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

Devotional Photo Blog - August 2010

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--Beth-Anne Harvey. 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. 





American Dipper Babies
      

Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
 
They were still literally wet behind the ears, having left the nest just days before.  Already the baby American Dippers were learning how to gather food as their parents did, by searching the bottom of stream beds for tasty insects.  Still, the white water was rather intimidating.  But you could almost see them growing in confidence as they imitated their parents’ feeding techniques.  That is, until the water got too deep.  When that happened, a retreat to a nearby rock seemed a welcome alternative.
 
David must have felt that way when engulfed by troubles surrounding him.   “Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters.”  (Ps 69:14 NIV)   While the baby dipper’s fear of the water is undoubtedly a creation of the observer’s imagination, the fears that surround us can be very real indeed.  David once again uses this same imagery in Psalms 144:7 where he again seeks God’s help.  “Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters…”   Whether the water is deep or shallow, whether the problems real or imagined, the safest place to be is grounded upon Christ our Rock.

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Ten Essentials
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 30, 2010

Conveniently printed inside my REI backpack is a list of the ten essentials which one should have when going on a hike:

1) Navigation
2) Hydration
3) Nutrition
4) Sun Protection
5) Insulation
6) Warmth
7)  Illumination
8)  First Aid
9)  Shelter
10) Whistle

God has a different list.  Here are His ten essential rules to get us through life:

Exodus 20: 3-17 (KJV):

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.


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Worship the Lord
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last week I mentioned the “blackness” due to the volcano at Stromboli and the contrasting “whiteness” of the buildings. This photo shows some of the beautiful tropical flowers planted by a place of worship. The path goes to the waterfront of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The photo immediately above shows the sun behind a cloudy sky positioned behind the cross of another place of worship. I saw this sight as all the climbers heading to the top of Stromboli had just left the village to get to the mountain top by nightfall to see eruptions of the flames and molten lava. I wondered if it was a “message” that God would watch over the climbers.

In our travels, we see many types of worship places. I think of the hymn, “O Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, Bow down before Him, His glory proclaim; With gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness, Kneel and adore Him; the Lord is His name.”

Next week, I'll share a photo of Strombolicchio, a huge cliff rising from the sea surface, off the coast of Stromboli.


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But What’s the Product?
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 28, 2010

For the last few months, commuters--including me--who pause at this intersection about a mile from our house have been entertained by a true virtuoso. This young man has been hired by Little Caesar’s Pizza to stand on the corner and hold a sign advertising its “Hot N Ready” pizza.

Normally such sign-holders content themselves with listening to their iPods, swaying back and forth, smiling vaguely, and waving once in awhile. Not this guy. He doesn't even listen to an iPod. Instead, he approaches his task with the vehemence of someone conducting one of Beethoven’s stormier symphonies. Day after day he has developed more intricate moves with that sign, tossing it up in the air and catching it behind his back, or spinning it and letting the breeze press it against his finger while it spins. He has reinforced the sign’s edging with a plastic red frame--which you can see in this photo I took back on August 17--and has spared no effort to amuse and amaze his ever-changing audiences. Some honk appreciatively, and he gives them a cheerful thumbs-up.

Earlier this week I spotted him again. But this time he was squatting glumly on the concrete, holding the sign motionless on his shoulder. No more fancy juggling, flips, catches or acrobatics.

What happened? You’ve probably already figured it out. Though the local Little Caesar’s manager may have been, in an abstract way, an appreciator and maybe even a patron of the performing arts, the bottom line was that this sign was rotating so fast that it was impossible to see who its sponsor was. (My camera caught it mid-spin so you can read it, but the commuter's eye doesn’t have the same freeze-frame ability.) The message being communicated to the traffic-light-captive audience was not “Wouldn’t you like a Little Caesar’s Hot N Ready Pizza right now?” but “Look at the magic tricks I can perform with this sign! Boy, am I good!”

“Cool it with the fancy moves,” the manager probably said tersely. “I need customers.”

Yesterday afternoon I saw the sign-waver once more. The twirly-tricks were back, but I noticed that after a few seconds of dexterous spinning, he would bring the sign back level and motionless for a moment, as though--finally--to say, “This twirl has been brought to you by Little Caesar’s Pizza!”

The apostle Paul had once been Saul, madly spinning a horrific sign-message which distorted God’s character into a tyrant who terrorized Christians. But he saw the light--literally--and later learned to say, in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

If you and I claim to be Christians at all, we have each been issued a sign to display, which reads, “God loves the world. He gave His Son to die for us so we can live forever. This is a good thing, because God is kind and loving.” And that’s the message people need to see when they look at us and think about us. We’re not carrying a printed signboard, of course, but the message of our happiness as a child of God can only shine clearly through if we stay humble and not try to be too fancy, and if we model God’s love to everyone in every arena through which we move.

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Doubt Doubt
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 27, 2010

Sorry the above photo is so fuzzy--I didn’t want to attract attention by creeping right up to it and snapping a picture. It’s actually a zoom-up of a telephoto shot I took with my little point-and-shoot Nikon a bit over a week ago.

The poster, as you see, says “Doubt Doubt.” The pinkish-colored devices to the left of the counter the poster’s attached to are exercise machines, because this is a fitness center. And as anyone knows who’s tried to summon up the willpower to get his or her body into shape, the biggest obstacle to overcome is when you start wondering if the exercise program is really going to make any difference.

You’re ‘way ahead of me, right? When it comes to trying to understand God’s plans for our exploding planet, it can sometimes make you wonder, “Are this old globe and its contents really salvageable? Could I really be of any use--and any sort of object of love--to the pure, sinless Creator of the Universe?”

“Doubt Doubt” is, when you come to think of it, the Bible’s message boiled down into two syllables. Faith is believing in something you’re sure is true--but not because you know exactly how everything is going to turn out. Faith grows when you know that the One you’re asked to have faith in is powerful enough, and caring enough, to get you through the final end-time spasms.

So how do you get this faith? You do it the same way a good gym or fitness center gives it--you take advantage of experienced personal trainers who can give you facts and tell you stories of others whose doubt of doubt has paid off with healthier lives and more muscular bodies. If you’re not regularly attending church right now, make it a weekly habit. Because there you’ll find others just like you, and together you can share any encouragement that comes along.



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Confession
Photograph ©2010 by Beth–Anne Harvey
Commentary @1892 by Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ
Thursday, August 26, 2010

        He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses
        and forsakes them will have mercy. --Proverbs 28:13

The conditions of obtaining mercy from God are simple and just and reasonable. The Lord does not require us to do some grievous thing in order that we may have the forgiveness of sin. We need not make long and wearisome pilgrimages, or perform painful penances, to commend our souls to the God of heaven or to expiate our transgression; but he that confesses and forsakes his sin shall have mercy.

The apostle says, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed." (James 5:16) Confess your sins to God, who only can forgive them, and your faults to one another. If you have given offense to your friend or neighbor, you are to acknowledge your wrong, and it is his duty freely to forgive you. Then you are to seek the forgiveness of God, because the one you have wounded is the property of God, and in injuring him you sinned against his Creator and Redeemer.

The only reason why we do not have remission of sins that are past is that we are not willing to humble our hearts and comply with the conditions of the word of truth. The confession that is the outpouring of the inmost soul finds its way to the God of infinite pity. The psalmist says,

       The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart;
       and saves such as have a contrite spirit. --Psalm 34:18

There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow for sin.

True repentance will lead a man to bear his guilt himself and acknowledge it without deception or hypocrisy. Like the poor publican, not lifting up so much as his eyes unto heaven, he will cry,

       God be merciful to me a sinner. --Luke 18:13

and those who do acknowledge their guilt will be justified, for Jesus will plead His blood in behalf of the repentant soul.

The humble and broken heart, subdued by genuine repentance, will appreciate something of the love of God and the cost of Calvary; and as a son confesses to a loving father, so will the truly penitent bring all his sins before God. And it is written,

        If we confess our sins,
        He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
        and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. --1st John 1:9

"Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?  He does not retain
His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.  He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will
cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:18-19)
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Scripture references from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Excerpts from "Confession," chapter 4 of Steps to Christ by E. G. White.
Photograph of sunrise on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, October 2009.

[Study the Bible and Steps to Christ, Wed's 6 PM at the church.]

 







Will This Fit Through My Doggie Door?

Photo and commentary ©2010 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

About a week ago, we were able to spend the weekend with friends on Marrowstone Island.  It was a beautiful sunny Sabbath afternoon, and we were soaking up the view at the beach.  All of a sudden, we stopped and stared....here he came....walking toward us.  I don't know the name of the dog, as I was too busy taking pictures to stop and ask the owners, but I wonder if his nickname is Samson.  He walked a long way and never put this "tree" down to rest.  It simply seemed impossible for him not to get tired and to concentrate that long.

In Luke 1:37 it says “For with God nothing will be impossible.” 

When you see this and read that, I don’t think there is much else to say.  With God we can do anything –- without God, we can do nothing.  So, the next time you don't think you can accomplish, whatever you are attempting to, make sure God is assisting with your plan, we know what happens when He is --- just ask "Samson."


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American Dipper       
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just as science changes, so does the way of writing about it also change.  Today, writers, almost without exception, seek to be objective as they observe and record their findings.  This was already taking place in the late 1800s, but John Muir was a notable exception.  He immersed himself in nature and reveled in its beauty.  His enthusiasm led him to found the Sierra Club as well as pushing for the preservation of Yosemite.  His favorite bird was one that invariably was found along fast flowing mountain streams.  It is unique among American avifauna in that it gathers its food almost entirely by submerging itself, walking and flying along the bottom of the stream bed. 
 
Muir, ever the individualist, seems to have found his counterpart in the American Dipper, also known as the Water Ouzel.  He describes in detail the effervescence of the dipper while all other parts of nature seem frozen in the clutches of winter.  Muir’s account of this species is probably the single, most famous passage describing an American bird.  He concludes his account this way.  “Tracing on strong wing every curve of the most precipitous torrents from one extremity of the Sierra to the other; not fearing to follow them through their darkest gorges and coldest snow-tunnels; acquainted with every waterfall, echoing their diving music; and throughout the whole of their beautiful lives interpreting all that we in our unbelief call terrible in the utterances of torrents and storms, as only varied expressions of God’s eternal love.”  Eloquent description of a facet of nature.  Not a bad way to describe the ideal Christian walk either.


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Do They Know We Are Christians?
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
August 23, 2010

I found this sign at Northwest Trek amusing. They obviously meant it to feature Oregon Grape and had put in Holly by mistake.  Someone had helpfully corrected it with a marker so that the name would match the description and the plants growing behind the sign.

I sometimes wonder if our title of "Christian" matches the description other people would use for us.  I would hope nobody would feel the need to cross out that title and put something else in its place that would be more suitable.

Galatians 5:22-23
 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control..."


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The Lord Will Come
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 22, 2010

Last week I shared a photo of Mt. Aetna. Today, my photo is of a fiery eruption on Stromboli, the most isolated of the Aeolian Islands off the north coast of Sicily. This is the only place in Europe to have a permanently active volcano. It has been erupting for more than 20 centuries.

When approaching Stromboli by boat and when in one of the two villages, one can see puffs of smoke from the volcano every ten to fifteen minutes. When night comes, it's a different story! Hikers who have joined an expedition to climb to the top look down onto the blazing hot lava. While Ron is at the top after hiking for several hours, I'm on a boat looking up at the eruptions, as seen in my photo. First, one hears a blasting sound, then sees the flames bursting and next the flowing molten lava. It's an amazing sight!

The black soil, black beaches and the black, towering volcano are a contrast to the gleaming white houses with their beautiful flower gardens which I will share with you next week.

As recorded in II Peter 3:10, 12-13, “The Day of the Lord will come; it will come, unexpected as a thief. On that day the heavens will disappear with a great rushing sound, the elements will disintegrate in flames, and the earth with all that is in it will be laid bare....Look eagerly for the coming of the Day of God and work to hasten it on; that day will set the heavens ablaze until they fall apart, and will melt the elements in flames. But we have his promise, and look forward to new heavens and a new earth, the home of justice.” NEB


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Welcome to the Palace!
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 21, 2010

As Shelley and I take our morning walks, we occasionally pass homes which are for sale. Once in awhile--if we see there are brochures available--we’ll stroll over and peer at any information we can find. That’s what we did earlier this month when we saw the white real-estate signpost on the lawn above. But when I actually read the description on the brochure, I just had to take one for myself.

As you see by the photo, the house is a fairly ordinary one. The owner must have something of a green thumb because of all the plantings, but otherwise it looks like pretty much any other dwelling on the street. 

But reading the brochure’s text made me suddenly realize that I was living delightfully near to what sounded like an exclusive home inhabited by a Hollywood star: “Distinguished by its idyllic location, realized by its design and natural charm; this home radiates functionality and comfort. On the main level enjoy a remarkable kitchen . . .  a formal living room and dining room featuring soaring vaulted ceilings . . . . On the upper level, take pleasure in a master sanctuary . . . .”

I think “take pleasure in a master sanctuary” is my favorite line. I mean, this is just a house, right? Sure, our neighborhood is pleasant and quiet, but “idyllic”? And as I stroll by, I don't necessarily feel “radiated at” by “functionality and comfort.”

Well, I’ll stop kidding the brochure and get serious. Because you and I both know (or we’d better learn quickly) that even the most non-distinguished, un-idyllic house, possessing little natural charm and no soaring, vaulted ceilings, can become either a heaven or a horror depending on whether or not its inhabitants love each other. I know nothing about the owners--maybe by now the  former owners--of the house above, but I hope that if they had kids they had made this home a fortress and a healing haven, to which youngsters could escape after a wretched day, confident that they would find understanding and encouragement within its doors. 


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My Name is “No No Bad Dog!”
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, August 20, 2010

I spotted this card earlier this month in a university bookstore. It’s supposed to be funny, and if you could pull it off the rack and take a more complete look, you’d see a cartoon picture of a happy-go-lucky golden retriever grinning at you.

But that caption tugs at my heart because of a bitter little drama I saw this past Sunday. I was in an Arco station near our home, heading toward the glass doors after collecting my change from the clerk. As I reached the door, I saw a woman and her little daughter (who looked about three) approaching from the outside. The little girl walked toward the door I was about to push open.

Her mother saw this, and snatched at the girl, “Get away from the door!” she snarled at her daughter. “Pay attention!” And then the mother glanced up into my face, I’m not sure why. Was she frightened that I might think her a child-abuser? But the damage had been done. No physical slap had occurred, but it might as well have. The little girl said nothing, but hurried numbly ahead into the store.

I am no prophet--for which I am devoutly thankful--but it didn’t take much for me to foresee a certain amount misery ahead for this little girl. Mom obviously was an unhappy person--her outburst seemed more pitiably chronic than a mere “losing it once in awhile” incident. And her petulance was unfairly but effectively name-tagging her curly-headed daughter as “No No Bad Girl!”

I don’t have kids, which means I have no real right to give family-counseling advice. But it might be a good idea to run our minds back over the past week and replay just how we speak to the people in our lives, especially those less powerful than we. Especially those we live with. Especially the children.


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Repentance
Photo ©2010 by Beth–Anne Harvey
Commentary @1892 by Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ
Thursday, August 19, 2010

How shall a man be just with God? How shall the sinner be made righteous? It is only through Christ that we can be brought into harmony with God, with holiness; but how are we to come to Christ? Many are asking the same question as did the multitude on the Day of Pentecost, when, convicted of sin, they cried out, "What shall we do?" The first word of Peter's answer was, "Repent." (Acts 2:37) … Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life.

There are many who fail to understand the true nature of repentance. Multitudes sorrow that they have sinned and even make an outward reformation because they fear that their wrongdoing will bring suffering upon themselves. But this is not repentance in the Bible sense. They lament the suffering rather than the sin. Such was the grief of Esau when he saw that the birthright was lost to him forever. Balaam, terrified by the angel standing in his pathway with drawn sword, acknowledged his guilt lest he should lose his life; but there was no genuine repentance for sin, no conversion of purpose, no abhorrence of evil. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, exclaimed, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." (Matthew 27:4)

The confession was forced from his guilty soul by an awful sense of condemnation and a fearful looking for of judgment. The consequences that were to result to him filled him with terror, but there was no deep, heartbreaking grief in his soul, that he had betrayed the spotless Son of God and denied the Holy One of Israel. Pharaoh, when suffering under the judgments of God, acknowledged his sin in order to escape further punishment, but returned to his defiance of Heaven as soon as the plagues were stayed. These all lamented the results of sin, but did not sorrow for the sin itself. 

But when the heart yields to the influence of the Spirit of God, the conscience will be quickened, and the sinner will discern something of the depth and sacredness of God's holy law, the foundation of His government in heaven and on earth. The "Light, which gives light to every man coming into the world," illumines the secret chambers of the soul, and the hidden things of darkness are made manifest. (John 1:9) Conviction takes hold upon the mind and heart. The sinner has a sense of the righteousness of Jehovah and feels the terror of appearing, in his own guilt and uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. He sees the love of God, the beauty of holiness, the joy of purity; he longs to be cleansed and to be restored to communion with Heaven.

The prayer of David after his fall illustrates the nature of true sorrow for sin. His repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to relieve himself from his guilt and his prayer was not inspired by a desire to escape the threatened judgment. David saw the enormity of his transgression; he saw the defilement of his soul; he loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart. He longed for the joy of holiness--to be restored to harmony and communion with God. This was the language of his soul:

 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not designate as wicked, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. --Psalm 32:1, 2

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight - that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Make me hear joy and gladness that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 
        --excerpts from Psalm 51

A repentance such as this, is beyond the reach of our own power to accomplish; it is obtained only from Christ, who ascended up on high and has given gifts unto men.

Just here is a point on which many may err, and hence they fail of receiving the help that Christ desires to give them. They think that they cannot come to Christ unless they first repent, and that repentance prepares for the forgiveness of their sins. It is true that repentance does precede the forgiveness of sins; for it is only the broken and contrite heart that will feel the need of a Savior. But must the sinner wait until he has repented before he can come to Jesus? Is repentance to be made an obstacle between the sinner and the Savior?

The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can heed the invitation of Christ, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)  It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ that leads to genuine repentance. Peter made the matter clear in his statement to the Israelites when he said,

        Him [Christ Jesus] God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior,
        to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. --Acts 5:31

We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken the conscience than we can be pardoned without Christ.

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Scripture references from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Excerpts from "Repentance," chapter 3 of Steps to Christ by E. G. White
Photograph of gifts from the celebration of Jesus Christ's birthday, December 2009.

[ Join us for a study of the Bible and Steps to Christ -- Wednesdays at 6 PM. in the church fireside room ]


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Sundew
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

[Note from Pastor Maylan: If you're a regular visitor to, and close student of, this devotional photo blog, you will have noticed that I got mixed up and put Darren Milam's blog on Tuesday. Tuesday is Robert Howson's usual position, but I must have been on autopilot or something. Anyway, here is Robert's missing blog, and next week everything should be back to normal. Thanks, by the way, to the e-mail correspondent who let me know about the glitch.]

I still remember the mixture of horror and fascination the picture created in my young mind.  Not yet able to read, I still enjoyed leafing through the books in the family library for pictures that would fill in where words wouldn’t work.  As I recall, the book contained numerous maps of what explorers guessed yet unknown lands might look like.  They were of relatively little interest to my young mind.  What did demand serious consideration were the illustrations depicting what unknown oddities of nature were just waiting for the would-be explorer to discover.  The picture that commanded the greatest interest was a black and white drawing of a mammoth-sized plant with long grasping arms, in which were tightly clasped the unlucky members of the expedition who ventured too close to its domain.
 
While skepticism made me question the veracity of such a creature, I had seen photographs of plants such as the Sundew, pictured above, to nudge the man-eating plant into the frightful realm of possibility.  After all, didn’t the Sundew use its moveable glandular tentacles to entrap wayward insects into a sure death?  It is just possible that such a prospect discouraged me from undertaking what might have been a brilliant career as an explorer.
 
Age and experience have removed the apprehension once felt.  For one thing, the Sundew pictured, is probably not more than two inches across, not a real threat to my well-being.  Still, its unique abilities allow it to grow and flourish where others would fail.  Paul, writing in Romans 12:6 reminds us of the importance of our unique gifts:  “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.” (NIV)  In other words, grow where you’re planted.  Those talents and abilities given you qualify you for a task few others could perform.  And by the way, I did manage to stay on the path while photographing the Sundew – out of concern for the environment, of course.


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Spring of Life
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Darren Milam
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I love taking water pictures.  Wherever I am, I attempt to find water so I can take a few shots.  There is something about, the sound, the flow, the power--whatever it is, I like it.  This particular shot was captured at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.  While walking around the grounds, you can find several different water features--ponds, streams, waterfalls, pools and everything in between.  When studying this image, a song popped in my head and it goes like this:
 
I've got a river of life flowing out of me!
Makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free!
I've got a river of life flowing out of me!

Spring up, O well, within my soul!
Spring up, O well, and make me whole!
Spring up, O well, and give to me
That life abundantly.
 
 Jesus is the river inside of us.  We need to continue to allow Him to flow out of us and into others, whenever and wherever we can.


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What's Bugging You?
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 16, 2010

I took this picture last year up at a picnic area in the sub-alpine meadows of Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia.  This was around suppertime and there were beautiful views, lots of flowers and a number of cars and people in the parking lot.

The tables were empty because of mosquitoes.  Although you can't see them in the picture, they were out in abundance!

Don't you sometimes find that it's the little things in life that are really annoying?  I'm not saying that they are not real and major irritants, but we tend to forget that they will usually go away and that God is in control. 

Sometimes there are things we can do to handle life's little annoyances and sometimes there is nothing we can do. Sometimes we whine (the Bible calls it murmuring or complaining).  I probably would have been complaining right along with the Children of Israel as they wandered in the desert; it's human nature. 
 
Whatever our problems are, big or small, we need to remember to turn to God as David did:
 
Psalm 142:1-3 (New Living Translation)
 I cry out to the LORD;
      I plead for the LORD’s mercy.
 I pour out my complaints before him
      and tell him all my troubles.
 When I am overwhelmed,
      you alone know the way I should turn. . .


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Confidence in God's Love
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mt. Aetna, the largest active volcano in Europe, has erupted many times – most recently in 2002. This volatile volcano is a symbol of power, creation and destruction. The volcano is made up of four summit craters and is surrounded by about 200 cones dotting its flanks. As we know from our Mt. St. Helens, eruptions can alter a mountain in shape and altitude. Today, Mt. Aetna stands at 10,892 feet. Eruptions in the central crater are rare, but they are frequent in the side vents in the smaller secondary cones. In my recent photo you can see secondary cones where puffs of sulfur-smelling smoke are erupting. The breakdown of volcanic material in the valley below Mt. Aetna has resulted in very fertile land which supports the growth of almonds, olives, grapes, citrus fruit and vegetables.

Psalms 36:5-7 (NEB) states that, “Thy unfailing love, O Lord, reaches to heaven, thy faithfulness to the skies. Thy righteousness is like the lofty mountains, thy judgements are like the great abyss; O Lord, who savest man and beast, how precious is thy unfailing love!”


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So Where’s the Bargain?
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 14, 2010

The only college course I failed was a basic business math class, to which I did not apply myself because math has always given me a feeling of weariness and dread. (Redfaced, I repeated the class the following semester and emerged with a respectable B-plus.)

Handicapped as I am, even I can see that the round yellow sticker somebody slapped onto this bag of honey-roasted peanuts I saw in a drugstore earlier this week does not truly describe a bargain. (However, to make sure, I brought the Windows Accessories calculator up onto my screen and double-checked my mental calculations!)

Thoughtful Christians make it a constant habit to cast a sharp eye on philosophies the world advertises, to see if the bargains are as good as the hype. “Thou shalt worship money,” the devil’s ten commandments begin, “because the more money thou hast, the better off thou shalt be.” Then, “Thou shalt dishonor God’s name.” “Thou shalt ignore the Sabbath He created and commanded.” “Dishonor thy parents if it is to thy benefit.” “If thou canst get away with it, thou shalt kill and commit adultery--mentally if not physically. Thou shalt steal and lie if these are to thy advantage--they’ve certainly worked for me.” And finally, “Thou shalt covet--because coveting what thou dost neither own nor deserve lieth at the heart of my own strategies.”

And of course there’s the classic “bargain” the devil personally offered Jesus: “Worship me and I will give You all the kingdoms of the world.” The Savior didn't bite.

So a word to the wise--check out the hype. If the promises smell funny, maybe they are. But if they’re based on clear, declarative, context-checked statements of God, grasp them and claim them.


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The Clouds of Heaven
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Gene Trent
Friday, August 13, 2010

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26 (HCSB)

On a recent trip I had to spend my Sunday flying from one end of the country to the other. I was blessed enough to have gotten a good window seat. Sorry, all my Boeing brothers and sisters, but it was an Airbus, and it ended up providing me one of the best flights I have experienced in quite a long time. It was a beautiful day from the start to the end. In fact, the whole flight provided me with some very beautiful images of various cloud formations. Sometimes they were thin and scattered and other times they were like the image above, thick and fluffy.

It got me thinking what the “clouds of heaven” will look like that the Son of Man will one day appear in. And that day cannot seem to get here quickly enough. As I looked down from thousands of feet above the ground I would have glimpses through the cloud formations and see land patterns, roads, farmland and various structures. I would wonder what is going on down in that location at the very time I am flying overhead. Is there work being done? Maybe there is a boy or girl lying in a field looking up at the cloud formations and the plane. Could there be a family gathering of celebration? Or unfortunately, as we are seeing far too often these days, a tragic event might be occurring.

Satan and his hosts are wreaking havoc on this planet from the natural world to daily human existence. He understands how short his time is growing to be and he is doing everything he can to destroy the image of God in the life of this planet. But even more important is the understanding the church of Christ has on these times. We know from Scripture that Good will eventually prevail over Evil but are we making every effort to share the good news that Jesus Christ is soon to appear in the clouds of Heaven? He is coming to gather a people who have come into relationship with Him and want to experience an eternity of peace without the possibility of evil ever rising again.

Let each of us realize that Jesus is soon to return and let us make the best use of the talents and time He has blessed us with to reach out and touch a life with the life of Christ so they too can see Him coming in the clouds of Heaven.


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The Sinner's Need of Christ
Photo ©2010 by Beth–Anne Harvey
Commentary @1892 by Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Man was originally endowed with noble powers and a well-balanced mind.  He was perfect in his being, and in harmony with God.  His thoughts were pure, his aims holy.  But through disobedience, his powers were perverted, and selfishness took the place of love.  His nature became so weakened through transgression that it was impossible for him, in his own strength, to resist the power of evil.  He was made captive by Satan, and would have remained so forever had not God specially interposed.

After his sin, man could no longer find joy in holiness, and he sought to hide from the presence of God.  If he were permitted to enter heaven, it would have no joy for him.  The spirit of unselfish love that reigns there --every heart responding to the heart of Infinite Love --would touch no answering chord in his soul.  His thoughts, his interests, his motives, would be alien to those that actuate the sinless dwellers there.  Heaven would be to him a place of torture.

It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken.  Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them.  "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one! " (Job 14:4)  [The apostle Paul] longed for the purity, the righteousness, to which in himself he was powerless to attain, and cried out,

        O wretched man that I am!
        Who will deliver me from this body of death? --Romans 7:24

Such is the cry that has gone up from burdened hearts in all lands and in all ages.  To all, there is but one answer,

        Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! --John 1:29

The heart of God yearns over His earthly children with a love stronger than death.  In giving up His Son, He has poured out to us all heaven in one gift.  The Saviour's life and death and intercession, the ministry of angels, the pleading of the Spirit, the Father working above and through all, the unceasing interest of heavenly beings,--all are enlisted in behalf of man's redemption.

Oh, let us contemplate the amazing sacrifice that has been made for us!  Let us try to appreciate the labor and energy that Heaven is expending to reclaim the lost, and bring them back to the Father's house.  Motives stronger, and agencies more powerful, could never be brought into operation; the exceeding rewards for right-doing, the enjoyment of heaven, the society of the angels, the communion and love of God and His Son, the elevation and extension of all our powers throughout eternal ages--are these not mighty incentives and encouragements to urge us to give the heart's loving service to our Creator and Redeemer?

----------------------------
Scripture references from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Excerpts from "The Sinner's Need of Christ," chapter 2 of Steps to Christ by E. G. White
Photographs of the anchor chain on the ferry bound for Patmos, Greece - Aug '09
     and a life preserver on the ferry from Keystone to Port Townsend - Oct '09.

[ Join us for a study of the Bible and Steps to Christ -- Wednesdays at 6 PM. ]

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Withering Away?
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
 
I captured this beautiful flowering Rhododendron at the Bellevue Botanical Garden.  Before taking the picture, I studied the color, the intricate detail, the texture all of which were created by God.  As I was snapping a few images, it struck me that in a matter of days, this amazing creation would turn brown, become brittle and eventually fall off and die. It doesn't seem fair.
 
The encouraging part about this process, is captured in 1 Peter 1:23-25.  It says, "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever.".  It's true.  We are just like that gorgeous bloom, we are created by the hand of God, we are good and then we eventually turn bad and will die.  You might be asking yourself - 'How is that the encouraging part', well, it's the second part of the verse.  Not only does it say that the WORD of God will endure forever but we also know that His LOVE will endure forever as well.
 
Living things may not survive forever on this sinful planet but WE have the gift to live forever with God, in heaven.

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Xerophytic Plants
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The desert is often spoken of in the Bible in negative terms.  I’m sure that was Hagar and Ishmael’s view as they awaited death from dehydration. (Genesis 21)   Reviews written by the Children of Israel were probably not much better after they spent forty years wandering in a similar habitat.  You really can’t blame them, for life can be harsh in the desert. 

Isaiah has a somewhat different perspective.  Maybe this was because he wrote from the shade of the palace enclaves in Jerusalem.  Whatever the reason, Isaiah too lived through difficult times but he was able to have confidence that those who sided with the Lord would be rewarded.  Throughout chapter 35 of his book he speaks of the blessings of the redeemed.  “Let the wilderness and the thirsty land be glad, let the desert rejoice and burst into flower.” (New English Version)

 
The xerophytic plants pictured here find partial fulfillment of this prophecy annually.  Each spring the ocotillo and cacti burst into blossom providing beauty and life-sustaining nutrients to animals living in this unforgiving environment.  Still others are drawn to this type of area for spring training, an escape from the dreary dripping of their home field stadium.  The promise Isaiah offers us is much more than a seasonal rebirth or a good preseason start at the diamond.  It offers us something eternal.  He ends the chapter this way:  “By it those he has ransomed shall return and the Lord’s redeemed come home; they shall enter Zion with shouts of triumph, weariness shall flee away.”  Now isn’t that better than a few new petals that will soon dry up and be gone, or a 30 and 0 start for games that don’t really count anyway?


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Evidence of Abundant Water
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 9, 2010

One of the things I really appreciate about living in the Pacific Northwest is the fact that things are so green!  I took this picture on a trail up near Snoqualmie Pass last year.  After living in Southern California for a number of years, I really love seeing all the evidence of abundant water around here - rain, streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, the Sound, snow (okay, maybe not the snow - at least when it is on the road!). 

When I lived in California, I used to like to go to the desert in the spring when it was in bloom.  I remember hiking along beside a stream in the desert one day and the temperatures were in the "triple digits."  I probably would have turned around and headed back if I did not have that stream beside me and know that the trail ended at a waterfall.

I can relate to David when he talks about Living Water in Psalms 63:1:

"O God, you are my God,

earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water."


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Life Near Ancient Rome
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Bev Riter
Sabbath and Sunday, August 7 and 8, 2010

Since we're studying Paul and the book of Romans in Sabbath School this quarter, I thought I would share information and photos of life in the Roman port of Ostia, which we recently visited.

This photo is of the Casa di Diana in Ostia Antica, a few kilometers west of Rome. Located at the mouth of the Tiber River, Ostia was founded about 620 BC. Ostia, often called Rome's first colony served as a naval base, protecting Rome from invasion by river. Later, with a population of between 60,000 to 100,000 people, it became the major port for goods entering and exiting Rome. Large freighter ships would unload their goods onto smaller boats or barges that provided transportation on the Tiber. Some small boats were pulled on the river by oxen. Also carts ferried merchandise and baggage between Rome and Ostia. See map below.



This Casa di Diana is an example of high-density housing at the time Paul was in the area. This typical building had at least three floors arranged around a central court. The kitchens even had hot running water! Foods consisted of meat and pasta as well as a “vegetarian” dish they called “false fish” made of vegetables. Their houses were heated by hot air piped up from underground boilers. Their balconies looked out over a communal cistern and swimming pool. Different from our living today, their latrines were communal and served as a social gathering place. Their baths were of beautiful mosaic designs holding up to 300 bathers at a time. Shops for food and drink were nearby. The residents enjoyed going to the library, lectures, concerts and plays. The children attended school. Children and adults kept physically-fit by exercising and games at the huge gymnastics field. They even had a fire department with barracks for the workers to stay while on duty. A lighthouse warned sailors of their approaching land. Ostia had a Christian basilica and a synagogue which was built by Jews who worked the barges on the Tiber. This synagogue is the earliest identified in Europe.

Later on, in the third and fourth centuries, Ostia was struck by earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and malaria. Then it fell into decay and was abandoned due to invasions and battles. Marble and other building materials were taken and reused elsewhere. For example, the Tower of Pisa was built entirely of material originally belonging to Ostia. Over time, the harbor silted up and the Tiber retreated to about a mile away. Mud eventually buried Ostia and actually protected it. Now, excavated, it is a tourist site and competes with Pompeii as an illustration of how people lived at that time.

The early church in Rome met in villas, synagogues and apartment blocks. Acts 28:30-31 says Paul lived in Rome two years in his own rented quarters and welcomed all who came to him. Thus, he must have had his own apartment large enough for groups of people. As a prisoner, he was probably chained to a soldier, but kept working to advance the gospel.

If Paul was released at the end of his two-year imprisonment and if he did travel to Spain, the he would have most likely departed from Ostia. (Romans 15:28) His message: Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

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God's Love for Man
Photo ©2010 by Beth–Anne Harvey
Commentary @1892 by Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ
Thursday, August 5, 2010

[ For the next several weeks, the Bible Study Group at the Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church is studying the wonderful book Steps to Christ, written by Mrs. Ellen G. White and first published in 1892. To coincide with this study, for the next several weeks I will be featuring excerpts from this book in my devotional entries. All are welcome at the study: every Wednesday starting at 6 PM in the Fireside Room. Hope to see you there!  ]

        Nature and revelation alike testify of God's love. Our Father in heaven is the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy. Look at the wonderful and beautiful things of nature. Think of their marvelous adaptation to the needs and happiness, not only of man, but of all living creatures. The sunshine and the rain, that gladden and refresh the earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the Creator's love. It is God who supplies the daily needs of all His creatures. In the beautiful words of the psalmist--

        The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
        And You give them their food in due season.
        You open Your hand
        And satisfy the desire of every living thing. --Psalm 145:15, 16

The world, though fallen, is not all sorrow and misery. In nature itself are messages of hope and comfort. There are flowers upon the thistles, and the thorns are covered with roses.

        "God is love" (1st John 4:8) is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green -- all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy.

        God has bound our hearts to Him by unnumbered tokens in heaven and in earth. Through the things of nature, and the deepest and tenderest earthly ties that human hearts can know, He has sought to reveal Himself to us. Yet these but imperfectly represent His love. Though all these evidences have been given, the enemy of good blinded the minds of men, so that they looked upon God with fear; they thought of Him as severe and unforgiving. Satan led men to conceive of God as a being whose chief attribute is stern justice,--one who is a severe judge, a harsh, exacting creditor. He pictured the Creator as a being who is watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments upon them. It was to remove this dark shadow, by revealing to the world the infinite love of God, that Jesus came to live among men.

        It was to redeem us that Jesus lived and suffered and died. He became "a Man of sorrows," (Isaiah 53:3) that we might be made partakers of everlasting joy. God permitted His beloved Son, full of grace and truth, to come from a world of indescribable glory, to a world marred and blighted with sin, darkened with the shadow of death and the curse. He permitted Him to leave the bosom of His love, the adoration of the angels, to suffer shame, insult, humiliation, hatred, and death.

        The chastisement for our peace was upon Him;
        and by His stripes we are healed. --Isaiah 53:5

Behold Him in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, upon the cross! The spotless Son of God took upon Himself the burden of sin. He who had been one with God, felt in His soul the awful separation that sin makes between God and man. This wrung from His lips the anguished cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). It was the burden of sin, the sense of its terrible enormity, of its separation of the soul from God--it was this that broke the heart of the Son of God.

        But this great sacrifice was not made in order to create in the Father's heart a love for man, not to make Him willing to save. No, no!

        God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. --John 3:16

The Father loves us, not because of the great propitiation, but He provided the propitiation because He loves us. Christ was the medium through which He could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen world. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself." (2 Corinthians 5:19). God suffered with His Son. In the agony of Gethsemane, the death of Calvary, the heart of Infinite Love paid the price of our redemption.

Jesus said,

        Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life,
        that I may take it again. --John 10:17.

That is, "My Father has so loved you that He even loves Me more for giving My life to redeem you. In becoming your Substitute and Surety, by surrendering My life, by taking your liabilities, your transgressions, I am endeared to My Father; for by My sacrifice, God can be just, and yet the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus."

----------------------------
Scripture references from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Excerpts from "God's Love for Man," chapter 1 of Steps to Christ by E. G. White


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Three in One
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
 
It's interesting to find numbers in nature.  When I am about to capture an image, I find myself looking for numbers, or patterns. We know we have a creative God as we can see patterns, numbers, designs, colors, etc. in everything He created. 
 
At the Japanese Gardens in Seattle, there is a large pond with beautiful, colorful Koi fish.  The pond is engulfed with lilies, irises and many other aquatic floras.  When I saw these three lilies, I couldn’t help but think of The Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit - 3 in 1.  Now, these lilies are 3 separate flowers (as you can clearly count) but underneath the surface, they may be from the very same bulb: 3 in 1.
 
In I John 5, we can read about this relationship:

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

I find it extremely encouraging that not only did Jesus take on human form, come to earth and died for our sins, to only return to heaven and plead our case, but that we have God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit – truly working as one to give us the greatest gift of all, eternal life.

I like patterns in nature but I especially like groupings of 3.


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Spotted Sandpiper
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

British author G. K. Chesterton called it “the sunlight of surprise,” a rather descriptive way of describing the act of discovering the unexpected.  Of course one can place oneself in a position or attitude where the likelihood of discovery is increased, yet it is precisely because it is unanticipated that makes the revelation so sweet . . . .
 
We were exploring around the base of ice caves in the North Cascades when we noticed a common Spotted Sandpiper behaving in an unusual fashion (see photo above), which indicated it had a nest nearby.  After we watched it for a few minutes, it returned to its nest and its secret was revealed. Three splotched eggs were hidden adjacent to the pathway which caused the parent to abandon the nest every time a hiker passed by, only to return as soon as the walker continued down the trail.  Nothing really unusual so far.  It was a hot day, and even though we were in close proximity to the glacier, uncomfortable to stand too long in direct sunlight.  More critical however was the question, what would happen to the unhatched embryos still encased in their shells and in danger of overheating in the scorching sun?  Mother to the rescue.  She would fly to a nearby marshy area and submerge her breast feathers in water and then return to her nest with this cooling agent (see below). 



I had read about Collard Plover in South Africa using this belly-soaking activity to assist in thermo-regulation, but I had never observed it firsthand in a North American species.

 
While this may have been old news to others, while I might have read about it in numerous journals, the act of finding it for myself gave this discovery extra value. It proved the “sunlight of surprise”.  Perhaps that’s why Psalms 34:8 tells us to, “Taste and find out for yourself how good God is.  Happy is the man who takes refuge in the Lord.”  (CWB)  Maybe David had made this personal discovery for himself and wanted us to share in the joy that such a discovery provides.

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Jesus is the Way

Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 2, 2010

I saw this sticker on the back window of a dirty SUV at Fort Casey on Whidbey Island a few months ago.

While the vehicle may need a wash, the message still comes through loud and clear.

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." John 14:5-7, NIV

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Temple of Concordia – from Pagan to Christian

Photo and commentary ©2010 by Bev Riter
Sunday, August 1, 2010

The remains of the Temple of Concordia in Agrigenta, Sicily outlined with a very old olive tree are shown in the photo just above. This Temple is one of five Doric temples located in the “Valley of the Temples”. These temples date from the 6th to 4th centuries BC with the Temple of Concordia erected around 430 BC. With its 34 columns, the Temple of Concordia is one of the best preserved Doric temples in the world. Today, the Valley of the Temples listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
 
Built to worship their gods, the Temple of Concordia was converted into a Christian basilica in the 4th century AD and was consecrated to Peter and Paul. The twelve arches on the wall and the tombs in the floor are relicts of the transformation of the temple into a Christian basilica.
 
Near the Temple of Concordia, grottos or early Christian catacombs, as shown in the photo just below, were cut out of the rock to house the bodies of the first Christians here. A series of niches, closed off by stone slabs, alternated with chapels still bear traces of wall painting.


 
As people were converted to follow Christ in the 4th century, they can also be converted today.

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