5, 2013

Do you like beautiful things? Have you thought about birds being beautiful? The book of Genesis 1 tells us that God made everything and it was good. I tend to think that God likes beautiful things, too! During our recent trip to Costa Rica, we saw many beautiful and interesting birds we had never seen before. Today, I'm sharing a photo of the Resplendent Quetzal with you.

Many people visit Costa Rica to see if they can sight a Resplendent Quetzal. Some return home without seeing any. Luckily, we saw about a dozen of them in two different locations. As a member of the Trogon family, it's a beautiful bird with iridescent and glittering feathers. My photo shows a male which it can be around 42 inches in length including it's long tail. The female's tail is shorter. His intense red chest is almost invisible in the photo. Not only did we see them flying around on high tree tops, but we saw parents taking food to a chick in a nest inside a tree trunk. The primary food of the quetzal is wild avocado. Since the large seed is too big to pass through their digestive system, they spit the seed out after digesting the avocado pulp. We heard male quetzals making several of their distinct calls. Throughout the ages, the Resplendent Quetzal has been admired for its great beauty and even considered divine. Ancient Aztecs and Maya believed the quetzal to be sacred and a “god of the air”. While we don't believe like they did, I think you'll agree that God made the quetzal to be a very beautiful bird!


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Out of Order
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 4, 2013

In a farmer’s market style grocery store late last month, I noticed this sign posted inside a restroom door. Common sense tells me that it’s there so that, if a malfunction occurs in the restroom, the sign can be quickly moved to the outside.

But couldn’t this sign also be posted on the inside surfaces of our homes’ front doors? Every day as we move out into what we call “civilization,” isn’t there indeed a whole lot of disfunction out there? Since humanity chose to distrust God in Eden, hasn’t there been more wrong than right on our planet? Paul’s statements like “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and “There is none righteous, no, not one,” echo this brokenness.

But that’s simply Chapter One. Chapter Two begins with Jesus’ death and resurrection, and for those who surrender their hearts to Him, the chapters will continue eternally.

Have you done this? Have you come to the point where you know for certain that to place your life, your actions, your words, your thoughts under the Holy Spirit’s guidance will bring things back into balance?

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Open During Construction
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

All over the world there are church structures.  Some are called churches, some are called temples, some are called Synagogues.  Whatever the name, the purpose (for the majority), is a location for worshiping a God.  However, not all are worshiping the same God.  The image above is the Sagrada Familia, which is translated to be “Church of the Holy Family”, located in Barcelona Spain.  The construction for this structure was started in 1882 and the famous architect – Antoni Gaudi – worked on it, until his death at 73 (1926) when less than 25% of the work had been completed.  As you can see in this image, taken in 2012, the construction continues. 

Here at the Bellevue Church, we have our own construction going on.  The fact we continually give (time, expertise, monetarily, etc.) is a testament to our commitment of providing a place to worship our God, that we can be proud of.  I wasn’t able to find the estimated cost of construction for this mammoth church in Barcelona, which is expected to be completed by 2026-2028, but it dwarfs the costs of our improvements…and that’s a good thing.  Our God doesn’t need a structure 560 ft. tall or one that holds 9,000 people.  No, our God – The God, only needs us to worship Him – wherever we are.  Does that mean we shouldn’t be working on improving our own church, of course not.  When we take pride in our house of worship, we are more respectful of our relationship with our God.  What it does mean though, is if you have nothing or no place to worship God, He still hears you when you pray.  He sees you when you praise Him – whether it’s in your car, home, work or in our beautiful Bellevue Church.

If you haven’t been yet, we look forward to seeing you – we’re open for business and our improvements will be completed well before 2028.

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