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

Daily Photo Parable -  November 2013

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

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

Yours Till You Return
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 30, 2013

This past Wednesday, once Shelley and I had departed from the Christian bookstore I described in yesterday’s Daily Photo Parable (see below), we stopped briefly at a thrift store to look at the books. I wandered further afield into other areas of the store, and was startled to see what looked like a Bible with a zippered leather cover.

I unzipped and opened it, and discovered that it was instead an old-fashioned shaving kit. I’m not sure what the containers on the left were used for. Probably the two glass bottles were for hair oil or after-shave lotion.  I’m sure that the long silver case just to the left of the comb contained a straight-razor, and to the right are a nail file and a shoehorn.

What was most intriguing was a photo which, until I repositioned it, had been tucked behind the mirror it’s now lying on.

Here’s a closeup.

A dapper young couple, as you can see, standing in the sunshine beside a fairly substantial car, the kind with bumpers which, if necessary, could really bump.

After studying the photo for a few seconds, I turned it over. Here’s what it said on the back (for privacy, I’ve blotted out the signature):

Suddenly a possible story starts to take shape. The husband carried this photo in his shaving kit, so he’s fond of his “loving wife.” She loves him, as testified to not only by her last words but by the photo she chose, one which shows a happy memory of when they were together.

Now we get into the foggy part. As you see by the date she’s written, it is June of 1952, and this young man has left for somewhere (she uses the past tense, “left,” which indicates that she’s captioning the photo after he went, and that he may be gone some time). Wikipedia tells me that the Korean War ended in mid-1953, so this young man may indeed have been a recruit, and may even have carried this shaving kit with him into the war zone. We can’t be sure.

But one thing is sure. This wife adores her husband, wants him to remember her, and can’t wait until he’s home again.

Close to 2,000 years ago, a Man left this planet—but left a “note” with His loved ones to let them know that the separation would be necessary but not eternal, and that He was longing for the reunion. Here’s what it says:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1 – 3 NKJV

Can we say to our Savior what the wife in the photo was implying: I’m yours till you return!

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Bible Football
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 29, 2013

To someone like me, who keeps a vigilant eye out for unusual and hopefully amusing photos for this Daily Photo Parable blog, a visit to a Christian bookstore becomes an exercise in iron self-control. I have to say to myself, “Maylan, keep that camera firmly in its belt-case. It is not fair to make fun of what you see in Christian bookstores. An accessory you might giggle at may be deeply meaningful for someone else.” (Of course, many of these kitschy items are created with conscious humor. After all, a lot of real Christians do have wonderfully-developed senses of humor. But if I see one more “theme Bible,” I may not be able to resist the satire-urge. Yet I do try keep my camera holstered.)

I whipped it out, however, this past Wednesday night as Shelley and I stopped by a Christian bookstore near a large mall. Since you can’t read the price tags in the photo above, I will inform you that for a mere $19.99, you too may become the proud owner of a large-, medium-, or small-size Bible case which looks like a flattened football.

Leaving aside this photo’s vague scent of sacrilege (are you really going to carry your Bible to Seahawks games to read during time-outs?), the Holy Scriptures have indeed been treated as a football from time to time. Bibles have been carried in the baggage of Middle Ages inquisitors as they hunted down and persecuted people who lived by different interpretations of that same book. Bibles have been fervently quoted to support horrific child abuse, and to endorse slavery and the supremacy of one race over another.

The only way to stop using the Bible as a spiritual football, or to defend yourself against others who do this, is to open it and read large portions of it. For example, to learn some heart-stabilizing Bible promises, click the link immediately below:

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, November 28, 2013

This is my 9-1/2 year old pet chicken, Ducker. As you can probably tell, there is a big difference between my bird pictures and Mr. Howson's bird pictures (Tuesday Daily Photo Parables).

You might have seen in the news yesterday that President Obama pardoned two Thanksgiving turkeys named Popcorn and Caramel. They had competed in an online poll with 80 other turkeys for the pardon. Obama said, "It was, quite literally, the Hunger Games."

Fortunately for Ducker, my family has always been vegetarian. Originally, we were just going to raise her and her two siblings for a few weeks and then give them to my grandparents. Then we made friends with them, much to my parents' delight. 

God is willing to pardon and forgive all of us, even if we don't win a contest like Popcorn and Caramel did. 

Acts 3:19: "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord," 

Isaiah 1:18: "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Let the Thanksgiving Flow
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Correct, it's not Thanksgiving yet but I thought I would get this 'thankfulness' started.  Yes, I did a little play on words as well.  The flowing waterfall above, is Wallace Falls, in Gold Bar, WA.  It's worth the drive and the hike -- as you can see. Anytime of year, you are bound to see a beautiful scene.

Actually, that's one of the things I am very thankful for -- the amazing creations.  I also love the fact that, here in the Northwest, we are blessed with all sorts of incredible scenery.  The mountains, the ocean, the lakes and rivers -- can't complain at all.

God gives and gives.  Regardless of the day, we should be thanking Him all day/year long.

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Warbling Vireo
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 26, 2013

As a creationist, I don’t pretend to have the answer.  But the answer I’ve come up with carries with it a much more comforting feeling than does the tooth and claw response drawn from the evolutionary side of things.  Perhaps their examinations and conclusions have some merit, for I do not question the thoroughness and devotion given to their observations.  It’s just that there is something missing. 

These particular questions center around the Warbling Vireo, a rather drab species more frequently heard than seen.  Its fluid song begins the moment the male arrives on the breeding ground, even before the female arrives.  Isn’t that a waste of energy if no one is around to benefit from your song?  Why alert predators to your presence if no benefits result?  Certainly they continue singing to defend their territory once it has been established, and most of this singing and courting occurs within 30 feet of the nest. Like many vireos, they can be fearless around their home, even allowing humans to pick them off the nest before fleeing.  But why should the male, who helps with incubation, continue to sing while on the nest?  Wouldn’t that jeopardize the security of the nesting process? 

What may be missing is the joy.  If all I have to do is out-claw, out-survive my competitor, where’s the joy in that?  Surviving the day to day grind is also part of the creationist’s life, for we too live in a life of deadlines, competition, and stress.  But there’s more, much more.  We have a Savior who in His own words said, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10 GNT)  Maybe, just maybe, singing is part of that fuller life.  And that fuller life gives us all cause for thanksgiving.

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Slippin' Into the Future
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 25, 2013

The picture is of some of the clocks outside the Seattle REI store.  They are all showing different times because they represent different time zones.  I know that when my dad calls his sisters in New Zealand, it's already tomorrow (based on Pacific Time) over there. 

It seems like our lives get more and more busy and that we never have enough time to do all that we feel we need to do or want to do.  This seems to be something I notice more frequently the older I get!

Some of you may remember the Steve Miller song from the '70's called "Fly Like an Eagle."  The first line is:  "Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future." 

We don't know what the future holds.  We don't know what life-altering things could happen by the end of the day.  The one constant we have is the love of God:

In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us.  I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future,  and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!  Romans 8:37-39 (CEV)

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Giving Thanks
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 24, 2013

Since it is thanksgiving time, it's good to think of things for which we're grateful. Many of us like to focus on being together and enjoying time as a family. Gratitude is an expression of appreciation for what one has – the positives in one's life. What would happen if we lived a grateful life not just at thanksgiving time, but throughout the year? It could change one's attitude about life especially if it was really meant from the heart. I've read that some people keep a “giving thanks” journal, listing at least one thing they're grateful for each day. What are you especially thankful for this year? How are you giving yourself to be a blessing to others?

Since God is our creator, giver of life and savior, let's give thanks to Him at this thanksgiving time. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I Thessalonians 5:18

                Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wow! What a Rollback!
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 23, 2013

Earlier this month Shelley and I were walking through a large store when she spotted the sign above.

Because of what must have been a moment of inattention on the part of a price-poster-putter-upper, we are being told that the price of the item was once a buck-forty-eight, but has been now “rolled back” to three-ninety-eight, which is more than double the original price!

This sign makes me think of how, when tempting us to sin, the devil routinely engages in price-switching, cleverly disguising the ultimate cost of distrusting God’s parental warnings in favor of a zing-of-the-moment lifestyle activity.

“The wages of sin,” Paul warns flatly, “is death” (Romans 6:23), and Proverbs 10:2 says, “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death.”

For a clear Bible study on sin, as well as three steps to get rid of it, click the link immediately below.

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Forgiveness! Click Now!
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 22, 2013

This past Tuesday, while idly glancing at the ads my computer scrolls before me, my eye caught what you see above.

Well, not exactly what you see above. By manipulating the computer mouse, I have craftily concealed the phrase “Student Loan” by moving it out of sight just above “Forgiveness.” So actually, the advertisers are inferring that the comely young lady in the photo is smiling not because her sins will be expunged but because she is about to receive help in paying her student loans.

Otherwise (when applied in a spiritual direction), the ad is true. “Forgiveness” is certainly available, and you and I should indeed “Act Now” in obtaining it. And we can even reach into the space below the ad and be confident in asserting that this forgiveness will “Make a Difference” in our lives.

When’s the last time you sought forgiveness from God? To read what the Bible says about this vital step to eternal life, click the link immediately below.

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A Little Fish
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Our Pathfinder Youth club had a great day visiting Rocky Reach Dam near Wenatchee.  The photo above shows the fish ladder that allows adult fish to swim upstream past the dam. Fish going downstream get a special tube, which can partially be seen in the top left corner.  Great care is taken to provide safe passage for the fish.  For example, the downstream tube, which carries mostly baby fish, comes out in an area that is less likely to have predators.  They also count every fish that comes through. 

The picture just below shows a tiny fish near the bottom getting counted. 

It is sometimes tempting to think that God is not concerned about our daily lives.  Maybe a prayer is taking a long time to be answered.  It is useful to think about some words that God gives us.  Psalm 2:3-5 says "But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.  I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me."

I like to think that not only does the Lord sustain us with food, and by sending his Holy Spirit, but also by sustaining the function of all our atoms.  God and Jesus, who created and sustains us, knows of our problems.  Keep praying and responding. I know from an experience that spanned years that He is already at work and does answer prayers.  Just like the little fish, we are all important in His eyes.

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Why Do You Want To Go To Heaven?
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This last week in Sabbath School this question was asked.  The answers were vastly varied.  Some overlapped and some were very unique.  Before reading any further, answer the question for yourself – what top 3-5 reasons you want to go to Heaven?  Let me guess – See God? Be reunited with loved ones? Get away from sin? Live eternity in a happy place?  Did I come up with some of the same reasons you came up with?  I know the list goes way above and beyond "top 3-5," but it’s a good exercise and gets us thinking of our true home.
My list consisted of God, family, being away from sin, and enjoying animals – to name a few.  If it hasn’t been apparent in previous posts, I love animals.  In fact, while we were in Kenya, a few years back, I felt I was in heaven on earth.  The vast array of animals, living in their natural habitat.  As you can imagine, I returned with a few shots….several thousand…of these animals.  It was difficult to select one image that encapsulates my enjoyment of the animals and how I look forward to the day, when we are hanging out with God – walking around, viewing all of His amazing creations.  That said, I had to choose one, so I chose this baby lion.  As he plays in the grass, he doesn’t have a care in the world – not concerned about the hunt for his next meal, or if a predator is stalking him.  He is as close as we get to how the animals will react in heaven.  Can’t wait.
God intended for his creations to live in harmony but sin entered the world and things changed.  I look forward to the day, when His plan is complete and harmony can be restored.

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Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The world is awash with color.  We revel in the richness and extensiveness of the Creator’s pallet.  Yet we sometimes do so at the risk of missing the subtlety and shading found right alongside the neon and glitter.  This is certainly true in the world of hummingbirds.  When they were first discovered by European explorers and word of their existence was taken back to the Old World, their message was met with disbelief until specimens were produced following subsequent voyages.  

The iridescent colors worn by many of the males deserve our admiration.  These are most apparent in the throat area where the gorget appears to be constructed of multi-colored fire. This female Broad-tailed Hummingbird, on the other hand, is much more subtly attired, her beauty an understated elegance.

This contrast finds its Scriptural parallel in 1 Kings 19 which tells of Elijah’s own emotional reversal following the Mount Carmel experience.  After his showdown with the priests of Baal he finds himself psychologically spent and he runs and hides from himself.  It is at this point that God confronts him most directly.  Wind, earthquake, and fire, all employed, but in each of these the Lord was silent.  The New Living Translation puts verse 12 this way:  “And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”  And it was this soft, gentle voice the Lord chose to speak to His fearful servant.  In a world too often saturated with the brash and gaudy, we would do well to look and listen for that same quiet voice.

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Consider the Ravens
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 18, 2013

I took this picture of Tony Angell's sculpture of a pair of ravens a few years ago.  You can find it just off the Mt Baker Highway - at the turnoff to Mt Baker Ski Area. 

Luke 12 records Jesus talking to the disciples about money and possessions:

Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!  Luke 12: 24  NLT

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Looking Ahead
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 17, 2013


When hiking, I often stop and look ahead (and take a rest!). It's important to stop at trail signs or markers to determine the way to go. This photo is of my hiking companions overlooking a valley in the Jostedalsbreen National Park in Norway. We were on a day hike from the end of a remote road where the trail led us over huge boulders, rubbed smooth from years of glacier flow, among birch trees gnarled from the winter's snow pack. A section of the winding trail was directly above a cold, gushing river I didn't want to slip into! The glacier capped mountains, seen here in the distance, seemed almost touchable.


As we go forward in our Christian lives, it's important to look ahead at the principles given by God and the life lived and sacrificed by Jesus. Sometimes it's better to not look back or dwell on our past mistakes, especially those that kept us away from living a Christian life. Not only should we look ahead for our life here on earth, but look ahead for an eternal life with God. Jesus promised, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3

Yes, Jesus looked ahead in our behalf!

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Down From His Glory
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 16, 2013

The only times I ride Metro (or any other kind of) buses is when I take one or the other of our Hondas to a superb North Seattle Honda-only repair place I’ve been patronizing since about 1983.

In the photo above, which I took this past Thursday, you see the bus stop I always wait at once I’ve dropped the car off. It used to have a metal and plexiglass rain shelter, but that was removed a few years back. And I see that someone has filched six curbstones from somewhere to make a couple of makeshift benches.

But the biggest change since I saw it last made me almost smack myself on the side of the head and say, “Whoa. Why didn’t they think of this years ago?”

What’s happened is that some enlightened Metro official has unscrewed the thin, framed bus schedule from higher up on the pole, and mounted it down where it can be easily read by folks using wheelchairs. At last everyone can travel well-informed about the bus schedule!

This makes me think about how, when humanity wandered away from God--and shackled themselves to the deformities and disabilities which sin produces--God provided a “bus route” back. And to make sure we could understand, He met us down on our level—and His Son humbled Himself four times to redeem us: from God to man, from man to servant, from servant to death, and even from death to a criminal’s death.

Now it’s up to us to move close and read the details.

Have you reviewed the Bible teachings about salvation recently? If not, click the link just below.

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 15, 2013

On a cloudy day this past July, Shelley and I saw this splash of purple leaping over the fence separating one of our neighbor’s yards and a favorite trail we like to walk.

As I look at this photo now, it makes me think of the Garden of Eden, from which a sorrowing God had to banish His human children who had chosen to distrust Him. Could it be that Adam and Even came often to the gates and stared forlornly through at escaping tendrils from the paradise they’d previously been given dominion over?

The good news is that Jesus died so that Adam and Eve, and you and I, may be able to enter that Garden again. For an intriguing Scripture-based article on heaven and how to get there, click the link immediately below: 

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Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel

Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, November 14, 2013

We saw this Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel standing outside his hole at Crater Lake. Their holes can reach 98 feet in length. This squirrel spends most of it's time either hibernating or gathering food to eat so that it can survive the winter, because Crater Lake gets an average of 43 cumulative feet of snow each year.

It's good to spend even a little time each day eating up on something like a morning devotional about God's word so that we can survive the dark times in life.

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Another Flag Image….?
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yes. I know Veteran’s Day was on Monday, but I thought that considering how much our veterans have sacrificed in order to give us the freedom to do all the things we take for granted, we can view another flag image. 

This particular flag waves over the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor.  This specific site, obviously, shows the greatest sacrifice some of our veterans gave.  We are extremely blessed to have the level of freedom we have in this great country – given to us, because of the brave men and women around the world who have served, or are serving us, currently.  Thank you, again.

There are varying levels of freedom and not all the inhabitants on this planet have the same amount of freedom.  In fact, some countries restrict how and whom you worship.  As sad as this is, there is a type of freedom that is available for all and it’s the best freedom of all – freedom from sin.

In Romans 8:20 & 21 (Living Bible), speaks of the amazing freedom God has given us: “For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command—will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy.”

It’s worth saying again: Thank you to the veterans for all your sacrifices.  Thank you God, for the greatest sacrifice of all.  Freedom for all.

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The Grass Withers
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 12, 2013

With all deference to Benjamin Franklin, there are things that are sure besides “death and taxes”.  And that really is what the Great Controversy is all about – Can God be trusted to be who He says He is?  For Christians, the most definitive statement of who God is, is revealed in Scripture.

And it’s there we find the words of Isaiah 40:8 reminding us that His word, a reflection of His own character, is something that is trustworthy, permanent, never-ending.  “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8 Living Bible)  Several times the Bible uses this same imagery of the transitory nature of grass to remind us of our own vulnerability.  Even the oldest among us are here but a few, short years.  But Isaiah places God in contrast to this, ascribing to Him a quality that can be depended upon.  

A double reminder of man’s frailty was captured in an old Jewish cemetery where the two images mentioned by Isaiah came intimately together. In a world that is characterized by its lack of solidity, we seem drawn to that which offers a sense of certainty.  Words of a popular song from long ago bear this out.  “In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, they’re only made of clay” are followed by a promise of undying love.  Here the songwriter selects two physical objects thought of as being unmovable, as having enduring qualities but these fade away in comparison to the promise of undying love.  While Ira Gershwin may have offered an attractive sentiment for young lovers, I’d like to suggest something even more permanent, the eternal love of the Father.  Another songwriter, this time the Apostle John, puts his stamp of permanence upon it with these words, “For God so loved, that He gave.”

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 11, 2013

These berries are from the bittersweet nightshade (solanum dulcamara).  This plant is widespread in North America, where it is considered a weed, but originated in Europe.  It has purple flowers in the summer and these pretty berries in the fall.  The berries are red when they are ripe.  The website for King County,, lists the plant as "somewhat poisonous" but then goes on to say that eating the plant can lead to loss of livestock and pet poisonings and eating of the berries by children, though rare, can lead to sickness and death.

The Bible compares the tongue to poison:

Beasts, birds, reptiles and all kinds of sea-creatures can be, and in fact are, tamed by man, but no one can tame the human tongue. It is an evil always liable to break out, and the poison it spreads is deadly. We use the tongue to bless our Father, God, and we use the same tongue to curse our fellow-men, who are all created in God’s likeness. Blessing and curses come out of the same mouth—surely, my brothers, this is the sort of thing that never ought to happen! Have you ever known a spring to give sweet and bitter water simultaneously? Have you ever seen a fig-tree with a crop of olives, or seen figs growing on a vine? It is just as impossible for a spring to give fresh and salt water at the same time.  James 3:7-12 (Phillips)

Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies!
Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.  Psalm 34:13-14 (NLT)

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Thank You For Serving
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 10, 2013

An armistice between the Allied nations and Germany became effective on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – November 11, 1918. President Wilson proclaimed this day should be “commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations” and be known as Armistice Day, honoring veterans of World War I. In 1954 President Eisenhower extended this by issuing a proclamation that this day should be known as “Veterans Day” to honor American veterans of all wars.

Recently, I've resumed searching for family records and genealogy on my maternal family side. I've found registration, draft and service records of members who served in the Civil War. Additionally, my 5th great grandfather, Moses Quimby served in Hezekiah Hutchins' Company in Col. James Reed's New Hampshire Regiment in the Revolutionary War.

Before that, he was the 4th settler in what would become Weare, NH, the beginning of the new frontier across the Merrimack River. This early township would have been forfeited had not the French and Indian War broken out. Cutting of white pine trees with a diameter over one foot was supposed to be reserved for masts and ship timbers for the Royal Navy according to the land grants from the King of England. Men from Weare rebelled against this law that caused offenders to be arrested and fined. Their Pine Tree Riot of April 14, 1772 was one of the first acts against the laws of England. This rebellion, which preceded the Boston Tea Party (1773) helped set the stage for the American Revolutionary War (1774-1783) between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies. The Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776 announced that the thirteen colonies were independent and no longer part of the British Empire. This, of course, was the beginning of the United States of America. (Photo shows our first flag with 13 stars and stripes representing the 13 colonies)

Thank you to those who served in American's war claiming our independence and other wars assuring our freedom, including our freedom to worship God. And may we have peace.

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Refresh Now!
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 9, 2013

Sometimes I feel as though I’ve had it “up to here” with computers and software which try to think in advance for me. Wednesday of this week, for example, I sent several emails out to our church email list, and the computers at America Online—my service provider if I have the terminology right—became suspicious that I was spamming people! They immediately denied me access to AOL, and I couldn’t even check my email. I finally was able to speak to a live person on the other side of the planet, who courteously and apologetically made everything all right again.

In the photo above you can see another way in which AOL is trying to be helpful: “You have been inactive for awhile. Refresh now!” AOL wants me to continue to have a wonderful online experience, because it fears that I might join the multitudes who are flocking to Gmail. If I click the little “refresh” circle with the arrow, my screen will be current again, which means that I will not miss a single one of the messages from AOL’s valued sponsors.

But being not only a pastor but also a contributor to these Daily Photo Parables, I’m going to spin that “refresh” reminder in a spiritual direction. Aren’t there times when you and I become “inactive”—forgetting to draw nourishment and understanding from God’s Word? Wouldn’t it be a good thing to “refresh now,” since there are so many convenient ways to do this?

Why not reconnect with Scripture for a few moments right now? There are some great online Bibles which will let you read God’s Word on your smartphone or tablet while waiting in a grocery store line, for example.

To read what the Bible says about itself, and what it can do for those who use it to “refresh” themselves, click the link immediately below:

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The Devil in the Woodwork!
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 8, 2013

Can you see the sinister face in the bit of wood flooring I photographed a couple of weeks before Halloween? See the two eyes, and the ugly, downturned mouth, and even the long, angry crease between the eyebrows? It’s as though the devil is lurking beneath us . . .

Remember the cliché “out of the woodwork”? As in “People were coming out of the woodwork to apply for that desirable job.” The idea behind the phrase is that these people were behind the scenes until something drew them out.

In a way, that’s the way the devil has always worked—behind the scenes. As I’m writing this, the Philippines’ worst-ever typhoon is blasting across the country, a land which suffered a 7-plus Richter earthquake just a couple of weeks ago. What exact role the devil had in either of those events I am not qualified to say, but one thing is for sure—he delights in using such disasters against the Almighty. He probably chuckles triumphantly every time someone describes them as “acts of God.”

We needn’t fear the devil as long as we are under the protection of the One who has already emerged victorious from the battle. No matter how slyly the devil might hide in the woodwork, he is at least as combustible as the piece of flooring in the photo. It won’t be long.

To learn more about how to humbly place yourself under God’s protection, click the link immediately below.

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, November 7, 2013

On a backpacking trip a few months ago, we found this relatively friendly frog (probably a Cascades frog) in a lake. It let me take some close ups and then we went on our way.

There is an old fairy tale that tells the story of a princess and a frog. It goes something like this: The frog befriends the princess and tells her that he used to be a prince, but an evil fairy turned him into a frog. The frog says that the only way redeem him is if she kisses him. She kisses him and they live happily ever after.

Jesus has redeemed us by dying on the cross. Fortunately we don't have to kiss any frogs; all we need to do is accept Him as our Savior.

"Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel for all their sins."
Psalms 130:7-8 NIV

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

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Bring On The Darkness
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pick up any newspaper, watch any newscast or read the latest updates of the day on your search engine of choice, and you will most likely find plenty of disturbing news.  We live in a wicked world, filled with sin.  The saying, "It's always darkest before the dawn.", can mean different things to different people.  Personally, I view it as good quote that we can tie to God's ultimate promise.  We can find that promise in the book of John, starting with verse 16, 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God."

Viewing the above image, captured within Mt. Rainier National Park, we can see the sun rising over Reflection Lake. Still very dark, but there is hope -- the sun continues to rise, bringing more and more light.

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Two Roads
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Even for a high school student who was impatiently awaiting the end of English class, the words of Robert Frost deserved more than a casual glance.  For the ordinary things he wrote about seemed ordinary enough, but they also seemed to nudge the reader into thinking thoughts that went beyond the mundane trivia of day-to-day life.  And perhaps that was his genius; the ability to take the commonplace and restate it in such a way we could visualize that how we handled it really did make a difference. 

One chilly fall morning I found myself in a setting perhaps not too unlike that which Frost himself had walked back in 1920 when he wrote about the two roads that diverged in a yellow wood.  And just like the author, the importance of choices came back, for each of us repeatedly must make decisions that make all the difference, not only for today but for eternity. 

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        
Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same,        
And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back.        
I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.         


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Ignoring the Rules
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 4, 2013

I was in Santa Cruz, CA, when I saw this couple who had ignored the sign and were standing on the edge of a cliff.  In case you can't read all of the sign, this is what it says:

Don't Be Next
Since 1965, 92 people have drowned along our coastal cliffs and beaches.  Many of these deaths were preventable. 
Help Prevent Drownings
Stay Behind Fences
Stay Away from Cliff Edges
Respect the Ocean

This was taken a few years ago so I don't know if the number of people who have drowned is now higher but I suspect it is.

The Bible has a set of rules (see the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17). These are not arbitrarily placed to restrict our freedom but they are there to ensure our happiness and safety.  We still have freedom of choice and can choose to ignore these rules but at what price?

Some people think that these rules, which were written by the hand of God so long ago and are recorded in the OId Testament, were only for the ancient Israelites and don't apply to us today.  However, Jesus summarized them and His words are recorded in Matthew. 

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:34-37

If we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds, we will be keeping the first four commandments that were written by God at Sinai.  If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we will be keeping the next six.

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Within Reach
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 3, 2013

The hum of a helicopter overhead interfered with the otherwise quietness of the peaceful countryside in a small village in the mountains of Norway. It spent most of the day picking up supplies from the village and taking them to a remote place on a steep mountain across the fjord. Back and forth, back and forth. I wondered what was being transported; what would it be used for? Whatever the purpose, it was within reach by air.

This made me think of God being within reach of us – no matter where we are in life or what we are doing. God can reach us and we can reach Him. He can be close to those who call upon Him. “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

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“Out of His Intense Compassion . . .”
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 2, 2013

Earlier this week, as I walked past the huge bulletin board at a Seattle-area community center and bookstore, this display caught my eye.

As you see, many announcements clamor for your attention. You may, if you wish, tear one of the little tabs off a sheet in the upper center of the photo, and seek more information about a 2500-square-foot home within easy access of the Burke-Gilman trail. Or you may study the “HealthPlanFinder” brochure at the very bottom, or you may call “Shari” or “Abbi” for assistance with your wedding. The BowWow Fun Towne advertised on a business card at the very left guarantees your dog a happy stay while you’re away. A couple of yoga instructors hope that you will be willing to patronize their instruction so that you too can tie your limbs in the knot that the photo demonstrates.

But two other items were first to catch my attention—two actual paperbacks fastened by pushpins to the board. The one on the right is hanging open so the cover isn’t visible. Here’s a closeup:

Look closely and you’ll see that though the white on its back cover stops, the cover continues in a color almost exactly the same as the background of the bulletin board. Then comes a dark photo of a turbaned man, and orange printing below it.

Here’s what the first sentence says (I’m concealing the name):

“Out of his intense compassion [the guru] appeared in this world in 1921 . . .”

The blurb goes on to say that this guru is the latest in a long line of “masters” stretching down from an eminent person whose name I would probably recognize if I were more into this kind of thing. The strong implication is that our guru-author existed Somewhere Else, and felt so sorry for this planet that he decided to be born here.

I actually flipped through a couple of pages of the book, and read the same bleak concepts I always see when I peek into this kind of literature—we are All One, everything happens for the Ultimate Good, and on and on.

Nine inches to the left, and a bit higher on the board, is pinned a copy of Steps to Christ, Ellen White’s best-selling handbook to salvation.  As it happens, Jesus did indeed pre-exist Somewhere Else, and it was indeed from “intense compassion” that He made His appearance in human form. But if you crack that little volume’s pages you will read an entirely different story, one in which a truly Divine Being entered our culture and offers us tangible, eternal, wildly exciting hope.

Why don’t you check out a chapter or two? Here’s a direct link to Steps to Christ on the official Ellen White website, which gives you all you need to know—based directly on the Bible and using many scriptures—about how to be saved. (Note--you might want to narrow the reading window that comes up. This will make it easier since the lines of print won't be so long.) 

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Relax, Refresh, Renew—but How?
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 1, 2013

This past Wednesday at an intersection near our home, I was stopped at a red light along with this white van. As soon as I saw the sign on its side, I grabbed for my camera.

What puzzled me, of course, was that even though this van beside me was on a mission to somewhere, and even though the ladder on its roof suggested that some of its missions might include heights, there’s no way to tell just what it is that the operator of this van is equipped to “relax, refresh, renew.” The three weird little raindroppy things at the right do nothing to aid viewer comprehension. And even if someone could be motivated to elbow through the fog of ignorance and contact this business for further data, the phone number does not exist.

I happen to know Someone who has both “want-to” and “how-to” on relaxing, refreshing and renewing those who get in touch with Him. But if I’m in His service—if I’m a van-driver in His employ—I need to make sure that those I might be able to help can give Him a phone call.

How do I do this? First, my demeanor at home and at my workplace must signal that I myself am being perpetually relaxed, refreshed and renewed by my Boss. If I’m an old grouch, nobody will dial the number.

And of course the number—the directions to get in touch—must  be clear too. I know people who carry in their cars helpful religious books, so that if they happen to get into conversation with someone about faith, they can say, “Wait. I’ve got a book out in my car that you might like.”

Lead me to someone who needs me

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