Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church
Daily Photo Parable 2017

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 th

Proceed With Caution!
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 26, 2017

Over the years, every time I’ve popped in to the University of Washington bookstore, I’ve seen this eye-catching sign. On my last visit no long ago I snapped this photo.

Actually, the sign is there because those gray pavement blocks at the foot of the sign mark the beginning of a sort of narrow alley which leads between the bookstore building and the one next to it. Small delivery trucks sometimes lurch through that alley, which means that someone hurrying out of the bookstore might get injured.

But isn’t that a great sign for a bookstore entrance? Once among the bookshelves, the visitor is just as likely to encounter deadly heresies as wholesome wisdom. There are volumes dealing with the occult as well as the best in Bibles.

But seasoned bookstore-visitors know that they won’t be harmed as long as they keep their wits about them.

Along with a whole spectrum of inspirational wisdom, the Bible offers specific cautions for people navigating the spiritual dangers of life. For several texts expressing what the Bible has to say about itself, click the link immediately below:

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Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sailors need to have a little trust in the wind.  These sail boats are tacking into the wind to make progress.  It is kind of amazing that a boat can travel up to a certain degree into the oncoming wind.

Sometimes in life it seems like we are traveling against the flow.  But when it seems like the way is not possible, Jesus gives us strength to continue.  Especially when it seems like we have made too many mistakes, Jesus has a special promise.  In John 5:24 Jesus says, "Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."

Let's hold on to Jesus' words and set our sails to follow Him.  He will give us strength to move forward, which we can happily do with His assurance and promise.

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Rising Sun
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I don’t always get the chance to see the sunrise (this time of year it’s pretty early) but when I am up and moving, I love the sight. There’s something magical about the calm, peacefulness and quietness – maybe a few birds chirping. It feels like things are starting off right. Of course that all depends on the weather and if you can see the sun rising or not. For the sake of argument, I’m referring to those Spring/Summer days where the sky is clear and the temperature is just right (for me 55-60, would be perfect for a morning).
In the Psalms, David praises God a lot. In this particular praise, he calls out the whole world in “awe” of the wonders . . . .
Psalm 65:5-8
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
    having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy.
In this particular image, the sun is rising over Fiji. It was clear, quiet and peaceful. Standing there, admiring His nature, you could feel His presence. What an amazing Creator we have.
The next time you find yourself up before dawn, take the opportunity to soak it all in and praise Him yourself.

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Purple Martin II
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The question might justifiably be asked, “How can you get a decent picture of a flying bird, especially one whose flight is so rapid and acrobatic?”  It’s a fair question, but one that has an easy answer. Since Purple Martin are colonial nesters, numbers of them can be found around nesting boxes which are occupied.  The birds sally out on flights catching flying insects which make up the majority of their diet.  But they soon return to the nest box.  The photographer places himself/herself in position to catch the return, prefocuses on the area just outside the box opening, and then holds the rapid fire shutter down, firing the maximum number of exposures per second the camera allows.  The results are reasonably predictable.  Many contain only portions of a bird, a bit of the head or perhaps a few extended tail feathers.  But if persistent, one is able to get a shot that contains the entire bird – in focus.
A parallel question might also be asked, “Where can I go to help me grow spiritually?”  And the answer is equally predictable.  Go where you find people who are seeking God choose to assemble.  In other words, church.  It’s likely that there will be setbacks, numerous pictures you might elect to discard.  There will be disappointment, not only actions which are less than hoped for, but with behavior which is downright unchrist-like.  But that doesn’t mean the approach is faulty. It means that if you persist, it is likely that you will come away with that which builds up and helps you reach your goal.  I suppose you might get the perfect flight shot by going outside and just randomly pointing your lens to the sky and firing away.  It’s possible, just not very likely.   

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Flowers Blooming in a Garden
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 22, 2017

We are starting to get some sunnier weather up here in the Pacific Northwest but rhododendrons can produce a bright spot on the gloomiest of days. They come in everything from white and pale pastel colors to the catch-your-eye neons.

When we read the news, it is full of injustices going on all over the world.  Here are some verses with hope and promise:

 I celebrate and shout
    because of my LORD God.
His saving power and justice
    are the very clothes I wear.
They are more beautiful
than the jewelry worn
    by a bride or a groom.
The LORD will bring about
justice and praise
    in every nation on earth,
like flowers blooming
    in a garden.
Isaiah 61:10-11 (CEV)

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Miracle of Healing the Invalid
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 21, 2017

On our last day in Jerusalem, we searched out special places we had not been to that are referred to in the Bible. One stop was the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the invalid.  We found the Pool off a small lane near the Lion’s Gate to the Old City. We had passed this lane before, but had no idea this special pool was nearby! This photo shows some of the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda with its various sections.

John 5:1-9 (In this week’s Bible Reading Plan):  When Jesus came up to Jerusalem (it’s on a hill and still hilly once you get into the city) He went to the Pool of Bethesda.  This is where sick people (the blind, lame and those with deformities) went in hope of getting healed. Apparently the water moved at certain times when an angel came down and the first person who got into the pool was healed.  One man had been there for thirty-eight years waiting to be healed.  When Jesus saw him lying on his back, He asked him if he wanted to recover. “Sir”, he replied, “I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is disturbed, but while I am moving, someone else is in the pool before me”  Jesus answered, “Rise to your feet, take up your bed and walk”, which the man did. 

Yes!  Jesus is all-powerful and has means to help you, as my last photo shows.

(Portions of this appeared in the August 17, 2014 Daily Photo Parable)

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Good Cause
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 20, 2017

Friday afternoon of this week, Shelley and I were driving from errand to errand when we suddenly spotted a “Youth Garage Sale” sign next to a church we’d often passed. I swung into the parking lot.

At first, the sale looked pretty miserable. Along the outside of the building were a few tables of miscellaneous items. But while we were gazing dubiously at these, I realized that there seemed to be furniture items just inside the door. We went in, and found that we were in a long foyer, and there were desks, chairs, armchairs, sofas.

But that still wasn’t all. Through doorways off the foyer I could see a huge room, with microphones and drums set up on a stage (see photo above). I first thought that this was the church’s sanctuary, and I thought, How are these folks going to get this all cleaned up by Sunday morning? Later, as I left, I saw that there was another building up the hill which was the real sanctuary.

I have never seen a larger church garage sale in my life. This was evidently an annual event, and one supported by a huge amount of people. I don’t know how much money they will make for their youth, but they seem to feel that the youth are worth it.

The people who devote their time and effort, and probably money, to good causes like this earn the approving smile of the Heavenly Father, because He is the ultimate humble servant.

To discover some of what His Bible has to say about sacrifice, click the link immediately below.

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A Cry for Help
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 19, 2017

I mentioned not long ago in one of these blogs that one of my hobbies is an occasional quick stop at various thrift stores I happen to be passing, to peek in on the office supplies section. Often I’ll find writing journals—some which cost a lot of money in their original condition—with the first two or three pages torn out, and the rest blank, a clear symptom of a well-meaning first-time journaller who quickly ran out of steam.

But once in awhile the pages haven’t been torn out, and that’s when you can peer into a life and see the raw reality.

That’s what happened a couple of weeks ago. I was flipping through a large-size journal, and discovered that several handwritten pages remained, along with several other sheets of paper, also written on.

The writing disclosed someone who seemed very ill, and also seemed not to be on close terms with most friends or family. This person—I can’t tell the gender by the writing—talked vaguely about suicide, but then wrote that he or she had abandoned the decision.

But then I came upon the page you see above. It’s the final written page in the book—the rest is blank. At the very top is the conclusion of an entry from the previous page, speaking of an unknown woman, and saying regretfully, “I have a feeling I’m not going to be seeing much of her.”

Then comes the final sad paragraph, dated a little over a year ago.

I have no answers to the many questions I have. Was this person a hypochondriac? A sufferer from depression? Did they have family nearby, or had they alienated their nearest and dearest (other writings hinted strongly at this)? Had this person really and truly committed suicide? If so, and this is equally tragic, who went through this person’s belongings and heedlessly failed to remove and save (or destroy) these personal writings before making a thrift-store run?

Are you feeling depressed? If you have more than just temporary “glooms”—in other words, if your depression is chronic—go see your doctor for a checkup and ask him or her for advice about what to do, and where to go, next.

And pray. Prayer alone doesn’t normally pull you out of deep, chronic depression, just as prayer alone won’t normally heal a broken leg. Professional help is needed—and that’s okay.

Just remember that there’s always hope, either through compassionate counseling or through carefully fine-tuned medications to restore the chemical balance in your mind.

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A Plea for Sanitation!
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, May 18, 2017

This Tuesday afternoon I paid a visit to a patient in the Virginia Mason Hospital in downtown Seattle. I was walking back to my car when I caught sight of this cute—and obviously quite passionate—window lettering across the street. This building is also part of the Virginia Mason complex, and when I zoom in on the photo I see that the lettering is done with what look like large-size yellow sticky-notes.

I can picture a group of nurses or doctors constantly bemoaning how a lot of people don’t seem to be in the habit of keeping their hands clean. Then one of them glances up at the building from close to where I stood while taking the photo.

“Hey, look,” he or she says. “Three sets of windows, four window panes each. Wash your hand. Perfect. But what about the “s”? Oh, we’ll use that little circular window to the right.”

I can’t tell whether the windows all belong the same room. If not, negotiations had to be made with the occupants of each of those rooms, convincing each to sacrifice a bit of visibility to the life-or-death importance of promoting sanitation.

Then came the careful measuring to make sure that all the letters were the same height below and above, from room to room. Then the application of the sticky-notes, and finally the message is emblazoned to the world (or that portion of it who passes along that street and thinks to look up)!

Guess what. “Wash your hands” is an important Bible message too. Notice how passionately James expresses this:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – (James 4:7 – 8 NKJV)

So if spiritually unclean hands are at least as deadly as physically unclean ones, how do you wash them? The answer is right there in the verses: Submit to God . . . draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

The only dependable way to draw near to the true God is, of course, reading the Book He authored. That will teach you where you need to submit, and how to resist the devil.

For valuable—and therapeutic—Bible knowledge about spiritual growth, click the link immediately below.

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Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

There are several examples in the Gospels which describe Jesus going off to be alone. He wanted to be in a silent spot where He could focus on His thoughts and His prayers. In today’s world of “information overload,” we can see distractions coming in from any and all directions – it’s tough to find solitude.

This image of a beach and Fijian blue waters, comes close to the type of “escape” I’d love to have for a few minutes – every day. A chance to focus on what truly matters – our relationship with God. The rest of it – if it’s worth anything – will fall into place. I’m not saying that if you find five minutes to pray to God each and every day that every aspect of your life will be perfect. That’s not what I am saying at all. What I believe will happen is that, when we find time to speak with our Father every day, we will see things more clearly and we’ll be able to set our life priorities a little bit better.
So, we can’t fly to Fiji every morning or evening – how do we find that quiet spot? Everybody’s different, but you have to WANT to find that time AND carve it out in your schedule. Easier said than done, I get it – but do it and I really think you won’t regret it. Feel free to “get lost” in my photo, and pretend to being sitting on the beach as you speak to your Creator.

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Pine Siskin II
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Pine Siskin is a wanderer.  It can be in great abundance one year and notably absent from the same area the next.  While it tends to live higher in the mountains, it descends to lower elevations during the colder months.  Besides being quite tame around feeders, it has the ability to learn as revealed in experiments conducted with captive birds.  Patches of yellow on the wings and tail help identify this otherwise nondescript finch.
Mention has been made numerous times of the fact that Jesus selected as His closest followers those who otherwise would be considered unremarkable, those who would be easily overlooked and certainly not voted most likely to succeed.  But succeed they did.  With the resurrection, they were changed and in turn they changed the world. In today’s parlance, they were recycled material.  What had been fishermen, tax collectors, and Zealots were changed from contact with the Savior into Apostles, the leaders of the early Christian church.
Pine Siskins could also be classified as recyclers, going green as it were.  They have been known to dismantle old nests of the American Goldfinch and use this material in constructing their own nests.  One might say the siskins used gold and transformed it into the ordinary, while Christ used the commonplace and transformed it into gold.

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Let it Shine
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 15, 2017

This photo is of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse on the grounds of Fort Casey on Whidbey Island.  I find lighthouses fascinating.  I like the different architecture and I like the fact that their main function is to help people navigate as well as to help people avoid danger.
We are told that we need to be lights:

"Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

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Jesus and the Money Changers
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 14, 2017

Money changing, trading or laundering seems to have existed for ages.  A number of financial systems have been caught up with this scheme – from governmental agencies or workers to even churches. There can be concern with the source of funds or their destination. Some of you may have had your credit card information or identity stolen for the purpose of selling your information for a profit.  Yes, sometimes it comes close to home!

At the time of Jesus, the money changers at the temple had a good scheme going for them!  Only Tyrian or Hebrew money was accepted for the annual half-shekel Temple tax.  Actual half-shekel coins are shown in my above photo.  Since the pilgrims to Jerusalem didn’t have this currency, they were forced to exchange their coins, usually with the image of a Roman emperor or a Greek god, which the priests considered idolatrous.  The money changers made a profit and the high priest received his percentage, too!  This is like we change our currency from dollars to the currency of the country we’re in.  Now, traveling in Europe has become easier currency-wise with many of the countries using the euro.  Also, one can withdraw local currency with a debit card, some of which don’t charge a transaction fee.

Jesus and His disciples went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover like thousands of other pilgrims.  Angered at seeing the holy temple desecrated, He took wove cords into a small whip.  He ran about, knocking over the tables of money changers, driving the exchangers and those selling sacrificial animals out.  This account is recorded in all four Gospels:  Mathew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-46 and John 2: 13-17 (In this week’s Bible Reading Plan).  What can we do to keep our place of worship holy?  (Portions of this Daily Photo Parable previously appeared on August 31, 2014)

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Forbidding Sign!
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 13, 2017

Last Sunday, this was the sign on several major entrances to our church! Wow! What kind of a congregation are we, anyway, to present such a forbidding face to the community?

As it turns out, the community was nowhere in sight, because we go to church on Saturday, not Sunday. And you can rest assured that those signs have been torn down and thrown away.

What happened was that last Sunday was our church work bee—a time when a lot of us come and do yard work and interior cleaning work. Shelley and I were among the exterior crew, and we were toiling so assiduously in the dirt that our soil-sodden shoes would indeed have caused a problem for our carpets. So each time I came to the door, I shucked off my shoes and crept sock-footed inside.

This reminded me of our communion footwashing service, where we take literally what Jesus said to His disciples at the Last Supper:

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” John 13:1 – 10 NKJV

Jesus seems to have considered the footwashing service not only as a demonstration of humble servanthood, but also as a kind of mini-rebaptism, a re-consecration of our baptismal vows.

For another brief explanation of the footwashing service, click the link immediately below:

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Boxed In
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 12, 2017

Earlier this week I popped into a drugstore near where we live. While waiting in the check-out line, I noticed this display. I can’t tell you for sure the name of the company who makes them, but I think I spot the word “Ty” on circular cards attached to a few of the animals’ ears, which means that these are the same folks who created the “Beanie Babies” of years past.

Notice how they’re all boxed in according to color—all the gray ones together, all the pink ones together, and so on? From a marketing standpoint, this makes the most sense, in case—for example—you want to buy five all the same color.

But isn’t this a metaphor—or for the matter of that, a Photo Parable—for how we often categorize each other? Thursday morning of this week I went to the dentist, and the receptionist at the desk (a member of a church I used to pastor) told me about how her 89-year-old mother has taken an interest in a little homeless family, allowing them to do their laundry at her house, and trying to get them a permanent place to stay. The receptionist’s mother was able to look beyond the category of “homeless” and see who this family really was—a mother and father who were both working hard to keep themselves and their kids fed and clothed.

Jesus, of course, taught that when all is said and done, there will be only (another metaphor here) sheep and goats. But when it came to whose hearts would respond to Him, He was definitely color-blind. In fact, His Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:28 – 29 NKJV)

What about you? Do you sometimes feel boxed in to a category by someone else? Or to you suspect yourself of being a “closet categorizer”?

For nine Bible texts about how accepting God is, click the link immediately below:

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Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, May 11, 2017

Our Pathfinder youth club got out into nature last weekend to enjoy camping at Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island.  One activity was making bubbles with natural-material wands.  In this image, I was fascinated by how sunlight reflected off the bubble to make star patterns.

In physics it is interesting to study how light works. It is also amazing that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

There are many aspects Jesus taught about loving each other.  One of those is putting others first like when he washed the disciples' feet and when He talked about seating at the dinner banquet in Luke 14:10.

Let's see how we can follow Jesus' light by finding ways to put other people first.  We might be surprised by how much more happy it makes us.

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Cacti and Palm Trees
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I recently had a chance to travel (drive) a long distance, from the middle of Arizona to the Seattle area. It was just over 1,600 miles – over the course of 3 days. I saw a lot of road. Beside that road was a variety of vegetation. The image above was taken a few minutes before getting on the road to head north, but there was plenty of prickly plants along the way too. The colors, textures and size were very different, as I traveled through 5 different states. It’s crazy because that just starts to "scratch the surface" of the rest of the plant and all the variations there are.
Our Creator enjoys variety, and it shows in His creations. It’s like food – you can enjoy one type of food, but someone else would put that food on their "never eat" list. Variety. It gives us humans, the opportunity to enjoy (or not) different things in life. God knows we are stuck on this planet for a while and He wants to make it as enjoyable/tolerable for us, until we can spend the rest of our lives, with Him, in true paradise.
Genesis 1:12: “The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”
Next time you traveling through various states, or walking around your neighbor – enjoy the variety….whether you like cacti or palm trees.

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Yellow-headed Blackbird
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 9, 2017

I like Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  They seem to live life with an exuberance that spills over into their surroundings.  Their voice could hardly be called musical and has often been compared to the sound made by a rusty gate being opened.  But this doesn’t keep the marsh in which they live from being filled with their exuberance for life. Nor is their enthusiasm dampened by difficulties surrounding them. The female builds a nest out of rotting vegetation obtained from the waters below and then attached to growing reeds.  At times one stalk will grow faster than the other, which results in a precariously tipped nest and this demands starting the process all over again.
But what I admire most is only symbolically displayed by their lifestyle.  The tall reeds in which they nest have a tendency to sway with the wind, bending this way and that to the far extremes.  Yet the blackbirds are often seen alighting at the top of these slender plants and then sliding down the stem until a firmer foothold is obtained. And as illustrated here, they will often grasp two stems which are bending in opposite extremes, and combine their tendencies to find a balanced perch.
Moderation is frequently promoted as a virtue worth following, but Henry Kissinger reminds us that “Moderation is a virtue only in those who are thought to have an alternative.”  With so many widely differing values being promoted, we are certainly not at a loss for options from which to choose.  Our challenge is to select wisely so that our final “perch” is both secure and balanced.

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Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 8, 2017

I don't have a picture of a fig bud but this is a rhododendron bud which is commonly found in the Pacific Northwest.  When we see them, we know spring is here and summer will not be far behind.

In Matthew 24 Jesus tells us what signs to look for prior to His Second Coming and how to know when we are seeing the real event.  

“Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he’ll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God’s chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.
“Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know he’s at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.

Matthew 24:31-35 (The Message)

Read Matthew 24 for more information on what to expect prior to and at the return of Jesus.

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The People at Mount Carmel
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 7, 2017

Haifa, a large city and seaport in Israel, is built on the slopes of Mount Carmel.  As you can see in my above image, the view from Mount Carmel is breathtaking with its landscaped gardens and the day we were there, a welcomed cool breeze from the Mediterranean Sea. While aiming to live together peacefully, the city’s slogan is “Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies.”  

Those of you following the Bible Reading Plan will have read I Kings 18 this week where the children of Israel and the prophets gathered at Mount Carmel. Not all was peaceful during that time.  Elijah asked the people how long will they falter in deciding which god they would serve.  He wanted the people to decide if they wanted to follow the god Baal or the Lord God.  At first, the people didn’t answer him. Next, Baal’s prophets offered a sacrifice to Baal, but there was no response from their god.  Then, Elijah built an altar with twelve stones representing the tribes, wood and the cut bull.  As an added test of faith in his God, water was poured on the altar.  The Lord God answered Elijah with fire that consumed the burnt offering.  When all the people saw what had happened, they fell on their faces and said “The Lord, He is God!”

In the days of the kings, many people wandered away from the true God, became enemies and went to war against each other.   People living in Israel today struggle to live together peacefully, however, people in the city of Haifa, at the foot of Mount Carmel refuse to be enemies, but try to be peaceful with one another.  What an example of living peace for the world to see!

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Upside Down
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 6, 2017

Back in January I spotted the above magazine on a rack in a bookstore. Something seemed strange about the illustration, and I suddenly realized that it could be turned upside down to reveal a totally different picture:

In Acts 17, Paul and Silas arrive in Thessalonica. Three Sabbaths, in the local synagogue, they try to reason the Jews into believing that Jesus was their Messiah and Savior. Watch how the apostles’ persecutors describe them:

But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Acts 17:5 – 6 NKJV (italics supplied)

Even though this accusation was partly inflammatory propaganda, it’s true. Everything God commanded, everything Jesus said or did, systematically upended our inherently selfish planet, turning conventional wisdom upside down.

But some of the apostles’ hearers accepted Jesus, and—like millions of believers afterward—discovered that, like the illustration on the magazine’s cover, the upside-down view was far more beautiful.

To read more of what the Bible says about spiritual maturity, click the link immediately below:

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Helping Hands
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 5, 2017

Paging back through my photos to come up with today’s blog, I came across one containing something I hadn’t seen before. This is a Martin Luther King themed bulletin board prepared by a teacher at Kirkland Seventh-day Adventist School, with King’s famous phrase surrounded by paper hands of various skin-tones.

What struck me right now was an insight I hadn’t spotted as I snapped that photo: no human dream—King’s or anyone else’s—will come true without willing human help. Anybody can dream, but unless many different “helping hands” join together, that dream may either evaporate or at least take more time to realize.

It’s the same way with Heaven’s dreams. God could have set about saving and restoring us, using angels to do all the work. Whether or not that would have been possible, He instead chose to involve us. As a venerable Christian poem puts it:

Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today
He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way
He has no tongue but our tongue to tell men how He died
He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.

We are the only Bible the careless world will read,
We are the sinner’s gospel; we are the scoffer’s creed;
We are the Lord’s last message, given in deed and word;
What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?

What if our hands are busy with other work than His?
What if our feet are walking where sin’s allurement is?
What if our tongue is speaking of things His lips would spurn?
How can we hope to help Him or welcome His return?
—Annie Johnston Flint

You can read several Bible verses about faithfulness at the link immediately below:   

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In the Palm of His Hand
Photo ©2017 by Chelsea Jurgensen
Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, May 4, 2017

These 4-day old Silkie chicks love to get outside to hunt for bugs in the grass.  The person holding them has to be careful they don't take a tumble.

In John 10:27-30, Jesus says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one."

When we look at the world there seems to be no sure place except in Jesus.  Let's follow His voice and let Him hold us in His hand.

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Reaching Too Far?
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
I don’t know a lot about goats, but I know they like to eat things – lots of things. In some cases, it’s not always things we THINK they should want to eat. When I was recently in Fiji, for mission work, there was a young goat that would frequent our area every day. He/she would come over the little gully, to hunt down and chew on green "stuff’." The reason for the quotation marks, you ask? It could be green-- grass, leaves, stems, paper, etc. Lots of green stuff. It was funny, to see him/her want to get the bigger green leaves of this short palm plant. Nothing would get in its way – kids playing nearby, trucks moving to and fro, mooing cows, nothing would stop him/her from getting….or at least attempting to get to.... these larger leaves. It appeared the young goat always wanted something just out of its reach – something it couldn’t get.
Is that anything like us? Always wanting something that’s out of reach? I’m sure we’ve all been in this position before. Asking if we should be striving for more, attempting to get the things out of our reach? I guess it all depends on your intentions and what "IT" is, but for the most part we should be focused on what God has given us and what He continues to provide for us. Don’t worry about what we DON’T have and be thankful for the things we DO have. Thank God for everything.

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Pocket Jesus
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Do you ever wonder who comes up with items like the ones above? I saw this display in a bookstore recently, near the religion section. I actually opened the box above, and sure enough, there was a little white plastic figurine of the Savior, about an inch and a half tall.

Now that I look at the display in the photo, I see that there are different words on the boxes. The one perched on top of the others says “Pocket Jesus is Love.” Other boxes substitute “Hope,” “Peace,” “Strength,” and even “Saves.” The display offers, as added enticement to lay down your dollar-ninety-nine, a “Bonus Inspirational Quote” and a “Bonus Bumper Sticker.”

So, who’s this for? Who buys this? (Actually nobody yet, if we’re to judge by the intact display.) But I can pretty much guarantee that your average evangelical Christian is going to give a gasp of revulsion and back away. Your average Catholic, though more accustomed to figurines, will still probably smirk and see it for what it is, a cheesy good-luck charm, and will keep his two bucks in his pocket.

So, who’s this for? A superstitious agnostic? Someone unsure if there is a God but who’ll buy one of these just in case?

Actually, Jesus Himself has firmly insisted that He wants to come close to us—but far closer than in a jeans pocket. Notice the absolute unity He prayed for in John 17:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” -- John 17:20 – 23, NKJV

For more of Jesus’ hopes for us, click the link immediately below:

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Something New
Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 1, 2017

On my way back from a recent trip to Eastern Washington, I stopped in at the Ginko Petrified Forest State Park.  Unfortunately, the little interpretive center was closed but there were petrified wood pieces lying on the ground nearby.  

This picture was actually taken at a nearby shop which was selling petrified wood.  This piece was near their front door and I'm not sure if it was local or not but it is a really good specimen with color and preserved tree rings.  

When petrification takes place, the former piece of wood becomes something totally new.  It no longer has the properties of wood but is now stone.
The Bible talks about a change taking place in us when we accept Christ:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

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