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

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


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





Looking at the Heart
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 30, 2015

I took this picture of this old stump several years ago.  I'm no tree expert and I'm not sure what actually happened to the tree but I'm assuming it fell down and then the stump was tidied up.  It's interesting to see that this tree was rotten on the inside.  

There is a tree fungus which causes a condition known as heart rot.  On the outside, the tree can look perfectly normal and healthy.  People can have a similar condition.

There is an interesting story in the Bible of how God sent Samuel out to look for a replacement for Saul.  Samuel was all set to pick a man based purely on his outward appearance.  God told Samuel that He judged people differently:

But GOD told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. GOD judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; GOD looks into the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (The Message)

I think we need to continually be aware of our inward condition to make sure that "heart rot" has not set in!

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Hungry?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 29, 2015

Most of us have just celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday which included eating many special foods and time with family.  What food do you find satisfying when you’re away from home and hungry?  The day we went to the weekly market in a nearby village in Tuscany we decided to get several pizzas for our group. We were very hungry and a local villager made an excellent recommendation on where to go.  The pizza was indeed delicious!  It definitely satisfied our hunger.

Like the pizza satisfied our physical hunger, the Bible and its teachings can satisfy our spiritual hunger. Since many translations are available today, everyone should be able to find one to connect with.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty.”  John 6:35 NEB

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Felt Food
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 28, 2015

The other night while Shelley and I were browsing through a Barnes and Noble bookstore, I settled down in a soft chair next to the educational toy area – and immediately went through a rather traumatic couple of emotions.

To my left I saw the box in the photo above. The first thing I noticed was the seed-sprinkled bun in the upper left of the package, then the words “Sandwich Set,” and then the slices of luncheon meet at the lower right.

Instantly my mouth began to water. But a half second later I discovered that the bun and the meat and the cucumber and tomato slices were all fake, a toy created from pieces of felt! And immediately I felt a gag reflex. This switch from “yum” to “yuck” happened within a single second.

All through the Bible, we find God insisting that His human family resist being attracted to things which might seem exciting or tasty or satisfying which really aren’t spiritually worthwhile.

“Why,” Isaiah quotes a vehement God as saying, “do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2 NKJV

By and large, harmful temptations generally have to do with instant gratification—“I want it now, on my terms” rather than “I want it in God’s timing, with God’s blessing.” The Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20, contain several reminders to calm your passions and filter your desires through God’s will.

For a few texts which form an introduction to healthy spiritual growth, click the link immediately below:

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


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Give Thanks for More than Just God’s Blessings
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 27, 2015

As I’m writing this, it’s Thursday evening. Shelley and I have just driven home from a Thanksgiving gathering we had been graciously invited to, and on the way we passed many other dwellings with several cars around them. We pictured tables loaded with tasty food, and perhaps the host or hostess' suggestion that everyone around those tables mention something he or she is thankful for.

When I am asked that question, my first tendency is to think about something I have received, or some other benefit that has come my way.

But over the years I’ve gotten into the habit of also thanking God for things that didn’t happen. Shelley and I are getting used to a different car at the moment, and driving home Thursday night in the dark, I was about to shift over into the right-hand lane. Just in time I noticed a vehicle moving up into my blind spot. I thank the Lord that there wasn’t an accident.

During this Thanksgiving weekend, why not spend a bit of time following Paul’s advice in First Thessalonians 5:16 – 18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NKJV, italics mine.) Trust me – thanking God for guiding you past danger and discomfort and disillusionment can soon become a healthy addiction.

To read four Bible texts about giving gratitude to God, click the link immediately below:

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


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A Gentle Whisper

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, November 26, 2015

At least one guide book lists this spot as a picturesque waterfall near South Tiger Mountain.  Sometimes hikers come here looking for this waterfall. In case you missed it, it is near the center of the picture and might be just over a foot high.

What I see when I look at this picture is evidence for a fair amount of chaos.  Winds have blown trees down, and flooding has eroded  the stream bank and reshaped the stream bed.  It is easy to miss the small things like the waterfall and the peacefulness that fills the air.  

God reminds us that we might be missing the most important things if we focus only on the big stuff.   

1 Kings 19:11-13 reads, "The LORD said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.'Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."

Maybe the most important things are not the storms or big crisis events in our life.  But it is the little things like the daily interactions we have with others.  So when we are tempted to put someone off because more urgent matters are pressing, let's remember that the gentle whispers are the most important.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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Being Thankful
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yes, it's that time of the year - we concentrate on all the things we have to be thankful for.  Of course we should be thankful each and every day but this time of the year brings it out even more.

The image above is an outdoor market in Cannes, France. I love the colors of all the fruits and it reminds me of the abundance God has provided me.  From the foods I can enjoy, to the family I can go on vacation with. The freedom I have, living in America, to the beauty we can see all around us - especially in the great Northwest. The list goes on and on.  I'm sure you are mentally thinking of all the things you can be thankful for.

Psalm 100 has this to say about being thankful --

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Don't let the time of the year influence you as to when you should be thankful.  Make it a tradition all year long. Praise God and be thankful for all He gives to us, each and every day.


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Turkey Vulture--Thanksgiving

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

As our culture changes, so does our language.  But while contemporary translations have frequently substituted expressions used in everyday language to replace archaic terms which are seldom used, that doesn’t mean our attitudes have kept pace with the change of our language. 1 Kings 21:24, which is a condemnation of the evil found in the house of Jezebel, provides us with a good example of this:  “The members of your family who die in the city shall be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the country shall be eaten by vultures.”  (Living Bible)  The meaning is pretty clear to us; God so detested the evil that Jezebel was immersed in, that He would wipe it from the earth in its entirety.  But our attitudes toward those tools He elected to use have differed widely.  Thus, while vultures, such as this Turkey Vulture, are still repugnant to many, dogs in contrast, have been promoted to “man’s best friend.”

The reason for this is not entirely clear for T. V.'s have much to recommend them.  Certainly they are graceful in flight and are capable of soaring for up to six hours without even flapping their wings.  If they are captured when very young they make good pets and will follow their owner around like a dog, and just like Fido, they are fond of being petted.  True, they do have certain behaviors which we may find repugnant such as defecating on their legs to lower their body temperature, but it’s doubtful that few of those who find these creatures gross are even aware of this behavior.  And while they subsist almost entirely upon carrion, when such is not available, they will resort to eating pumpkins.
 
Which rather remotely brings us to our annual holiday of thanks.  If the vulture pictured above can’t find bones with more meat on it than this one provides, it may start searching for a pumpkin patch somewhere or even an extra serving of pie. Not that he would be welcomed to our dinner, for we are emotional beings, a quality which sometimes entirely neglects the rational.  And perhaps this cannot be avoided.  What can be avoided is a self-sufficient attitude that takes all the credit for the blessings which we have been so abundantly given. 

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Living Water

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 23, 2015

Water is such a precious commodity.  Clean drinking water is even more scarce although we tend to take it for granted in this country.  Although most people in America don't have to worry about having access to potable water, getting clean drinking water in some parts of the world is a very big deal.  

Water for growing crops is becoming less available in some parts of the country where wells need to be made deeper to reach the water table, aquifers are running dry and some rivers no longer reach the sea.  We are having to rethink where we are going to grow certain crops based on the rapidly decreasing water supply in traditional agricultural areas.

Desalination plants are being built in some parts of the country so that people have access to more water.  Sea water will be converted to fresh water due to a shrinking supply due to years of drought and/or increasing population.

Sometimes we have water but it is so contaminated that we can't use it for drinking, bathing, laundry or growing food.  Bellevue has put up reminders (see photo above) that what is put on our lawns and gardens or dumped down storm drains, will end up in our lakes, rivers and ocean.

When we do have access to clean water, we may drink a large glass of water and that will satisfy our thirst for a short time but sooner or later we are going to need another drink of water.  I like what Jesus said during his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well:  

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”The Message John 4:13-14

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What to Believe
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 22, 2015

All kinds of things can be found in the media today.  And almost any topic can have various interpretations. And there can be conspiracies about how it happened, who did it and why.  Some ideas seem possible, others impossible.  Some ideas might be likely, others unlikely.  Look at this grungy, unkempt “before” man on the left in this photo I took of a sign pointing to a barber shop in the town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana in northern Tuscany.  Do you really think he is the famous actor on the right “after” he left the barber shop?  Hardly!

Good things like the Bible and religion can have different interpretations.  What should a person believe when that’s the case?  What claim is being made and what evidence supports it?  Study the topic.  A good place to start is the Bible itself!  What does it tell you?  Also, what do authorities and trustworthy people have to say about specific topics?  Want to know what Seventh-day Adventists believe?  You can click on “What We Believe” in the main menu on our Church website and check out http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/.  Then decide what you believe.

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The Music of Heaven
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 21, 2015

A couple of Friday afternoons ago I was in the Minneapolis airport, returning from visiting my family in South Dakota and attending the funeral of my brother-in-law.

Within the airport was a mini-mall, maybe a city block long, with stores on both sides. The mall wasn’t open to the ordinary citizen. The only way you could be in that mall was if you had an airline ticket for somewhere.

In the open concourse between the lines of stores I found this woman, who had been engaged to play the harp. People were walking past, and since the harp wasn’t amplified, they could hear the soft, ethereal music for just a moment before the other mall-sounds crowded in.

As I look at this photo now, it makes me think about the promise of heaven. Those who have allowed the Holy Spirit to draw them to their Savior could be said to have a “ticket” to the skies, just as everyone walking through this mall had a ticket to a flight. Life and commerce go on while we're waiting for Jesus' return, of course, but every once in awhile—if we pause to listen—we’ll hear the music of heaven. This music can come in the form of an encouraging idea in a Bible class or sermon, or a card sent in the mail, or an email, or a cheerful phone call. Let’s allow God to engage us to perform this heavenly music whenever we can.

To find out some of what the Bible says about how important encouragement is, click the link immediately below.

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

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The Harvest
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 20, 2015

I snapped this photo a week ago this Wednesday, in a funeral chapel in Redfield, South Dakota. This is the casket which contains my brother-in-law Ken Ihnen, who had passed to his rest the previous weekend. Ken was a farmer, and the three corn-ears on the casket lid are from seeds he planted this spring.

That Wednesday evening, nearly 250 friends and family and community people attended a memory-sharing service there in the chapel, and the same number showed up the next morning at the funeral in the nearby town of Tulare, closer to Ken’s farm.

But even though, with the help of his son Nick, Ken had managed to double the harvest-yield of his land in the last couple of years, people sharing their memories rarely talked about his farming expertise but about other seeds he’d planted. Ken was honest and trustworthy, he was a kind and humble friend, and a faithful husband and father.  He and my sister Penny, through prayer and ceaseless caring, raised three children who are now raising their own kids with the Christ-centered Christian values their parents taught them.

In His parables, Jesus often compared human beings to crops, and said that we are known by our “fruits” or spiritual harvest. To read some Bible verses about how you can grow spiritually, click the link immediately below.

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



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Glacier

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, November 19, 2015

The photo above is the Winthrop Glacier on Mt. Rainier as seen from Third Burroughs Mountain (a peak right next to Mt. Rainier). Below is another picture that might give you an idea of how big this section of the glacier is (see the large rough patch on the bottom right):



I thought all the huge slabs of ice looked cool.

James 1:19 says: "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

Glaciers really take these principles to heart. They always listen, and in addition to moving slowly, they only speak and get angry at a glacial pace. There are many times when we need to keep these principles in mind more than we do.

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Light of My Path

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

In the Northwest, we are currently dealing with a good old fashioned November storm. It includes rain (heavy), lots of wind, downed trees. And with that comes a number of things, including power outages. We all grab our flashlights, lanterns and (if we are “really” prepared) the gas for the generators.

In life we are always faced with challenges. We lose our way, or we need directions to get back on course. Unfortunately the flashlights and generators don't help us in these situations. What do we do? Well, let's start with a quick prayer to God. If the power is out, we can enjoy the silence and relish the peacefulness. Either way, we need to listen to Him.  He's ready to show us the way.

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to my feet. And a light to my path.

He is our light, and is ready to show us the way home.

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European Pear Rust Fungus

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 17, 2015

This might be loosely called “the science of recognizing sin”.  Not that Gymnosporangium sabinae is sinful, but for our purposes it can be used to describe such.  Also known as European Pear Rust Fungus, it is a disease that first appears on the leaves of pear trees as small, orange spots.  These spots will continue to enlarge through the season.  The bottom sides of the leaves contain fungal growths which house the spores that are in turn distributed by the wind.  Interestingly enough, the fungus doesn’t kill the pear tree for it can live only on live tissue.  Instead, it just weakens it for that year and the next.  Another unusual fact is that it will switch hosts from pear to juniper in alternating years.
 
Now for the parallels to sin: from personal experience, we know how attractive sin can appear.  That’s what makes it seem desirable.  The lethal aspects of sin are often held out of sight, underneath as it were.  Left unchecked, sin always grows and spreads to other areas, sometimes affecting those around us that we feel are beyond our sphere of influence.  One difference however is that sin does ultimately kill, not just weaken. But even in this area, since we don’t die immediately after sinning, it becomes easy to believe we are immune to its consequences.
 
The best way to deal with this rust is to remove the infected leaves as soon as possible and burn them to destroy the spores.  Revelation 20:10 offers an analogous equivalent.  “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  (KJV)  Such is the end of sin.


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Majesty
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 16, 2015

I have done a few parables about my hike at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park this past summer.  I always find the mountains to be so inspiring.  Aside from all the natural beauty of the Rockies, with mountains and lakes and flowers, there were also birds and animals.  

I saw ground squirrels, marmots, mountain goats and a bear (the grizzly wasn't close but the others were).  I've also seen mountain sheep and a ptarmigan there before.  

This young goat (kid) was running around and jumping up on rocks and then jumping off again.  

No matter how inspiring we find God's creation, it doesn't even compare to the Creator.  I like this description of God found in the The Voice Bible:

You rise and shine like the dawn.
    You are more majestic than the mountains where game runs wild.
Psalm 76:4 (The Voice)


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A Work of Art
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 15, 2015

Every time I go to my ancestral villages of Roggio and Gorfigliano in northern Tuscany, I visit the high mountain meadow between the two villages, called Campocatino, as shown above. This is where both sides of my family kept their sheep in the summer months.   Shepherds used the stone huts as their temporary houses.  In recent years, people from nearby towns have been renovating the stone hut ruins for summer homes in the mountains.  I was amazed at the number of newly renovated huts when there in September. When chatting with a local woman, we discovered she was a distant relative and so invited us into her summer home.



The inside of the house was very attractive and included many carved wood items. Notice the planters for flowers were carved out logs.



This last photo is of the door her husband carved. The figure looks like it might be Jesus.  Creating this work from a slab of wood is definitely a work of art – a creation.  David wrote as recorded in Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  Isn’t it great that God can change us for the better!  Now that’s a work of art!



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Gott Mit Uns?

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 14, 2015

A decade and a half ago I had the privilege of helping Susi Hasel Mundy write a book about her family’s experiences in Nazi Germany during World War II, A Thousand Shall Fall. Franz and Helene Hasel had three children (Susi, born in the middle of the war, was number four), and the book tells of God’s presence and protection during that terrible time.

Susi did a great deal of research for the book, and mentions in it that German soldiers wore belt buckles with the words Gott Mit Uns (God With Us) engraved on them.

Earlier this week I flew back to Redfield, South Dakota to attend the funeral of my brother-in-law Ken Ihnen. While in town I went to an antique store and discovered this evidently genuine Nazi soldier’s belt buckle, probably brought back as a trophy by an American GI. I didn’t buy it, but snapped this photo.

Hitler’s claim that God was on the Aryans’ side was of course the ultimate irony, and thanks to hundreds of thousands of American and other allied soldiers, the thousand-year Third Reich never happened.

If you want to talk about someone who was on God’s side for sure, it was my brother Ken. After suffering for several years from the results of a lung cancer operation (another irony, because he’d never smoked a cigarette in his life), Ken passed away a week ago. 250 neighbors and friends attended both a memory service Wednesday night, and his funeral Thursday morning, and many testified about how they respected him and his faith.

Many claim that God agrees with what they do, but only those who have studied their Bibles to discover God’s loving character and personality and who have given their hearts to Him can rightfully wear the “God With Me” label. And maybe it should first be reversed: “I’m With God.”

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Our Bridge

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday through Friday, November 11-13, 2015
 
As I have mentioned before, I really like taking shots of water. Lakes, oceans, streams, waterfalls….and even ponds.  This particular one was located at the Tokyo Imperial Palace Garden, in Tokyo Japan. The pond wasn’t the reason I took the picture, or at least not the central reason. The irises and the bridge were my main reasons. The amazing color of the iris’s “pop” and the bridge in the background – bringing two sides of the image together.
 
By definition, a bridge is a “structure carrying a road, path, railroad, walkway or canal across water or another obstacle.”  We use the term “bridge” to convey different things, or add a visual reminder.  In fact, when I hear the cliché – “bridge the gap,” I think of a couple of things. One would be two sides of a discussion, or two people not seeing eye-to-eye, and the process of attempting to bring both parties together. I also think of a void in our lives where we may feel isolated, and some kind of “bridging” can help heal or fill the void.
 
In a recent study of the Children of Israel and how they used the tabernacle, part of the discussion was the high priest’s intercession for the people – bringing offerings/sacrifices to God. The high priest had to do this on the behalf of the Israelites. Fast forward a few thousand years – Jesus came to the earth to be our bridge to God. He became human, lived and died for our sins, so He could return home to go on our behalf. Our bridg, symbolizes our ability to talk directly to God. We can bring our concerns, our celebrations, anything, to Him.  That bridge brings us that much closer to our Creator.
 
When Jesus returns, we’ll be able to travel a sort of bridge.  This one will take us over a few roads, waterways and galaxy or two.  This bridge takes us to eternal life.  I’m looking forward to that trip.

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Mosquito Hawk

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
 
They live two very different lives, the Crane Fly, that is.  Their life as an adult is brief, only ten or fifteen days.  It’s then we see them awkwardly flying around giving the impression of being a mosquito on steroids.  Perhaps this is why they are sometimes referred to as Mosquito Hawks, but they never catch mosquitoes.  In fact, they seldom eat anything during their adult life.  As ominous as they may appear, they do not sting or bite so pose no threat to humans.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about them involves their modified wings.  Order Diptera or flies have only two wings, hence their name.  But Crane Fly also have a pair of rear wings or halters which are knobbed organs and serve as gyroscopic stabilizers improving their flight.

While benign as they may be during their brief adult life, during their larval stage they feed on grass roots which can cause dead patches in lawns.  During this phase, which makes up the majority of their lives, they are referred to as leatherjackets due to their tough skin.  Some species are also carnivorous and feed on small invertebrates.

We generally give most of our attention to that which is easily seen, but that which is not easily visible to man may tell the real story.  Paul describes it this way:  “The moral of this is that we should make no hasty or premature judgments.  When the Lord comes he will bring into the light of day all that at present is hidden in darkness, and he will expose the secret motives of men’s hearts.  Then shall God himself give each man his share of praise.”  (1 Corinthians 4:5  J.B. Phillips New Testament)


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He Changes Times and Seasons
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 9, 2015
 
With all the rain and wind we've been having lately, the leaves have been falling so fast that there are hardly any left on the trees.  It has also been snowing up in the mountains and with the sun setting earlier each day, there is no doubt that we are in the middle of Autumn.
 
Only God has the power to change the times and seasons.  I like this prayer Daniel prayed after God showed him the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream:
 
Daniel said:
“Praise God forever and ever,
    
because he has wisdom and power.

He changes the times and seasons of the year.
    
He takes away the power of kings
    
and gives their power to new kings.

He gives wisdom to those who are wise
    
and knowledge to those who understand.

He makes known secrets that are deep and hidden;
    
he knows what is hidden in darkness,
    
and light is all around him.

Daniel 2:20-22 (NCV)

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The Leaning Tower
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 8, 2015

Even though you may have never been there, you probably recognize the above photo as the Leaning Tower of Pisa (on the right side of the photo), the free-standing bell tower of the cathedral!  Began in the year 1173, the tower started sinking within a few years due to unstable subsoil. In order to compensate, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other.  In more recent years, the fear of collapse resulted in several methods of stabilization finalized with underground excavation.  In 2001, after eleven years of work, the Tower was righted by sixteen inches reducing the overhand to 13.45 feet!  This second photo shows the uneven bottom of the tower.



Like the Tower of Pisa, if one’s spiritual life is based on instability, religious life is likely to collapse. As the words of the hymn, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” let’s base our lives on Christ, the solid Rock as all other ground is sinking sand!


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Be Nice

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 7, 2015

In one of the classrooms at the Kirkland (WA) Seventh-day Adventist School I saw this cute bulletin board display. Someone has taken the symbols for three of the elements (beryllium, nickel and cerium) and spelled out how our Creator wants us to treat each other.

To read some Bible verses on the importance of showing kindness and love, click the links immediately below.

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

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


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Inching Toward Eden
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 6, 2015

Not long ago I was in the lunchroom on the second floor of the headquarters of the Washington Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, where my wife Shelley works. I couldn’t help grinning at the microwave’s control panel. Seems like the only two settings the overwhelmingly vegetarian workforce would need would be the last two!

If you’ve been keeping your eyes open as late-breaking nutrition media stories avalanche down on us, you’ll have noticed a pattern: eliminate the meat and add vegetables. Just this week I heard of a major study which shows that Americans (who eat a staggering 130 pounds of sugar a year) would cut ‘way down in this area, health benefits would start showing up in as little as 10 days.

The bottom line—the American diet is inching its way back toward Eden!

Does the Bible have anything to say about health? Not a tremendous amount—because the Industrial Revolution’s mass food-processing abilities (and their murderous effects) hadn’t been invented yet. But Scripture does have a few principles, and you’ll find some of them at the link immediately below:

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

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Be a Cairn

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by  Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, November 5, 2015

Some trails can be hard to spot like this one at Mount Rainier.  Winter snow and spring runoff can reshape the terrain so that last year's trail is hard to find.  Fortunately, some brave and kind souls stack up rocks to make cairns that guide other hikers on the correct route.  If you look on the right side of the image, there is a cairn that is as tall as a person.  Here is a closeup.





Sometimes hikers have to carefully scan for the next cairn so they don't get lost.   They most commonly have just three rocks. This cairn was easy to spot because someone took the time to build it up.

In a similar way, we can make it easier for other people to find their way in life just by taking the time to do some basic things.  Stopping to smile and chat with someone shows you care, and might make that person feel more valuable and be more likely to care about others.  Telling others how your faith in God makes you feel might give them a marker in their life paths.  There are a million ways.  Most of them require a bit of time and thoughtfulness, but they can make a big difference.

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The Flame
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
 
There is something mesmerizing about flames, and specifically campfire flames. Even looking at the above image gives me a sense of warmth, comfort and relaxation.  I can stare at a campfire for hours. Maybe it’s the frequency of the light, the heat of the fire or something else altogether—whatever, it’s a good feeling.
 
This last week in our Sabbath School class we discussed the Holy Spirt.  At the beginning of class we did a word-association exercise. We needed to come up with words, actually images, when we heard “Holy Spirit.”  One of the images we discussed was a flame. The flame represents being “on fire” for Christ and more specifically, the power that lives inside of us.
 
When we think of the Holy Spirit, we know He is part of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We know the Son came down to earth, took a human form and was sacrificed in order to save us. We know that God the Father stayed in Heaven, and had to “stand by” while this plan was fulfilled. We also can read that when Jesus was to die, resurrect and return to His Father, He was not going to leave the disciples as “orphans.” No, instead He would send the Holy Spirit to help continue the work Jesus had started.
 
John 14:15-18, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
 
We can believe in this promise today. The Holy Spirit is living in us and through Him, we can be the witnesses we are supposed to be.

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Leucistic Robin
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It was new territory, a National Wildlife Refuge I’d never been on before, and as a result I was on the lookout for anything new or different which I hadn’t previously seen.  I came around a corner and caught just a fleeting glimpse of something that fit the definition of different as it flew out of sight.  A flash of white where there shouldn’t be white, a pattern that didn’t lend itself to any recognizable form.  Unfortunately it was gone, vanished before my very eyes and frustration was all that remained.  But a few hours later I was back at headquarters and there it was again, only this time willing to provide extended looks.  It was immediately obvious what it was, an American Robin, common on lawns and elsewhere across the North American continent.  
 
What made it different was this was a leucistic individual.  Leucism differs from albinism in that the white coloration is a result of lessened amounts of a variety of pigments, not just melanin.  Thus, leucistic animals do not have the pink eyes found in albinistic creatures.
                         
Sometimes we are not provided a complete picture, only a glimpse to kindle our craving for more.    The Apostle Paul writes about this as he looks forward to the joys of our heavenly home.  “Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.”  (2 Corinthians 5:4, 5 The Message)  I’m grateful for that second look, for the fullness behind the reality, and I look forward to sharing that view with you one of these days.


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Climbing to the Sky
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 2, 2015

I took this photo when I was in Glacier National Park in Montana this past summer.  This was on a hike on the Hidden Lake Trail.  It kind of felt like I was climbing to the sky!

In Psalm 139, David talks about how God's Spirit is everywhere and even when we "climb to the sky," He's always there.  

I find it comforting that no matter what our situation or circumstance, God is always with us.

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you . . .

Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.
Psalm 139: 7-12 and 23-24 (The Message)

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The Baptism

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 1, 2015

“Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is upon you.  Prepare a way for the Lord” declared John, the Baptist. People from all Judaea and the Jordan valley flocked to him for baptism in the River Jordan.  When Jesus went to John to be baptized, John tried to dissuade Him, but later agreed.  When Jesus came up out of the water, the Spirit of God descended like a dove upon Him and a voice from heaven declared, “This is my Son, my Beloved.”  Mathew 3 NEB When at the Jordan River, I found it very touching and inspirational to see people gather at the river for baptism.  (Previously, I’ve shared Daily Photo Parables of my time in Israel and the Palestinian Territories including baptisms in the Jordan.)

The photo I’m sharing today is of the Baptistery, next to the Cathedral of Pisa, which is the largest baptistery in Italy.  Construction began in the year 1152 and wasn’t finished until 1363, 211 years later. Appropriately, it was dedicated to John, the Baptist.  Built on sand (just like the other buildings on the Piazza Dei Miracoli) the Baptistery has a lean.  As you’ve probably guessed by now, when the Baptistery construction was started, most Christians were baptized by immersion – immersion like Jesus was baptized.


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