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

Devotional Photo Blog- August 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

NOTE: To see previous months' blogs, click here, and follow the instructions.

Where There's Smoke . . .
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 31, 2009

My sister and I were traveling between Hope and Merritt, BC, in early August when we suddenly started to see smoke to the east. As we drove, we were seeing more and more smoke and it was billowing up higher and higher. I finally pulled over to the shoulder (as lots of other people were doing) so that we could see it better.

If you've never seen a forest fire, it is an amazing phenomenon. We were seeing a lot more smoke than flames since it was burning on the other side of the ridge but it was growing bigger and bigger as we watched. It was out of control but firefighters were already working on it. Fortunately, it was in a scarcely populated area but I did hear that some people had to be evacuated although I didn't hear of injuries or any loss of homes from this fire. (A helicopter being used for firefighting did crash in another part of BC a little while after this and the pilot lost his life.)

Some of the fires were human caused (by a carelessly tossed cigarette or a campfire that was not put out properly) and some were as a result of lightening strikes. Arson was being looked into in some cases.

James 3:5-6 (The Message), states: "It only takes a spark, remember,to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on the a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell."

That's a pretty serious reminder of how we need to think before we speak because the consequences could be as destructive and devastating as those caused by an out of control forest fire.

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His Wonderful Works
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 30

Lake Tipsoo was picturesque with the colorful wildflowers and Mt. Rainier in the distance even though the day was very hot. We are so fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest with so many beautiful mountains, lakes, trees, flowers and wild animals.

Psalms 86:9 states that "All the nations thou has made, O Lord, will come, will bow down before thee and honor thy name; for thou art great, thy works are wonderful, thou alone art God. NEB

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Where Two are Gathered
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 29, 2009

Munching my way through a small bag of trail mix a little over a week ago, I discovered something I had never known before: each M&M only has one "M" printed on it, not two! In other words, you can't technically call one of them an M&M, but just an M!

In the same way, I firmly believe that you can't call me a "Christian" unless I am a part of a group of Christians. Scan the Bible all the way from the first "In" of Genesis to the last "Amen" of Revelation, and you literally won't find one solitary believer in God.

That's because God works in groups. He calls individuals, but calls them to groups. From Adam and Eve (whom He created with the ability to create their own group) to the great gathering on the Sea of Glass in Revelation, God wants us together, for mutual enjoyment and encouragement and enlightenment.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of unpleasant baggage that sometimes sticks to the word "church." But we need to peel that off and take a look at it through God's eyes. For a few texts that will help you do that, click here.

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Paul the Persuader
Drawing ©2009 by Kuyler Lang
Commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 28, 2009

Last Sabbath as I was sitting at the front of the church waiting to preach, I saw Kuyler Lang in the congregation, and I thought, There he is! Will he create another drawing?

Sure enough, this elementary schoolteacher from Walla Walla got out his sketchbook and (without knowing what I would be speaking on until he got to church that day) created another marvellous drawing in the time it took for me to preach the sermon. I preached on how the apostle Paul shared his faith in Acts 17, and applied the principles he used to our day and time.

When Kuyler gave me the above drawing after the service, I found myself thinking again how wonderful it was that this talented teacher in on "our side," by which I mean God's side. He teaches grades 1 & 2 at Roger Elementary, an Adventist school, in Walla Walla, and he's engaged to another talented teacher, Christie Medrano, who teaches at Kirkland Seventh-day Adventist School and who's a member of my congregation. And next year I get to have the pleasure of joining these dynamic young people in marriage!

To see these teachers' school websites, click Christie or Kuyler.
To hear the audio for the Acts 17 sermon Kuyler based this drawing on, click here.

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Men Against the Sea
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, August 27, 2009

Earlier this summer Shelley and I were sitting on Rialto Beach on the Pacific Ocean just west of Forks, Washington when I snapped this shot. The waves were pretty hefty, and these three guys--who appear to be in their late 20s or early 30s--are bracing themselves for the one rumbling toward them.

I noticed, however, that they quickly tired of this pastime, and retreated to the shore. Maybe the water was too chilly, or maybe they'd seen the posted signs warning about the powerful undertow. (Notice the water wrapped around their legs? That's the undertow, trying to drag them out to sea.)

It's a wise person who understands the limits of human power when matched with natural forces.

And it's an even wiser person who has come to know the God who created these forces. In some of the Bible's most dramatic poetic lines, God speaks to Job and reminds him who is the Creator and who the creature:

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
"Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!'

Job 38:4 - 11 NKJV

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Fireworks In August?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I am not sure why, but I really love fireworks. Maybe it's the kid in me, the kid who wants to hear the boom, see the bright lights and feel the thud in my chest. Whatever it is, I like them a lot. In fact, I could light fireworks off....all year round. When I see fireworks, I think of celebrations and excitement. As Americans we associate fireworks with our independence and what it means to live in a "free land".

God has freed the entire human race from the bondage of sin. I don't believe we, as humans, have the capability to comprehend what that means. I know there are too many times, each and every day, we take things for granted God has provided for us -- through the process of setting us free. This goes way above and beyond, the Independence of one country. It's mind-boggling to fathom the gift He has provided to us. God is good and we can not forget that.

I am not sure if it's possible, but when we get to heaven, maybe we can have a huge fireworks show. Either way, I will be very excited to see our Creator. For now, let's make sure we are always remember remember what He does for us - each and everyday.

Here is a small reminder, Psalm 97:12, "Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name."

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MacGillivray's Warbler
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nathanael did it. You've done it, and so have I. We stereotype. We make generalizations, some of which are warranted and some of which are not. Let's take a quick look at the pitfalls as well as the benefits of such behavior. Nathanael, the disciple of Christ, is a good place to start. and that's where we first bump into Nathanael in Scripture, as he starts his walk with Christ.

Philip had just been introduced to the Savior and he couldn't wait to tell his good friend about his discovery. Good news deserves telling, so he rushed to share his discovery of the One about whom the prophets wrote. Then to bring Nathanael up to speed he added, "It's Jesus, from Nazareth."

It's at this point that Nathanael jumps the gun, based upon his previous experience and probably the generally held consensus of his day. John 1:46 records his skeptical reaction, "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" At this point I'll leave it to you to fill in the blanks for your own similar reactions.

But what about the promised benefits? The majority of these are common sense, ordinary generalizations that make our lives simpler. For example, consider the use of a name, the same thing that threw Nathanael for a loop. If you're looking for a Cactus Wren, your best bet would not be to hope one lands on the bow of your sixty foot yacht while sailing off the coastal waters of Washington.

Remotely possible, but only barely. And where do you think you might go looking for a Marsh Wren? You get the idea. Names are helpful. Sometimes. Where would you recommend one should look to find the MacGillivray's Warbler pictured above? Here, experience and additional information are needed. Because I knew this sulking warbler likes to hide in the undergrowth, especially along clearings bordered by water, and because I had seen one there before, I was able to drive over the pass and find one minutes after jumping out of the car.

So, is it wise to generalize, or not? This isn't one of those yes/no questions. But what we can confirm with certainly is that something very, very good, did come out of Nazareth.

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Somebody Bigger Than You and I
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 24, 2009

Whenever I see mountains, I can't help but think that there's Someone a lot bigger than me who has control over the forces of nature. This is another picture I took up in Manning Provincial Park in BC.

I like the song titled "Somebody Bigger Than You and I" by Johnny Lange, Hy Heath and Sonny Burke.

Who made the mountains, who made the trees
Who made the rivers flow to the sea
And who sends the rain when the earth is dry
Somebody bigger than you and I

Who made the flowers to bloom in the spring
Who made the song for the robins to sing
And who hung the moon and the stars in the sky
Somebody bigger than you and I

He lights the way when the road is long
He keeps you company
And with his love to guide you
He walks beside you
Just like he walks with me

When we're filled with despair
Who gives me courage to go from there
And who gives me faith that will never die
Somebody bigger than you and I.

Amos 4:13 (NLT) states: "For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals his every thought. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads the mountains under his feet. The Lord God Almighty is his name!"

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New Life!
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 23, 2009

The subalpine wildflowers at Mt. Rainier were beautiful this year with all their varied colors and shapes. This photo shows one of my shots of Magenta Paintbrush and Pasqueflower Seedheads taken near Paradise. While the Pasqueflower is quite delicate, once it turns into a seedhead, it's much larger and definitely makes its statement! The possibility of many new plants lies within each seedhead, allowing it to propagate and bring new life.

Psalms 85:6 talks about God giving His people new life so they can rejoice in Him.

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The Observatory
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 22, 2009

I snapped this photo sometime back on the campus of the University of Washington. This is the Theodore Jacobsen Observatory, built in 1895, and though the university now has another observatory, this one's 6-inch refracting telescope (a half-dozen years older than the building) is still in use.

Two things fascinate me about this photo. First, I love that little building itself with its old-timey castle-like charm. Wouldn't it be fun to have that in your back yard as a little office? Second, I've always been intrigued with the vastness of space, the glory of the galaxies, and the mind-numbing distances between them.

The Bible talks about a time when we won't have to peer at the heavens through earthly telescopes or Hubbles. Jesus promised that those who let Him befriend them will get a personal guided tour on the way to the place He's prepared. "I go to prepare a place for you," He assured us. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:2, 3 NKJV Want more information about Heaven and how to get there? Click here. And if you'd like to read more about the Jacobsen Observatory and its history, click here.

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Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 22, 2009

In mid-June I stopped by an office-supply store, and was startled to see that it sold "Open" signs for businesses, those welcome neon signs that say, "We're not closed! Come in and let us help you fulfill your needs!" In fact, the above sign uses for its illumination something called "Newon," which the advertising claims is "better than neon"--probably brighter and longer-lasting.

Throughout my life I've known a number of people which could be called "open." They're not chameleons--they don't simply "go along to get along"--and they do have principles by which they live. But they are such fun to be around, because they seem sincerely interested in others, willing to listen, willing to laugh, willing to sympathize. When I meet people like that, I not only appreciate them but I study them so that I can pattern my own behavior on theirs.

True healthy openness like this happens, I believe, for at least two reasons. (Sadly, you can't buy it in a store!) First, the open person has often learned to be at personal peace--and there's no better way to discover personal peace than discovering a God who really does want to forgive your sins, and do it thoroughly. Second, someone who is deeply grateful to God for this peace naturally wants to open his or her heart to other people. To find out more, click peace or love.

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How Much Impact Are You Having on Olympic's Wild Character?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, August 20, 2009

I can't keep from grinning every time I see this photo, which I took a couple of months ago. It was a poster displayed somewhere in the town of Forks, and it looks like an earnest attempt to remind tourists to deal gently with the natural, primal beauty of the Olympic National Forest.

But another part of me looks at the picture of the hiker standing on the peak, and I ask myself, "Is that slender, mild-mannered hiker Olympic's ‘wild character'?" (Using "character" in the sense of an eccentric and unpredictable person.)

The truth is, of course, that no matter how non-eccentric and non-wild the above nature-lover seems, he--and you and I--have within ourselves a wild, untamed, sinful side. Paul calls this the "old man" of sin, and in each of the three verses this old man is mentioned, Paul urges us to "put off," or get rid of, this old man (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). A better education can't do it, a good environment can't do it, pills can't do it. It's got to happen supernaturally, and it's got to happen to everybody who wants eternal life. For more of what the Bible says about sin and how to deal with it, click here.

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Freedom on the Horizon
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On our recent trip to New York City (as I mentioned last week) we were able to visit the Statue of Liberty. All the many photos I had seen of the statue still didn't prepare me for the feeling I had when I saw her with my own eyes. That feeling didn't come from her size, even though she stands 305 feet from base to tip. It didn't come from her great beauty--123 years of standing in the open harbor have given her copper covering a pale green, weathered look. No, the feeling I got from the sight of the statue was due to the symbols she stands for. I won't mention all the different symbols (feel free to read up on your own - it's worth it). The one I wanted to call your attention to is freedom.

When immigrants sought a better life, they headed west. Afte they had traveled thousands of miles across open seas, this statue is one of the first sights they were able to see on the horizon. In a famous poem by Emma Lazarus, written for this statue, are the lines:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Fast forward to present day. God is calling for the; tired, the poor...those yearning to breathe free from sin. Imagine the second coming--we start our long journey, traveling thousands of light-years through open space...and in the end we won't see Lady Liberty, but instead we will see Someone far greater --God. Freedom at last!

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American Golden-Plover
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Have you ever spent time looking really hard for something you just knew had to be right there, but you just couldn't see it? Maybe you just dropped it, but in spite of covering every inch of territory, the sought after item magically had vanished. Maybe you called in reinforcements, believing another set of eyes might miraculously bring into focus what yours had overlooked. This becomes particularly frustrating when the looked for item should be as obvious as the proverbial barn door.

Case in point. The previous day we had discovered the nest on the open tundra of an American Golden-Plover. The eggs had not yet hatched so we wanted to keep a close eye on them in hopes of seeing the young emerge. We were able to locate the area fairly easily the next day and discovered one of the young had indeed emerged from its shell and was still moist from its surroundings. Not wanting to keep the parents away from the nest too long, we took a few shots and withdrew with plans to return in a few hours. Relocation should not have been a difficult task; we had located the exact place of the nest and carefully taken into account distinctive features which might be used to guide us. On top of that, how difficult should it be to find a ball of fluff brightly colored with black, white, and gold? Not so easy--the camouflage was perfect. We crept carefully over the tundra for fear of stepping on the nest and only after long searching did the now-fluffy baby pop into focus.

In a very small way we could experience the sentiment Jesus was talking about in Luke 10:23 when He reminded His disciples how fortunate they were to see what the prophets of old had longed to see; and now here He was, standing right there in front of them in person. Maybe our search intensified the enjoyment of discovery, certainly it was easier to understand His words, "How privileged you are to see the things you have." (Clear Word) May we each experience the joy of seeing Him more clearly be ours.

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What Kind of Crop Are We Growing?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 17, 2009

I saw this big sunflower growing in a small garden plot at the Lakehills Greenbelt Master Gardeners' Demonstration Site and Community Gardens in Bellevue. When I saw the sunflower, I knew that the gardener for this plot had to have planted a sunflower seed. (Tomato seeds are not going to yield this kind of a crop!)

Galatians 6: 7 and 8 in The Message says:
"Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others - ignoring God! - harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

We need to make sure that what we are planting in our lives are things that will lead to eternal life.

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Like a Swinging Bridge
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 16, 2009

We've been busy hosting and leading hikers from New Zealand and Italy. While at Mt. Rainier, one day during the hot weather, some of us hiked along the Ohanapecosh River hoping to keep cooler in the trees and along the river. We started at the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center, hiking uphill to the Stevens Canyon Entrance and on to the Grove of the Patriarchs, then back to our starting point.

The previous bridge had been washed out and a new "swinging" bridge installed. Even though they recommended only one person be on the bridge at a time, some of us didn't question going across the river on it. Yes, the bridge swayed back and forth when walking on it. I thought it was fun! However, one hiker could not bring herself to walk on the bridge, but waded through the water to get across!

Life is something like the swinging bridge -- a bit uneasy at times. By having courage, faith and trust in God, He can help us through the rough times. Psalms 31:24 NEB states, "Be strong and take courage, all you whose hope is in the Lord."

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"X" Marks the Spot
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
August 15, 2009

It just happened to be Sabbath, July 4, when Shelley and I were coming home from church, that I saw this dramatic crossing of two jet contrails. As I pulled into a parking lot and snapped this shot, I couldn't help thinking that--seen from above--it would look as though someone had marked the earth with a giant white "X."

Which is exactly what has happened, in a way. Long ago Satan marked out this world for his own. As he tempted Jesus in the desert, he offered--in return for Christ's worship--all the kingdoms of the world. The assumption was that the devil claimed the right over them. "All this authority . . . and . . . glory; . . . has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish." Luke 4:6 NKJV

But Someone else has the last word, and here is that word: "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" Revelation 11:15 Jesus has marked this world with His white cross of righteousness for all who will accept it. And when He returns, we will experience for the first time genuine July 4 "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" freedom! Why not turn your life over to your Creator and Savior right now?

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A Command or an Invitation?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 14, 2009

As a former English teacher, I can't resist mentally playing around with signs I see posted in public places. Does the above sign give me permission to rush into this little office kitchenette with an aluminum baseball bat and start breaking the room and everything in it? Or is it indeed a little room I can use for a "break," to rest and restore my energies?

In God's original plan, the seventh-day Sabbath is supposed to be a "break room," a Divine 24-hour permission to rest (which is what "sabbath" means) and restore your body, mind and spirit. But too often Saturdays become times which are broken up with racing around finishing what we couldn't finish during the week, or doing back-breaking recreation that simply adds weariness and stress to already overloaded systems. Longing for a "break" from life's incessant pressures? Check out God's Eden "break room" gift to Adam and Eve! Click here.

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Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm a frequent stopper-in at thrift stores, mainly to see what's happening in the used book section. The Goodwill chain is one of my favorites, but when I stopped at one a couple of days ago on the way back from a pastor's seminar I noticed that a firm staffer had taken upon himself or herself the task of categorizing the books. I say "firm," because even though books can be categorized into hundreds of groups, Goodwill had grimly decreed that there should be only four or five categories: Children's, Fiction, Non-fiction, Educational, and Self-help are the ones I remember.

I don't know how long it took the Goodwill authorities to decide that Christian books should be shoved under the Self-help sign, but that's where they put them. They did have the decency to give them an end-shelf where they wouldn't have to rub shoulders with the "how to succeed in business" and "think positive" books.

Christianity, when properly interpreted, is of course at the opposite end of the spectrum from "self-help." "For by grace you have been saved through faith," Paul insists, "and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8, 9 NKJV Elsewhere he repeats this idea: "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," Titus 3:4, 5. For more Bible texts on the grace (unmerited favor) of God, click here.

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Lady Who???
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

About a week and half ago my family and I were in New York City, for a whirl-wind tour, for the next 8 hours. One of our "must see" spots was the Statue of Liberty. We were headed to a boat that would take us out to see the Statue. The kids were very excited, as none of us had ever seen the statue with our own eyes. As we were getting closer to the line, we saw this. Collectively, we chuckled and I quickly snapped a quick shot.

Not once did we think this was the REAL Lady Liberty. I would say the main reason we knew this was an impostor was, we had seen enough pictures, read enough books, listened to enough stories, to be able to tell the true statue from a fake. (You'll have to wait until next week to see the real one.)

Is our spiritual life any different? In Matthew 24:11 we receive a warning of the end of time, "...and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.". How are we going to know the our TRUE Savior from the fake ones? Just like knowing the true statue - we have to study, read, listen and continue to build our relationship with the one and TRUE God. If you haven't started already, it's not too late.

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Rock Ptarmigan
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One of the challenges for the wildlife photographer is to get as close to the subject he is seeking to photograph as possible. This enables him to capture details and characteristics which might otherwise be overlooked. A good rule of thumb, but not an absolute.

Consider the photograph above. Why do I like this particular picture? It's not that the picture is particularly photogenic. I have ones of the Rock Ptarmigan (shown here) which reveal more clearly the cryptic summer plumage which allows it to blend into the surrounding foliage making it almost invisible. Others are set in a more picturesque setting and possess greater eye appeal.

I like the above photo because it tells me something a tighter close-up never could. I like it because it offers me two insights not available in my "better" pictures. The first is what it tells me about the bird. Although the picture reveals the brown earth-tones which allow it to be wonderfully camouflaged, it goes far beyond that and discloses the degree of confidence the ptarmigan places in its protective coloration.

The second thing the picture reveals isn't about the bird at all, but about the owner of the tennis shoe within stepping distance of the avian subject. It reminds me of my wife who really isn't all that excited about seeing her first Rock Ptarmigan, but who is willing to hike over the rugged Arctic tundra so her husband can experience the joy it brings him. Experiences shared are always richer because of the sharing. So it is true after all; sometimes the wide-angle panorama does tell us more than the detailed depiction - about nature and about ourselves.

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What Kind of Fruit Are We Producing?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 10, 2009

The Tree and the Fruit, Luke 6: 43-45 New Living Translation

"A good tree can't produce bad fruit , and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. A tree is identified by the kind of fruit it produces. Figs never grow on thornbushes or grapes on bramble bushes. A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say."

My dad and I went cherry picking last week. The orchard was just loaded with ripe cherries and we had picked what we wanted to pick in no time at all. They trees all seemed to be producing good fruit - at least the ones I taste-tested!

Did you ever say something that you later regretted saying and wonder where that came from? Jesus' illustration about good trees producing good fruit and His comparison with people doing good deeds which come from good hearts is something to think about. I think we can all pray for good hearts so that our "fruit" can be good.

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Keeping Watch
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's mid-day and these elk are resting. You'll note that even though they're resting, they are alert. More elk to the right of this photo were looking other directions. All directions were covered for any predators that might want to harm them. They were on guard--watching.

Mathew 24:42 KJV states that "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." Are you "watching"?

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Are You In Line?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 8, 2009

Late last month Shelley and I were returning from a quick getaway to Washington's peninsula. I snapped this picture while we were waiting in line for the ferry. You can see by the shadows that it's getting late in the day, and we wanted to make sure we got across the water before too much longer. We would have been gone by now, except that we missed the last boat by just one minute!

This got me to thinking how important it is that you and I get in line--and stay in line--for another voyage, the one in which Jesus personally returns to escort us to Heaven, the place He has prepared for us. Are you in line? To make sure, click here.

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The Three Musketeers
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 7, 2009

Last Sabbath evening Shelley and I arrived home at nearly 10 p.m., and Shelley happened to notice some beady little eyes peering down at her from the ledge above our garage doors. Sure enough, three half-size raccoons were enjoying watching us from their ringside seats!

This was the first time we'd laid eyes on these little guys, and whenever I see wild animals, I marvel at how well they're usually able to care for themselves without human intervention. Sadly, a large raccoon who must have been their mother was run over on the street by our house--and we think it was she who was raising these babies in our vicinity earlier this year, because we'd heard about them from the neighbor kids. Evidently these three young sprouts got nostalgic for their birthplace and decided to climb around on our house that night. We haven't seen them since.

I'm looking forward to the New Earth, where there'll be no more orphaned animals, and where I can call for a raccoon and it will jump into my lap and let me pet it! For more Bible facts about heaven, click here.

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Always in the Game
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, August 6, 2009

I got a kick--pun intended--out of the new University of Washington Huskies football promos. In this and several other versions of the theme, ordinary people doing ordinary things nevertheless are wearing football helmets with the Huskies logo. Pictured above are three adults, but other posters show kids wearing the helmets as well. Because the true Husky supporter is "always in the game"--thinking about the Huskies, cheering for the Huskies, attending a Husky game whenever possible, and (if an alumnus) financially supporting the Huskies.

You're ‘way ahead of me, right? Are you and I (and little kids through venerable seniors) "always in the game" with Jesus? Are we constantly thinking about Him and what He would do with the challenges we face? Are we cheering for Him--doing what we can to encourage Him and enhance His reputation? Do we attend His "games" (worship events) with at least the loyal devotion of a Husky season-ticket holder? And do we financially support His causes with our tithes and offerings?

Go Huskies! (And Go Cougars also, of course.)

But most importantly, Go Jesus!

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Father and Son: Protection vs. Freedom
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

If you are a parent, you know the most important thing you can do in your life is protect your child. You also know that it's a very fine line you have to walk, between protecting them and allowing them to make their own decisions. When I took this picture of my cousin and his son, I saw Kevin making sure he was close enough to protect his son, but just far enough away to allow freedom.

Can you imagine what it was like for God to allow Jesus to leave heaven? Not only did He have to step back and let Jesus grow from a baby to an adult, but He had to give up most of the control. He had to allow another set of parents to raise Jesus, teaching Him right from wrong. He had to watch as Jesus grew and followed the plan. He had to watch as Jesus was tempted by Satan - hoping His son would do the right thing. Then, to finalize the plan, not only did He have to step back and allow His one and only son, be tortured, ridiculed, and mocked . . . but to be ultimately be sacrificed.

I cannot fathom the pain and anguish God must have felt as He watched His Son die. When we look it from God's perspective, it certainly adds more meaning to the sacrifice: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

What a gift He has given us. Let's accept that gift today!

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White-tailed Ptarmigan
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

We don't usually think of trickery and deception as part of God's arsenal of weapons; they don't seem to match up with the pure transparency of His character. On the other hand, we have no problem recognizing and even admiring these qualities when we see them in nature. This quality is shown, or should we say hidden, through examples of camouflage. Think how this might be reflected in the words of Psalms 36:7: "How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings." (NIV) Or maybe the idea comes through more clearly in the old King James wording of Psalms 18:8 where David asks God to "hide me under the shadow of thy wings.

Somehow we like the word "protection" better than less positive terms. Whichever expression we choose to use, it is wonderfully displayed in the White-tailed Ptarmigan. This species is found above timberline in the high mountains of the West. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, just a nice fat Kentucky-Fried look-alike waiting to be eaten by whatever predator gets them in their crosshairs.

Enter the Master Protector. During the winter when the slopes are covered in snow, the birds are kept warm by a covering of white feathers which make them nearly invisible. But come summer, with emerging plant life and bare rocks, the birds' plumage changes to a cryptic mottled brown. And wouldn't you know it, during the spring thaw when the mountain is in transition, the ptarmigans put on a half and half attire that lets them blend right in to that environment as well. David probably never knew about ptarmigans, but it appears he did know a lot about "hiding under His wings".

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He Shall Direct Your Paths
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 3, 2009

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."

I was in Manning Provincial Park (the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail) recently which is located in southern British Columbia. I like the fact that you can drive right up to the subalpine.

BC has been experiencing the same heat wave that we have had here and I wanted to go somewhere cooler. Gaining elevation usually helps with that. I was also hoping to see (okay, get a picture of) a hoary marmot (since I've already seen and photographed the Olympic marmot and the yellow-bellied marmot this year) but they weren't hanging out on their normal rock pile. Of course, I also wanted to see what was blooming although I pretty much know what to expect since I usually go at the same time every year!

This picture was taken looking down on the Heather Trail and the Viewpoint Trail. I was on the Viewpoint trail which loops off to the left a little way down the hill and heads back to the parking lot. I was not up to a long hike (it's 44 kilometers and eight hours return on the Heather Trail!) but was more interested in taking pictures of the flowers, which were probably at their peak, and butterflies.

The trail options in the park are numerous. If you take the Pacific Crest Trail, it will take you all the way to Mexico! We also have many options of different paths to take in life. It helps to know that we can trust God and his direction in making the best choices.

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A Fisher
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 2, 2009

The photo I'm sharing today is of a fisher, sometimes known as a fisher-cat. I had so many cute photos of it, I had a hard time choosing the one to include. It's not much of a fisher and it's not a cat, but belongs in the weasel family. Even though they will eat fish, they prefer snowshoe hare, small rodents, nuts, berries and porcupines! Can you imagine them eating a porcupine with all the quills?

Have you ever heard anyone call somebody a weasel? If you have, then you might think that being called a weasel is bad. But weasels are good hunters, cunning, curious, strong and fierce. Due to its agility, both on the ground and in trees, a fisher has virtually no enemies.

Mathew 4:19 (KJV) says, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Are you a "fisher"?

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We're Mostly Water
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 1, 2009

Can you see her, there on the sidewalk, where I saw her during a morning walk in mid-July--this pompous-looking silhouette of a green (grass)-haired lady looking to the right, patrician nose held snobbishly high, sidewalk-crack eyes squinting ominously as she dares anyone to question her quality?

Even though I didn't check back later, I know she wasn't there in the afternoon. Even if her profile had been less big-nosed, less football-quarterback-chinned, and more movie starlet, the sun would have still quickly vaporized it.

From one end to the other, the Bible takes a bleak view of human pride and status-seeking, mainly because life is so uncertain. "Indeed," said David in Psalm 39:5, "You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor." "All flesh is grass," Isaiah agrees, "and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades . . . ." (Isaiah 40:6 - 7)

Even Moses has some wisdom to offer. Did you know that Moses wrote one of the psalms? "The days of our lives are seventy years," he says, "and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. . . . So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:10-12)

And how do we find wisdom? By going reverently to the Source of not only wisdom but eternal life: "For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints." (Proverbs 2:6-8)

And God is willing to share this wisdom with us: "If any of you lacks wisdom," James assures us, "let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5) For seven more Bible texts about wisdom, click here.

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