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

Daily Photo Parable

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


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







Light
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

We live in a sinful world and it's filled with darkness. The sin, at times, feels like it takes over everything, but that's not the case. Light does conquer this dark and as we see in the gospel of John, good things happen in the light.

John 3:18-21: "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

The image above is of a beautiful sunrise over Lake McDonald, in Glacier National Park, Montana. The sun rises over the mountain and bathes the lake in amazing light.

When we see our world filled with darkness, know that we have the Truth and that Truth is Light! Let's make sure we always are seeking the light. Let God shine on us at all times.


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White-breasted Nuthatch           
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

There are certain life patterns which help us to recognize birds without ever getting a clear look at their plumage.  A small bird which begins towards the top of a tree and progressively works its way down the trunk in a jerky, head-first fashion, is without doubt one of the nuthatches.  The largest of our four native species is the White-breasted Nuthatch which is frequently found in deciduous trees across America as well as visiting our backyard feeders.   Their head down method of feeding carries over into sleep patterns as it will hang head-downwards within a nesting cavity to sleep.
 
One behavior which is not so frequently observed is its habit of using a piece of fur or vegetation which it will wipe around the nest opening before leaving to cover up their scent.  They will also use insects which contain a strong toxic smelling substance for the same purpose.  While this behavior has been observed, it is only human guesswork that assigns the purpose to such behavior.  Without this rational guess, the bird’s actions would seem only ritualistic and outside the realm of reasonable behavior.  
 
But as humans, we too follow life patterns that may to others seem irrational.  Our rituals to outsiders who do not understand our belief system may seem foolish and without purpose.  But to those who understand their symbolism, such actions add richness to our lives that would be empty without them.  Mathematician/philosopher Blaise Pascal summarized our predicament this way:  “It is superstitious to put one’s hopes in formalities, but arrogant to refuse to submit to them.”   Ritual without meaning is shallow; life without rituals is even shallower.


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The Door
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, September 28, 2015

I saw these doors this past summer.  They were beside a visitor's center in a small Western Canadian town; I don't remember which one!  

These doors obviously don't go anywhere but Jesus tells us about a door that does:

Ask, and God will give to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will open for you. Yes, everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And everyone who knocks will have the door opened.  Matthew 7:7-8 (NCV)

In John, we hear about the Good Shepherd:

So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the door for the sheep. All the people who came before me were thieves and robbers. The sheep did not listen to them. I am the door, and the person who enters through me will be saved and will be able to come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life—life in all its fullness.  John 10: 7-10 NCV

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A Surprise
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, September 27, 2015

We were warned that the weather would be hot in the many parks and monuments in Utah during the month of May when we would be there.  Actually most places were on the cool side, which I appreciated!  The above photo shows Natural Bridge in Bryce National Park.  The day started out warm as we walked among the spires or hoodoos of the park. One last stop was to see this beautiful arch, with a span of 54 feet wide and 95 feet high.  It was formed by weathering from rain and freezing, not by stream erosion.  Even though it was in the last part of May, we were surprised that snow was falling at this elevation of 8627 feet.





Wanting to see the arch but not wanting to get our cameras wet with snow, we quickly got out of the cars, ran to the ledge, snapped photos and dashed back to the comfort of our cars.  We hadn’t anticipated it would be snowing on this trip – what a surprise!

Have you thought about the Bible being full of surprises, things that were unexpected or unforeseen?  Some examples include the following.  Jesus told Peter to push the boat out further when they hadn’t caught any fish – they did as He said and what filled their nets?  Jesus surprised the local people by eating with sinners and tax collectors.  Many of His parables surprised people, like the small and least will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God.  What a surprise that a shepherd boy named David became king of Israel.  The people of Israel were surprised when Moses lifted his arms and the water of the sea parted.  I’m sure you can think of many more “surprises” in the Bible!  And the greatest surprise of all:  God sent His only Son here to earth to save us.  No matter what we do, He still loves us and calls us His children! Surprising?

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Who Knew?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, September 26, 2015

A few months back, during casual strolls through the Barnes & Noble bookstore, I began noticing a startling phenomenon—coloring books for grownups. I snapped the above photo a few days ago, and its cover promises two benefits if you buy and use it: color therapy and anti-stress. Who knew that this childhood favorite would “grow up”?

I’m not sure how firmly the scientific community backs up these benefits of coloring books, but maybe this book’s publishers are on to something. After all, a coloring book is less taxing than a paint-by-number set (did you ever actually complete one of those?). With a book like the one in the photo, you can choose whatever colors you want for wherever in the drawing you think they look best--or at least most interesting. You can spend a couple of minutes or a couple of hours on a page, without having to worry about screwing caps back on tubes of paint. And best of all, you can have the solid satisfaction of gazing on your completed work of art and saying, “There! I’ve accomplished something!”

Maybe this grownup-coloring-book craze has at least some of its roots in childhood, in youngsters’ desire to create something beautiful. As we walk forward into the uncertain days and weeks ahead, we need to remember the value of being childlike, which was something Jesus insisted that His followers be.

To read four texts in which the Bible compares God’s followers to children, click the link immediately below:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/gods-children 

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25% Off!
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, September 25, 2015

Shelley generally has a quicker eye than I do when it comes to spotting the weirdnesses in misspelled signs. We were in (I think) a QFC a few days back when she saw the above bit of hilarity. Interestingly, there were four such signs hung on these racks, but two of them were spelled like the photo, and the other two spelled correctly—“varieties.”

According to my trusty American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, a “verity” is “something, such as a statement or principle, that is true, especially an enduring truth.” So if you take a crack at trying to take 25% off a verity, that would be a disaster. If the bathroom scale says I weigh “x” amount, should I be able to get away with telling people that I weigh x minus 25%?

Where this gets to be a big deal, of course, is when we try discounting God’s verities. “Thou shalt not kill, 75% of the time . . . Thou shalt not commit adultery from January through September . . . . Remember the Sabbath day to keep it three-quarters holy”?

Crazy, right? That would be as stupid as deciding that if you jump four times out of a window ten stories up, one of those times you’ll end up just fine. Or operating on the assumption that a red traffic light doesn’t mean “Stop” at every fourth intersection.

Sadly, a lot of people make a habit of systematically discounting God’s clear directives—and then find themselves wandering around bewildered at why their lives are falling apart. You see, God’s laws are not “maid” of “rubber” (Get it? Rubbermaid?) To get the facts about these eternal verities, go to the Bible’s longest chapter—an intense infomercial about how sensible God’s laws are. Read Psalm 119 at the link just below:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+119&version=NKJV

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Glory II
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, September 24, 2015

I was excited to see this "glory" halo (below the point of the rightmost engine in case it's hard to spot) on a flight from Seattle to Colorado.  I suppose that frequent fliers may see phenomena like this regularly, but for me it is rare.  It occurs when the sun is on the other side of the plane, shining down on the clouds.  The water drops in the clouds then produce a circular rainbow-like effect.  The dark area at the center of the full circle rainbow, is the shadow of the plane.  In my picture it is faint and out of focus.

It turns out that any time you can see a full circle rainbow, you will see your shadow at the center.  It is often called a glory. The other time I saw a glory was at Summit Lake near Mt Rainier.  I'll call this my “Glory II.”

The real Glory II, of course, is when Jesus returns at the 2nd coming.  In Revelation 4:2,3, John says, "At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne."  

It is great to know that what is only faintly visible in our minds now will one day become plainly visible when Jesus comes again soon.

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Hear Me Roar
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

According to Biblegateway.com there are 117 entries in the NKJ of the word "lion." Some entries are stories of the actual animal like in the stories of Daniel in the den, or Samson.  Other accounts mention the “strength of a lion” and the “heart of a lion.” Then there is this entry in Revelation 5:

I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

I captured the above photo image in the Masai Mara National Reserve, in Kenya. We found this male lion, sitting off by himself, away from the rest of the pride (not unusual) and were able to get very close to him (in our truck). He didn't seem to mind--and we left, before he moved from his “hiding place” amongst the tall grass.

As beautiful as this lion is, I am more excited to see the Lion of Judah, when He comes for us and we live out eternity with Him.

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Ceanothus Silkmoth     
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Old habits die hard.  Just ask anyone past adolescence.  For that matter, teens might even give their support to the adage about old dogs and new tricks.  This picture taken some 40 years ago illustrates the point.  Upon discovering it, I was intrigued with its size and beauty.  For some reason I categorized it in my thinking as being a Cecropia, and thus it remained in my files and thoughts for lo these many years, until just the other day.  While looking at the picture I found myself questioning my rather casual classification and discovered I had been wrong.
 
The genus had been right, but this western species with a nearly five inch wingspan was a male Hyalophora euryalus, also known as a Ceanothus Silkmoth.  While the Cecropia is generally found east of the Rockies and euryalus generally in the West, they have been known to hybridize.  This western species feeds on varieties of cecropia, cherry, gooseberry, madrone, manzanita, willow, and occasionally Douglas fir.  That would be in its larval stage.  As an adult, they don’t eat. So much for those Golden Years.
 
Though it may be hard, we need to constantly be open to discovery, to the newness God opens before us.  Adam Clarke, commenting on Psalm 19:2 wrote, “Each day is represented as teaching another relative to some new excellence discovered in these manifold works of God.”

May that discovery process be a joyful one, even when that means we have to let go of some of our long cherished ideas.

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Hope for the Lost
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, September 21, 2015

Have you ever lost something and then searched frantically to try to find it?  Sometimes you don't even know it's missing until you really need it.  

I had a unique experience last Sunday.  A couple of friends and I were planning to take the ferry over to Kingston as passengers.  Another friend's husband would pick us up and drive us to their place for a visit and we could avoid the ferry line ups.  I decided to go down earlier in the day to check out the street parking for the ferry and to see about getting tickets in case there was a line up while we were waiting to board.  I paid for the tickets and the friendly ticket agent answered my questions regarding street parking.  

As we were walking by the ticket booth to board the ferry, the ticket agent came out and asked me if I had lost my case for my glasses. I told her I had a green one and it contained sunglasses.  Sure enough, it had apparently fallen out of my purse when I paid for the tickets. I hadn't even noticed that it was missing because it had been a cloudy day and I hadn't needed them.  They were prescription sunglasses and I was really thankful to get them back.  My friends were amazed she had even recognized me.

Luke 15 tells us three stories about searching for the lost.  There is a story about the shepherd who had 100 sheep and one of them was lost,  there is a story about a woman who had ten coins and lost one of them and there is a story about a man who had two sons and one lost his way.  All of these parables have happy endings; the lost sheep is found, the woman finds her coin and the lost son eventually returns home.     

While the shepherd who lost his sheep was happy to have 99 other sheep, he still spent the time and effort looking for the one that was lost.  While the woman was happy to still have 9 coins, she expended a lot of energy looking for the one lost coin.  The man with the lost son had a loyal son who stayed home and worked for him but he never gave up on hoping that the son who left would come home.  

These stories, or parables, are to show us how important each one of us is to God.  "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19:10 NIV


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Majesty
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, September 20, 2015

The word “majesty” can have various meanings.  One is impressive stateliness, dignity or beauty.  The other definition is royal power.  I felt the landscape in Bryce Canyon (shown in my photo) was majestic and serene with the forces of weather and erosion never resting.  When walking on the trails, the spires seemed majestic and magical.  Notice how small the people look on the trail!  In case you find them hard to pick out, here is a closeup:




 This photo below shows the vastness of this intriguing and majestic landscape.





Majesty can be used to describe the glorious name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.  One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.  I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.”  (Psalms 145:3-5)  Think of the powerful words in following song.

Majesty, worship His Majesty,
Unto Jesus, be all glory, honor and praise!  
Majesty, kingdom authority,
flows from His throne, unto His own,
His anthem raise.

So exalt life up on high the name of Jesus.  
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King.

Majesty, worship His majesty.  
Jesus who died, now glorified,
King of all kings.  (Jack Hayford)

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He’ll Be Able to Complete It
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday and Sabbath, September 18 & 19, 2015

If my time is a bit flexible I will rarely pass up a thrift store. After rummaging in the used books for a bit, I will then head over to the office supplies section, where I often find sketchbooks like the one you see above.

What you’re looking at is the open front cover, and those raggedy parts are what remains after the first three or four pages were torn out. This always fills me with a pang when I see those ragged edges, because I know exactly what has happened—because it’s happened to me. Someone got inspired to draw, bought a sketchbook, tried to draw, and was disappointed with the result—so disappointed that he or she removed the incriminating evidence of supposed non-talent, and tossed the otherwise unsoiled sketchbook in the “take to the thrift store” pile.

People who don’t discard their sketchbooks but instead take a drawing class or two generally get past that early road-bump and go on to become at least passable sketchers. They discover that patience is the key—rarely does a sketch spring perfectly-formed from a pencil. A lot of eraser-crumbs go into a great work of art.

Your life and my life are sketchbooks in which, if we’re Christians, we are trying to reproduce what God is like so that others can see Him better. And to prevent our being discouraged by the eraser-crumbs, He provides us Bible encouragement like this:

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 3:3-6 NKJV)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.  (Psalm 51:10)

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

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Shaping the Clay
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, September 17, 2015

On a recent backpacking trip, I was walking on a a muddy bed of a lake whose water level varies seasonally. The mud had three distinct layers: the top was tan, a quarter inch down it turned reddish, and about an inch down it became a gray clay color.

In Jeremiah 18:3-6 (ESV), Jeremiah says: "So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: 'O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.'"

Although these verses were given to Israel as a nation, they also apply to our everyday lives. Just like the potter in the story, God can take bad situations and work them out for good.


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Hope
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
 
The last few months, we have had a heavy heart about a dear friend battling cancer. I recognize there are many family and friends that have loved ones facing this same horrible disease. It’s the sinful world we live in.  It’s not easy to explain why these things happen, but they do.  I also realize it may not be something we can understand, while we are on this planet. With that we have to focus on the future, the hope of our eternal future.
 
Psalm 55:22 reads, “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”. Does that mean we will never see hardship or go through pain? No, that’s not what that says.  What this verse says to me, is we take the hardships and the pain and we give them to God. He’s asking for us to give our burden to Him. If we can do that – it’s easier said than done – we allow Him to take care of us.
 
God taking care of us. Hmmm - I like the sound of that.  I see that as a much better way to get through the day, versus me trying to take care of myself.  While we live amongst sin, we have to bring our worries to God and cling to the promise of an amazing day when things of this world can’t hurt our friends and families.

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Black-necked Stilt
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Over the years I’ve shown pictures of Black-necked Stilt to young children a number of times, and the reaction is predictably the same.  They are impressed with the bird’s long, pink legs.  Not its black and white plumage or sharp pointed beak, but those long legs.  It appears the taxonomists who awarded it its common name were not that different from the children, for they could come up with nothing better than “stilt” to call attention to its most obvious characteristic.
 
Think about nicknames you have received, or perhaps given to one of your friends.  Most often that name reflected some physical characteristic, behavioral mannerism, or other personal attribute that distinguished the individual from others in the crowd.  Even if the name originated as a kind of putdown, long after the dig had lost its sting, the nickname may have remained.
 
That was the case of those early believers who lived in Antioch.  As an intentional putdown, they are referred to as “little Christs” or Christians.  (Acts 11:26)  Since that time Christianity has grown to become the largest religion in the world, and in so doing, lost the negativity of the name.  Still, today, there are places, even in the Christian world, where the name carries a less than favorable connotation.  Perhaps the more important questions is, Do you and I live lives that set us apart so clearly that those around us would think of us as being like Christ?  If we did, that would make us even more deserving of our name than does the stilt of his.


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(APOLOGIES FROM MAYLAN SCHURCH: For a couple of days, this blog of Cheryl's has been topped by an incorrect photo. This was my fault. Since the only two flowers I can identify with any certitude are the dandelion and the prairie wild rose, I had no clue. Cheryl had emailed me the correct photo, but I had omitted to download it, and ignorantly used last week's. Sorry, Cheryl!)

For Everything There is a Season
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, September 14, 2015

I saw these beautiful crocuses blooming in a park recently.  One usually expects to see crocuses in the spring but these ones bloom in the fall.

Sometimes we are disappointed when we pray about something and we don't receive an answer as fast as we would like or the answer is different from
what we expected.  It's times like this that we need to remember that God's timing may be very different from our timing.

The Bible tells us that there is a time for everything:

Teacher: For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
        a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;
A time to kill, a time to heal;
        a time to tear down, a time to build up;
A time to cry, a time to laugh;
        a time to mourn, a time to dance;
A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;
        a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;
A time to search, a time to give up as lost;
        a time to keep, a time to throw out;
A time to tear apart, a time to bind together;
        a time to be quiet, a time to speak up;
A time to love, a time to hate;
        a time to go to war, a time to make peace
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (The Voice)

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Afraid?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, September 13, 2015

A herd of Bighorn Rocky Mountain Sheep scampered away from us while we were in the Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.  They can be found from Canada south to New Mexico.  Relative to goats, they have balance-aiding split hooves and rough hoof bottoms for gripping on the steep, rocky cliffs.  Their wide-set eyes provide good vision.  They also have sharp hearing and a great sense of smell.  These characteristics help them detect dangers at great distances and with their special hooves rapidly get away from perceived danger.  Seeming to be afraid of us, they ran up the hill a short way, then turned around and looked at us as we looked at them!

Are there times when you are afraid of something or someone?  Remember that God is there to be with you, comfort you and give you strength.  “”Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  (Isaiah 41:10)

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On Strike!
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, September 12, 2015

This past Thursday, after dropping Shelley off at her workplace, I drove her car to the North Seattle Honda repair place we’ve been using since the mid-1980s, so it could get a major tuneup.

While the car was being worked on, I hopped a bus going south into town. As the bus slowed for a red light, I snapped this shot of a line of red-shirted teachers picketing a school. At that point they were on day three of their strike, and as I’m writing this now (Friday morning) they’re not picketing but doing community service projects in honor of the 9/11 anniversary.

Labor unions arose in the late 1800’s in response to worker exploitation by big business. But over the years, unions themselves have occasionally shown iron-fisted tendencies to impose their will—especially on workers who don’t join the movement because they don’t wish to be allied with, or financially support, such tactics.

Regardless of what you think of unions, there is strong Bible support for the “boycott.” A boycott is an act of refusing, on principle, to patronize or participate in something the boycotter disagrees with.

The Ten Commandments is largely a list of commanded boycotts: Don’t take part in idolatry, Deity defamation, Sabbathbreaking, disrespect to parents, murder, adultery, and so on. Jesus insisted that His disciples must be in the world but not “of the world” (John 17:14). The Christian simply needs to get used to Jesus’ principle that “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13 -14)

For three texts on commitment to Jesus, click the link immediately below:

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

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Interconnected
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, September 11, 2015

Tuesdays are delightful days for me, since I get to volunteer as a paper-grader, sketching-teacher, and picture-book-reader at Kirkland Seventh-day Adventist School and Puget Sound Adventist Academy, both located on the same campus.

This past Tuesday I snapped a photo of this very creative bulletin board. Mrs. Anderson has arranged the names of all her students into an impressive crossword puzzle, with each student’s name melting into at least one other. And each of these names is as precious to the Heavenly Father as those names on the 9-11 monument Darren Milam showed us in his photo parable on Wednesday.

I happen to have Bible documentation to prove that Jesus is personally delighted with Mrs. Anderson's display of interconnectedness. In His tenderhearted prayer in John 17, He prays first for the disciples who are listening to Him, and then for those who will believe in Him through His disciples’ influence—in other words, you and me. Notice the main theme of this part of His prayer (I've bolded this theme):

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20 – 23 NKJV)

Since Jesus prayed this prayer a few short hours before His capture and trials, it’s a significant prayer. Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to enter our hearts and bind us together with others.

If Paul could read the paragraph above, he would utter an emphatic “Amen!” Notice his own plea for unity, almost as eloquent as the Savior’s:

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  (Philippians 2:1 – 2)

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Shelter in Storms
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, September 10, 2015

Nature provided some impressive energy displays last weekend with several thunderstorms moving through the Puget Sound region.  This picture shows a sunbreak after rolling thunder and heavy rain had passed by and a new shower cloud was coming in from the right.  It was nice to get back indoors to shelter as the rain swept over.

When life sends storms our way, we can turn to God for shelter.  Psalm 27: 4-5 says "One thing I ask from theLORD, this only do I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;  he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock."

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He Knows My Name
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
 
A couple of years ago while we were in New York, we had the chance to visit the National September 11 Memorial site.  As we remember that dreadful event 14 years ago, this particular image struck me – both, when I took it and 2 years later. In the background you see One World Trade Center, also known as Freedom Tower. In the foreground you see one of the pools that have replaced the exact location of where the North and South Towers stood. Around the edge of the pools, the names of the victims are engraved. The white rose was placed by a family or friend. Someone came to the memorial and walked around the pools, until they found who they were looking for, and remembered their loved one.
 
Though the memory of that day is painful, what’s even more painful is the knowledge of non-believers, the pain they have on this earth, and not believing there is something better. They don’t have the hope of a Second Coming. They don’t have the faith that there is a God who loves them and cares for them.  They don’t have the assurance that even though bad things happen to good people, all is not lost.
 
We, however, do have the faith, knowledge and assurance. We have the belief that our God knows who we are. He knows us, loves us and cares for us. In tough times we cling to these promises and beliefs.
 
Over the next few days, we’ll be reminded of that horrific day and the days that followed. The lost lives, the grief and the pain. We also see reminders to Never Forget9/11. My challenge to you is, we should never forget those that need God, now more than ever.  9/11 is another reminder of just how dark this planet is. We need to reflect His light to the world, giving the hope this world needs.


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Red-tailed Hawk
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Frequent visitors to the park fondly refer to him as #91, so called due to the band placed around his foot while he was in captivity.  Injured, this Red-tailed Hawk had been nursed back to health and then released once again into the wild.  It had then taken up residence in the park which provided ample food and cover.  Due to his familiarity with humans, old 91 allowed individuals to approach reasonably close, thus offering excellent views.  This in turn increased his popularity among park goers.

It was the loud calling of a flock of crows that first attracted attention.  They seemed to love to pester hawks and owls in general, and 91 was not exempt.  But this morning was different.  Their calls seemed more intense, more strident.  Upon looking more closely, viewers saw on a lower limb 91 with a young crow in his talons.  Apparently the inexperienced crow had come too close and ended up becoming dinner instead of agitator.  Acculturated 91 had become, but it was still very much a hawk.

This superficial change in the raptor brought to mind a quote from Ellen White concerning the nature of man and his need of transformation.  “Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless.  They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life.  There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness.  That power is Christ.”      (Steps to Christ p.18)

While it would have been inappropriate for the rehabilitators to try and remove the wildness from the hawk, it would be equally fruitless for us to try and change our own nature through human striving.  That inward change must come from One outside of self.


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The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, September 7, 2015

Poppies seem especially beautiful but so delicate and fragile.  They bloom for such a short season.

The Bible compares people to grass and their glory to flowers.  Life and fame are fleeting.  We so often get caught up in all the minutiae of our days and of our lives when we should be paying more attention to things that are eternal and enduring.
 
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
“All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:23-25 (NIV)

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Just a Glimpse
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, September 6, 2015

This is another arch, called Mesa Arch at Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. My photo above shows just a glimpse of some of the spires and canyons in the rugged land beyond.  Even further, the snow-capped La Sal Mountains are in the very distance. 





This next photo gives you a clearer view of the canyons sculpted mostly by water and gravity cutting flat layers of sedimentary rock into hundreds of canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches and spires.  The landscape is so vast; one can only see a glimpse at a time.  

Have you seen a glimpse of Jesus?  My thoughts go to the song by Benjamin Baur, “What the World Needs is Jesus:”

What the world needs is Jesus,
Just a glimpse of Him;
what the world needs is Jesus,
Just a glimpse of Him;

He will bring joy and gladness,
Take away sin and sadness;
what the world needs is Jesus,
Just a glimpse of Him.

What the world needs is Jesus,
He alone can save;
what the world needs is Jesus,
All His love He gave.  

There is no other Saviour,
He can change men’s behavior;
what the world needs is Jesus,
Just a glimpse of Him.

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Get Happy . . . .
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, September 5, 2015

Wednesday night, when Shelley and I dropped by a grocery store to pick up a few essentials, I spotted these colorful cans and their two-word slogans. I couldn’t resist positioning the “Get Lost” can (the “lostness” it claims to help with is weight) to the right of the others. It’s like the first three cans are saying, “This way to a great life,” and the fourth drops those dreams with a thud.

This reminds me of how the Bible warns us that heaven’s idea of a spiritually healthy life often clashes with the world’s opinions. “There is a way that seems right to a man,” says one of Proverbs’ writers, “But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12) Jesus Himself urged us to suspect life’s easy paths:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.   (Matthew 7:13-14 NIJV)

In a time of national crisis several hundred years before Christ, a group of military officers came to the prophet Jeremiah and urged him to pray “that the Lord your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do.”  (Jeremiah 42:3)

What better prayer to pray as we face another uncertain week?


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Cling to the Cross
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, September 4, 2015

A week ago this past Wednesday, alert prayer meeting attendees rushed into the building with the news that a bird—some at first thought it was an eagle—was perched atop the cross over the sanctuary. We all hurried outside to take a look, and the consensus decided that it was an osprey, a decision that was later confirmed after I’d sent the above photo plus several others to birder and Tuesday Daily Photo Parable blogger Robert Howson.

We all felt somehow privileged that this large bird had chosen our cross for its roost. But it turned out not to be a one-night stay. I started getting word that it had returned, and this Wednesday night after prayer meeting we stared up into the dark sky, and there was the bird again, bathed in the spotlight that illuminates the cross.

From the discerning bird’s perspective, of course, this particular perch is a perfect one—no nearby trees, a complete 360 degree view. Any predator approaching from any direction can’t hide, but must show itself. By clinging to the cross, and not allowing itself to be tempted away to other shelters, this osprey has an excellent chance of survival.

Do I need to develop this parable further? Of course not—you’re already there.

For a great Bible study on salvation, click the link immediately below.

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


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Perseverance
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, September 3, 2015

This is a Monkey Puzzle tree (aka Chilean Pine) at my Grandparents' house. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it is at least 50 feet tall, and the branches come all the way to the ground. If you're familiar with monkey puzzle trees (or monkey trees as I've grown up calling them), then you know how incredibly pointy and sharp their leaves are. Now think about how hard it would be to take a picture like the one above. Thankfully, I escaped mostly unscratched and with my picture.

James 1:12 (ESV): "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."

Just like I persevered to get this picture, God promises the crown of life to those who persevere and love Him.

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Knock, Knock
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

With some recent reading in Psalms, I came across one that I particularly like – chapter 24, it’s entitled “The King of Glory Entering Zion”:

The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.
For He has founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the rivers.
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face—even Jacob. Selah.
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is the King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory.

As you can read, this psalm starts off with the realization that everything around us – all that has been created – belongs to the Lord. He is perfect and all that He created started that way. The second part is describing His entrance. David is telling the gates of the city and the doors of the buildings to be ready to let the King in.
 
I was lucky enough to visit Florence, Italy, a few years back.  Among other places, we visited the Florence Cathedral.  In the image above, you can see these massive, ornate doors, that opened into the baptistery of the cathedral.  In fact, when Michelangelo he saw their intricate beauty, he named them the “Gates of Paradise.”
 
When I read David informing the gates and doors to prepare for our King to enter, I can imagine huge, ornate, beautiful doors for Him to walk through.  But I also see the door to my home, my car door, or the doors to our church, wherever we are – He can walk through, into our lives. God doesn’t need “special” doors to be with us, He just needs us to welcome Him in.



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Chestnut-collared Longspur
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ecology was a word not familiar to most of a generation or two ago.  But a growing awareness of man’s detrimental impact upon his homeland has brought the term into popular usage.  Maybe it’s just the sheer number of humans, or perhaps it’s his indifference, but whatever the cause, the awareness has come about none too soon.  Unfortunately, when man seeks to correct his mistakes, the corrections often cause as much damage as the original source of the problem. Most, plunked down in the middle of the wide open prairies wound have a hard time imagining this to be a fragile environment, but it is.
 
One of the residents of the short and mixed grass prairies across the north-central part of the continent is the Chestnut-collared Longspur.  During the breeding season, the male is distinctive in his black and chestnut attire, but come winter, his plumage becomes similar to the female’s drab, sparrow-like wardrobe.  Historically, this longspur bred at sites where bison had recently grazed, keeping the vegetation low, or in areas recently affected by prairie fires.  This pattern continues today as biologists seek to walk that narrow line using controlled burns to increase favorable habitat.  But what benefits one species may be detrimental to another.  This means hard decisions must be made which will undoubtedly be criticized by those favoring a different faction.  One study projected this species will lose three-quarters of its current breeding range as it will become climatically incompatible.
 
Such predictions bring out the pessimism in the most positive.  Man simply does not have within his capacity to ability to solve all of nature’s problems.  That does not absolve him of the responsibility to do what he can, but it prods us to place more value on this promise:  “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’  Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Revelation 21:5 NIV)

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