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.




Veery II

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Many have been entranced by the melodic song of the Veery, a member of the thrush family which has the same shape as the American Robin, but is smaller.  They are relatively common in the eastern part of the United States where they typically wear a warm cinnamon brown back and wings, complemented with light spots on the throat.  East of the Cascades in Washington, there is also a population that is a darker brown.  TheVeery could be easily overlooked, for it likes the dense undergrowth found in deciduous forests.  But its downward-spiraling song, offered mainly at dusk and dawn, draws the listener to seek out its maker.  A group of nineteenth-century onlookers described this song as “an inexpressibly delicate metallic utterance…accompanied by a fine trill which renders it truly seductive.” The bird’s name comes from the “veer” notes which are part of its song.  What makes this ethereal chorus so attractive is that the bird can sing notes independently as well as including other notes simultaneously producing a harmonious blend.
 
In our fast-paced world, we run the risk of missing the subtle, the overtones, the harmonics which add the richness to our lives.  Thomas Huxley, known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his unflinching support of the theory of evolution, also coined the term agnosticism as a way of thinking and knowing.  In spite of this, he apparently recognized our need of something more than just what he believed to be the facts.  In his own words, “Teach a child what is wise, that is morality.  Teach him what is wise and beautiful, that is religion!”
 
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Found

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 30, 2016

I'm sure you've been in the situation where you get into a panic because you can't find something very important.  I was in a small waiting room last week when I saw this "Found" box.  I thought it was great to have a starting point for a search.

In the parable of the lost son found in Luke 15:11-31, we are told about the great rejoicing from the son's father when he eventually returned home.  This son had taken his inheritance early and had left home and had squandered the money and came back home with nothing to show for it.  He wasn't expecting the welcome he received from his father.  He was just hoping to maybe get a job and fill his stomach.

His brother was less than happy to see him back and upset that their father was having a big celebration because this son had come home.  The older brother had been there all along and had been working hard for his father and doing what his father asked of him.  When his father came to him and asked him to come in and celebrate, he refused.  He wanted to know why his father had never let him have even a small goat to celebrate with his friends.

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:31-32 (NIV)
 
Luke 15 also includes the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep and we are told about the great rejoicing in heaven over one lost sinner who repents rather than over the righteous people who did not need to repent (verse 7).


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Reach

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 29, 2016

If you’re like me, you probably have never thought about Brazil nuts and how they are obtained.  I found out the second time I went to Brazil.  While there on a mission with Seniors in Action for God with Excellence (SAGE) through Maranatha International, we toured for a few days after our work was completed.  We had the opportunity to watch Brazil nuts being cracked two different times.  The above photo shows Ladir, a 75 year-old man who lives in the jungle chopping the fruit to get to the seeds which we know as Brazil nuts.  (I’ve shared information about him the last two Sundays.)  It took him several minutes of chopping with his machete before he cut through the hard surface.  



You can see the nuts or seeds he has lined up on the board in this second photo.  Between 12 and 25 nuts or seeds are inside the round fruit.

Brazil nut trees are one of the largest trees in the Amazon rainforest and can live for hundreds of years.  The dark, round fruit containing the actual nuts (or seeds) is very hard, something like a very large hardball and shown in the photo just below.  



We were warned to not walk under the trees because the falling fruit could seriously injure a person.  During the months of January through March, the mature fruit falls from trees – and that’s when we were there!  As you can see, Brazil nuts (seeds) are very hard to reach!

Unlike the Brazil nuts, God isn’t hard to reach.  According to Mark (5:25-34) a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years sought help from the local doctors, but did not improve and only got worse.  She had heard about Jesus and His healing power.  She thought, “If only I can reach out and touch His clothing, I will be healed!”  The moment she touched His cloak, her bleeding stopped.  Jesus knew that someone has touched Him and asked who did.  Trembling and falling to His feet, the woman said she had reached out and touched Him.  He said, “My daughter, your faith has cured you.  Go in peace, free for ever from this trouble.” v.34 Aren’t you glad that whenever you need help, you can go to God and reach Him!  He’s always there – just reach out to Him!



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The Quest
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 28, 2016

Shelley and I were on a brief walk Wednesday morning when we approached a neighbor’s green garbage container. A crow was sitting on its edge, and as we got closer it flew away. When we walked past the container, Shelley pointed out these peck-holes in the enclosed garbage sack.

Crows, of course, are very intelligent, and this one had long since discovered that when large green containers appear on sidewalks, they often contain edible things. And even when a bland white wall of plastic gets in the way, there are solutions when one is in search of nourishment—and has faith.

How zealous are we when it comes to our quest for spiritual nourishment? Maybe the Bible texts at the link below can help:

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




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Lord of the Ancient Corolla

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 27, 2016

Thursday afternoon I made my usual quick stop at a thrift store to check out used books. In the parking lot I walked past this venerable and well-used little Toyota Corolla. I am a shameless student of bumper stickers—the more plastered to a car the merrier—though I’m a hypocrite since I don’t like to stick any on my own car.

This humble car bears testimony to a lot of use. There are blankets over both the front and back seats, indicating that the original cushions might be a bit tattered. If I zoom up the photo (which you can’t do as crisply as I can since I have a higher-resolution original), there seems to be gray sealing-putty on the base of the little triangular window beyond the back seat. Even the bumper stickers themselves are in various stages of decay, and some have faded to pure white.

Yet though this shabby little car could be at least three decades old, its owner claims allegiance to the royal family who walks the halls of heaven.



This person proudly claims that Jesus is the Lord of that little Corolla, and of its owner. And really, no matter the amount of polish or price on our “wheels,” that’s all that’s really important, right?

To learn more—or review what you know—about King Jesus, click the link immediately below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/jesus-christ  


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More Energy
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, May 26, 2016

I like to talk about energy, as I did in my last entry, because it is has so many fascinating meanings.  Energy might describe a person's state of mind -- low energy or high energy, etc.  In science energy becomes measurable as the potential to move things.  Even in science no one knows exactly what energy is made of.   In the picture above old electric generators on display in a museum, at one time converted energy from steam to mechanical energy and finally to electrical energy.  The generator does not have its own energy, it gets it from somewhere else.

People also don't have their own energy, but they get it from things in their environment.  One of those sources is Jesus.  Consider the following text.

In Colossians 1:28,29, Paul says, "He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me."

This is comforting to know that my own energy is not what does the work in reaching others but the real energy comes from Jesus.  So if you are looking for more energy, relax and be the conduit for Jesus to do the work.


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Details, Details

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
 
There are so many examples we can see that show God cares for the details. He cares about what we are going through – good or bad. He cares for the specifics in nature. He cares about all aspects of our lives. We can see one of these examples in this fern frond—the tiny parts, the intricate detail. You can clearly see the way it was designed, was not by accident. Someone with a delicate and deliberate touch.
 
In Matthew 10:29-31, we can see just how precisely God cares about us, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” I’m sure you’ve read these verses before, but when you read them in the context of our Creator caring for us, the fact that He can number the hairs on our head is a great example of just how much.
 
When someone cares for us that much, He deserves to hear what’s on our mind. He wants us to be in constant communication with Him. He already knows, but He wants us to WANT to tell Him all about it.


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Eyelash Viper
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

John refers to him as “that old serpent, the devil who leads the whole world astray.”  (Revelation 12:9)  And Satan has been using deception and every other tool he can devise ever since our first parents fell into his trap.  His comparison to a serpent is an appropriate one, not only because of the serpent’s role in Eden, but also because of the deadly impact upon man ever since.
 
This tiny Eyelash Viper, which is found in tropical, humid areas of Central and South America, may seem harmless enough, but its venom can be very painful and even lethal.  Fortunately for us, it is generally not aggressive, but if agitated or stepped on, will not hesitate to strike.  Its prey generally consists of small rodents and birds, frogs, and lizards which are obtained by patiently waiting and then striking when the victim comes within range.  This particular one seen here was a baby, but nevertheless dangerous.  The young use what is known as caudal luring, a deceptive approach, where they wiggle their tail to simulate a worm, and thus draw unsuspecting victims into striking range.  Studies have shown an improvement over time in the accuracy of their strikes.  To extend the analogy, this would mean Satan has had more than 6000 years to develop his methodology since he first used an “apple” in the garden.  And although it may not be an apple, today, Eyelash Vipers have been inadvertently distributed around the world in innocent looking shipments of bananas.  


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God Will Take Care of You

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 23, 2016

It was raining but I decided to go walking anyway as I needed the exercise.  I went to a nearby marina where you never know what you might see.  I've seen a good variety of birds, harbor seals, crabs, sea stars, fish, anemones, sea cucumbers, jellyfish and lots of people.  Someone pointed out this great blue heron which was patiently scanning the water looking for something to eat.  Its patience was eventually rewarded as you can see.  It had no sooner swallowed this morsel before it was looking for the next one!

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Matthew 6:26-27 (NIV)


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Repetition

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 22, 2016

The parrot in my photo is a pet belonging to Ladir, the 75 year-old man living on an island in the jungle near the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil.  I shared a photo of him climbing a tree in last week’s Daily Photo Parable.  He wanted to show his parrots to us, but they flew up high in a tree.  He tried coaxing them to come down but they wouldn’t.  Next, he climbed up in the tree and retrieved one of them to show us. You’ve probably been around parrots enough to know they can learn to repeat words and even phrases.  And, of course, learn to speak these simple words in various languages foreign to us. Even though they know some words, it’s unlikely they know the meaning of what they’re saying – they’re just repeating words.

Paul knew it was important that people needed repetition.  As recorded in Philippians 3:1, he said, “To repeat what I have written to you before is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.” NEB  Just as the people of Philippi were tempted by false teachings, people today have temptations.  No matter how many times we’ve read or heard scripture, repetition of God’s Word is for our safety.  Hearing the same thing time and again helps us remember the message.  How many messages repeated slightly different in various places in the Bible can you think of?  (Starting hints:  Old Testament – creation.  New Testament – the Gospels.)


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Eternity Boring? No Way!
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 21, 2016

A couple of months ago, at Bellevue’s Crossroads Mall, I headed down the hall in the photo above. This mall is a highly popular one, because its owners/operators have done many things to make it a community center as well, such as programming concerts of all kinds of music.

And the chief proof of Crossroads’ community-mindedness might just be this wall. Smaller-thinking leadership would have considered that a bulletin board which stretched only to the vertical wall-crease to have been entirely sufficient.  But instead, the Crossroads mall-planners said, “Hey. We’re located in a community. There’s a lot of stuff going on, in lots of other places besides this mall. Let’s help get the word out.”

To me, this supersize bulletin board sends another message: God made us in His image—intensely creative and intensely appreciative of others’ creativity. When I was a kid I used to worry about getting bored in heaven, but not anymore. The same God who made our minds created those minds—under the right conditions—to be curious forever. The more we learn, the more we realize how little we know, and we hunger for more.

Want some more Bible glimpses of heaven? Click on the link immediately below.

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



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Junk Mail Firepit?
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 20, 2016

This past weekend, on another of our long neighborhood walks, Shelley pointed out the above interesting scene to me. Just behind a set of mailboxes is an oval hole carefully paved with stones. It’s like some public-spirited citizen created an easy way to get rid of junk mail! Don’t want it? Dump it! Burn it!

Shelley and I were so curious that we actually walked over and peered down into the hole. It turned out to be a drainage system, which would receive rainwater and take it away. The missing stone, to the upper left of the hole, must have been omitted to allow a channel for water to enter the drain—which of course would immediately dampen any imagined junk-mail fire!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place where junk-talk and trash-talk could be destroyed, never to be seen or heard again? I’ve received the occasional email (and to be perfectly honest, have sent a few) that I wish had never been pounded out on a keyboard.

One of the many items of good news about the gospel is that forgiveness is possible. God grants it, and humans can grant it to each other. And once our sins are forgiven, God promises to throw them not into a firepit but into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).

To learn more of what the Bible says about forgiveness and making things right, click the two links immediately below:

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

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



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Fortress

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, May 19, 2016

This is a rockfall protection fence next to a scenic highway in Washington. I think the fence is about eight feet tall, and out of the picture to the left is a steep and rocky slope. As you can see, this fence caught a large boulder that easily could have bounced into the road and hit a car.

Psalm 18:2 says "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

Like the verse says, God is our fortress and deliverer just like the fence protects the cars.



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Saying Goodbye
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
 
We’ve all had to do it. It’s not fun. Sometimes it’s complicated, and other times a bit easier. Whether we are saying farewell to a friend we won’t see for a while, or we’ve suffered a loss in our family and it feels a bit more permanent. The image above is of Ida. She was the 12-year-old dog of good friends of mine, and they unfortunately had to put her to sleep last week. Here’s the good news: this story isn’t about sadness, it’s about hope.
 
These past few weeks, we (my family and I) have had to deal with several instances of loss. Unfortunately, we live in a sinful world and we are faced with loss/sin on a regular basis. We know there is a battle going on – a battle between good and evil. God shows us His perfect love and with that, Satan takes advantage and can cause hurt to some. That doesn’t mean God doesn’t care, it actually shows the exact opposite. He loves the world so much, He gives us all the ability to choose Him or not. Satan has chosen not to have that relationship any longer and we see the results of that.
 
Here comes the hope. John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

God gave His life so that those that choose Him will have a life with our Creator, long after this sinful planet is destroyed. Because of sin, we have to say goodbye to some, prior to God’s second coming, but we have the hope they have made their choice and accepted the gift. We’ll be reunited with them, once Jesus returns to take us to our new home.
 
Another example of hope. Romans 8:18-21 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

If we recall, God created the heavens and earth—and last time I checked, that included the animals, which Adam was able to name. It says “…the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice..”.  If that is correct (including  my interpretation), that means when we say goodbye to our furry family members, it’s only until we can be reunited – liberated from bondage to decay – no more suffering or pain.
 
I long for the day when we look to the skies and see the glory of God, ready to take us home. We arrive and are reunited. We hug our loved ones, we see our family and friends. After which, I plan on standing on the streets of gold – whistle really loud and wait. Around the corner, here they come. It’s a pack of dogs (I can name them all) running around the corner, with Ida right in the mix.  


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Greater Prairie-Chicken                
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Advertisers understand it; they spend millions of dollars vying for our attention by promoting that which stands out, that which is distinctive.  Our human nature seems programmed to respond in that way.  Just out of curiosity I typed ‘pictures of Greater Prairie-Chicken’ into my computer’s search engine and what I expected was confirmed.  Almost all of the pictures showed males involved in their ritualized courtship dance where they run at each other with tail and neck feathers held erect.  It makes a very striking image but hardly the stuff of everyday life for a Greater Prairie-Chicken.  Pympanuchus cupido lives in the tallgrass prairie lands of the central part of North America.  The first part of its name is a reference to the kettledrum sound it produces during these dances in hopes of attracting a female.  These sounds are uttered at the lek, or parade grounds where they assemble to show their stuff.
 
Like other lek species of grouse, the males gather at a rise where the vegetation is short, presumably so their activity can be better appreciated by on-looking females.  In truth, the females don’t arrive at the lek until late spring, but even then they are often outnumbered by males.  The ritual starts before dawn and may continue an hour or so after sunrise until the various participants fly to their respective territories.  So distinctive is their routine, various dances of the Plains Indians included an imitation of this ritual in the own ceremonies.
 
Should one encounter this uncommon species away from their lek, one might be disappointed with the ordinary appearance of this chicken-like bird.  Somehow we expect to constantly see them at their very best, with feathers furled and air-sacks bulging.  In the same way, we have a tendency to remember people for their great accomplishments rather than the way they live day to day.  A short sentence from the book Steps to Christ offers us a reminder of what’s really important about our own life.  “The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.”  (page 58)  Apparently everyday behavior has more to say about who we really are than those glorious moments we shine while all the world is watching, or those slips when we hope no one is in the audience.  Even a prairie-chicken could understand that.


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Finding the Beauty

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 16, 2016

At times, we come across something so beautiful that it takes our breath away.  It could be a sunset or a bird or a mountain or a baby or a flower or any number of things.  

At other times, we have to search to find something beautiful.  

This past week, I went looking for irises.  I didn't find the variety or the number that I was expecting but there were some really beautiful flowers in bloom.  I like the way the Message puts it:  "Who out there has a lust for life?  Can't wait each day to come upon beauty?"  I think there are bits of beauty everywhere and we just need to look.

Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in GOD worship.
Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?
Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.
Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!
Psalm 34-11-14 (The Message)


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Getting Where You Want To Go
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 15, 2016

With amazement, we watched Ladir, a75 year- old man quickly climb this acai tree then jump to another tree high above our heads!  Notice the woven leaves he used to place his feet.  Living on an island in the jungle near the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil, he is used to climbing trees to pick fruit and “capture” his pet parrots.  (Check in next Sunday to see a photo of one of his parrots.) He definitely knows how to get where he wants to go in the jungle, but he would be completely lost in the big nearby city of Belem.

You may have climbed trees when you were young, but if you’re an adult, you’ve probably given that up!  We have many modes of travel when we want to go somewhere:  walk, bike, run, car, train, boat, airplane and you could probably think of other methods.  Have you thought about how to get to heaven?  It’s not found in works of good deeds or going to church every week, but believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)  Yes!  The Bible says it’s very simple because Jesus paid the price for us.



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On the Edge of Eternity
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 14, 2016

This past February Shelley and I were invited to provide the worship service for another congregation’s church retreat at a camp next Rosario State Park near Deception Pass. That Sabbath afternoon we took our usual hike along a path near the water.

As we were returning, I noticed that a group of people had gathered in a group on this almost-island, connected with the mainland by a narrow isthmus. Here’s a very fuzzy closeup of these folks.



I’m not quite sure what this group is doing. They’re not throwing Frisbees or playing football—the slope toward the water would be too great for that. They don’t seem to be facing toward one person, as though listening to a tour guide. Instead, they seem merely to be waiting.

There’s probably a mundane reason they paused here, but as I look at the above closeup, they remind me of people who are waiting—perhaps during the last few minutes of earth’s history—for Jesus to return. Jesus’ friend Peter reminds us of how serious a matter this is:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Pter 3:1- 13 NKJV)

Are you ready for Jesus to come? Check out the two links immediately below (make sure you look at them both).

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



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The Grownup in the Room

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 13, 2016

Last fall during one of my weekly volunteer sessions at our local Adventist schools, I noticed this thoughtfully-filled-out behavior chart on a bulletin board. I’ve blotted out the name of the student, but as you can see, he (it was a he) has chosen a route of argument de-escalation.

In other words, this kid is already learning how to be “the grownup in the room.” Because somebody has got to fill this role in times of turmoil, or we’ll all end up as third-graders scrapping in a corner of the playground. Somebody has got to step up and thoughtfully examine the larger picture, in which a snitched pencil (or whatever other low-level irritant is) might not be as important as it seems.

“Blessed,” said Jesus, “are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9 NKJV). For some Bible texts on peace and maturity, click on the links immediately below.

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

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



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Peaceful Energy

Photo ©2016 by Chelsea Jurgensen; commentary ©2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, May 12, 2016

Springtime is a great time to get outdoors and soak up the energy that God provides in our surroundings.  We can feel energy in the sun, air, and occasional rain.   I think it is nice how the word energy is sometimes applied to people's attitudes.  If someone has a thoughtful interactive approach, they have a peaceful energy.  

In 1 Timothy 2, Paul says, "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

I think we can all strive to promote peace, not by doing nothing, but by thoughtfully and actively influencing the environment around us to encourage upright and peaceful activity to keep spreading.



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It’s a Dry Heat

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

“It’s a dry heat.” Famous words of my father, when I ask him about the almost unbearable heat of the Phoenix area (where my parents are residents). I may be being a little over-dramatic, but not too far. I love living in the Seattle area – especially this time of year. We’ll have days in the 70’s and 80’s – gorgeous blue sky. Perfect weather for getting out and doing things – outdoors. When you are dealing with temperatures in the 110+ range (like my parents do), it’s not going to make a difference, whether it’s a "dry heat" or not – you’re inside huddled around the air conditioning unit.
 
The image above, as you probably haven’t already figured out, is in the Phoenix area. Technically it’s about 60 miles away, at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Clearly, what caught my eye was the sign - “Watch For Ice.”  The sign was right next to sage brush, saguaro and barrel cacti.  No water. No sign of water. Still, we’re supposed to watch for ice?  What kind of warning is this. Clearly, this is something we should ignore and move along. Right?
 
Do we ever get warnings from God – watch out for <insert something in your life> and pass over it, as we know what’s “best” for ourselves?  Do we decide not to heed the warning, even if we truly feel God is telling us something we should be on the lookout for, or something He’s asked of us – but we say “no thanks” as it doesn’t fit to our liking?  I know I have. I know, most (if not all) have. Now, that doesn’t mean we always do it on purpose and specifically make a decision against what God wants for us, but it may mean we weren’t on the lookout for the sign.
 
Did I watch for ice? You bet – not because I thought I would find any, but if nothing else, I wanted to find some sort of water source so I could dispute the “it’s a dry heat” with my dad.  I am not sure why the sign was there, unless for the amusement of the passerby. Maybe in the middle of winter, a trickle of water forms on the rock pathway and builds up the tiniest amount of ice patch. Not sure. What I do know, when we are moving through life, we should be sure to "watch" for signs and after thoughtful prayer, we feel the sign is a direct guidance from Our Creator – let’s take it under heavy consideration.  There might just be "ice" ahead.




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Red Cedar
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

There is much to be said concerning mutual support, some of it good, some of it far less than that.  Mob mentality abandons personal responsibility in deference to the whims of the masses.  Conversely, most of us thrive when surrounded by those who support what is best for our well-being.  Mankind functions that way, but nature also provides examples of this as well.
 
The humid forests of coastal Washington State provide optimal growth conditions for the Western Red Cedar, which really isn’t a cedar at all but more closely aligned with the cypress family.  There, old growth forests grew and individual trees reached immense heights.  During the 1930s much of this area was clear-cut as the demand for cheap cedar products grew.  But coming upon this particular tree the loggers recognized its uniqueness, and the chainsaws were momentarily silenced; no small sacrifice since the lumber from this single tree was said to be worth $25,000 which was a lot of money back then.  The remaining trees around it were harvested, leaving this giant standing by itself.  Rising 178 feet with a volume of 15,300 cubic feet, this is now the largest Western Red Cedar in the world.
 
Quoting Thomas Pakenham in his book Remarkable Trees of the World: “Of course the giant could not survive the fierce winds of the clearcut. First the mosses and lichens, then the tree itself, began to die. Now it is a bleached skeleton with few living branches. There is a message there, I am sure, that the public can not miss. How futile is it to make this mean sort of compromise, rather than saving the whole watershed . . . Imagine trying to preserve this king of the forest, when all his kingdom lies in ruin. Soon his bones, too, will lie at Nolan Creek."

Perhaps we can find a parallel between this and a promise found in Isaiah 32:1-2: “See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” (NIV)  Only difference is, the King promised in Isaiah has already died, has risen, and will not die again.


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Adrift

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 9, 2016

I was walking on a trail that goes along Lake Washington recently when I saw this kayak drifting in the water and then as I looked over a little bit, saw two men, with paddles, just sitting on a bench.  Did they forget to tie their boat up?  Did they not tie it up properly?  Were they just wanting to get people's reactions?  

The section of the lake where the empty kayak was floating, is very popular with non-motorized boats, especially kayaks and canoes.  At anytime, they could have called out to someone to ask them to tow their kayak into shore but they weren't doing that.

Sometimes, in our lives, we can feel that we are adrift.  Here's some advice:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.  James 1:5-8 (The Message)


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How is Your Health?

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 8, 2016

After completing our work of building and painting churches near the mouth of the Amazon, our tour included exploring Ilha de Marajo and traveling by boat on various channels. My above photo shows a typical home in the jungle and man traveling by canoe. We saw villagers traveling to the market to sell their baskets of acai (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) berries they had picked from the forest.  



As you can see in the photo immediately above, acai berries look a lot like our blueberries.  Maybe you’ve recently discovered acai juice or drink or even a chocolate-cover acai treat at the grocery store.  Actually, most people living on these islands have been eating acai (without added sugar) as a staple in their diet for many years!

The acai palm thrives along rivers in the forest.  People shimmy up the palm trees to pick the acai fruit.  Red flags in front of houses or other buildings indicate they have acai juice for sale.  Since I knew acai was a huge market in this area, I asked our guide to show take us to see how it was processed.    



This photo shows a man processing acai berries in a cylindrical machine that removes the thin layer of fruit from the pit.  Water is added to make it drinkable. Our group had the opportunity to try this purple drink. Some claim acai is a “miracle” fruit or superfood from the Amazon.  While some claims might not be verified, the antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats in acai indicate it is good for your health – your physical health.

What do you think is good for your spiritual health?  Some say that high levels of spiritual wellness or health increases one’s physical, social and emotional health.  Belief in God including prayer and meditation can influence one’s spiritual health.  How would you rate your spiritual health on a scale of 0 to 10?  If you’re closer to 0 than 10, want to do something to make a change?  If so, check out the words of Jesus and His message!


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Land of Light
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 7, 2016

This past Sunday Shelley and I took one of our usual walking routes, a trail alongside a high woven-wire fence separating our neighborhood from the Lake Youngs Reservoir. Around the lake there is sufficient land so that at no point can you see the water, so this provides animals and birds with a true sanctuary, since no human is allowed beyond the fence except Seattle Public Utilities personnel.

We always keep a lookout for deer, and sure enough, we spotted some on Sunday. I held my little camera up over the top of the fence wires and snapped this shot. It’s a bit out of focus, but I love this photo’s light. The two deer stand there looking at us, and beyond them is what looks like the glory of the New Earth. It makes my heart ache to see how safe those animals are, and how far we ourselves are from Heaven.

Want a refresher-course (or maybe some new information) about the home God has planned for us? Check out the six Bible passages found at the link immediately below:

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



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Quietness

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 6, 2016

A couple of months ago, on a walk in our neighborhood, I spotted the above thin, rusty strip of metal on the sidewalk (with my Bic pen tossed beside it to show its size). I immediately knew what it was—a brush “bristle” from a streetsweeper.

I know someone who keeps an eye out for these metal strips, and once he’s collected eight or ten, he creates an African-style thumb piano. The strips are clamped to a wooden box or board, each one a different length. When properly positioned and plucked with the thumbs, they can produce a musical scale.

It’s humble music, since a real thumb piano would have tougher metal. With a streetsweeper thumb piano you have to listen closely for the music, but it’s worth hearing, as the soft little plinks draw your ears away from amplification and toward gentle simplicity.

Do you need a bit more stillness in your life? I know that I do. To read six Bible verses about the importance of quietness, click the link immediately below.

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



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Blowing Up
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, May 5, 2016

These are two capacitors on my laptop's motherboard (and a penny for scale in the lower right corner). At some point the larger one either wore out or got too hot and exploded, leaving some sooty residue on the circuit board (on the left side of the picture).  It's hard to see, but the left end of the capacitor has two relatively large holes in it. I'm going to try to replace this capacitor and hopefully it will fix at least a few of the laptop's problems.

The Message Bible, a paraphrased Bible translation, has this to say about exploding:

"Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly; the prudent quietly shrug off insults." - Proverbs 12:16

Exploding just causes problems, whether you're a person or a capacitor.


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The Death of the Ghost

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Back in mid-April I was driving home from some sort of pastoral duty when I noticed a large piece of plastic in the roadway in front of me. After driving over it, I glanced in the rear-view mirror and couldn’t see it any more.

Then, when I’d reached our cul-de-sac, I pulled up to the curb and backed into our driveway. Then I noticed, on the street, that same piece of plastic laid out perfectly flat. How it had attached itself to the bottom of my car—and remained there without getting wrapped around an axle—I have no clue.

But now that I look at the photo I took, it reminds me of a ghost—a ghost which has suffered a hit-and-run accident!

Though when I was a kid our family was firmly and Biblically Christian, I’d heard enough ghost stories to be petrified by them. But the more I learned what the Bible really says about where you go when you die, I realize that there are no such things as spirits of our departed loved ones.

If you’d like to read what the Bible says on this vital topic (and put to death your fear of ghosts), click the link immediately below:

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



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Mourning Cloak

Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

It’s interesting how people around the world express grief.  Even though there is a commonality shared by all cultures, each civilization has its own way of expressing the passing of those closest to us. It hasn’t been that many generations ago that impressive stone monuments were the norm for those who could afford to erect such and every funeral service was wrapped in a shroud of weeping and lament.  But we have changed.  Certainly it isn’t that the loss is felt any less, but at least the services that I’ve attended tend to be more a celebration of the person’s life than an expression of personal sorrow.  That, of course, has its place too. We still tend to dress for such occasions in somber-colored clothing befitting the occasion, for the end of life is serious.  But at least for Christians, there is a promise that removes some of the sting.

The understated beauty shown here was first named in 1748 when two were discovered three miles south of London Bridge in an area known as Camberwell and were appropriately enough given the name Camberwell Beauty.  However, when the species was discovered in the United States, it became known as the Mourning Cloak because of its resemblance to the outer cape worn by those in mourning.  Interestingly enough, although associated with death, it has one of the longest adult life-spans of any butterfly, around 11 or 12 months.  Found most frequently in colder parts of the United States, it foregoes migration and instead will go into hibernation, only to reemerge once again in spring.

Not a bad parallel for those who believe in the resurrection.   Couple that with David’s words found in Psalm 30:11:  “Then he turned my sorrow into joy!  He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.”  (Living Bible)  But there is one big difference; the Mourning Cloak reemerges rather tattered, accompanied with the scars of the previous season, while the redeemed come forth in a perfect newness of life and clothed with joy.


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Spiritual Growth
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 2, 2016

I saw this new growth on this fir tree and it reminded me of the instruction we receive in the Bible about becoming mature Christians.  We need to continue growing and learning.  There isn't a point where we can stop and say that we know all we need to know.  

We can grow by continuing to read and study God's word, the Bible.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are so slow to understand. By now you should be teachers, but you need someone to teach you again the first lessons of God’s message. You still need the teaching that is like milk. You are not ready for solid food. Anyone who lives on milk is still a baby and knows nothing about right teaching. But solid food is for those who are grown up. They are mature enough to know the difference between good and evil.  Hebrews 5:11-14 (NCV)



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And the Rain Came Down
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 1, 2016

In February, members of SAGE (Seniors in Action for God with Excellence) went on a mission trip near Belem, Brazil through Maranatha Volunteers International.  Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church members participated in this mission of constructing and painting churches near the mouth of the great Amazon River.  Being the rainier season, it seemed to rain every afternoon.  In fact, some local people said that this area of Brazil has two seasons, very rainy and even more rain!  It not only rained, it poured! This lasted between 20 minutes to two hours.  As you can see in the above photo, rain ran off the roofs like a streaming waterfall.  Also, note the covered walkway where we stayed – good planning! Channels were constructed on the ground to control the flow of rain as it landed.  



Water flooded roads in some areas, as seen in the photo just above.  Being very near the equator (one degree south), the weather was hot and humid.  Once the rain stopped, things dried out quickly.

I’m reminded of the parable Jesus told, part of the Sermon on the Mount.  “What then of the man who hears these words of mine and acts upon them?  He is like a man who had the sense to build his house on rock.  The rain came down, the floods rose, the wind blew, and beat upon that house; but it did not fall, because its foundations were on rock.  But what of the man who hears these words of mine and does not act upon them?  He is like a man who was foolish enough to build his house on sand. The rain came down, the floods rose, the wind blew, and beat upon that house; down it fell with a great crash.”  Mathew 7:24-27 NEB   Is your spiritual life built on solid ground?



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