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

Daily Photo Parable -  October 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.

Deep Blue Heart
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crater Lake has water so blue that it seems to emanate blue light rather
than just simply reflect the light of the sky.  It turns out that the
water does emanate blue light almost like a blue light bulb.  The reason
is that the water of Crater Lake is so pure.  As light penetrates deep
into the pure water, colors at the red side of the spectrum are absorbed
leaving only the colors at the blue side of the spectrum.  Light
scattering then causes some of the remaining blue light to head back out
of the lake.

Many bodies of water are blue for this reason, but the purity and depth
of Crater Lake gives it an unusually strong blue color. Snow-fed Crater
Lake has such pure water because it has no rivers feeding it to bring in
impurities.  The watershed around the lake is very small, from inside
the crater.

It is like that with us.  Jesus will give us a pure heart when we ask.  
Psalm 51:10 says, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a
steadfast spirit within me."  Just like Crater Lake, it also helps to
have a small watershed and limit the things of the world that can fill
us with impurities.  Staying close to Jesus helps us reflect His love
and also lets it emanate from within.

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Even My Feet?
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Last weekend we spent a little time at a local (very large) nursery, walking around the grounds.  This place is basically a park, with water features, paths to walk on, a pond and lots of animals. Among the list of animals roaming around the area, there are plenty of chickens.  Many different varieties.  

As you can see in the image, this particular chicken has feathers all over, including the feet.  I tried to identify the variety but there are many breeds that have feathered feet -- you learn something new every day :)

In Psalms 91, we read of another of God's promise, specifically of His protection for us.  Verse 4:

He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;

I know I need all the protection I can get,while living on this sinful planet.  The great news is, whether our feet need it or not, they will be covered as well.  Thank you, God, for your promise of protection, even when we don't even ask for it.

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Bullock’s Oriole
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Orioles are easy to like.  They are brilliant. They frequently come to feeders, and they are certainly vocal although some of their “songs” stretch the imagination to fit into that category.  Because they frequently interbreed with Baltimore Orioles, the Bullock’s Oriole and its close relative were combined into one species, the Northern Oriole, from 1983 until they were once again separated in 1995.  Another reason they are easy to like is they seem to have a penchant for grape jelly, and how can you dislike a bird that enjoys grape jelly as much as you do. 

In truth, their diet is comprised of 80% animal matter and 20% vegetable material.  Insects comprise the majority of their food so they would be considered a friend to the farmer as well.  Although widespread in the West, they, like many creatures have their own special niche in the environment.  For some reason, they seem to have a fondness for cottonwood trees.  In dry areas they will also use salt cedar and mesquite, but for me, this oriole and cottonwoods go together like Laurel goes with Hardy.  Even though this picture shows them in a serviceberry bush, there were cottonwood nearby.  The association is still a close one. 

That same closeness, that same affiliation is implied by David who probably was feeling the need of moral support from a kindred spirit.  “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”  (Psalm 34:3   NIV)  The Message gives the passage an even stronger evangelistic thrust:  “Proclaim with me the Lord’s greatness; let us praise his name together.”  Whether praising His name together in church or sharing the Good News with others, what could be better than doing so with a friend? 

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In The Beginning God Created
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 28, 2013

The above is a photo of a portion of the picture that is on the wall by the south entrance to Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo.  I tried looking it up on line but was not able to find out anything about its name or the name of the artist. 

Here are some closer views:

I like the way the mural depicts all sorts of animals and birds together in one place while in reality, outside of zoos, these animals may be scattered all across the globe - north to south and east to west - and some may even be extinct or near extinction in the wild.

I think it was like this in Eden and it will be like this again in the earth made new. 

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind; and it was so.  And God made the best of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind.  And God saw that it was good."  Genesis 1:24-25 (NKJV)

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Taking Risks

Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 27, 2013

As our car turned a corner (and even going uphill) I was amazed to see “skaters” ahead of us in our lane! I could hardly believe what I was seeing – were these guys taking a risk by being in our lane or what? Quickly, I aimed my camera and got this photo. Risks are a part of life. We know that some people take more risks in life than others. There can be investment risks and physical activity risks, just to name a couple. In fact, we can't avoid some risk even if we wanted.

What about spiritual risks? In our walk with Christ, we often follow the “easier” path with less resistance. Have you thought about taking a risk for God's sake – doing something that you're less comfortable with? The Bible contains stories of many people who took risks to obey and follow God. In fact, many of the greatest people in the Bible are known to be risk takers. Esther took a risk for the love and glory of God (Esther 4:15-16). Jesus took risks, challenging the religious ideas and leaders of His time. Ananias risked his reputation to minister to Saul (Acts 9:10-16). Then Saul was told to preach to the Jews the very word he had opposed. Actually, Paul's whole life was full of risks. Believers begged him to not go to Jerusalem, but he said he was ready not only for imprisonment but even for death in the name of the Lord (Acts 21:12). Risk takers in the Bible had a vision and purpose to guide them. What does God want us to do for Him? Are there risks should we take today in order to follow Him?

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The Best of Both Worlds
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 26, 2013

Yesterday while doing errands, Shelley and I popped into a Barnes and Noble bookstore. The centers of these stores have become fun places for kids, containing little play centers surrounded—of course—by lots of toy possibilities.

Legos forms a large part of this display—that wonderful build-it toy which is to today’s kids what Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys or Erector Sets were when I was a boy. I was a Tinkertoy man, myself, and also a voracious reader, so I got an immense kick out of seeing this huge Lego person sitting and reading—what else—a book from Barnes and Noble! (You can’t see it at this angle, but that’s what it says on the front of the book.)

God made us both creators and information-absorbers, and it’s important to do both. It’s also vital that some of that reading come from our personal Owner’s Manual, the Bible. It’s not just another book such as you might find in the shelves around this Lego display. It’s a supernatural book—supernaturally inspired and producing supernatural results in those who prayerfully read it.

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Now Closed Forever
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 25, 2013

While Shelley and I were recently visiting one of our favorite towns, we had planned to drop in at a local bookstore on the main street. But the above photo shows what we found when we approached the door. The only people who would be permitted to enter were those with “deliveries,” whatever that might mean.

We got our faces close to the glass and peered mournfully through. This had been a nice and rather upscale bookstore, catering to people with artistic and literary tastes, and even had a few cozy tables at one could sit at with one’s fellow poets or painters. But now all we saw were a few disarranged bookcases.

Ah, the harsh realities of earthly life! I believe that Shelley and I and you were created to hunger for periods of unhurried reflection, whether curled up with a book, or perched on a rock in a beautiful wilderness.

You know where I’m going with this, right? Probably the nearest thing to the opportunity for quiet reflection was the Sabbath God created in Eden. Not an artificial, man-made “religious hour before the football game,” one day a week, but that 24-hour holy day which begins Friday evening.

Not long ago I saw an interesting online link from someone who practices a “technology Shabbats (Sabbath).” Here it is:

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Really Bad Fumes
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, October 24, 2013

This sign in an outhouse cracked me up, which was a bad thing because I had to take another breath. Someone in charge must have thought that the fumes were bad enough that people needed a sign to warn them about the dangers of it.

It reminds me that we need to keep the lid closed to all the "bad fumes" around us. God wants us to stay safe and has posted numerous "danger" signs in the Bible to warn us and guide us to safety.

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No More Floods
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Genesis 7 we can read all about the flood God send to cover the earth, in order to rid the world of its sins.  Specifically in verses 17-24:

Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters.  And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.”  Thankfully the story doesn’t stop there.  After several days, God promised Noah and his family (as well as the rest of the human race to follow) this would not happen again.  The promise was to never destroy every living thing again.
In this image, taken in Eastern Washington, we see the water, the trees, the dirt and the beautiful blue sky.  To think all of this could be at the “bottom” of the ocean, doesn’t seem possible.  Then again, all things are possible when God is involved.  The promise He gave is a good one.  The reason He had to flood the earth, and destroy every living thing in the first place, is a bad one.  We have a choice to believe and follow Him – not out of fear, but out of love, peace and joy.  Every day we make that choice.

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Fried Egg Jellyfish
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It’s a common jellyfish found around the world in temperate ocean waters.  Locals sometimes refer to it as the Over-Easy Jellyfish but it’s more widely known as the Fried-Egg Jellyfish.  Both of these names come from its obvious similarity to its namesake when viewed from above.  Its large bell, which can be up to 24 inches wide, is white and from this issue long, white tentacles which are employed to capture food.  In the middle of the bell is a gonadal mass which simulates the yolk of the egg.  When we most frequently see it, it is in the medusa or adult stage.  But prior to this it goes through several other stages which in no way resemble the adult. 

Although it can move by way of slow pulses from the bell, its progress is largely dependent upon tides and currents of the seas it inhabits.  Another way which displays its less than bullish nature is its method of feeding.  Like other jellyfish, it uses nematocysts, or stinging cells, along its tentacles to capture food.  While this is sufficient to capture the zooplankton and other creatures it feeds upon, the sting is really very mild.

A familiar verse from Ecclesiastes gives us a directive which, at least on the human level, stands in stark contrast with the Over-Easy approach.  “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”  (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV)  I’m sure the approach to life employed by this ocean dweller works fine for it, but then again, aren’t you grateful that you aren’t a jellyfish?

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Changing Seasons
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 21, 2013

If you haven't noticed, there's definitely a nip in the air.  It was only about 49°F when I was up at Snoqualmie Falls this past weekend.  I was glad I had a pair of gloves with me.

The leaves are changing color and dropping and fall is in evidence all around us.  The autumn leaves on the big leaf maples (pictured) are not the prettiest maple leaves I have ever seen but they can be really large and they definitely alert us to the fact that winter is just around the corner.  The native vine maples are more attractive and the leaves on the non-native oaks and maples definitely add to the natural beauty all around us. 

This picture was taken from the newly constructed boardwalk heading towards the lower viewpoint for the falls.

All nature is within your hands; you make the summer and the winter too.  Psalm 74:17 (TLB)

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An Open Door
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 20, 2013

The distinctive Dale Stone Church in the tiny village of Luster, Norway was built around the year 1250. The 1.5 meters thick walls and stone help make it a sturdy church. The photo just below shows its beautiful, inviting entryway, built in soapstone.

Many of the earlier wood churches in Scandinavia, as elsewhere, were susceptible to rot because of the dampness. Therefore, important churches or those built in rich agricultural areas were often built of stone. During this age, the king provided the priests while the farmers built the churches.

When traveling the world, I like to visit old churches. Sometimes the doors are locked and we can view only the outside. But, when the doors are open, we go inside to see what inspiration God has for us in each particular church. We often find beautiful frescoes, intricate mosaics, carved woodwork, and the feeling that many generations of people have worshiped there. An open door is always an invitation to enter.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20. Jesus is the Door. The “door” to God is always open. When He asks us to do something, He makes a way. “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9 Isn't it nice to know that the “door” to God is never locked! Is your “door” open for God to enter?

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True Religion
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 19, 2013

On the way back from our church retreat a few weeks back, Shelley and I stopped at a large outlet mall near Marysville, Washington. There my pastoral eyes caught sight of the above brightly-lit sign towering over me.

Those of you more in touch with current fashion will no doubt chuckle at my ignorance, but I truly had never heard of this brand until now. I was naturally intrigued with the title, and after a bit of online searching, I found the following explanation:

"There's only one real religion and that's people," says the brand’s creator. "And all the people in the world wear jeans. Our emphasis is on fit, quality and style and the inspiration to make men and women look and feel good in their jeans."

Naturally I rebut this person’s first presupposition, but there is absolutely no doubt that the true Creator of the true “true religion” wanted that faith to be worn as comfortably and as universally as jeans have become.

To see some of what the Bible has to say about religion, click the link immediately below:

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Tow-er, Let Thyself Be Towed
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 18, 2013

Almost exactly a month ago today, as I was taking a brisk walk in the vicinity of our church, I noticed this interesting sight. It was a little after five in the afternoon, and traffic was heavy. Inching along beside me was this flatbed truck carrying a tow truck.

Since I have the high-resolution copy of this photo, I can zoom in on it and assure you that door of the flatbed truck bears the same company name as the truck it’s carrying, which means that whatever happened to the smaller truck, it didn’t have to be rescued by a competitor!

I have the good fortune—make that the providential blessing—to pastor a church with an overwhelming number of people who enjoy working hard and serving others. Every once in awhile I will say to one or another of these dedicated servants of the Lord, “Don’t get burned out.” Thankfully, we have such a deep talent pool that there are usually several shoulders to bear each load.

One thing we all need to remember, though, is that we can’t accomplish anything really worthwhile without God’s power. The quicker we recognize that everything we have—including talent and motivation and even stamina—comes from Him, the more willing we will be to ask Him for what He has promised, strength for today.

And every seven days, He commands or invites us (depending on which we need) to get a foretaste of eternity’s serenity, by worshipping on His Sabbath day. Have you tried it? Visit a Seventh-day Adventist church near you and they will teach you how.

And if you’d like to learn some of what the Bible has to say about it, click the link immediately below.

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, October 17, 2013

Recognize the object in the photo? You will if you are—or have been—as avid a sunflower-seed addict as I used to be. Years back, as Shelley and I took our morning walks, I would put handful after handful of sunflower seeds in my mouth, and then work them with my tongue one by one between my front teeth, where I would crack the shell, retain the kernel to chew on, and spit out the shell-halves.

I don’t know whether or not you could really call it an addiction, but if buying a large bag of Hoody’s seeds a week made me an addict, I was an addict. To cut the salt, I would actually rinse the seeds in a Tupperware bowl and re-roast them on cookie-sheets in the oven. (Okay--addict.)

A week and a half ago, also on a walk, I spotted the shell you see above, and snapped a nostalgic photo—“nostalgic” because it’s been 12 years since I’ve had an in-the-shell sunflower seed in my mouth. What helped me kick the habit? Discovering that my triglycerides were ‘way too high, and having my health-conscious wife go into panic mode. At about this time we both went to a health camp, and I swore off sunflower seeds, and blood test results from this past August confirmed again that my triglycerides have subsided to a normal range.

Nuts, of course, aren’t bad—in moderation. These days Shelley feeds me four to six almonds before we go on our morning walks, but her eyes widen in alarm if I absentmindedly grab for a whole fistful. And sunflower seeds, in temperate quantities, would be good as well..

The good old Industrial Revolution is probably one main reason for overeating, of nuts or of anything else. I heard an NPR feature earlier this week which made the point that candy was once considered a luxury, and was happily and healthfully consumed in moderation. The candy companies, however, wanted their products to become a daily and necessary food, and went to work with advertising and price-lowering. The rest—or the rot—is history.

Shall we stand and sing the closing song? I never did know all the lyrics, but here’s a “health message” temperance song from my Adventist church-school childhood . . .

(But first, a “blast from the past”—remember this songbook page? And I don’t want to hear any snickers. After all, some people pay thousands and thousands of dollars to try to reach the kind of free-of-charge health level described in these stanzas.)

True temperance boys and girls are we,
We’re trying hard as hard can be,
To learn health habits in our youth,
For ‘tis a part of God’s great truth.
We’ll join our hearts, and join our hands,
And stand a true and loyal band,
From all bad habits we will flee
For temperance boys and girls are we!

We know our bodies must be clean,

Inside as well as what is seen;
And so we take deep breaths of air,
Which lies about us everywhere;
And then we drink at least a glass
Of water, pure, each lad and lass
Four times a day and not at meals
And soon we’ll find how good it feels!

We wash our hands before we eat,

Our fingernails keep short and neat;
Our teeth we brush both morn and eve,
And praise for what we do receive;
With windows open wide at night
We sleep long hours till morning light;
These things will make and keep us well,
This message we delight to tell!

We try to stand up straight and tall

And not let shoulders droop or fall
To softly step with toes and heels,
And not to eat between our meals;
This last is hardest, we all think;
Instead of eating, take a drink.
The stomach must have time to rest,
Then for us all ‘twill do its best.

And when it’s time to go to school,

To study hard, obey the rule,
We’ll have clear minds to get our tasks
And do the things the teacher asks;
The health work is the entering wedge,
And round our path a sheltering hedge;
‘Twill help us choose the right from wrong
Be kind and good as well as strong!
   --Martha W. Howe

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“Let Them Build Me a Sanctuary . . .”
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If the word “Pathfinders,” with a capital P, doesn’t ring a bell with you, it’s sort of a co-ed Scouting program begun by the Adventist church but welcome to all junior-high-age kids. There are Pathfinder clubs all over the world.

Our own congregation, along with the Kirkland Seventh-day Adventist church a few miles to the north, co-sponsors the Sojourners Pathfinders, some of whom you see toiling busily away in the photo above. Incidentally, we have a robust club which now contains nearly 50 kids, led by smart and hard-working volunteer staffers.

At first glance, it looks like the Sojourners are readying copper pipes for some massive plumbing project, but those orange tubes are actually supports for the blue-and-white collapsed tents on the grass. It’s September 4 of this year, and this is probably their very first meeting after the summer. The kids and their staff are learning or reviewing how to put up what will be their dwelling-places during several upcoming campouts.

As I look at that photo, I’m reminded of the tent God wanted Moses to erect shortly after the Israelites had been led from Egyptian slavery out to freedom. “And let them make Me a sanctuary,” He said in Exodus 25:8, “that I may dwell among them.”

God, of course—if He’s wished to—could have sent down both materials and a construction crew from heaven. But instead, He urged that the people themselves construct the sanctuary. In other words, they needed to devote their personal attention to creating space for God in their lives. And, like the above tents, God’s sanctuary would turn out to be not only a focus of worship but a true place of safety, where sin would be forgiven.

Have you built some kind of “sanctuary,” a space for God, into your life? Certainly attendance at a church should be part of this, but do you have a time each day where you can thoughtfully and prayerfully read His loveletters (your Bible) and ask Him to change you to be more like Him?

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Great Golden Digger Wasp  
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Robert Louis Stevenson certainly didn’t originate it with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Long, long before that, people were known for wearing more than one face.  And if truth be made known, you and I have been known to put on more than one persona as we supposed the conditions demanded.  Perhaps that’s because we have two natures striving within us for the mastery of ourselves.  There are moments when we look our very best.  But then there are other times when we wish we could blot out the whole day due to our repeated failures. 

The Great Golden Digger Wasp seems to wear a double identity as well.  Not that it tries to disguise itself, for indeed it does look like a lethal weapon with that long, narrow waist and a powerful stinger poised at the tip of the abdomen ready to do damage.  But at least from a human perspective, it is quite benign, and seldom is aggressive, unlike some other members of its family.  In fact, it lives its adult life feeding on sap and nectar which helps pollinize flowers.

But there is another darker side to the life of the Great Golden Digger Wasp.  The female may build half a dozen nests by burrowing into the ground.  These vertical shafts may contain a number of secondary tunnels into which she will place other insects such as crickets and grass- hoppers.  Her prey has been paralyzed from the toxins in her sting and upon this anesthetized prey she will lay a single egg.  When the egg hatches, it will consume the entire living victim, including its hard exoskeleton. 

Notice how Ezekiel points out the hypocrisy of such duplicity.  “My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.”  (Ezekiel 33:31 NIV)  Lord, keep us from fooling ourselves, from being two-faced.

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Teach Me Your Paths
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 14, 2013

This path is part of the Raven Trail which is a walk along the Salmon Arm of Shuswap Lake (the lake has four "arms" and sort of looks like an X) in British Columbia.  This is an easy trail and is very scenic. 

There was a side trail that went along a boardwalk over an active beaver dam.  The dam was about three feet higher than the surrounding marshy area next to the lake and there were recently felled trees that were the work of the beaver(s) in the area. 

Farther along, there was a big conifer with an eagle's nest close to the trunk toward the top of the tree and there was a bald eagle sitting out on one of the limbs. 

Views towards the lakeshore revealed great blue herons, ducks and shore birds.  We didn't see the three white pelicans that we had seen the day before from the city dock

I had found this trail by looking online at local hikes and trails in the Salmon Arm (Salmon Arm is also a town) area.  This walk was highly recommended and quite popular with locals and visitors alike. 

Of course, in real life, we have lots of different "paths" we can take.   Choosing the right one(s) should be a matter of prayer.

"Show me your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths."  Psalm 25:4  (NIV)

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View Through a Window
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 13, 2013

The view from our cabin at Viki Fjordcamping (Hoyheimsvik, Norway) looked to a tumbling waterfall across the fjord. The amount of water varied with the time of day, sometimes creating beautiful rainbows. Being there at the end of June, we could see snow from winter on the higher elevation. I wondered what the view through the window would be like during the harsh, cold winter. It must be beautiful with a heavy blanket of snow all around!

What is your view of God? How would you describe Him? You might say holy, loving, powerful, righteous and just. Did you know that our lives are influenced by our view of God – our words, attitudes, opinions and actions? God wants us to know Him, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3 May God give us a window into His majesty. He wants us to know Him and He wants to know us!

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Stairway to Heaven
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 12, 2013

A couple of Sundays ago, on our way back from a church retreat, Shelley and I paid a visit to the town of La Conner, Washington. It’s a cozy little village, containing shops and restaurants designed to attract tourists year-round, and especially to the annual tulip festival.

The above photo is taking from the street which has most of the shops on it. In busy seasons, I will drop Shelley off somewhere on this street, and then drive around to a higher street, in the area you see at the top of the photo. Often I have descended this staircase back to the main street again.

As you see, renovation is underway. The old staircase was uneven, and as you came down you had to grip the handrail tightly and watch your step, especially on rainy days.

As I snapped this photo, I thought about our “stairway to heaven.” You and I could never have even had a hope of climbing up there unless Jesus had first descended. And in the case of the the literal stairway in the photo, it’s not the tourists who construct the stairway, but the city. And it's Jesus who has built our stairway to heaven.

For a thorough review of what Jesus has done for us, click the link immediately below:

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The Trees and the Rolls
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 11, 2013

I have a feeling that the photo above is going to just add to the stereotype of Bellevue (WA) being a city “rich and increased with goods, and having need of nothing.”

Actually, what you see above is one of those moments which comes with surprising frequency to people who carry cameras on their hips, and who—in this case—happen to be in the right place at the right moment.

This past Tuesday I was driving away from our church, south on 140th Avenue. And there they were, the blazing trees with their fall coat of red, glowing gloriously in the late afternoon sun. (This photo doesn’t do justice to their true glow.)

This was too good to pass up, so I turned off, parked in a place where technically you aren’t supposed to (but I put my blinkers on, which I hoped would send a “Sorry, I’ll just be a minute” signal), and hurried to within sight of the trees above. I snapped one shot, then adjusted the camera position and snapped the shot you see above. Just before I clicked the shutter, I was amazed to see that a vintage white Rolls Royce had glided into the frame.

Want a closer look at it?

I’m no expert on Rolls Royces—and no, I do not see them motoring through Bellevue’s streets all the time. (However, if you go north of our church about 20 blocks, then turn left and go a two or three more blocks, you will indeed see a Rolls Royce dealership! There, if you have between $300,000 and  $400,000 spare cash, you can buy a brand-new one.)

But as that beautiful car hummed toward me past those dazzling trees, I thought of Jesus’ parable about God’s care for us. (When you get to the “even Solomon in all his glory” phrase, substitute “even a Rolls Royce in all its magnificence.”)

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? Luke 12:22 – 28 NKJV

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Staying Close to God's Power
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, October 10, 2013

Here is a high-voltage way to demonstrate a Bible truth!  Ben Roy from 3ABN came to our Pathfinder Camporee to talk about science and God.  In this picture he has a Tesla coil that sends high-voltage (but low current) energy into the air. When fluorescent bulbs are held nearby, they glow from the energy. Naturally, when they get far enough away, they quit glowing.

Ben Roy used this illustration to explain it is the same way with God. As we stay close to God through prayer and reading his words, it infuses us with energy help others and share the light. When we get distracted by things of the world and move away from him, we lose that energy.

It is kind of neat to think of staying close to God as something like violet colored sparks infusing us with power!

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The Heavens
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Driving through the Nevada countryside, peering up (as I was the passenger) I saw this massive cloud, with the sun breaking around the edges.  It was beautiful.  It reminded me of the incredible God that peers down from Heaven watching, guiding and protecting us.
Isaiah 45:8
“Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the LORD, have created it.”
Look to the heavens and see our Creator.

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Black Oystercatcher                
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

For most of us the genealogies found in the first chapter of Matthew and the third chapter of Luke make up the most boring part of the New Testament.  You can only read “begat” so many times before your eyes start to cross.  On top of that, you’ve never heard of many of the names mentioned there.  Who was Melchi anyway?  In spite of that, we must acknowledge they must be there for some reason; after all, they are part of Scripture.

I think the answer has to do with connectedness, and we’ll use the Black Oystercatcher to illustrate that.  For those of you who follow this type of thing, you may recognize this species as a large shorebird which occupies the intertidal zone along the shores, reaching from the Western Aleutian Islands, south to Baja California.  Those more inclined to spend their time looking in books for information rather than nature itself may find the following chart helpful.

Domain         Eukarya
Kingdom       Animalia
Phylum         Chordata
Subphylum   Vertebrate
Class            Aves
Subclass       Neornithes
Superorder   Neognathae
Order           Charadriiformes
Suborder      Charadrii
Family          Haematopodidae
Genus          Haematopus
Species        bachmani
COMMON NAME: Black Oystercatcher

For the rest of us, the name Neognathae has about as much meaning as the name Melchi, but for others, it helps them see relationships, the connectedness we spoke about earlier.  There are some who find it carries meaning to discover who their Great, Great, Great Great…Grandfather was.  Why is that?  Perhaps it’s because it helps them recognize they too are a part of history.  They didn’t just happen to come along but are in some way connected to the past.  It amazes me that Luke can trace Jesus’ linage directly back to Adam, and ultimately back to God.  But isn’t that the way it should be, to see the Son’s connectedness to the Father.

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Above the Clouds
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 7, 2013

This a scene from a southbound stop along British Columbia's Coquihalla (Highway 5).  As you can see, the road is higher than some of the clouds at this point. 

I think we sometimes take our wet weather for granted but we need to step back and reflect on the Provider of this life sustaining water. 

Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
    he supplies the earth with rain
    and makes grass grow on the hills.
Psalm 147:7-8 (NIV)

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 6, 2013

Last week I shared a couple of photos taken on the world's steepest railway without cable, the Flamsbana Railway between Flam and Myrdal, Norway. The train stops at the Kjosfossen, a spectacular waterfall, so travelers can get out (get wet) and take photos. Falling 738 feet, this tumbling waterfall sprays water on everyone and everything around!

Did you notice the woman in the lower right-hand corner of the picture? Here's a closer view of her:

Performers from a Norwegian ballet school dress as Huldra, a legendary seductive forest creature in Scandinavian folklore, dance and sing in front of the waterfall. Associated with early Christianity in Scandinavia, their legend says that Eve washed only half of her children when God came to her cottage; ashamed of the dirty ones, she hid them. God decreed that the hidden ones would be hidden from mankind and therefore became the huldrer people.

While I'm not promoting this legend, the Bible does record many instances of people being seduced or deceived starting with the serpent deceiving Eve (Genesis 3). Lot's daughters deceived Lot in order to have children (Genesis 19). Moses was brought up as being the child of Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus 2). Joseph's brother's deceived their father in saying a wild animal had killed Joseph (Genesis 37) and Joseph deceived them when they came to him for food during the famine (Genesis 42-45). Genesis 39 tells the story of Potiphar's wife trying to seduce Joseph. Using her power of seduction and deception, Delilah got Samson to divulge the information she wanted (Judges 16). Then there's the story of David (2 Samuel 11 and 12) and Bathsheba as another example of temptation and seduction. And this is just at the beginning of the Bible!

Have you, like me, wondered why some of these stories are recorded in the Bible?  Maybe they are a warning for us to beware and don't become deceived.

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Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 5, 2013

Back in late September I put the following message on our church reader board:

A few days ago, when I went out to change the message, I saw a spiky-legged bug crawing at the base of the word “FEAR.” Even though the bug is probably not only harmless but good for the surrounding ecosystem, I felt a tingle of fear as I watched it picking its way among the green mold.

There’s a lot to be afraid of these days, isn’t there? Right now, as I’m writing this, it’s 12:39 noon on Thursday. Word broke in on the news that there was a shooting in the vicinity of the US capitol building, and I haven’t heard what it was about. (Later, of course, we learned that a mentally disturbed woman had rammed several barricades near Congress and the White House.)

One reason we’re holding our Rethink Prophecy seminar is to introduce solid Bible facts, and clear Bible prophecies, about what will really happen--and thus lessen our fear.  You’re invited to attend! Click the following link for details.

for a two-screen Bible study on fear, click the link below.

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Mystery Sticker
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 4, 2013

Okay, time for a little discipline, especially if you like visual puzzles. Don’t read any further, but keep your eyes on the photo above. Can you see any meaning in it?

At first glance – at least to me – the design looks like a little row of thin black skyscrapers. Or maybe that third black thing is an off-kilter "A." But suddenly, as your eyes adjust, a number pops out. Do you see it? It turns out to be four “1’s” and a colon—11:11.

I snapped that photo this past Wednesday in front of an office supply store. At first I couldn’t understand the significance of 11:11. If it’d been 9/11, it would’ve had meaning for me and many others.

But then I went online and simply typed in 11:11, and discovered that some people have evidently placed a significance on that particular time of day. One website suggested that if you make a wish at exactly 11:11, that wish comes true. Other websites – at least from their promo paragraphs on Google – indicated other superstitions about the number.

As you can probably imagine, a pastor who’s been in the ministry as long as I have rolls his eyes at this kind of thing. I am constantly having to lift up my sagging jaw as I contemplate how easy it is for some people to get lured down such foolish but fascinating rabbit-trails.

What’s so sad is that these obsessions can have dreadful results if they are used in certain ways. That’s why I’m looking forward to presenting our “Rethink Prophecy” seminar, which starts this Friday evening, October 4, at 7:00 p.m. (not 11:11) because even devout Christians who would chuckle dismissively at the 11:11 phenomenon can sometimes be fooled into believing that a certain interpretation of a Bible prophecy is true when it actually may emerge from tradition and even superstition rather than from a carefully-interpreted line of Bible texts.

Anyway, that’s one of the reasons we are offering “Rethink Prophecy.” Please attend if you are in the area. To see the complete handbill, click here.

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Phantom Ship
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, October 3, 2013

Crater Lake in Oregon has many fascinating landforms in and around its massive caldera. One of these landforms is a little island called Phantom Ship. From the right angle, its rock pillars look like the masts of an old sailing ship. It is a natural rock formation about 170 feet tall, and according to, "... is a remaining section of the filled conduit of a fissure from which probably poured many of the lower layers of lava constituting Dutton Cliff." Even though it's almost completely rock, some trees still manage to grow on it.

Sometimes we might feel all alone like a ship out at sea. But God promises that He will never leave us.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isaiah 41:10 NIV

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Knock, Knock
Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Doors keep things in, and doors keep things out.  This particular door can be found can be found on a side street in Florence, Italy.  With the gigantic door-knocker attached, it caught my eye, while strolling down the side streets.  Big face, with a big ring in his mouth.  If you rap this a few times, I am pretty certain the occupants would know they have a visitor.

In the book of Revelation, we can read about the church of the Laodiceans, and the fact that they are lukewarm – not hot, nor cold, but lukewarm.  As we have read before, God wants us to be hot or cold – we have to choose a side.  What He doesn’t appreciate is choosing the middle ground.  God comes to the door, He knocks and waits for the answer.  He is hoping for us to come to the door and ultimately let Him in.  Chapter 3, verse 20 & 21, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  The rewards of answering that door, are remarkable.

Our action items?  First, we need to listen for the knock at the door.  Second, when we hear the knock, we need to let God in.  Not much effort on our part – listen and let Him in.

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Felling a Tree

Photo and Commentary ©2013 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Our ideas of permanence and stability are often brought into question, not only by inspired words but by our own experience as well.  Carolyn and I had a large spruce tree which had occupied our back yard years before we moved into the area.  It was undoubtedly planted by someone who envisioned its widespread limbs offering shade and texture to the suburban setting.  And that’s exactly what it did for many years, only now its size had increased until it dominated the area necessitating its removal. I hated to see it go, but once the decision was made, the process was quite interesting.  Five men worked together to remove the limbs, climb to the top, and then piece by piece, remove the trunk.  The base of the trunk was close to 36 inches in diameter so this was no small task.  Even after the felling was accomplished, another individual worked nearly two hours to grind out the stump. 

It’s no wonder that Isaiah used this terminology to describe God’s act of removing powers that in His wisdom He recognized as being too strong or too corrupt.  “See, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will lop off the boughs with great power.  The lofty trees will be felled, that tall ones will be brought low.”  (Isaiah 10:33 NIV)  Our human bias tends to equate strength with correctness, as if our power somehow vindicates our policies. But God is not impressed with our might and He certainly can see through our thinly disguised plans.  Politicians may view a landslide victory as a mandate to carry out their plans, but God’s ways are not those of man.  

While we should take seriously our responsibility to act wisely in the democratic process, we must never be so presumptuous as to assume we have a monopoly on understanding.  If we should ever doubt this, just check out what Nebuchadnezzar had to say about the timber industry.  His eventual understanding might be of benefit to us as well.


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