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

Daily Photo Parable - November 2011

Thanks to all the photographers who have kindly accepted my invitation to provide their photos and commentary. Here's the schedule of those whose excellent, thought-provoking and encouraging work you'll be seeing, and when: SUNDAY--Bev Riter; MONDAY--Cheryl Boardman; TUESDAY--Robert Howson; WEDNESDAY--Darren Milam. I handle Thursday, Friday and Sabbath, generally using photos from the point-and-shoot camera I keep on my belt.-- Pastor Maylan Schurch

NOTE: To see previous photos from this current month, simply scroll down. To see previous months' blogs, click the month you want on the menu at the left.



On The Fence, Or Weak Roots?
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
 
In this particular case…it’s both.  As you can see, the “interesting” weather is upon us.  A week back, this is the view I woke-up to.  A 40 foot tree smashing our fence.  Yes, I realize this is no redwood, or a 50 year old pine weighing a ton.  No, in fact this would be called a ‘snag’ and doesn’t have a tremendous amount of girth.  Regardless, it smashed my fence.
 
When I saw this site, I thought of the (not-so) cleaver clichés I could use for a photo blog.  I knew a lesson was in here somewhere. In fact there are two.
 
God does not want us on the fence.  We can read in Revelation 3, the discussion about a ‘lukewarm’ church - “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth.” I would take that one step further and say, this statement still holds true with our relationship with God.  He wants us to be hot or cold – not stuck on the fence.

In context to my image, how can we ensure we are not stuck on the fence?  Well, for starters don’t fall….exactly! If our roots, our beliefs, our morals are dug deep and wrapped around God, we may stumble but we won't stumble as much, if our roots were attached to something other then God.  When we do stumble, God is there to protect us and catch us.  That way we don’t end up on the fence.


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Bewick’s Wren
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

 Apparently the oft quoted “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6) has at its roots the idea that the wise parent will strive to determine the natural gifts and abilities of their child.  Encouraging them to follow this path will lead them to lasting rewards and satisfaction. Certainly we have used it in a more pedagogical sense as well, believing that instruction in the ways of God will lead to eternal dividends.  It would seem both approaches have merit.  What is certain is that the wise man understood the importance of early education.

 The Bewick’s Wren might serve as an example of this being put into practice.  It seems at home near human activity and can often be found in brushy settings in urban areas.  At one time it was commonly found in the Midwest and eastern mountains but their numbers began declining in these areas early in the 20th century.  Today it is found primarily in the West, probably due to competition from the House Wren which was expanding its range eastward. 

As with most wrens, it is an accomplished songster, even though there is considerable geographic variation.  In Arizona the male’s song, used to establish its territory and attract a mate, is composed of relatively short, simple songs but its inventory may contain 15 or more songs.  In contrast, those in Colorado have a longer, more complex song composed of approximately ten sub-songs.  Interestingly, the young male learns its song while still on the parent’s territory.  These songs are learned from neighboring territorial males and the repertoire they develop before the first winter is that which remains with them for life.  It appears the life-songs we sing may have a bigger impact than we might have suspected.

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A Shelter in the Time of Storm
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 28, 2011

I don't know about you, but it seems to me we've just been inundated with storms recently.  These were not just light Seattle drizzle type of storms but major rains with the need to have the windshield wipers on the fastest speed at times! 

There are a lot of oak trees in the parking lot where my office building is located.   These put on a beautiful display a few weeks ago but between the wind and the rains, most of them have lost their leaves and no longer provide any kind of shelter for the many local squirrels. 

One storm was so bad last week that I looked down from the second floor towards the front door and saw a squirrel making a mad dash to take shelter in the one dry spot just in front of the entrance to the building.  (The photo was taken of a more content squirrel on a drier day!)

When we are buffeted by the storms of life, it is helpful to remember where we can go to find shelter.  As the old song says:

The Lord's our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm
We'll never leave our safe retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

 

Chorus:
O, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
O, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.
A Shelter in the Time of Storm
     --Lyrics: Vernon John Charlesworth

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. 
    
-- Psalm 61:2-4 (King James Version)


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Thank You, God
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's the time of the year when we've harvested our gardens and prepare for the winter ahead. During this last week, we've celebrated our special holiday of Thanksgiving, set aside to give a special thanks to God for our many blessings. For many of us this celebration continues on through today as we spend time with family and friends.

What are you thankful for this season? …. Your family, friends, housing, enough food, a job (or school), health and life in a country with religious freedom? Satisfied with where you've been and what you've done? What about where you're going? Let's not forget the blessings of God being with us in the past, the present and in the future. King David gave many thanks to God, as recorded in the book of Psalms. “Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.” Psalms 75:1 “O Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalms 107:1 Thank you, God, for being with us – today, yesterday and always!

For the beauty in nature, Your glory we see
For joy and health, friends and family,
For daily provision, Your mercy and care
These are the blessings You graciously share.
So today we offer this response of praise
With a promise to follow You all of our days.
-Mary Fairchild


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Dirt-digger
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 26, 2011

You never know what you'll see in even the most sedate neighborhoods, and ours (though not by any means ritzy) is about as sedate as you can get.

A week or so ago on a walk, Shelley and I discovered this little Bobcat excavator parked just where the family car might have parked, in front of a perfectly ordinary-looking house. What made the image more puzzling is that even though the blade/scoop seems stained, there's no visible evidence on the lawn that the Bobcat has dug any dirt. We can only assume that a major excavation of some kind is happening in the back yard.

Know what I instantly thought of as I grabbed for my ever-ready hip-camera? I thought of gossip. Haven't you known otherwise sedate citizens who make it their business to dig up dirt about people and spread it around to others?

In case it's been awhile since you thumbed through your Webster's Third New International Unabridged Dictionary, it defines a gossip as "A person who habitually retails facts, rumors, or behind-the-scenes information of an intimate, personal, or sensitive nature."

And the Bible is not neutral on the topic of gossip. It says it's bad, and it tells us to stop it. To check out Scripture's attitude about it, click the link below.

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


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The Grand Council of Anointed High Priests
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 25, 2011

Swooping through a used bookstore not long ago, I spotted a glossy little black King James Bible bound either with genuine leather or a close imitation. The print wasn't that great, so I was about to put it back on the shelf when I noticed this "presentation" page at the front.

 As you see, here we have a whole lot more going on than "This Bible was presented to_______ on the occasion of_______." Somewhere, though the “where” is not specified, there is a "Grand Council of Anointed High Priests," and these lofty personages have conferred this Bible on someone they declared in 1945, by "consecration,” to be an "Excellent Companion." This has been witnessed by two of the Anointed ones, whose names along with the "companion" I have shrewdly whited out.

 There's no indication as to what organization this represents. There's no Masonic symbol on this page or elsewhere in the Bible. The emblem in the photo apparently represents the Old Testament's high-priestly breastplate, which had 12 gems on it, one for each tribe of Israel (Exodus 28:15 - 21). Three triangles (not part of the Bible description) emerge from behind this breastplate, and on each is the four-letter Hebrew word we often pronounce "Yahweh," which means "Lord."

 At this point, having been a pastor for three decades, I did a bit of personal eye-rolling. What kind of an organization professes itself to have a Grand Council of Anointed High Priests? What are they priests over? Who anointed them, and just how much does that anointing mean? And what benefit would someone gain from becoming an "excellent companion" under these "priests'" authority? A nice little gift Bible, to be sure, but what else?

 Knowledgeable Christians understand, of course, that these days there is only one Anointed High Priest, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 3:1 and elsewhere in that book). I have a feeling that the Grand Council in the photo above confined their priestly work to gathering in a group, guarding the door, and working their way through various secret rituals, after which they all went home to bed.

But the true High Priest, the only one worthy of that name, has real priestly work: "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Thereofre He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:24, 25)

Years back, when I was a college student, a co-worker old enough to be my grandfather invited me to join a secret society which must have been similar to the "Grand Council." I felt uncomfortable then, and even more uncomfortable now. I'm sure that these organizations probably have worthy goals, and maybe do a lot of good, but the high-and-mighty titles and the rituals behind them seem as though they could become a substitute for the far more down-to-earth Bible principles which Jesus calls His disciples to follow.

To learn more of what the Bible says about our real High Priest, click the link below:

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


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Cause for Celebration
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, November 24, 2011

Back in April I snapped the above photo while getting my car worked on in North Seattle. It was actually just a few feet from a Statue of Liberty display (which you can see by scrolling down to the November 11 Photo Parable entry), which was in the parking area for a major costume-supply store.

The above sign lists several holidays, the idea being that as the potential costume-customer enters the parking lot, he or she will glance at the sign and say, “Wow, that’s right! I need to reserve an outfit to celebrate the Oscars!”

Evidently Thanksgiving Day doesn’t give rise to a lot of costume requests (though what about the Pilgrims with their buckle hats?), so it doesn’t make the cut on the list above. But if you scan down the names on the sign, you’ll notice that most—and maybe all—are in some way a celebration of thanksgiving. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we honor not only his "dream" but also his pacifist courage; the Chinese evidently greet their New Year with gratitude and hope; Valentine’s Day lets us shower a loved one with affection; and so on.

Maybe it’s good that Thanksgiving Day doesn’t require a lot of hoopla and dressing up. Sure, we eat a lot and watch football, but hopefully we’ll take time out to express our thanks for those we’re with, and for those who went before us to make us who we are, and to the Founder of the Feast, our Heavenly Father.

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices:
Who, from our mothers' arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us:
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next. 
     
Martin Rinkart, tr. Catherine Wikworth

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What's For Dinner?

Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
 
A couple of weeks ago, i was fortunate to be able to visit a place called "Wolf Haven", just south of Olympia.  This organization has been working for wolf conservation since 1982 and has provided a sanctuary for over 160 animals.  Like the name implies, most of these animals are wolves but there is the occasional coyote and several wolf-hybrids (wolf and dog mix).  Most of the wolf hybrids have been rescued from homes in which the owners didn't think through the amount of care and work it would take to care for a part-wild animal.
 
As you probably can tell from my blogs, I love animals and wolves are right at the top of the list. I have yet had the opportunity to photograph a wolf in the wild - some day... That is one of the best things about heaven, we'll have the opportunity to see animals, we don't normally get to see in the wild but we will also have the chance to interact with them as well.
 
In Isiah 65: 24 and 25 it says,
"It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear. 
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
And dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,”
Says the LORD."
 
It's amazing to see that in heaven we will be able to witness the wolf, not eating the lamb, but eating with the lamb. As I have been to Kenya twice, I can assure you, lion's do not "currently" eat straw in the wild.  Of course this is the result of sin, in our world. When we are in heaven and sin is finished for good - we will see the universe the way God intended it to begin with. I don't know about you but I can't wait!

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Bushtits
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

There are birds which are found in large flocks but still seem to lack the quality of sociability.  Such, however, is not the case of the Bushtit.  This tiny Western species is usually found in the company of others of its kind or even in mixed flock groups which may contain warblers, chickadees, wrens, and others.  They will often cling upside down while feeding on aphids and scale insects which make up most of their diet.  When a member of the flock spots a predator they set up a “confusion chorus” of rapidly repeated notes designed to confuse the marauder. 

The distinctive nest is a long pendent bag made up of oak catkins and bits of dried leaves, lichens, and moss which are woven together using spider web or cocoon silk.  Even during nesting season they demonstrate high tolerance for other Bushtits, even allowing them to take part in the nesting activities.  When the nest is completed, the pair will roost in it.  And since they are nonmigratory, cold conditions could have a fatal impact upon their tiny bodies.  To counteract this, groups may roost together, huddled into a tight mass as an energy-saving behavior to reduce heat loss. 

If we didn’t know better, it would be easy to imaging they had read the words of the Wise Man in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 where he says, “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively…If it is cold, two can sleep together and stay warm, but how can you keep warm by yourself?  Two men can resist an attack that would defeat one man alone.  A rope made of three cords is hard to break.” (TEV)  Maybe the One who inspired Solomon’s comments had something to do with writing on the hearts of the Bushtits as well.


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A Season for Everything
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 21, 2011

I saw a rhododendron, similar to this one, blooming this week.  All of the other rhododendrons have tightly closed buds which are waiting for spring, and this one is blooming while the leaves are falling and everything else is preparing for winter!

It's amazing how it can be a season for one plant to bloom and for another plant to die (if it gets hit hard enough with frost), or at least lose it's leaves, all in the same geographical location.  It's even more amazing how the northern hemisphere can be heading into winter when the southern hemisphere is heading into spring.

The Bible puts in this way:

For everything there is a season,
      a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
      A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
      A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
      A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
      A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
      A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
      A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
      A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  (NLT)


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Conflict and Power
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 20, 2011

While in Yellowstone Park in August, we saw several bison bulls in conflict like my photo shows. Even though they often appear peaceful and docile, they can attack without any apparent reason. During rutting, or mating season which peaks during July and August, bulls fight for the right to breed. Older bulls rejoin the herd and fights often take place between them. They can be very unpredictable and dangerous during this time. The most powerful bison bull wins the conflict as rest of the herd watches.

Most of us have experienced power struggles in our lives. We all have a desire to be in control and struggle for power is normal. The Bible is full of conflicts, power and control, starting with the power struggle between good and evil, between Christ and Satan. Fortunately, this is a power struggle that has already been won for us when we choose Christ as our God and Savior. No matter what trials one has, He is always there and will never leave us. In John 13:1-12 when Jesus washed Peter's feet, He showed us it's better to think of others and serve them first. In order to have control in our lives, we first need to give control of our lives to God. Would you agree that it's not about whom we can control, but Who controls us? “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:6  Who is your Master?


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Why Buy a Mattress Anywhere Else?
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 19, 2011

Walking by a Sleep Country mattress store in a mall recently, I spotted this cozily restful scene. A bunk bed, provided with stout protective rails in warm wood-tones, is amply supplied with pillows bearing the Sleep Country slogan (and radio jingle-lyric). The slogan’s message, of course, is, “Hey, here you are in the best mattress store around! No need to shop at other places!”

We’re just concluding a month-and-a-half-long series of public Bible lectures called “Unlocking Revelation,” and one of the topics we covered was the Bible Sabbath. Created on Day Seven of Creation Week, long before there was either Jewish nation or a Mount Sinai, long before sin had wearied the race, the seventh-day Sabbath is rest the way God designed it.

Over the centuries, for various reasons, other days and rest-methods have been substituted, but a growing number of people are discovering the value of doing it God’s way. And to them, and to us, God says --

“Why buy a Sabbath anywhere else?”

For more Bible facts about God’s Sabbath gift, click this link:
http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/sabbath


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Don’t Squander Your Vote
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 18, 2011

On our walk a couple of mornings after the November 8 election, Shelley spotted this partial ballot on the sidewalk. It seems to have been torn in half, top to bottom, and not marked, at least on the “Yes-No” item visible.

What’s the story? Someone ignoring an off-year election? Someone destroying the ballot without knowing what it was? And how did it get to that particular sidewalk—on which no trash cans are ever put? A gust of wind?

Whatever happened, it’s sad. Here in Washington in recent years, we’ve had more than one election which has come down to a frighteningly few votes. Whoever owned this ballot, a citizen of the nation which raises high the torch of democracy for the rest of the world to see, wasted his or her vote, the vote that too many young men and women in too many wars have died to preserve.

In the same way, you and I are voters in an election far more cosmically important than any on our planet. Two candidates are hoping for our support—the one so he can destroy us to spite the Other, and the Other in order to give us the happy eternal life He originally designed for us.

Guess what. The election's today.  “ . . . Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2, NKJV)

Don’t squander your vote.


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Three Merry Milkmaids
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, November 17, 2011

Strolling though a bookstore Sunday I came across a volume which included this ominous photo. I don’t know about you, but if I saw these three ladies lurking in an alley, I would prudently avoid them. Female murderesses, possibly?

Nothing that exciting, I'm afraid. The book was a collection of photos of Ellis Island immigrants, taken just after they’d come off the boats on which they’d traveled to the New World. This photo’s caption reads “Mother and her two daughters from Zuid-Beveland, province of Zeeland, The Netherlands.”  If you look closely, you’ll see that Mom has a slightly softer and more humane expression, but with the girls it’s “take no prisoners.”

Actually, their expressions are probably due to a couple of causes. Film speed was slow in those days, and portrait cameras didn’t “click.” Instead, the photographer would come around to the front of the camera, remove the lens cap, count several seconds, and put it back on. So you dared not move—and if you smiled and then adjusted that smile mid-photo, your face would end up smeary.

Also, these three women are facing the unknown. They’ve come from a country where for centuries their family owned a few acres right next to another farm whose owners had been there for just as many centuries. Feuds between farm families probably festered for generations.

But now these ladies are entering a vast and wonderful country where land is either cheap or free. And along with the pang of not being able to walk past placid canals or creaking windmills, there must be an electric sense of starting over, a feeling that the sky is the limit. Maybe that’s what we see in the girls’ faces—determination.

You don’t need to tell me that in the weeks and months and years ahead, you and I are facing uncharted territory. The “we can do it” mentality of the 1950s, the “Age of Aquarius” hopes of the 70s, the yuppie haircuts of the 80s, and the dot-com boom-ers of the 90s have all given way to stunningly high unemployment and lots of belt-tightening. And since we never dare become as spendy as we were in those earlier decades, no Ronald Reagan with a hopeful “It’s morning in America” campaign can jolt us out of it this time.

But we do have a Savior—our Creator and then our Redeemer and now our Great High Priest—who has enough power to calmly tell us,

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?”  or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25 – 34 NKJV)


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Going Home

Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
 
Returning from a business trip a week ago, I was fortunate enough to have a window seat. I must have spent half the trip staring out the window, mesmerized by the cloud formations and changing weather along the way. This image was taken at roughly 30,000 feet, and as you can see, it's a view we don't see on a daily basis (unless you're a pilot).  This view, high above the clouds, got me dreaming of another journey "home."
 
Revelation 1:7 says, "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen." Can you imagine the huge clouds rolling in our direction? Can you imagine the throne of God being lowered down, hovering over the earth's land? As we stand there, we can see our Saviour, motioning to us to join Him.  The best part of the this view? We can have a seat, a window seat even, as a gift from our Creator, on our way HOME.

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Garden Snail
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

While they’re not very popular among gardeners, it’s easy to see why the garden snail is a favorite among the cartoonist set.  With bold, distinctive strokes of the pen the artist can capture its unmistakable outline form easily recognized by all.   And while no one is suggesting it would score high on the Stanford-Binet  Intelligence Test, it does have a certain endearing quality that nudges the observer into believing it might even be considered friendly.  After all, it doesn’t run away and hide like some other creatures are prone to do.  Instead, it patiently lingers, waiting until you are ready to confide any secrets you might wish to divulge.  It appears he’s a good listener for he seldom interrupts with advice or opinions of his own.  In some ways he’s very much like a counselor or therapist, except he’s not board certified which in turn means his rates are considerably lower.

The brown garden snail, also known as Helix aspera, is not native to our area but was introduced from Europe by those who considered him to be a culinary delicacy.  However, if you are engaged in a counseling session, I would suggest you not bring that up. To push our personified allegory one step further it would be easy to imagine aspera taking to heart the words found in James 1:19.  The New Testament by J.B. Phillips renders it this way: “In view of what he has made us then, dear brothers, let every man be quick to listen but slow to use his tongue, and slow to lose his temper.”  That may be easy for a garden snail to put into practice, but since it’s written to us, and He’s given us His assurance to help us, we too can see that being accomplished in our own lives.  Besides, no one likes an irate snail or angry Christian.


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Autumn Rains
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 14, 2011

We've had some really nice weather lately but after a beautiful sunrise Friday morning, the rain has set in.  According to the weather reports, we are in for some precipitation in the days ahead.  These are the usual autumn rains that are normal for this time of year in our part of the Pacific Northwest.

Doesn't it seem, sometimes, that just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, they do?  Don't you wish for the Second Coming of Jesus so He take us home with Him where there will be no more financial woes, sorrow, suffering, sickness and death?  We get impatient to see Jesus and for there to be an end to all the misery down here on earth but God's time is not our time and we need to pray for patience.

Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes again. A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop to grow from the earth and for it to receive the autumn and spring rains.  You, too, must be patient. Do not give up hope, because the Lord is coming soon.  James 5:7-8 NCV


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Wild Animals?
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 13, 2011

While walking in the Icicle Canyon near Leavenworth last weekend, we came across these two deer munching on dry grass. They alternated between looking at us and eating grass. After awhile they walked cautiously toward us until they were to about 15-20 feet away. They continued to look at us and eat – for about 20 minutes!



After we left them to continue eating grass, we rounded the corner to find this two-point buck resting in the shade of a tree. He didn't seem concerned about our presence as we watched him chewing his cud. (He apparently had had his fill of grass earlier!) This was a pleasant unanticipated find for our Sabbath afternoon walk!

What would life be without wild animals? They are among God's most special creations. Scripture tells us that animals populated the Garden of Eden. Will wild animals, as we know them, be in heaven? Isaiah 11:6 tells us that “The wolf shall live with the sheep, and the leopard lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall grow up together, and a little child shall lead them.” NEB I tend to think that yes, they will be there, but they won't be wild! The animals that are wild now will be tame in heaven. I had a little glimpse of what this might be like as I watched these deer that didn't seem afraid of us!

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longs after You
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship You. (Martin Nystrom)


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Master of the Birds!
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 12, 2011

I have a feeling that, when creating a sign for this company truck's tailgate, the letterer must have let his mind wander. “Roof debris blown” is certainly within the abilities of someone with a leaf-blower and no fear of heights. “Roof moss control” is similarly doable, as is “pressure washing.”

But “bird control”? I don’t know what’s being spoken of here. I do know that placing plastic owls or hawks on roofs doesn’t always work well, because I once saw a real bird fraternizing for several minutes with a synthetic owl on top of an Albertsons’ storefront. And I know that once a flicker (Robert Howson, correct me on the bird terminology if I err) has decided that yours is the metal chimney on which he will indulge in early-morning tympany practice, nothing short of a BB gun will dissuade him.

“Bird control,” of course, it only truly in the hands of those birds’ Creator. And I would imagine that, if He were to walk through earthly forests, that they would come to Him and flutter around Him and perch on His shoulders.

There’s a wonderful little nature vignette in the first few verses of Psalm 84, as we see some common little birds seeking shelter near God’s sanctuary.  And the Psalmist feels in his own heart a similar hunger to be in God’s presence.

How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You.

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Lady Liberty
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 11, 2011

I snapped the above photo on the last day of July. This human-life-size Statue of Liberty stands in the parking lot of a huge costume-rental store I happened to be walking past in Seattle’s Northgate area. Behind Lady Liberty is a large photo of the New York City skyscrapers. If you look closely you might be able to see the careful patching-together of several smaller photo segments.

Today, of course, we honor the many men and women who have served in America’s armed forces. Most often drafted into wars they didn’t start, young men (and young enlisted women) went where they were called, and defended this Lady and all she stood for—because in many cases, it was the parents or grandparents of these soldiers whose first glimpse of this statue was as refugees from other lands, hoping for a bright future.

The “One Way” sign mars the display a little, but not when you understand that for America and for the rest of the world there is truly only one “Way” to a future that is far brighter than any that can be found in the land of the free and the home of the brave. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” Jesus said in John 14:6. And He could also speak to our planet in the words of the Petrarchan sonnet which Emma Lazarus wrote for the Statue of Liberty. Here are the final lines:

. . . "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

(To see this poem in the poet’s own own handwriting, click the link below)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:New_Colossus_manuscript_Lazarus.jpg


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A Personal Note (?)
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, November 10, 2011

One of the intriguing paradoxes of modern technology is that it’s getting easier and easier to fake the “personal touch.” This past Monday I received the note in the photo above. The envelope was addressed in the same masculine printing, and for a second I almost believed that someone had hand-lettered this just for Maylan Schurch alone. I mean, even the left margin is uneven.

But I’m a sly old dog, and immediately got to work comparing letters. Look at the capital “I’s”—they’re all exactly the same, as are the lower-case “f’s” and “n’s” and “g’s” and “c’s.” Nobody's handwriting could be that uniform. This is nothing more than a very cleverly-designed computer font. The writer doesn’t know me personally at all—I’m just another address in a mailmerge program. And what was even more clever was that the very next day I received another letter, using this exact same font but with slightly different wording.

Satan is a master sin-personalizer. He can make me feel that a particular expression of evil is so perfectly in line with my lusts or desires that unless I have fortified my mind, I will stuff my conscience in a closet and plug my ears against its cries.  If the Deceiver was expert enough to turn aside Eve’s sinless mind, imagine how much better he is at it now, after all this practice among weakened sinners.

But don’t “cave.” God has provided encouragement—because after all, He is more powerful than Satan. James 4:7, 8 gives you your basic defense,  “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you . . .

And Paul follows up with details about your spiritual armor: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6 goes on to list the entire armor. Many Christians literally pray their way through those armor-pieces before leaving the house each morning.

And don’t forget Scripture itself as a weapon. Matthew 4:4 contains one of the powerful Old Testament verses Jesus flung at His wilderness tempter: But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’

For a quick question-and-answer Bible study on sin, click the link below:
http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/sin


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Consequences

Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
 
In Sabbath School a couple weeks back, we learned all about consequences and how they can affect you as well as others around you.  The specific lesson was drawn from the story of the Israelites and how they were defeated in battle by the Philistines.  In this particular battle, the Israelites lost the battle, as well as the Ark of the Covenant.  The choices the Israelites had made rendered consequences they could not have fathomed--the loss of lives in their soldiers, the loss of the Ark, as well as distancing themselves from God, just to name a few.
 
In life, we are faced with decisions each and every day.  Each choice we make -- good or bad --may yield consequences we weren’t expecting.  What we learned in the Bible lesson was, if we apply those same principles, the consequences not only affect our lives but the ability, or inability, to be a positive witness to others.
 
I was inspired to take the above picture, purely based on the time of the year.  With a few holidays in the near future and one that just passed, we see treats around us.  Whether we have them in our home, in our workplace, at school, or we see it the stores, we are faced with choices.  Timeout – Do you think I implying we can’t have something sweet to eat?  No, that’s not what I am saying at all. (In fact, there may have been a sacrificial piece of candy eaten, during the making of this image.)  No, what I am saying is, there are consequences.  Maybe not immediate consequences, but possibly a delayed consequence – all dependent on how many “sacrifices” are made.
 
Moving away from physical food, to spiritual food -- Like the Israelites, we are faced with a decision to stay true to our relationship with God, or steer away and choose another form of worship (they chose idols).  As you can read in 1 Samuel, chapters 4-7, the Israelites chose a different path and it cost them.  Samuel eventually was able to teach them the true path and God, as He always does, forgave and continued to protect His people.  Since we have the privilege of reading from the Word of God, lets learn our lesson and not repeat the same mistakes.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch    
      

Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The expression, “Hang in there” doesn’t really seem to fit the classic King James English, but that really is what Paul is saying to his young friend Timothy.  “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”)I Timothy 6:12 KJV) The Living Bible renders it this way: “Fight on for God.  Hold tightly to the eternal life which God has given you, and which you have confessed with such a ringing confession before many witnesses.” 

Holding on is a quality that’s important, not just for us but for other creatures as well. This might be considered especially true of the Red-breasted Nuthatch, found in the mountains and the more northerly parts of North America. The reason for this is that it spends much of its life searching for insects found in the bark of trees.  But unlike the woodpeckers, it descends the tree headfirst in its quest of dinner.  What enables them to do this is a claw-like hind toe or hallux that holds them like an anchor to the tree.  To continue their descent they must release this grip which causes their progression to have a jerky appearance.  They also feed on the seeds of conifers and will readily come to feeders for sunflower seeds and suet.  Even on the coldest of days their tin-horn call can be heard ringing through the trees.  It is one of the tamest species, allowing close approach by human, seeming totally unafraid.  All in all they offer a pretty good example for us to follow, not only because they hold on tightly but also because they do so with an attitude that makes them pleasant to have around.


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Higher Ground
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 7, 2011

This staircase leads up to a viewpoint for a waterfall in the Columbia Gorge.  It reminded me of the old hymn "Higher Ground" by Johnson Oatman, Jr:

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,

By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay

Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height

And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

This can apply literally to a hike or to our Christian walk.  For either one, God is the one who supplies our strength.

As David wrote:

"For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights."
Psalms 18:31-33


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Time
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 6, 2011

The clock in my photo was taken outside a shop during our last trip to the UK. Tiny, picturesque villages seem to call me! This was the case when visiting Beatrix Potter's Hill Top house and cottage garden (a short way out of the village from where the above shop was located) near Sawrey and Hawkshead in the Lake District.

We use calendars for calculating longer periods of time and clocks for periods less than a day. (And now some have personal electronic devices for such!) Over the years, many devices have been invented to measure time. Some used shadows, others water, sand and even candles. Ringing of bells in abbeys and at sea marked time for many years. In the 16th century, Galileo Galilei made great advances in time-keeping as well as many other contributions to modern science. Later, clocks were made available to have in homes and watches to wear. Today, we have cell phones, computers and other mobile digital gadgets that keep time with the use of the Global Positioning System. Have you watched the time on your cell phone change, when traveling into a new time zone? In 1875, four time zones, rather than many more, were established in the contiguous United States. The Standard Time Act of 1918 established standard and daylight savings time in the US. (Wikipedia)

We all have the same about of time to use our God-given talents. How are you using yours? By the way, have you changed your clocks?

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1


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O Smog!
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 5, 2011

I couldn’t help chuckling at this sandwich board sign on the walkway leading from the Harborview Hospital parking garage. As you’ll have already spotted, it originally warned, “NO SMOKING.” But some creative soul has peeled off certain letters, changing the sign from one which points an admonitory finger at a specific human behavior, to one which merely bewails air pollution on a more cosmic scale: O SMOG!

Don’t we sometimes do this? Don’t we sometimes bewail the sins of others, without first looking in a mirror and checking ourselves for similar faults? “Why,” Jesus once asked, “do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3 – 5 NKJV

For some thoughtful Bible commentary on hypocrisy (much of it from Jesus’ lips), click here:
http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/hypocrisy


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Human Blood—RUSH!
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 4, 2011

Earlier this week I was visiting someone in the hospital, and on the way to their room I passed this waist-high counter in a hallway. Sitting on the counter was this box.

I’m a fairly regular blood donor, and have given several maroon gallons which may have been transported in boxes like this. As I lie on the recliner with a needle in my arm, I sometimes wonder into whose veins my blood will eventually flow. Afterward, sitting at the little table where they serve you orange juice and cookies to restore you, I sometimes kid the volunteers by telling them that the only reason I donate is to get a chance at the Chocolate Chunk cookies! But the truth is, if I can donate blood, I do.

Once upon a time, the Son of God became a human whose veins pulsed with human blood. And one day He went to Calvary to donate every pint of that precious blood to your and my eternal happiness. He lay on no comfortable recliner, and was given almost no immediate gratitude by those He was donating that blood to save, but He bled and died out of unshakeable love for us.

Have you thanked Him? And just as importantly, have you accepted Him as Lord and Savior?

Not sure how to do this? Click here:
http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/salvation


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Caterpillar
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, November 3, 2011

A week ago Shelley and I spotted this dressy little caterpillar on our morning walk. From his color scheme he looked like he was heading for a Halloween party!

(Late-breaking news: While I was writing this, I did my best to hunt up that caterpillar's identity online. But though Wikipedia and Google provided me with beautiful photos of many other-colored caterpillars, I couldn't find this one. Leave it to my alert and immensely nature-conscious fellow "Photo Parable" blogger Robert Howson to uncover the truth:

"What I think you have here," he e-mailed today, "is the caterpillar of the Isabella tiger moth.  The caterpillar is also known as the banded woolly bear. Interestingly, it's the first insect known to be self-medicating, eating certain kinds of leaves to help ward off parasitic fly larvae." (Robert admits that he didn't know that info off-hand but had to look it up. But there you have the essential difference between the two of us: he knew where to look!)

Every time I lay eyes on one of these little creatures – if I have a space of time to think – I become rather philosophical. One line of thought is that this beautiful little bug, or as Robert has now informed us, this banded woolly bear, with that wonderful fur, those little hidden eyes (is this guy coming or going?), and the wonderful butterfly- or moth-potential curled up within it, needed no human assistance to be born. No earthly artist designed it, no robotics engineer animated it. It is proceeding toward no human feeding dish (unless you count the garden plants it would love to come across). This caterpillar holds within itself the ability to create more caterpillars.

Another line of thought is, why the color? This little bug no doubt has a purpose in the Grand Plan, but why isn't he gray? Why isn't everything gray? Why is the sky orange at morning and evening, and blue in the daytime? And why do even clouds have shades of gray and white and purple?

As we watched this little bug, it waited patiently and motionlessly. I touched it with a spear of grass, and it shrank a little. Then we walked away and, in due time, it no doubt resumed its journey. What it was thinking about, or if it was thinking, I have no idea. But I was thinking What a wonderful God we have, and how wonderful it will be to inhabit the new Earth He promises us.

For a quick Bible text-list on heaven, click here:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/content/where-it-and-how-do-we-get-there


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Distorted View
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Some of you may know this person, but I presume no one has seen him in this exact way.  One shot and then a few clicks to utilize my “fish-eye” software and this is the result.  Probably not the most flattering image, but he did laugh . . . as did others.  I would suggest we (collectively) laughed at the image because it wasn’t the way we normally view him.  It got me thinking . . . .

How do we view God?  Do we all do it the same way? I doubt it. In fact, I would hope not.  I like to think we can view Him in different ways, with a common theme and be able to learn from each other’s views.  That said, I have heard some views of God that weren’t what I believe, and weren’t close enough to where I was learning anything.  One of the views of God is – He created the earth and then has left us to figure it out on our own, in other words --He is up there but not interested in what we do, say or think. 

Whatever your view of God is, check it with Scripture.  There are many theories, many thoughts and many resources to see the REAL view, not the distorted one.


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Tasting the Honey
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No one would deny the enjoyment derived from experiencing new sights and sounds from faraway places.  But the pictures and thoughts I’ll be submitting this month come from my own yard, just right outside the door, for there is much to wonder at there as well.   

Remember playing Twenty Questions?  You were given that many opportunities to guess the identify of what the other player was thinking of by asking a series of twenty questions that could be answered with yes/no type answers.  The first few questions were generally asked to determine whether the object was vegetable, animal, or mineral.  If however you played the game very long you undoubtedly came to the realization that not everything could be fit neatly into one of those three categories. 

Honey, for instance resists being classified under one of those headings.  Our vocabulary, expansive as it may be, is just inadequate to cover some subjects.  Moses in writing to the Children of Israel struggled to find words which would accurately describe the Land of Promise they were looking forward to. As a result he several times described it as “a land flowing with milk and honey”.  (Exodus 3:8)  Now that imagery may not excite us today, but they got the idea.  Imagine the frustration the Apostle John must have felt while writing the book of Revelation and discovered he just didn’t have the words he needed to describe the heaven he was shown in vision.   Consequently, we read about streets built from gold and gates constructed of pearl. As a wiseacre kid I remember commenting to my teacher about the size of mollusks that must have produced those pearls.  She didn’t appreciate my commentary. 

In our well educated world we sometimes run the risk of over analyzing  everything, of figuratively trying to figure out the size of the clams.  Perhaps David had it right all along.  His approach was simple, “Taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8 KJV)  If we really experience the Lord’s goodness on a personal level, tasting the honey as it were, we won’t feel compelled to classify it as vegetable, animal, or mineral.  We’ll simply know for ourselves that it is very good.


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