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

Devotional Photo Blog - April 2009

Thanks to all the photographers from our church photo club 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. I generally handle the rest of the days using photos from the point-and-shoot camera I keep on my belt.-- Pastor Maylan Schurch

Thanks for visiting our blog page! If you'd like to see previous entries for this month, simply scroll down

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Jason Meert
Thursday, April 30, 2009

At the Pathfinder Fair last weekend, our club competed in the push cart races. In this picture, several Pathfinders are flying through the course to complete it in the shortest amount of time. They don't get a prize at the end, but they are intensely trying to win.

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul describes an everlasting prize each of us can win:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 

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Big Flashlight
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Under the direction of George Washington, construction of the Portland Headlight lighthouse was started in 1787 and completed in 3 years.  At the time, the need was great to have a safe journey into Portland Harbor, Maine.  I have been lucky enough to visit Cape Elizabeth, Maine and capture several images of Portland Headlight.  I have visited on sunny days (like the image above) as well on days where it was extremely foggy.  And it’s when the visibility is poor that you can see exactly why George Washington (and others) took a major role in directing the construction. 

Today ships have additional navigational assistance--radar, charts, radios--all helping guide them safely into port.  Regardless, the light still shows the way by shining it’s 200,000 candlepower beam 16 miles out to sea. I am sure there are several stories mariners could tell about being lost and finally rejoicing to catch sight of Portland Headlight, and allowing it to guide them through the darkness to security.
It’s like our lives--we daily must navigate through the darkness and fog of sin.  I am so encouraged by the verse, Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."  God is the lamp for our path.  He shows us exactly where to go and what to do, in order to make it safely into the harbor.

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Popeye, Your Mom, and the Apostle Paul
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What do your mother, Popeye, and the Apostle Paul have in common?  It sounds  like the beginning of a bad joke, but stay with me on this one.  As you may remember from personal experience and familiarity with the Sunday cartoons, both Mom and that muscular sailor had an affinity for spinach, and thinly veiled promises about growing strong once you had eaten the required amount for dinner. 

Paul seems to deal with the same issue, only he appears to be more concerned about our spiritual health than our physical well-being.  He addresses the believers in the first part of 1 Corinthians 3 in this way:  "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it."  (NIV)
It is altogether appropriate that he showed apprehension over their failure to mature properly, based upon their failure to handle the type of spiritual food which was needed.  That's something that comes with being a responsible parent, and this parental responsibility is not limited to human beings but extends into other areas of the Creator's handiwork as well.
Enter the Pied-billed Grebe, seen here plucking feathers from its breast and feeding them to its young.  Feathers?  Why feathers?  They have negligible nutritional value and taste even worse than spinach.  What's more, essentially all members of the grebe family follow this bizarre behavior.  The primary component of a grebe's diet is fish, and that includes fish bones.  Biologists conjecture that the parents do this to prevent these spiny bones from puncturing the tender lining of the stomach and intestine by slowing down the digestion process.  Thus, the fish remains in the stomach until it can safely pass through the body.  

Now who would have thought of that?  My guess is, a Heavenly Parent, Someone who knows what we need to help us grow as well.

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God Allows U-Turns
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 27, 2009

I saw these signs in the small village of Olga on a recent trip to Orcas Island. If you decide to ignore the signs, you could end up in the sound.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says:  "Then if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land." NLT

Sometimes, we are headed in the wrong direction spiritually, but, luckily for us, God does allow U-turns.  We will have a dead end-- forever --if we ignore the warnings.  Doing an about-face will lead to eternal life.

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Can You Trust Him With Your Boat?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, April 26, 2009

We were on Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia when this heavy-laden boat came by us. Even though the movement of the water was tossing our own boat, I had confidence we were safe and would not sink. (Additionally, I was glad we weren't in a storm.)  But I was amazed that this other boat was able to keep afloat. They must have had their own level of "faith" that they would be okay.
As recorded in Mathew 8:24-27, when Jesus and His disciples were on a boat, "All at once a great storm arose on the lake, till the waves were breaking right over the boat; but he went on sleeping.  So they came and woke Him up, crying: 'Save us, Lord; we are sinking!' 'Why are you such cowards?' he said; 'how little faith you have!' Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a dead calm.  The men were astonished at what had happened, and exclaimed, 'What sort of man is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him.'"  If Jesus can calm great storms on the sea, He can also calm "storms" within each of us.  Do you trust him and have "faith" that He can do this?

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Jesus’ Chair?  
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 25, 2009

In early April on a morning walk in our neighborhood, I spotted this interesting scene, and immediately thought of Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:30: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

I thought to myself, I don’t want to keep Him waiting so long that He has to bring a comfortable chair and a cozy blanket!

You don’t have the zoom-in photo resolution my camera does, so I’ll have to describe the signs around this entrance. You can probably read the “ADT” on the blue-and-white sign to the lower left, which signals that (presumably) a burglar alarm has been installed. The red-and-white sign tacked on the siding to the right features the black outline of a dog, and warns, “Caution! Area Patrolled--German Shorthaired Pointer.”

And that part of this picture-parable rings true, doesn’t it?  Sin makes people selfish--and makes some selfish enough to try to break into houses and steal things. And you and I do need to protect our souls from the Enemy, who goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour (1 Peter 5:8). Paul talks about the need for protection during his discussion of the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17).

But a major part of true security is knowing your enemies from your friends, and mounted on the door in the above photo is a pale yellow, flower-decorated “Welcome” sign. Jesus wants to be a frequent guest in our lives, so please hang out the welcome sign for Him--and don’t keep Him waiting at your door!

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Hard to Please, Ain’tcha? 
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 24, 2009

For nearly a week now, the Puget Sound area has been bathed in a welcome glow of sunlight, with temperatures rising to the point where pale, peering Pacific Northwesterners like me have been able to shyly emerge from their dens and caves, blinking in the daylight, wearing short sleeves!

That’s why I snorted slightly as I drove by this woman this past Sunday. “What’s wrong with this picture?” I wanted to call to her through my wide-open car window. “The rain stops, and the sky clears, and still you’re huddling along underneath that umbrella!”

I realize, of course, that--probably for excellent reasons--she was seeking protection from an excessive amount of whichever type of the sun’s rays might have been unhealthy for her. She wasn’t blonde, however, and didn’t appear to have sunburn-sensitive skin.  (Or maybe she was operating under the superstition that if you carry an umbrella it’ll never rain!)

This scene reminded me of how easy it is to habitually hunker down beneath our pessimism to the point that, when God’s blessings do flash clearly through, we’re not conditioned to recognize them. “Count your many blessing, see what God has done” is more than a sprightly gospel song of an earlier era--it’s sound and perspective-restoring common sense.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
   --Johnson Oatman, Jr.

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Photo and commentary ©2009 by Jason Meert
Thursday, April 23, 2009

While snowshoeing a few weeks ago on Mount Rainier, during a break in the weather I was able to get this shot of what’s called a “sundog.”  A sundog is a rainbowed halo around the sun. It's caused by light refracting through small ice crystals in very high clouds the same way that raindrops can refract sunlight into rainbows.

Rainbows remind me of two things: God's memory and His throne. In Genesis 9:15, God says He'll remember His covenant with living creatures after the flood when He sees a rainbow. And Revelation 4:3 describes a rainbow surrounding His heavenly throne. How wonderful of Him to put a reminder of His covenant so close to His heavenly throne!

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Sunrise On The Mara

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Last month, my family and I were able to go on our second mission trip to Kenya, specifically to the Masai Mara area.  Each morning we were greeted with a sight, very similar to--if not exactly like--this image.  Of course I couldn't keep my hands off my camera, but on a few mornings I forced myself to lower the lens and literally bask in the sunlight.  During this time, I would stop and be silent.  It was amazing . . . a slice of what heaven will be like.  It gave me an opportunity to listen to God and hear what He wanted me to hear.
I know I have written before regarding the hurried lives we live and how much more peaceful we would all be if we could only slow down.  That said, I am not naive about this. I realize how different the lives of the Masai people are from our American culture.  When it comes to daily activities, we are very busy running here and there, planning 3 months in advance.  The Masai people take one day at a time – and feeding their families and their cattle are their top priorities. As much as our daily lives are polar opposite, our “long-term plan” is very similar:  We American Christians long to be with our creator and our loved ones for all eternity – as do our fellow Christians in Kenya and around the world.  When you think of it that way, a lot of the more minor things we Westerners focus on seem rather silly. 
Even now, back in the busy USA, I can still look at this image and picture myself soaking in the morning sunlight. And I’m certain that heaven contains sights which far surpass the Masai Mara. May I challenge you, as you go about your hectic day, to remember this image (or a similarly wonderful one from your own memory archives), slow yourself down, and get ready to listen to God?

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Playing Second Fiddle
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The story is told how New York Philharmonic conductor Leonard Bernstein was once asked what the hardest instrument was to play, to which he responded, "Second fiddle."  Apparently this talented musician understood not only the fundamental requirements for harmony but basic human nature as well.  He recognized how self is tempted to be the center of attention, to catch the gleam of the spotlight.  
This characteristic shared by mankind makes John the Baptist's response all the more incredible.  Upon becoming aware of the advance of Christ's ministry, instead of sulking because attention was being diverted from this own work, he was able to truly celebrate the success of another.  "That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  He must become greater; I must become less."  John 3:29,30  (NIV)   To play second fiddle may sometimes mean stepping back, at other times it may mean doing a harder job or less pleasant task, one that fails to gain the accolades or applause.  
While inanimate creatures do not possess the same character qualities as mankind, there are times we can see parallels in nature.  An example of this may be seen in the Calliope Hummingbird.  The smallest North American bird, the Calliope averages just three inches in length and weighs around one tenth of an ounce.  In comparison, the average first class letter weighs in at an ounce.  Its genus name, Stilluta, or "little star" is perhaps appropriate for the male who sports a peppermint-candy appearance with alternating red and white stripes on his gorget.

On the other hand, the rather drab female looks like a miniaturized version of a number of other females in the family.  Just like other female hummingbirds, the female Calliope takes the sole responsibility for building the nest, incubating the eggs, and raising the young. 

At times while incubating, the female may be exposed to near freezing temperatures but she does not become torpid as many males do during the night to conserve energy.  Instead, she must maintain a high body temperature and metabolism to insure successful hatching of the eggs.  No one suggested being a single mom was easy, but visit the high mountains in the Western U.S. and you will see ample evidence of the success brought about by such commitment and perseverance.

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Sowing Seeds
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 20, 2009

When I was in elementary school, we lived near Toronto in Ontario, Canada.  The conference had a camp called Camp Frenda which was "up North" near South River.  I loved it up there.  The camp was quite a drive from the city and was located on a lake.  You could hear cries of the loons echoing across the water.

I remember catching leopard frogs with some friends and dumping them in the bottom of one of the camp canoes.  We had quite a collection!  I remember being bitten by a garter snake I was holding one day and being stung by hornets during a hike when the girl who was two ahead of me stepped on their nest.  I also remember wading through a marsh that was full of leeches.  It was great!

Touch-me-nots, or jewelweed, used to grow in abundance along the road to the camp. (I took this picture in Bellevue, but, apparently, jewelweed is pretty scarce in Washington.)  The thing to do when you saw these plants, was to look for the seed pods hanging next to the flowers.  The bigger they were the better.  If they were ripe, you just barely had to touch them and they would explode. 

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the sower who went out to plant seed.  Some of it fell on the footpath and was eaten by birds, some of it fell on shallow soil with underlying rock and the plants died due to lack of nourishment, some seeds fell among thorns and the thorns choked out the plants but some seeds fell on fertile soil and produced a bumper crop.  

Verses 19-23 give us the explanation of the above.  "The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don't understand it.  Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts. The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy.  But like young plants in such soil, their roots don't go very deep.  At first they get along fine, but they will wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced.  The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God's message and produce a huge harvest - thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted."

I'm not sure why there isn't more jewelweed growing around here; the plants are obviously producing seeds.  Maybe the soil conditions are not right for them and there is probably not a whole lot we can do to change that.  We can, however, do something about the condition of our hearts and the kind of crops we produce (or don't produce)!

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Springtime in Tuscany
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, April 19, 2009

Since I grew up living next to my grandparents, I was always fascinated by their native language and customs of Italy.  After I’d graduated from college and earned enough money to spend the summer in Europe, my international travel began.  There was only one travel book at that time--Frommer's Europe on $5 a Day. By staying in youth hostels and traveling with my then-inexpensive Eurail pass, my daily expenses were less than $3! 

I was able to locate my ancestral villages of Gorfigliano and Roggio in northern Tuscany.  Forty-some years before, my Dad--as a child--and his family had immigrated to the U. S. for the last time. (Ties to family had previously kept them returning to Italy, while hope for a better life in the U.S.kept them returning here!) 

In order to preserve their fascinating journey, I spent time researching and writing their story.  Since this first visit, I've returned to Italy many times, visiting "my" villages as well as discovering new places.  Springtime is my favorite time of year to be in Tuscany--the trees are flowering, the leaves are bright green, and the wild narcissus in the mountains are sharing their sweet fragrance.  The photo I'm sharing with you today is just down the mountain from Roggio, my grandmother's village, where we love to spend time visiting relatives and enjoying the beautiful mountains and alpine meadows. 
Psalms 104:24 says, "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." KJV  Take time to enjoy the beauty of God's creation wherever you are--in the Pacific Northwest and other places you might visit around the world.

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Faith by Faith by Faith
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 18, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I happened to take a close look at this cell phone tower looming over a shopping center a mile from where we live. As someone who’s always been uneasy with heights--okay, let’s be honest: horrified--I found my legs turning to water when I realized what would happen if something went wrong with one of those transmitters. The unlucky technician would have to ascend that tower, not on a comforting ladder which in times of panic can actually be embraced with a death-grip, but by stepping one-by-one onto those projecting rods.

Do you know what kind of courage that would take for me to ascend that height? It would take a courage which could say, “I trust that every single one of those rods is not only tightly welded to the tower, but capable of withstanding 194 shuddering pounds of flesh and bone.”

So what would the acrophobic Maylan Schurch have to do to convince himself to reach up and grab that first rod? I actually think I would be able to do this if I studied (1) a diagram of the tower which would include clear illustrations of how each rod was attached, (2) the properties of the rod’s metal for proof that it could actually bear three or four times my own weight, and (3) documented cases telling how real technicians had been ascending and descending this tower for years, without incident.

You’re ‘way ahead of me, right? The Holy Bible provides such documentation for people whose God is calling them upward, sometimes to dizzying heights of service for Him. How can we trust this call? By studying the documents which prove God’s faithfulness, including case studies of how the Bible people (who are so famous we name our kids after them) climbed higher, faith by faith by faith. 

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Yes, We Really Mean STOP!
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 17, 2009

Earlier this month I visited one of our church members who’s recuperating in the University of Washington Medical Center. As I was emerging from the parking area, I paused at this sign long enough to get my little Nikon point-and-shoot camera to click exactly as the sign blinked.

I got a chuckle out of this scene. The authorities really want people to stop, don’t they? Evidently the red-and-white octagon alone doesn’t do it any more--they need a red-and-white striped sign-pole, and finally flashing lights. It’s like they’re saying, "Hey. People. What part of 'stop' don’t you understand?"

Which must have been what God was thinking just before He started the Mount Sinai thunder-and-lightning machine, and took that first deep Divine breath before roaring out the Ten Commandments. These aren’t “The Ten Suggestions,” that sustained earthquake-rumble said. What part of “Thou shalt not” don’t you get?

So what’s the big deal? Why roll out the Ten with a fanfare greater than the unveiling of a new Boeing jet? Here’s why:  “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13, italics mine.

Down with the heretical idea that God gave us the Ten Commandments simply to show us how impossible it was for us to keep them! Down with the idea that they’re somehow to be “done away with.” God Himself tells us where those laws belong--not in some dusty Old Testament, old-covenant vault, but in our hearts: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.” Hebrews 10:16. 

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It’s How You Frame It
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 18, 2009

On the last day of March I rolled into the Arco station a mile from our home and gassed up my little silver Honda. Glancing idly around, I took notice of a black plastic frame attached to the pump hose. I’d seen such frames on other hoses, their purpose being to allow gasser-uppers to while away the minutes by studying a colorful card which advertises Arco products. 

But some petulant gasser-upper who resented being a captive marketing audience must have worked this frame’s ad loose from its moorings and cast it into outer darkness, leaving an open rectangle. Just for the fun of it, I pulled my point-and-shoot Nikon from its belt-case and began taking pictures through this frame. A lot of life depends on how you frame it, I said to myself. Position the view one way, and you see (in the above photo) the ominously-rising Arco prices (sorry, no more buck-ninety-five gas).

But shift the viewpoint and you get this:

ure, you can still see machines in the photo--it's tough to avoid them at an Arco station--but beyond the rain-slick cars and concrete is a placid, rather refreshing slice of God’s creation.

That, to me, is what the Sabbath does for those who’ve come to recognize its true significance. By properly positioning ourselves on that seventh day--and emptying it of the secular--we can frame the Creator and His creation. And we can draw a deep mental breath and finally return to the busier frames with greater perspective. 

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Man’s Best Friend 
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
This is a picture of one of my two Siberian Huskies.  If you have ever met Meagan, you know she is truly a testament to the quote, “Man’s best friend”--loyal, dependable, constantly companionable, ready to listen, and always eager to please.  Meagan always greeted you at the back door with a smile on her face and a wagging tail.  It didn’t matter what had happened during your day, she was there to make it feel better.  
If someone asks us, “Who’s man’s best friend?” we give the programmed response:  “Dog, of course.”  Yet as much as I love dogs--and can’t remember the last time I didn’t own one (or two, or three)--I want us to think bigger…really big.
Using a "big picture" view, of course, we can wholeheartedly say that God is our best friend. Every step we take, every decision we make, everything we do – God is there for us.  Just like Meagan, God is there on the good days and the bad.  He is there to cheer us up when we are down, and He’s eager to give us ultimate happiness-- eternal life.  We read in John 14 just how much God wants us to be with him:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

I look forward to spending eternity with my best friend!  How about you?

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The Closer You Look
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Have you ever had that feeling?   That sinking feeling that you get after leaving the used car parking lot, having just purchased what looked really good under those flapping flags waving in the breeze, only to hear a sound that wasn’t there before and you just knew shouldn’t be there now?  You start to get the feeling the guy you bought the car from must be related to the guy your grandfather told you about who poured oatmeal in the radiator of the Model T he was selling to keep it from leaking.  It’s not a good feeling. 

We often have the sneaking suspicion that the closer we look at something, the more flaws we are bound to find in it.  The corrupt politician who promised to remove fraudulent dealings from the political arena; the wonderfully written paper you discovered was plagiarized; your own good intentions marred by the reality of life.  It almost makes us afraid to look closer lest be become disillusioned with what we might find.

Fortunately, not all is lost.  In fact, the closer we examine that which comes from the hand of God, the more amazingly complex and perfect we find it to be.  Seen from afar, one might catch a glimpse of the glory displayed by the gorget of the Anna’s Hummingbird. But seen up closer, the color is only intensified and the beauty magnified.  Rather than encouraging us to be satisfied with the superficial, the Apostle Paul encourages us to grow in perfection so we too might give glory to our maker.  Notice how he expresses this idea in Philippians 1:9,10  (Williams)

“And it is my prayer that your love may overflow still more and more, directed by fuller knowledge and keener insight, so that you may always approve the better things, and be men of transparent character and blameless life…”

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Out of the Mud
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 13, 2009

I love wildflowers. One of the early bloomers in Western Washington is the skunk cabbage.  Its flowers are kind of hard to miss, and the leaves can grow to more than three feet long.

It's a member of the arum or calla lily family.  As you can tell by the name, it doesn't exactly have a pleasant scent.  I wouldn't say it really smells like a skunk, but it isn't something you want to pick and bring into the house either!  You usually find these growing in wet, muddy environments in the woods, alongside streams or in ditches.  Their color can really brighten up a dull day.

Psalms 40:1-3 states, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined to me, and heard my cry.  He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps."

I think we can be like the skunk cabbage (living in the mud and maybe not smelling so great)!  God sees us where we are and can rescue us and make something beautiful out of our lives despite our circumstances.

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Deserted, Betrayed and Cold
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Jesus again gave a loud cry, and breathed his last....And when the centurion and his men who were keeping watch over Jesus saw the earthquake and all that was happening, they were filled with awe, and they said, 'Truly this man was a son of God. (Mathew 27:50, 54) "The angel then addressed the women: 'You, he said, have nothing to fear.  I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; he has been raised again, as he said he would be.'" (Mathew 28:5,6) Then in Galilee He said to his disciples, "be asssured, I am with you always, to the end of time." Mathew 28:20.  "Yes, I am coming soon."  Rev 22:20 NEB
Jesus was deserted, betrayed, taken, tried, beaten, mocked and crucified for US, in OUR place.  He has risen and calls US to respond to HIM.
At first I was surprised to see this carving of Jesus on the cross on top of a glacier at almost 13,000 feet elevation next to the Matterhorn in Switzerland.  The more I looked at it, I realized it WAS very fitting.  A statue of Him, looking over his beautiful creative works YET deserted, betrayed and cold - HIS death can give US life...if we choose.

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“Let there be . . . and there was.”
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 11, 2009

Back in mid-March on a walk, Shelley and I came across the above decayed leaf. Its lace-like veins were so beautiful that I held it against the sky and took the above photograph.

And the closer you look, the more magnificent the detail . . 

It wasn’t until I looked at the first photo again--the non-magnified one--that I saw the little circles of light coming down from the upper-left corner of the photo, caused by trying to shoot too close to the sun without a lens hood.

This reminds me of the power projected by the Creator of all the earth’s beauty, beauty which is still glorious even in decay. Once upon a time He spoke, and said, “Let there be light. Let plants grow, let animals stir into life and bellow with joy, let Adam and Eve open their eyes and revel in the planet I have made for them. And on the seventh day, let’s all relax and reflect on the eternal security which comes from our relationship with each other.”

How about you? Are you reserving Sabbath time to fight your way out of the city and contemplate such faint premonitions of Eden restored?

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Wake-up Call
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 10, 2009

Yesterday morning as Shelley and I were talking a walk, we suddenly heard a loud metallic tat-tat-tat-tat a couple of houses away. We changed our route to see if we could spot the percussionist, and sure enough, there he was, banging away on a chimney’s metal trim.

Expert birder Robert Howson, who does our Tuesday blog, told me several years back that this early-morning drummer is probably a flicker of some kind. He has also told me that this beak-hammering is probably sending out a “Hey, guys, this is my territory!” message.

Shelley and I are always delighted to hear and see these flickers at their highly audible work--and our delight stems partly from the fact that it’s another household and not ours which is getting the benefit of this early-morning wakeup call. I’m sure that more than one flicker-afflicted neighbor has probably dreamed wistfully of his childhood Daisy BB-gun.

God gives wake-up calls too, and they can be at least as incessant and insistent. Have you ever had one? A sudden flush of guilt after saying something insensitive to someone? The solemn hush at the funeral of a friend who’s not much older than you are, during which you think, That could be--and maybe someday WILL be--me? The deep longing to know Him better and fellowship with others on the same quest?

Don’t resist. God’s been in the wakeup-call business for thousands of years, so He’s a pro. And what He’s calling you to is ultimate happiness. Wake up!He cries. Here’s one Bible example:

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Romans 13:11-14 NKJV

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Seeing Clearly
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Jason Meert
Thursday, April 9, 2009

While strolling through Pike's Place Market a few weeks ago I saw this scary fish display. It's been arranged to hang eye-level with small children, but everything above it looks like a normal fish market. The sign is obviously educational, and after all, the fish is one of God's creatures.  But I didn't want to get close enough to even take a decent picture of it.

I wish sin were as clearly hideous and as well-labeled as that fish at the market.

I'm glad Jesus recognized the devil's deceptions in the wilderness, and gave us an example of how we should respond to temptation.

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A New Kind of Date-book
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I’m always on the lookout for new-and-improved systems which might make my life more organized and effective, so I was delighted to discover a daily planner I’d never seen before. (I didn’t actually buy it, because I couldn’t find a slot for it in my way of doing things, but I was deeply intrigued.)

As you see, the two-page spread covers an entire day. The white circle is AM and the dark circle PM. Numbers are arranged around each circle like a clock face. The idea is that you can enter each appointment next to the hour it will happen, and if you have more notes about the meeting, you can just move further out on the page and write small.

As I say, I regretfully put the book back on the shelf, but that two-page view reminded me again that all any of us have is 24 hours in a day. Into those 24 we must insert sleep, work, eating, playing. And most importantly, of course, time with God.

What slice of your day does He have?

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Thin Ice
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
We came across this sign not long ago just outside a resort in the North Cascades while visiting with friends.  Since it was snowing that day, the fire in the lodge seemed especially welcoming.  This also lent credibility to the sign.  But one of those skeptical bones in my body started wondering, “I wonder if it really is that thin after all?”  After all, I had been out on a lake where the ice was three feet thick and people drove in comfort across it in their SUVs.  Just a passing thought, but a question nonetheless.  I wondered if the owners of the resort were just covering their legal behinds or if they really believed the frozen water posed a genuine danger to their guests.  I’ve never been there during the summer months, but I wondered if the sign would still be there in July when the fireworks were lighting the night air.  
My human cynicism apparently is not limited to myself alone.  Others, like King Ahaz, in Isaiah 7, were offered a sign by the Lord, yet he was reluctant to accept it.  One of the major reasons we doubt is often we don’t know the person who put the sign there.  Other times we don’t even know who it was that placed the sign there in the first place.  This lack of certainty creates our lack of conviction.

I’d like to believe my confidence in the trustworthiness of the Lord would cause me to have assurance that the sign, and the Signmaker, wanted only what was best for me--and that the signs weren’t put there to limit my fun or check my creativity, but only enhance the abundant life He desires for me.

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Filled Up

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 6, 2009

I saw this container ship while looking down from the little park across from Parson's Garden on Queen Anne in Seattle.  You can tell that the ship is mostly empty because of the amount of red showing on the bottom (a little tip I picked up while on the Harbor Tour in Seattle!). 

Jesus said, in Matthew 5:6, that "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."  The Message states it as: "You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God.  He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat." 

I would like it if people could look at me and see that I am not empty.

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Unless You Become Like a Child . . .

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, April 5, 2009

This group of children, waiting for a religious parade on Palm Sunday, caught my attention at the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru.  When travelling, I'm amazed to see all the beautiful children, all different, but also alike in so many ways. Have you thought about their curiosity, honesty, quest for learning, faithfulness, humbleness...(keep adding to the list)?
Jesus often talked with and about children.  In Mathew 18:1-5 He responds to the disciples when they asked, "'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?'  He called a child, set him in front of them, and said, 'I tell you this: unless you turn around and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. Let a man humble himself till he is like this child, and he will be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me."

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New Arrival!
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 4, 2009

Strolling through the Southcenter Mall Borders bookstore a little over a week ago I was intrigued to see this honest-to-goodness record player turntable, along with a sign which implied that it was a latest-and-greatest kind of gadget which everybody should rush over and get their hands on.

“What goes around comes around,” I said to myself. Or more exactly, what goes around and around while playing a record, comes around. The turntable, of course, provided the world its recorded music for decades until tape came along, yet tape finally lost out to another kind of turntable, which plays CDs invisibly and out of sight. But here is this LP player back again. Interesting. (I understand that DJs use them in their music-mixing.)

While a lot of new technology permanently retires the old (think of the typewriter, the slide rule, the abacus, the Morse-code telegraph, and on and on), some old technology is still the best (think of the crisscross way we lace our shoes, the design of the fork, spoon, chopstick, steering wheel, pencil, and more). And it’s at our eternal peril that we forget another old-but-good product, the Holy Bible. 

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Casual Menswear
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 3, 2009

This past Sunday Shelley and I were returning from a church retreat we were helping with, and stopped in a little town where I spotted the sign in this store window. I know what it means, of course--if I aspired to be a casual man, I could enter this store and come out properly attired.

But I couldn’t resist also reading “common cussing” into those words. I was employed fulltime for ten years in the secular workplace even before I became an English teacher and then a pastor, and the flood of masculine obscenity and profanity I heard around me became imprinted in my mind. Since my Wesleyan Methodist dad never swore--even a hammer to his thumbnail provoked only a gasp--I’ve never been a man who swears, let alone a casual one. And that’s why it’s a bit gut-wrenching to hear even Christians (even Christian women) sometimes let slip an “Oh, my Gahhhhd,” or see a texted omg.

Torrents of words, good and bad, submerge us every day, and this often hides the Bible truth: words are important

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The Reward

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Jason Meert
Thursday, April 2, 2009

I got to meet an amazing little pug last week named Duncan. Duncan seems to love little reward treats more than anything and he's very well trained. In this photo he had just been told to wait, and he is. He's clearly anxious to get to that reward, though.

Though I'm sure our heavenly rewards will be wonderful, I'm looking forward to being with my Savior as intensely as Duncan is watching that treat. And I hope we don't have to wait much longer!

Revelation 22:12
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me..."

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Voice-command Lightning 

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Just recently, my family and I went on a mission trip to Kenya.  The experience was amazing and the sights were just as spectacular.  One evening, there was a lightning show that was beyond my wildest dreams, the bolts striking and streaking like a strobe light.  As I stood in awe (while taking a few pictures), it reminded me, again of how powerful God is. 

In Genesis 1:3, we see with a mere voice command – light was created, “And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.”
I have used a few things that are activated by voice command, but never lights in the sky.  As much as this site reminded me of how amazing God’s creations are, it also reminded of how ready we need to be, for God’s voice command to us.  Just like the lightning – we need to be ready to strike whenever and wherever God asks us to.

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