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.

Dare To Be Different
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 31, 2015

All tree trunks are round, right?  Wrong!  After our mission work was completed in Panama, we stayed in El Valle de Anton, the second largest inhabited dormant volcano in the world. The nearby forest had a variety of trees and plants that seemed “different” to me.  We saw a couple different species of square trees; pictured above, apparently part of the cottonwood family.  Rings of the interior of the tree are also square.  It’s thought that this is the only place in the world where some trees have square trunks. When researchers attempt to grow these trees elsewhere, they lose their square shape, making them think that the shape comes from local conditions.

Our society pressures people to conform.  God doesn’t want us to conform to the presence of sin and evil in the world.  Can we dare to be different and live a Christ-like life?  Daniel (Daniel 1:8) dared to be different in a world that wanted him to conform.  His walk with God shaped his behavior in healthy living and care for his body.  His walk with God gave him wisdom and insight.  His walk with God gave him strength to stand up for what was right for him.  Jesus can help us to live a life of difference in this world that wants us to conform.  He did and He promises to help us do the same!  Do you dare to be different?

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Bendable? No and Yes.
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 30, 2015

A couple of Wednesdays ago I spotted this plastic-wrapped “Bendable Jesus of Nazareth” in a bookstore. As a pastor, of course, I consider it one of my responsibilities to defend the Savior’s character when necessary, so at first my eyes narrowed at the word “bendable.”

In one sense, of course, Jesus was unbendable. He did not stray from His divine purpose—whether as a 12-year-old in the temple learning the business of His Father, or whether tempted in the wilderness, or tempted again deep in Gethsemane’s garden where He sobbed, “Not My will but Yours.” He sometimes even spoke about His resolve: “Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day . . . .’” (Luke 24:46 NKJV).

But while unbendable in purpose, Jesus was supremely bendable when it came to doing or sacrificing whatever He needed to reunite the human family with the Heavenly. Notice how He humbled Himself four times in the following verses:

Christ Jesus . . . 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. (Philippians 2:5-8)

Did you catch the four humble downward “bends”? God to man, man to servant, servant to death, death to criminal’s death. And, as in the action figure in the photo, Jesus’ arms were infinitely bendable, touching and healing the sick, lifting little kids up into His arms, and finally spreading them those arms wide and helpless on a cross.

Do you want to listen to some sounds from the past? When I was in my teens my family owned a recording of a song called “Tiny Little Hand,” a song my brother and sisters and I would later use in our family gospel group concerts. The other day on YouTube I tracked down this very recording. (This isn’t us singing, but a group connected with a radio evangelist.) Listen to the lyrics.

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What, No Celebration?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 29, 2015

Thursday of this week, on our morning walk, Shelley pointed out this birthday candle lying on a sidewalk. What’s particularly poignant is that the candle hasn’t even been lit. For this little birthday-illuminator, the celebration didn’t happen.

There’s a vastly more important birthday celebration that an overwhelming number of people are missing out on. It’s the birthday of Planet Earth. And rather than make us wait an entire year to celebrate Creation, God said to celebrate once a week! The fourth commandment—the centerpiece of the Ten, containing more words than any other—urges us and permits us and commands us to remember that “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalm 100:3, NKJV)

And if we all had believed that, and celebrated that, ever since God set that anniversary date, just think how life would be different on this old globe. We’d have a sense of purpose, and the promise of a reunion with the Creator who lavished such care on us and ours.

Want to read more about Earth’s birthday celebration and what it means to God? Click the link immediately below.

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God's Ferry
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, May 28, 2015

We go on the ferry once in a while, but most of the time I never get to see how it docks because I'm in the car. However, this ferry route had a stop along the way to my destination, so I could see what was going on. To slow down, the ferry goes into reverse. I was surprised at how much water it had to move to slow the boat down; you can see the waves splashing against the dock.

Isaiah 51:15 (ESV): "I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar — the Lord of hosts is his name."

Just like the ferry stirs up waves, God can use waves of various types to get us safely to our destination.

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Zap! There Was Water
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I know I have mentioned before my interest in water, as it's one of those photo subjects that is moving but can easily be captured, making a still image with a motion element. This shot is from Mt. Rainier National Park.  If you have ever been to the park, there are several locations that you could capture this image. I bet we all have our own "secret spots."

Over the past couple of weeks, life has gotten progressively busy (or should I say, it's stayed consistently busy). I know I am not the only one that feels the challenge of keeping the work-life balance from teetering one direction or the other.  There are plenty of times where I could easily go to this spot near Mt. Rainier - figuratively as well as literally. If I was there, I would sit, pause and read from Genesis 1:6, "Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

So simple, yet so powerful.  We just read that God created water.  That's all. No big deal.  Wait, it's huge! He created water! What a powerful God we serve.

Get outside, on a nice sunny day, walk along a beautiful created brook. Swim in an amazing lake. Scuba dive in the incredible ocean. Or just sit and watch the tiny creek trickle by. Whatever you do, praise God for His creations.

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday through Sunday, May 21-24, 2015

RUSSELL WRITES: It seems like we rely on data communication more and more.  If your power went out, what would you like to have back first?  The lights or the internet?  I'd choose the internet, too.  I wonder how many lines of cellular communication go through each wire in this picture.  I imagine a lot of data can go through this network.  The dog, however, is probably more interested in the communication she is getting through her nose.

We like to be connected with our data all the time.  We also like to be connected with God all the time.  What would it be like if there were prayer outages where no communication could get through until the lines were restored again?  What if we had an emergency and thought, "Oh no, I can't pray because there's a prayer outage!"  Yeah, we like to be connected with God all the time.

Maybe the prayer lines don't get used as much as they are capable of.  There are a lot of people on Earth, but maybe a lot of people don't pray regularly.  God has plenty of spare capacity.  Maybe it is a good idea to take advantage of that massive data stream and start a regular communication with God.  Jesus told us how to pray.  (  He also spent time praying.  God provides many ways to be happier, and this is one of them.  So give it a try and enjoy!

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Teach Us to Number
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Wednesday, May 20, 2015        

A couple of months ago on a walk, Shelley and I noticed this line of chalk numbers on a sidewalk in our neighborhood. They began with 1 and ended with 100, and had obviously been created by a child who, while still shivering with amazement at the discovery of how to generate successive numbers, was obsessive enough to carry through with the entire project.

This reminds me of Psalm 90, which surprisingly seems to have been written by “Moses the Man of God.” Verse 12 reads: “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” [NKJV]  So how could numbering our days give us a heart of wisdom?

If you read it in its context, this verse seems to be the conclusion of a passage on how fleeting life is. Maybe numbering our days means taking careful note of them as they pass, and looking back along them for wisdom which could be useful for the future.

Earlier this week I had lunch with a fellow pastor who has impressed me as someone who’s always living “in the now.” He is deeply interested in people, and keeps them and their challenges in his mind, and prays for them. He doesn’t let his days pass indifferently, but always seems ready to greet them with caring and prayer. As a result, he’s certainly wise beyond his years.

Why not read through all of Psalm 90 right now. If you don’t have a Bible handy, here’s a link to Bible Gateway:

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Sharp-tailed Grouse
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 19, 2015        

The Sharp-tailed Grouse is a medium-sized grouse of the open prairies of North America.  The Native Americans referred to them as “Fire Grouse” or “Fire Bird” reflecting their understanding of the bird’s reliance on brush fires to maintain needed habitat.  Even today, when aspen start to take over an area, the grouse population moves on to a more suitable environment.  This bird is placed in the same order as the Prairie-Chickens which they closely resemble and share similar breeding rituals.  During most of the year, these birds appear like cryptically colored chickens, but their physical appearance and behavior are enhanced during these mating rituals.
This species, along with the Prairie-Chickens, are lek species.  A lek is an area where animals meet to carry on courtship behavior.  Pointed tail feathers are raised, the yellow comb over the eye increases in intensity, and the violet neck sack is inflated to display its full color.  All of this is done by the male in hopes of attracting females to their performance which centers around their dance.  This consists of several moves including stamping their feet up to 20 times per second, shaking their tail feathers, and turning in circles or dancing towards a competitor.
Then for no apparent reason, the birds will simultaneously freeze, like two sumo wrestlers facing each other.  Suddenly, regulated by some unseen clock, the dance is over, and the participants silently vanish into the surrounding grasslands.  
And it’s all the more amazing because we don’t understand it.  See, we do; but to understand, we do not.  Then again, are we really that different?  Some unknown writer once penned, “The journey in between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.”   Aren’t you glad we have a divine dancing instructor?

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Keep Watch
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 18, 2015

I was able to go on a whale watching trip recently.  The boat left out of Anacortes and the naturalist on board spotted a couple of male transient orcas (the mammal eating orcas - as opposed to the resident orcas, which are fish eating) before we had gone very far.  She was able to identify them by comparing the notches on their dorsal fins to pictures she had of whales which are being researched and have been seen in the area.

One of the interesting behaviors that we were able to observe is called spy hopping.  This is where the orca (although they are also called killer whales, they are technically the largest member of the dolphin family) sticks its whole head out of the water so that it can look around and see what is happening above the surface of the water.   

The Bible reminds us that we need to watch and be alert to what is happening around us.

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (The Message)

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Beware of Danger

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 17, 2015

This Panamanian Golden Frog shown above through its misty enclosure is critically endangered due to fungal disease, habitat loss, pollution and collection for illegal trade.  Even though there are other golden poison dart frogs, this one with the dark marks exists only in Panama.  Indigenous people have used the powerful venom in their skin to tip their blowgun darts for hunting, thus the “dart” in their name.  Some of these golden frogs have enough venom to kill ten men!  It’s interesting that poison dart frogs raised in captivity don’t develop venom.  Their only predator is one species of a snake.

More than 100 poison dart frog species inhabit rain forests and cloud forests in Central and South America.  Their bright color can be combinations of yellow, orange, blue, green or black.  This second photo is of a Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, again through a misty class enclosure. These frogs were at the El Nispero Zoo in El Valle de Anton, Panama.  Scientists are experimenting with making analgesics from the skin of poison dart frogs which is many times stronger than morphine.  Even though cute and attractive, people need to be aware of these poisonous frogs when in forests of Central and South America.  Likewise, we need to be aware of dangers in our everyday lives – dangers that could be fatal.  What could some of these dangers be?

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The God Bar
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 16, 2015

A week ago Friday, Shelley and I were at the counter in a Big Lots store, when she pointed out the candy bars in the photo above. I stared at them in perplexity for a couple of seconds. Who would brazenly name a candy bar after the Deity? Then Shelley explained, “The label is covering part of the name.” Sure enough, the price label with the “$1.60” and the bar code just neatly covered the “IVA” part of “GODIVA.”

Deciding that this was too good to pass up for a Daily Photo Parable, I snapped the photo. And we can spin this at least two ways, both of them true (as true as a parable can be).

One “spin” is to remember that candy and a whole lot of other things can become objects of worship if we let them. Ever heard the word “chocaholic”? Someone presented me with a very nice leather jacket recently, and I’m regretful that pretty soon the weather will be so warm I won’t need to wear it. But do you know what I do with that jacket during chilly days when I’m out and about with my car, and don’t happen to have the jacket on when I leave the car in a parking lot? Do I hang it on that little hook above the window in the back seat? Nope. Since it could very well be ardently worshipped by a burglarious car prowler, I instead lay it reverently in the trunk.

The other way to look at this “God bar” is to discover by reading the Bible how delightful God is. David, for example, regards even God’s judgments as the 1000 BC equivalent of candy:

. . . The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:9 – 10 NKJV)

The best way to discover God’s delightfulness is to read through some verses which describe Him and what He is like. You’ll find a selection of those verses at the link just below:

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It’s the Law!
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 15, 2015

Thursday afternoon, in a long slow line of traffic on my way home from a hospital visit, I spotted the delightful bumper sticker above. As it happens, the convalescent patient I had just been visiting—through no fault of her own—had suffered a fall due to the inexorable law of gravity!

I wonder what our world would be like if everybody realized that the Ten Commandments were at least as powerful as the Gravity Commandment, and just as damaging to those who play fast and loose with them?

Want Bible proof of the life-or-death validity of the Ten? Click the link immediately below.

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Waiting for the Tide
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, May 14, 2015

Last weekend our Pathfinder club went camping across the Puget Sound from Seattle at Manchester State Park. We went down to the beach and saw that the tide was out. There were some tidal pools scattered around, and there were lots of sea anemones on rocks and in the sand. Even though some were completely out of the water they seemed to be doing fine while waiting for the tide to come in.

Like the sea anemone, if you're going through a dry/hard time, the tide will come back in and things will get better.

Psalm 34:17 NIV: "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles."

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Storing Up
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
I bet you can figure out what the image is, right?  A stack of US currency.  Money. Dollar bills. In fact, it is a stack of one hundred onedollar bills.  A while back, I owed a friend exactly $100 and I wanted to be a bit creative without being too obnoxious with coins or something, so I went to the bank and withdrew a $100 but I asked for $1’s.  The clerk grabbed the first stack she could find and it was old bills – I asked for crisp new ones.  As you can see, she complied. Since I don’t have stacks of money sitting around, I decided to do a little photo shoot with the cash before handing it over.
It got me thinking.  A few verses after the Lord’s prayer, in the book of Matthew, we find this text (6:19-21), “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I’m guilty.  Not sure if you are, but I am.  There are times where I feel the need to store things up.  If I am thinking of the future and contemplating retirement (a few years away from that) and all the advice of being smart with your money, put into savings, long-term savings, IRA’s, stocks, etc. It’s easy to get caught-up and think we need to be storing up.  Now, I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t be smart with our money, nor am I saying we shouldn’t plan for the future.  God gave us brains to make decisions with. We do need to be smart about these things. That said WE need to be cautious of where we are putting our energies and constant thoughts.  If it’s worry about how many cars and vacations homes we plan on having, we may need to rethink our focus (speaking of focus, check out the photo of the same stack of money after the following paragraph).
As I mentioned, God gave us the intelligence to be smart and mindful.  He also gave us the ability to know our limits and to reach out to Him, when we need to (majority of time).  So, before we start worrying about our ‘stacks of cash’, let’s worry about getting to the feet of Jesus.

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House Wren
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Chippewa Indians had a name for it which roughly translated means, “a big noise for its size”.  Such a description is an accurate description of the House Wren, a species found across the continental United States, continuing southward to the tip of South America.  When the male arrives at his nesting territory, his vocal efforts are employed to ensure control of his territory.  This only increases as a prospective mate arrives and he redoubles his efforts.  The male pictured here is certain a rival has entered his territory and he wants to make sure his ownership is without question.  His whole body seems engaged in his effort to impress, not only a rival but any amorous prospects.  
While our salvation most assuredly rests in the saving power of Christ, this does not mean there is not plenty for us to do as well.  At least seven times, New Testament writers use the phrase, “make every effort” to impress their readers of this fact.  Peter and Paul are the most notable in using this expression.  And while their directions point to numerous objectives, one will suffice for now.  Peter was been writing about the Day of the Lord, His second coming, which He has promised to us and encourages us with these words.  “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Peter 3:14 NIV)  Presumably, this would mean putting forth at least as much effort as the House Wren does in establishing his future.

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Strength, Peace, Joy
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 11, 2015

I'm not sure how well you can read this inscription from the paver I saw on a sidewalk recently.  It was right next to a beach and between the sand on it and people were walking on it. I'm not sure how long it is going to be legible.  There were other pavers nearby where the inscription had almost completely worn off.

Anyway, it says:
Strength for the day
Peace through the night
Joy in our journey

I couldn't find that as a specific quote when I did an Internet search but I think it makes a great prayer.

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

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 14:27 (NKJV)

And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD;
It shall rejoice in His salvation.
Psalm 35:9 (NKJV)

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A Misty View
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 10, 2015

Colorful orchids were displayed behind a small window in a building. I took this photo through the mist-covered glass. Wanting to see more of the orchids, I tried the door, but it was locked.  I had to settle with this picture!  We were at the El Nispero Zoo in El Valle de Anton, Panama.

Seeing these orchids obscured by mist is something like Paul’s thought in I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  Yes, someday we’ll see our Maker face to face!  Remember the song "Face to Face"?

Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be? 
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me.

Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Only faintly now, I see Him,
With the darkening veil between,
But a blessed day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.

What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened,
and the dark things shall be plain.

Face to face! O blissful moment:
Face to face—to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loves me so.”

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Benevolent Harness
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 9, 2015

A week ago I’d parked my car in an overflow lot 6 blocks north of our church. On the way back to retrieve it after the service, I spotted this young straight-as-an-arrow tree, firmly harnessed to two poles. No doubt about it—that harness has had its influence on that tree, which will now grow up to be tall and beautiful.

I think those two poles are like God’s Ten Commandments. Or, if you want to use another metaphor, like the concrete barriers on freeway overpasses. Even though we are not saved by keeping God’s Ten, the converted heart performs God’s will. And the life is largely protected from the pain and sorrow which ignoring those commandments brings.

You might not realize it, but the Bible’s most lengthy chapter (Psalm 119) is one long infomercial about the benefits of keeping God’s laws. Read the chapter at the link immediately below:

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 8, 2015

I’ve learned from experience, using a camera, that there’s no way to adequately capture the beauty of the late-afternoon sun shining through the leaves of the trees near our church entrance. But a couple of weeks ago I tried again.

Once more, the camera didn’t do justice to the glorious sight. However, this time it used the sunlight to create an impressive circular glow at the upper left of the photo. As I look at it now, I wonder whether Creation was something like that—the light of God’s glory glowing like a blessing upon what He had created, as He pronounced it “very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

Want a solid Bible study on creation? Click the link immediately below.

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Wanting the Shine
Photo ©by Caleb Jurgensen
Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, May 7, 2015

This photo was snapped on I-90 heading down from the Snoqualmie summit.  This truck was so unusually bright after driving a while with just a few normal cars and semi trucks up to that point.  The owner of this semi must have wanted it to really shine.

I wonder if we let our lights shine that brightly for Jesus.  Perhaps people we encounter have been living in darkness for a long time and we might let Jesus' love shine for them.  I imagine it doesn't happen automatically.  The truck owner didn't just wish his truck was bright, but made sure it was.  In the same way we can practice going out of our way to show kindness, be helpful, avoid anger, and get creative to let our light shine.   Getting God's love starts with a desire, becomes real by asking God for it, and then shines out naturally as we go.

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Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

For the diehard fans of the Sound of Music, you might recognize this gate, which is at one of the entrances of the Mirabel Garden and Palace in Salzburg, Austria. I have included two shots, so you can get a sense of what you may have remembered in the movie.

No, my thoughts aren't around the movie, or even the location of where they filmed part of the movie. No, the gate is what I wanted to focus on.  There are all sorts of gates.  Some gates, keep things out and some are made to keep things in.  There is no better gate that I can think of, than the Gates of Heaven.

After living on this sinful planet, for a few years now, nothing sounds better than walking through the gates of Heaven.  Walking down the streets and heading straight to the feet of our Creator.

Just think of Jacob, as he lay in the wilderness, using a stone for a pillow, dreaming of a ladder from earth  reaching higher and higher - (Gen. 28:16 & 17) "Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”  And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

Let the gate we long for, not be anywhere on this planet.  Raise your eyes to the stars and beyond.

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Vesper Sparrow
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 5, 2015

If you’ve ever watched the Masters at Augusta you’ve undoubtedly been impressed with the impeccably manicured greens and beautifully landscaped setting for this major golf tournament.  You don’t even have to like golf to be enthralled with the beauty of the course. But beauty may  be in the eye of the beholder.  We’ll use the Vesper Sparrow as an example of this.  It’s a fairly common sparrow across much of America, favoring sparse pastures and cultivated lands as well as inhabiting even drier grasslands.  It often does the best where crops are at their poorest, in part due to nests which are destroyed by agricultural operations.
Which brings us back to the golf courses.  While the great expanses of green stretching between holes may be appealing to our eyes, they generally are a wasteland for wildlife, simply because they provide little food or shelter.  One of the few exceptions is the Vesper Sparrow for it is one of the few species that can successfully nest on golf courses because their nests are countersunk, enabling them to survive mowing of the fairways.  Strangely, this sparrow may not do well in areas that otherwise provide ideal habitat, if they don’t have elevated perches from which the male can sing his territorial song.  This should in no way be considered the reason why the duffers erected pins at each hole.  The reason is far more self-serving.
In this account, the game and the bird exist in two dissimilar worlds, and just like a Russian novel, are not brought together except by the greatest stretch of the imagination.  But the same may be said for the twelve that were the closest confidants of Christ.  A more divergent group could hardly be imagined.  Yet as they spent time with Him, their differences became less and less important as they became focused upon their Leader.  With this in mind, it gives us reason to believe that even the cosmopolitan church of today may find that same unity.

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Light of the World
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 4, 2015

I caught this sunset recently on the west side of Orcas Island.  I read in the news that the red hazy sunsets around that time were likely caused by Siberian wildfires.  Whatever the cause, we had some sunny days with amazing sunsets.

The Bible has many references to God being light and here are just a few:

When the Israelites left Egypt:
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.
Exodus 13:21(NKJV)

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”  John 8:12 (NLT)

Call Him good, my soul, and praise the Eternal.
    I am here to declare my affection for You, Eternal One, my God.
You are indeed great—
    You who are wrapped in glory and dressed in greatness.
For covering, You choose light—Your clothes, sunset and moonrise.
    For a tent, You stretch out the heavens; for Your roof, You pitch the sky.
Psalm 104:1-2 (The Voice)

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Mission to Panama – Healing the Sick
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 3, 2015

Many examples of Jesus healing people from illness are shared throughout the Gospels.  There are stories of healing from leprosy, paralysis, deafness, blindness, bleeding and demon possession among others.  Also, He told His disciples to “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”  (Mathew 10:8)  We, as a church, have a legacy of healthcare ministry with around 175 hospitals and sanitariums, 136 nursing homes and retirement centers and 269 clinics and dispensaries.  We promote wellness and healthful living at home and in our community.

In addition to long-term missionaries, many people volunteer for short-term mission work.  Such was the case in January when our Seniors in Action for God with Excellence (SAGE) group went to Panama.  As well as building churches and conducting meetings for adults and children, a team of health professionals held clinics for local residents with health concerns.  They treated people with acute and chronic conditions, dispensing medication when indicated.  Today’s photos show health professional volunteers conducting health assessments of clients.

Today, as disciples of Jesus, we continue to heal the sick and afflicted.

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Experienced Faith
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 2, 2015

This past Thursday on our morning walk, Shelley suddenly pointed to the above patch of soil. “Look,” she said. “There’s the corn.” I took my camera from its belt case and bent down and snapped this photo.

Now that I look at it again, I’ve decided that it’s a perfect way to illustrate faith. Just in front of the closest corn-plant sprout, the planter has confidently displayed a little plastic sign with a photo of three mature corn-ears. He or she obviously believes wholeheartedly that, come July or August, these sprouts will have grown to six feet high and will bear ears just like the photo's.

Okay. Let’s examine this act of faith. I have no doubt that (assuming a little animal of the forest doesn’t come along and eat the sprouts) this is exactly what will happen. Why I am so sure?

First, look at the loamy and presumably well-mulched soil. Second, notice that each of the corn plants is enclosed within some kind of pot (in other words, care has been taken. Someone didn’t just carelessly fling down a few kernels here and there).

My third faithbuilder is that I have seen this happen before. Right here on this little plot, late every summer, Shelley and I have seen thick sturdy cornstalks.

Isn’t this a lot like faith in God and His promises? For one thing, even the most cursory glance at the natural world around us shows that God has taken great care in its creation and maintenance, just like the urban farmer carefully prepared the soil for the kernels.

But most importantly, to those who are willing to keep their eyes open and to read their Bibles, God gives overwhelming evidence that He has been faithful again and again. “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” sings David in Psalm 103:2, “And forget not all His benefits:”

Remembering God’s benefits is good faith exercise. How has it taken you to read this blog? A minute? During that minute your heart beat maybe 70 times, and possibly you took 10 to 20 breaths. That’s a great place to start your faith aerobics—thanking your Creator for your breath and your pulse.

For more of what the Bible says about faith, click the link immediately below. 

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No Kidding!
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 1, 2015

I couldn’t help but grin when I saw these empty store shelves and the print on the signs taped here and there on them. Clearance? No kidding. Those shelves are bare.

So what’s the story? The mournful truth about your average clearance item is that while it’s parked on the shelf at its regular price, few people buy it. Desperate to “move product,” the store managers shift these items to the clearance shelves.

But why the sudden Mother-Hubbard bareness of the cupboards in the photo?  Maybe, after a few weeks of the “clearance” signs, the shelves were still partly filled, and the store people simply removed the remaining items and disposed of them.  But if that’s the case, why didn’t they take down the signs?

Another possibility (more remote, but one which works the best for this Daily Photo Parable) is that all those clearance items, especially when reduced a bit in price, became suddenly very desirable to passing shoppers. “I’ve just got to have one of those! Now’s my chance!”

As I think back along Bible stories, it seems to me that again and again God has offered “products” to people which they never seem able to value according to their true worth. Whether it’s Jesus’ approving parable about the merchant selling everything he had to acquire the “pearl of great price,” or the man who bought an entire field so he could have rights to the treasure buried there, or Wisdom in Proverbs, crying out to passersby who needed her but didn’t know it, we’ve often had trouble valuing heavenly things over earthly ones.

One of the Bible’s often-neglected treasures is knowing how secure we are in God’s care. As I’m writing this, it’s been nearly a week since Nepal was blasted by a horrific earthquake. Bomb-blasts killed 17 in Baghdad. Migrants to Europe are drowning in the Mediterranean. We need eternal security—but is there a way to acquire it? The verses at the following link should help.

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