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

The Earth is the Lord's
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 31, 2016

I recently went on a trip to Portland, Oregon, to meet up with some friends.  They were visiting the area for the first time so we decided to go and see the Columbia River Gorge and do the Mt. Hood Loop.   Although it didn't rain, it stayed overcast all day but we were still able to get some great views looking upriver (pictured) toward Crown Point and were able to see some of the beautiful waterfalls in the Gorge and the fall colors of the big leaf maples and western larch.  

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2 (NIV)

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A Different View
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 30, 2016

Watching baboons as they cared for their young and scampered up trees in the wild in southern Africa was a fun experience. They curiously watched us as they kept their distance.  At times, they would climb trees to have a different view of us.

Traveling to various countries and learning about the people, their culture, way of living and food is a learning experience I enjoy. As we know, people often view things differently from one another.  In fact, it’s thought that bringing different points of view to problem-solving results in a better outcome.  Think of the current political campaigns where different views are presented for seeking the office of president. What a difference!  Seeing how other people view a topic can enrich our perspective and attitude on a subject.  Being aware of various perspectives and their influence on cultures and views can lead to understanding and respect. Here at our church, we have different Sabbath School classes, each with their own focus on studying the topic of the week.  People choose what class they want to attend, during which different views of the same subject are presented and discussed.

A reason why we have so many denominations today is that people interpret the scriptures differently.  What view should a person take? By viewing this website, you probably have an interest in Seventh-day Adventist Christians and their beliefs.  Some of you are church members.  We believe that God created the world and rested on the seventh day, that His Son, Jesus came to earth to be our redeemer and savior and that the Holy Spirit is present with us until God’s return to earth.  For more on beliefs of Adventists, go to  

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Trusting Companion
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 29, 2016

Shelley’s and my trip to Forks, Washington a few weeks back has yielded a bigger-than-usual share of Daily Photo Parable pictures. Above you see the most endearing one—a motorcyclist with his faithful dog riding in the sidecar. I wildly regret not getting a side- or front-view photo of the dog, who was wearing black rubber goggles to protect his eyes (If you look closely between the dog’s ears, you’ll see a little furrow of fur which is where the goggles’ strap goes). Here’s a zoomed-in segment so you can get the idea:

Shelley and I were delighted, a few minutes later, to see the vehicle parked outside Forks Thriftway, complete with patient dog.

Before heading inside the store (no doubt for a bag of tasty dog food among other necessaries), the owner had thoughtfully removed the goggles so that the dog could gaze around at the sights.

As you can see, the animal seems content, though it looks as though its leash is securely fastened just in case. But it’s not struggling, not straining at its collar, not barking, not trying to lunge after cars passing by. It trusts its owner, and knows that he will shortly return with good things, and that they finally will reach home.

And I have a feeling that I do not need to explain this parable to you.

Want to read some of what the Bible says about trust in God? Click the link immediately below.

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Instructions . . . .
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 28, 2016

Earlier this week, on one of my periodic swoops into a thrift shop to check out the used books, I spotted the compact little volume in the photo above.

As you can see by the title, it’s a military issue instructional guide for American soldiers who would be interacting with a culture they weren’t familiar with. There were several such guides published, and they served to minimize misunderstandings which might arise in tense situations.

Here’s an example of the comic-book formatted pages:

I’m not sure how much of the lettering you can read, but on this one two-page spread alone the GI would find Australian military history, a profile of one of its heroic commanders, and a warning not to mistake an Aussie soldier’s hat emblem for the Japanese “Rising Sun.”

My favorite of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is the one that says “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” The Bible echoes that concept: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath . . . .” James 1:19 [NKJV]

One of the Bible’s pleasant surprises, if you settle down and spend some time with it, is the amazing way it lets you look into the cultures of centuries past and discover that human nature (the good and the bad) hasn’t changed a bit.

Next time you read the Bible, try reading only the stories. You’ll be encouraged by how well the Lord knows us, and how ready He is to adapt to our cultural understanding without compromising His laws.

To read seven Bible verses about wisdom, click the link immediately below:

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Firmly Established
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Some things remind us to be still and not to worry.  Mountains have a sense of wonder and power that can lead our minds to God.  I have heard people talk about healing in the mountains that they don't seem to feel in cities and crowds.  The healing probably comes from good old exercise in climbing the hills and getting clean fresh air.  For campers, healing might come from getting extra rest with no electricity to run computers and TV.  This view of Mount Rainier also shows rugged hills surrounding the mountain that no one has tamed except for a few trails.

Psalm 96 says:

Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
    The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.

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Full Immersion
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
A few weeks back, we had two baptisms at our church – a father and son. What a joyous sight to see. Two individuals giving their lives to their Creator. I’m sure, if you’ve been baptized you remember the day very well. If you haven’t been, and want to give your life to God, get in contact with our pastor, or another pastor – start the discussions.
When I think of our church's act of baptism, it’s not a sprinkle of water, or pouring of water - it’s a full immersion. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you have to stand under the heavy flow of Snoqualmie Falls to be "fully immersed." What I do want to point out is that the full immersion we believe in allows us to wash off all the sin – head to toe. Of course we’ll still see sin and be exposed to it, but for that moment (under the water) you give complete control to God.
The next time you hear the rushing sound of a river, the thunderous pouring of the Snoqualmie Falls or just the gentle drops of rain – remember the day you committed your life to God. God does.

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Painted Redstart             
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Have you ever driven past a home, or at least what used to be someone’s home, and wondered why they chose to build in that particular location?  The building may be all that remains of someone’s effort to scratch a living out of the hard ground, and all that now remains is testimony to the harshness of that task.  On the other hand, the structure may be an impressive edifice which indicates the affluence of the homeowner.  But with all the options available to someone so well healed, you wonder why such an undesirable, to you at least, location was selected.  Write it off to individuality, personal choice, or the fact that the owner may have been slightly eccentric.

We too may wonder why the Painted Redstart would elect to build its nest high in arid mountain canyons among rocks and roots of a steeply sloping embankment.  Other options are of course available, such as a limb of the flowering cherry in my own backyard.  But this colorful warbler has selected otherwise and frequently raises a second brood to confirm the wisdom of its choice.  Maybe this habitat is inscribed in its DNA.  Maybe we live where we do because that’s what our parents thought was desirable and unconsciously passed that idea on to us.

But a change is long overdue, and we need to be ready for it.  After all, Christ Himself stated, “I am making everything new!”  (Revelation 21:5 NIV)  And that includes a new home.  Not an ethereal, cloud-like home, but one that’s real and reflects the colors of sapphires, chalcedony, and carnelian from nearby stones.  One that lets me know there is nowhere else I’d rather be. But knowing the heart of the One who made this promise, it wouldn’t surprise me if He placed a flowering cherry in my backyard, and maybe even a redstart who felt at home there too.    

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Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 24, 2016

One of my favorite places to go is Point Lobos which is just south of Carmel in Central California.  It's been called, "The greatest meeting of land and water in the world."  You can hear sea lions barking and see magnificent ocean views, many varieties of birds, sea otters, deer, harbor seals, whale spouts and beautiful wildflowers. You can smell the salty sea air and touch the sand and the water. It's an amazing place and you would be hard pressed to come up with a credible way so much variety could have come to being without a Creator.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.
Psalm 33:6-9 (NKJV)

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Wearing a Crown
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 23, 2016

Some birds are adorned with crowns, as you can see in this image. These Gray Crowned Cranes are the national symbol of Uganda. Their crowns are made up of stiff golden feathers.  The birds stand between three and four feet tall with a wingspan of around 6 ½ feet. Pairing for life, they are famous for their spectacular dancing courtship which includes bobbing, flapping wings, leaps, bows and swinging in circles around each other.

Have you ever worn a crown?   Crowns are traditional headwear usually reserved for royalty, representing power, honor and glory. Crowns often contain precious jewels.  A crown of thorns, symbolizing martyrdom, was placed on the head of Jesus before His crucifixion.  Toward the end of his life, Paul wrote to Timothy. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”.  (2 Timothy 4:7, 8)  Jesus has made a crown of righteousness available for you and me. Thank you, Jesus!

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Twilight Menu
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 22, 2016

A few weeks back, during a little mini-getaway to the town of Forks, near Washington’s coast, Shelley and I stopped in the restaurant whose window you see above.

This eatery offered such comestibles as pizza and sandwiches, but—in deference to the town’s now worldwide fame as the supposed setting for a popular teen-vampire series of books and movies—it hastened to assure customers that it also offered a “Twilight Menu,” suitable for Bella and Edward and Jacob and the rest of the characters. (The red pickup is another tie to the story—Bella drove one.)

For a couple of centuries or more, thoughtful Bible students have understood that the human race is living in the twilight of Earth’s history. Many Bible prophecies—including specific time prophecies—say that the world will come to an end. 172 years ago a Baptist preacher named William Miller calculated that Jesus would return in 1843 or 1844, and eventually his followers fixed on the date of October 22, 1844.

The Second Coming didn’t happen, of course, but a number of denominations sprung from those disappointed followers, and the Seventh-day Adventist church was one of them. They understood that even though those “Millerites” had been mistaken about the event, the date still stood—and still signaled the “beginning of the end.”

So if this is indeed earth’s “twilight,” what should our menu look like? Sure, our spiritual menu should consist of Bible study and prayer and worshiping with other believers, and sharing what we’re learning about God and His plans?

But what about our physical menu—what we literally eat and drink? You might be surprised at how important this is to God. Check out the following intriguing link, which takes you to many clear Bible passages about this topic.

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Your Life--Hungry
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 21, 2016

A couple of weeks back, I took my 1999 Honda to my favorite car repair shop in North Seattle for routine maintenance. Since the shop doesn’t have a waiting room, I hopped the bus and rode down to the University of Washington area.

About five blocks from the campus I noticed this graffiti sketch on what must be some kind of electrical utility box. Like most graffiti I’ve seen, this one has an ambiguous meaning. I’m assuming that its title addresses the viewer, but it’s not clear which viewer—the homeless and literally famished, or humankind in general?

For more than thirty years I’ve been looking at life through a pastor’s glasses, and I’ve seen a lot of spiritual hunger—in myself as well as others. It’s been called a “God-shaped vaccum” which exists in every human soul. An imperfect and thoroughly human analogy might be the desire adopted children sometimes feel to get acquainted with their real parents. If it’s true that human children long for love and connection with human parents, the need to know our Creator must be even stronger, even though we might not understand it’s what we’re feeling.

It’s okay to feel spiritually hungry. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pronounced us “happy” or “blessed” if we feel it. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” He said in Matthew 5:6 [NKJV] “for they shall be filled.”

How do you fill your spiritual hunger? One way is to go to Matthew 5, read through the Sermon on the Mount, and just keep on reading. Pray to experience more of the hunger Jesus called “happy.”

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Pure Heart
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, October 20, 2016

The science behind the blue color in a lake is interesting, but it is the effect and emotion it creates in us that stops us in our tracks.  It turns out the purity and depth of the water determines how blue the lake appears.  In this picture of Summit Lake near Mount Rainier, the blue does not just reflect the sky, it also emanates from deep in the water.  The emanation comes from the water refracting blue light more than the other colors.  The cleaner the water, the more refraction because the light penetrates farther.  Another good example, Crater Lake in Oregon, is one of the bluest lakes in the world because it is very clean and deep.

I like this angle of Summit Lake because it looks like a heart.  Psalm 51:10 says, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."  When we value things that are true, good, and pure, the love of Jesus shines through us.  We are not perfect, but the light from Jesus is perfect.  Let's strive to be deep and pure through God's strength to emanate this light.

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It’s Just a Rock
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Well, in this particular case – if you didn’t already figure it out--this might be some sort of “special” rock (with the rope fence around it). It does have some significance. It’s found in Wiltshire, England, approximately 95 miles east of London. Any guesses? Yep, it’s part of Stonehenge.  If you know much of this particular group of stones, there are a lot of mystery and stories that go along with them (which I won’t be getting into). If you find yourself in the London area, it’s a unique visit.  Funny enough, while doing a little research, I found out that in our very own state, in Goldendale, Washington, there is a full-size replica of Stonehenge. This might be a closer trip.
Regardless if you get there or not, you can read all about the “powers” these rocks had/have. According to Wikipedia, archeologists believe Stonehenge was constructed from 3000 to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. So, these are old rocks. There is lots of folklore that has been written and shared about these chunks of Bluestone.
If we take a look at 1 Samuel, chapter 2, we see what Hannah has to say about rocks – and one in particular:

“My heart rejoices in the LORD;
    in the LORD my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
    for I delight in your deliverance.
“There is no one holy like the LORD;
    there is no one besides you;
    there is no Rock like our God.”
You see, when it comes to rocks, there really is only ONE that we should be looking at, reading about and putting our faith in. In this case, it’s not just a rock. It’s the only true ROCK – God our Father.

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Oak Titmouse
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Titmice belong to the same family as chickadees and frequently follow similar behavior.  Both eat seeds, berries, nuts, and insects and will frequently hang from branches to obtain their desired foot item.  Even if they obtain their food on the ground, they will return to an elevated perch to consume their find.  Frequently that means holding a large seed between their feet and hammering it until it releases its treasure.  While they share many similar characteristics and habits, each species has its own distinctive habitat.  The Oak Titmouse prefers dry oak and pine-oak woodlands found in lower elevations from Southern Oregon through California.

Just as with humans, the rest of nature often is impacted by variables over which they have no influence or control.  The Sudden Oak Death fungal disease ended up destroying thousands of oaks in California resulting in the loss of much desirable habitat formerly inhabited by this species.  A possible side benefit to the birds is this may increase the availability of nesting cavities in the dead trees.  But man has stepped in, and in an effort to prevent the spread of the oak pathogen, has removed many of the dead and infected trees.  Simple answers seldom produce lasting satisfactory results.

Long before the word “ecology” entered into most of our vocabularies, the Lord gave directions which would help us find the proper balance between too much and too little involvement.  Notice the common sense approach He gives to the Children of Israel.  “When you are trying to capture a city, do not cut down its fruit trees, even though the siege lasts a long time.  Eat the fruit, but do not destroy the trees; the trees are not your enemies.”  (Deuteronomy 20:19  Good News Bible)  While we might complain our problems are much more complex today, and they may be, it’s likely the Children of Israel were able to find good reasons for rationalizing away God’s directives back then too.

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Stormy Weather
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 17, 2016

It's raining again.  That's not unusual at this time of year because it is the season for it.  It's also autumn and we have been seeing the leaves turn color and quite a few have fallen already.  I'm sure the expected (as I write this) wind storm will leave us with more leaves on the ground than on the trees.  I expect some trees will also fall over when the wind hits their remaining leaves and the soggy ground gives no traction to their roots.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

What we need to remember when we are hit by the storms of life is that there is Someone who controls the wind and the waves.

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The Sound of Drums
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Friday through Sunday, October 14-16, 2016

The sound of drums welcomed us as we initially reached each safari camp and when we returned after an animal-watching expedition.  Drums of various sizes were being used as can be seen in this next image.

When we visited a local school (below), drums welcomed us.  We didn’t see any women drumming.  But then, most of the camp staff were men.

In worship service at my own church, we usually hear the sound of the organ, piano or guitars.  Drums, however, are a common instrument at some other churches. Drums were used in early biblical worship traditions.  According to Bible scholars, the word tambourine or timbrel actually means drums. At that time, women often played them. Exodus 15:20 says that Miriam took a timbrel and all the women took their timbrels, followed her and danced.  Timbrels, hand-held instruments made with a hoop of wood or metal with parchment stretched over the hoop kept the tempo or beat. David urged the Israelites to worship God by saying, “Let them praise his name in the dance; let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.” Psalms 149:3

People from various cultures around the world are used to different types of music along with various instruments.   Do you think God welcomes praise whether is comes from an organ, a piano or a drum?

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Photo and Commentary (c)2016 by Russell Jurgensen
October 13, 2016

In this picture of the Green River the salmon are not visible, but there are probably dozens of salmon working their way through the rapids, mostly on the far side where the current is slower.  It is interesting to watch the salmon because they appear to have only one purpose, and that is to swim up the river.

In our busy lives we might sometimes feel like we are in one long dash.  However, God provides ways for us to rest and use our minds to make choices.  One option He provides is the Sabbath.  See Exodus 20:8-11.  Observing the Sabbath might involve going to church, visiting family or neighbors, helping someone in need (following Jesus' example), getting outside, etc.  Generally the Sabbath involves things that avoid our mad dash upstream, and allow us to turn our thoughts to more noble things.  With renewed minds, we are more able to tackle the everyday problems we face.

So take advantage of the things the Sabbath offers and see how it it benefits you and the people around you.

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A Promising Rainbow
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Well, not the usual kind of rainbow, but colorful nonetheless. As we know, the rainbow was created by God to give the promise to Noah and his family – He’d never destroy the world with a flood again. What a nice way of promising. A beautiful, colorful display of His creation.
This particular image was taken at the Tulip Festival in the Skagit Valley, a few months back. Rows and rows of bright, colorful creations – lined up like a rainbow.
We know the story of the rainbow, God giving Noah, his family and the rest of the planet, the promise to never flood the Earth again. It’s funny to think about -- God promising US something. As a sinful race, we don’t deserve anything, but God has chosen to stick with us and along the way He’s willing to give promises. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate them very much and will take every “break” and promise God is willing to give.
Whether you see a real rainbow, or something that resembles one – remember God’s incredible gifts of promise and grace.

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Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Some call them whirlibirds or whirligigs while in Northern England they are referred to as spinning jennies.  But if we were to ask a botanist, he would refer to them as samaras.  To be more precise, a samara is a winged achene, a fruit which has flattened wings which allows it to helicopter down to the ground after releasing from the tree.  Such an arrangement enables the seed to be carried farther from the parent tree, dispersing it where abundant sun and rain are more available.  Elms are a good example of trees which have their seeds at the center of the wings, while the maple shown here has the wing on one side in a paired arrangement.  This will cause the seeds to automatically rotate as they fall, a fact not lost on children who in fall enjoy tossing them into the air to watch them twirl to the ground.
If you’re looking for a more inclusive definition of samara, the name could also be used for the sixth largest city in Russia or for a recreational beach in Costa Rica.  But for our purposes, let’s go back to the first definition, a biological arrangement which encourages dispersal or a spreading out of life found in a seed.

And isn’t that just the purpose of evangelism, to share or spread out the Good News of what Christ has done?  The Jews were promised that if they would maintain their connection with God, others would be drawn to Him.   “Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the LORD Almighty and to pray for his blessing.   In those days ten foreigners will come to one Jew and say, ‘We want to share in your destiny, because we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:22-23  GNT)   Unfortunately, they failed to do so, but that same torch has been passed down to us as Christians today, to live in such a way that those around us will see how the Lord has blessed us and in turn be drawn to that same Source of blessing.  

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God Worship
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 10, 2016

I saw some amazing dahlias blooming in Volunteer Park a few years ago.  There were quite a few varieties and some very beautiful specimens.

Sometimes we can't always find the beauty out there but we need to remember that God is always there for us.

Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in GOD worship.
Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?
Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.
Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!
God keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.
GOD won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.
Is anyone crying for help? GOD is listening,
ready to rescue you.
If your heart is broken, you’ll find GOD right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.
Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, GOD is there every time.
Psalm 34:11-19 (The Message)

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Stuck in the Mud
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 9, 2016

More than once, one of the two safari jeeps got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out by the other jeep.  Since our camp only had these two vehicles, I wondered what would happen if both of them got stuck at the same time.  Luckily, that didn’t happen!

Have you ever been stuck and needed help in getting out, maybe a flat tire or other car problem? Sometimes people get “stuck” spiritually. They get distracted and God seems distant, if there at all. Someone might say something that hurts you or you see someone in the church hurting another person.  You might feel depressed or useless.

Like our safari jeep got stuck and needed help before reaching its destination, God’s people are on a heavenly destination – heaven.  Hebrews 11 describes people who had faith in getting to a destination.  Noah built an ark to save his household.  Abraham led his people to the Promised Land.  “…we find them longing for a better land – I mean the heavenly one. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he has a city ready for them.” V. 16. NEB

The next time you’re feeling discouraged about something, don’t get stuck and stay there, but remember where you’re headed – heaven!  Do you need to take steps toward your journey with Christ?

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From the Ends of the Earth
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 8, 2016

A couple of weeks ago Shelley and I spent a long weekend on Washington’s coast. The town of Forks is about ten miles inland from the ocean, and in the visitors’ center I discovered the above mind-blowing map displays. Each visitor to the center is invited to take one of the color-headed pins and push it into the map where he or she hails from. As you can see, visitors have swarmed into town literally from all over the world!

You need to keep firmly in mind that Forks is not a large town; the 2010 census gives 3,532 as its population. It has no waterpark, no casino, no Disneyland, no nothin’ (at least when it comes to traditional tourist draws). So why do the multitudes flock there?

You’re probably ‘way ahead of me, if you are in tune at all with popular culture. The answer can be given in one word: Twilight. When author Stephanie Meyer was looking for a setting for her teen-vampire novels, she chose Forks (the story goes) because it is among the wettest areas of the country. And of course the name of the town has just a tinge of the macabre.

Shelley and I have been visiting Forks since the late 1980s, when a fellow pastor invited us to have the church service for the Adventist congregation in town. When the Twilight enthusiasm began to grow (the first book was published in 2005), we would notice tour buses arrive, filled with teen girls, who would pose with life-size cutouts of the fictional Bella and Edward and Jacob in front of the Forks high school, where Bella attended.

Outside the visitor’s center are two red pickups, both claiming to be the kind that Bella would have driven. And inside the center, of course, are these amazing maps, testifying to the worldwide devotion of the fans.

The last few verses of Matthew describe how, when Jesus was about to ascend to heaven, He gathered His disciples around Him and commanded them to go into all the world--to the ends of the earth--and teach and baptize people of all nations. And since then, millions have turned their faces toward the Holy City, New Jerusalem, and pinned their hearts to the hope that one day the Savior will come to take us to the place He has prepared.

Are you ready to travel to that city? Why not scroll down to the end of yesterday’s Daily Photo parable, and follow the steps in the link about salvation.

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Protect Your Head!
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 7, 2016

This past Monday I took my 1999 Honda Civic up to the north Seattle Honda repair shop I’ve been patronizing since the late 1980s. As always, I dropped off the car, hopped a bus, and rode down to the University of Washington area.

Near the campus I noticed a rent-a-bike kiosk, where—in order to rescue the environment from your car’s exhaust fumes—you could swipe your credit card and borrow a bike for awhile.

Next to the kiosk was the container you see above, which supplied bike helmets. Though there’s currently no Washington state law that requires wearing helmets, many cities and counties have this law, and on the container (in print probably too small for you to read) it says, “It’s a legal thing.”

What you might be able to read is the white print below the green “Helmet Return” sign: “Protect your head!”

Protecting your head is an important spiritual matter too. Paul quoted a portion of Isaiah 59:17 when he wrote the following to Timothy (I’ve bolded the part I’m referring to):

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, . . . Ephesians 6:14 – 19 NKJV

When’s the last time you reviewed what salvation means and how to receive it? For a thorough Q&A, with Bible texts providing the answers, click the link immediately below.

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Sharing God's Warmth
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, October 6, 2016

At a recent Pathfinder club campout, we practiced camping skills.  One of the popular activities was cooking at the fire.  In this picture there is an ear of corn wrapped in foil and there are cookies baking in an improvised reflector-oven bucket.

It is tempting to train with modern camping stoves and portable gas powered ovens.  But we want the youth to see how cooking and baking can be done with very basic improvised tools.  I think it helps to teach that things can be done even though you don't have a lot, and creativity can go a long ways.  

It can be like that with witnessing and sharing God's warmth.  We don't have to have a rich house or fancy cars to share kindness and attention with other people.  Let's use our creativity and knowledge as we interact with others to share the love of Jesus.

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God’s In Control
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
In the past, I believe I have referenced the Christian band named Casting Crowns. If you know much about their music, you’ll remember that their leader Mark Hall always has a story behind each one of the songs they write. The song Just Be Held, was an exception. Mark tells the story that he was impressed to write the lyrics and song, but didn’t have a story behind it. He didn’t feel like he had experienced a life situation that was inspiring the story.
Here is the first part of the song:
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
As you can see, the “story” in the song is about attempting to do it all – being strong. And finally, realizing that God is in control – not us. Allowing HIM to hold us. Giving up and letting go of our human instincts of doing it ourselves.
The rest of the story is this – a couple years after writing the lyrics, Mark found himself in this situation as he faced cancer. His battle was successful, and when you hear him tell the story, he recalls feeling that God had a hand in preparing him for what he would need to do – just be held.
The image above was shot at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens. The fragile flower, just like us, needs God. We know God has us. He has hold of us. He is ready to take the burden from us. All we need to do is allow Him.

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Map Turtle
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Try as I might, I have not been able to identify with any degree of certainly the species of this turtle.  I am reasonably confident it should be classified as a Map Turtle, but beyond that, I am uncertain.  Map Turtles, sometimes called Sawback Turtles, live only in the eastern part of the United States and Southern Canada, but this particular individual was found basking in a lake not far from my house in Washington.  This caused me to conclude it must have been at one time kept as a pet, but was then released or escaped into my neighborhood.  They are referred to as map turtles due to the markings on the carapace which resemble, in some obscure way, a map.
It was easy to recognize it as being different from the usual turtle population commonly found enjoying the summer sunshine due to the spiked keel that superficially resembled a dorsal fin.  I narrowed my search down to four possible candidates that are frequently kept as pets.  The first was the Texas Map Turtle; but the females, which are twice as large as the males, reach only five inches in length and mine was much larger than that.   The next consideration was the Northern.  It seemed to qualify size-wise, but had a relatively low keel, and mine was definitely jagged.   Barbour’s made the list based upon its sawback appearance but only the females reached the needed size, and those had conspicuously large heads.  I was left with the False M.T., but it seemed to avoid lakes and its one identifying mark was hidden from view.
I clearly remember studying different philosophers and their understanding of life.  The first seemed to offer real insight and discernment, but I found myself confused as I read the second, whose interpretation was in exact contradiction of the first.  And yet, he made sense too.  And it continued like that, with each one offering believable explanations.  It wasn’t until much later that the pieces started to sort themselves out.  Scripture cautions us against being deceived by such.  “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.”  (2 Peter 2:1 NIV)  With time and effort, I suspect I will be able to distinguish the false from the true; both in turtles, and that which is much more important.

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Living Water
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 3, 2016

This photo is of the North Fork Sauk Falls.   It's a 45' waterfall which is just off the Mountain Loop Highway.  There is a short trail down from the pullout at the trail head and you are greeted with this fantastic view.  I was there at the end of August so it was definitely not at it's peak and I'm looking forward to going back to see it when it is in full flow.

We are blessed here in the Pacific Northwest to have year round access to plenty of water.  That is not the case in other parts of the country and in many parts of the world.  I like visiting a desert just after it rains and wildflowers are blooming in perfusion, otherwise, I prefer being around bodies of water.

I like the story about Jesus and the Samaritan woman when he asked her for a drink of water.  There are so many layers to the story.  She asks Him why he would ask her for water and He tells her that she should be asking Him for water.  She, of course, is talking about physical water and He is talking about spiritual water.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

 John 4: 7-15 (NIV)

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Being Useful
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 2, 2016

This Kigelia Africana or sausage tree we saw in Zambia looked very strange with sausage-shaped fruit hanging from the branches.  Bright red flowers previously adorned this tree, but now have turned to fruit which can grow to over a yard in length.  Being this large and hard, the pods or sausages can weigh up to around 22 pounds.  We were warned to not walk under this tree!  In addition to herbal medicinal and other uses, the timber of the Kigelia tree is used to make makoros, a type of canoe often used in the Okavango Delta. Villagers value this tree because it is very useful.

How can we be useful or of service to God?  If we look to Jesus, He has told us about the greatest commandment. In Mathew 22:37-39. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  His final instruction before ascending to heaven was, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”  Mathew 28:19-20  How are you with carrying out His directives in being useful or of service to God?

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God’s Second Book
Photo and Commentary ©2016 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 1, 2016

Last weekend Shelley and I went on a mini-getaway to the little town of Forks, near Washington’s coast. Just behind the visitor’s center is a forest trail, and Shelley was surprised to discover this tiny “free library.” I’d seen a similar box on a street in another town on this same trip.

There are no check-out cards in these little libraries. You simply walk up, open the door, select a book, and walk away with it. You’re encouraged to bring it back, but if you don’t, that’s okay. And you’re encouraged to bring books of your own that you don’t need any more, so others can read them.

I wonder how many people who approach this little box and forage in it for reading matter are aware that outside that box and all around them is what has been called “God’s second book”—the book of nature. Even in the midst of his agonies, old Job understood this:

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you;
And the fish of the sea will explain to you.
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?”  -- Job 12:7 – 10 NKJV

If you check in regularly to this Daily Photo Parable, you’ll have discovered that many of our bloggers draw their parables from God’s second book. As I’ve read their entries, I’ve found my own faith strengthened.

Want to read four Bible texts about nature? Click the link immediately below:

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