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

Devotional Photo Blog- December 2009

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 here, and follow the instructions



Finger-reading the Bible
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

One New Year's resolution some Christians make is to read their Bibles through in a year, starting January 1. (If you're interested in doing this, click here to get started.) I'm going to be going through this plan this year.

But imagine what a challenge this would be if you were totally blind. There are, of course, Bible recordings you can listen to, but if you wanted to read a verse and then pause and meditate on it, then go over it again, or skip back quickly to a spot in a previous chapter, you'd probably want it on paper--in Braille.

In the photo above, which I snapped in mid-December at a Half-price Book store, are several green volumes of the Braille Bible. I don't know if you can read the small print on the spines, but the first volume on the left covers only Genesis through the first eleven chapters of Exodus. The first seven volumes are consecutive, and take the reader up to Second Chronicles, and the last volume is Number 12, which contains the book of Jeremiah. Imagine the shelf-space you'd need for the entire Bible! And imagine the years of practice--and the patience--you'd need to be able to brush your fingers across a page and gain some meaning from it.

Yet many devout Christians do this. A young woman who has been blind from birth phones Shelley and me regularly to share encouraging songs and scriptures--it's her ministry to many pastors and church leaders. And each time I hear her quote scripture, I think to myself, Am I using my eyes in as worthwhile a way as she's using her fingers.

Happy New Year! Here's to a deeper understanding of our loving Heavenly Father through the Word He has created and preserved for us!

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The Old and the New
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
New Years Eve, December 31, 2009

It's that time of year again. Time for rummaging through our memories of the past year and making plans for the new year to come. What to keep and what to throw away? What to remember and what to forget? What to start and what to stop?

In the Bible, the idea of Old and New is expressed in many ways: the Old and the New Testament, the Old and the New Covenant, the Old and the New wineskin, the Old heart of stone and the New heart of flesh, the Old man of sin and the New creation in Jesus Christ...

As 2009 fades into memory and the year 2010 comes into focus, let's make a commitment to explore all of the Olds and News of scripture. God has given us exceeding and great promises regarding the old, former way of things, and the new and better things to come:

God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done.

As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

It's only by knowing these promises and believing in their soon fulfillment, that we gain the abundant peace, hope, and strength of the Lord to face the new year. We are the clay in the Potter's hands. By spending time reading God's Word and speaking with Him from our hearts, He reshapes us into His own image:

O LORD, You are our father; we are the clay, and You are our Potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

 

 

Scriptures from Revelation 21:4-6; 1st Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:8; 2nd Corinthians 3:18

 

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Taking Out The Trash
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'll bet we all have these "piles": Piles of paper from opened Christmas gifts, piles of boxes from trips to Costco and piles of Christmas cards received over the past 30 days. I took this shot of all the 'leftovers' from our Christmas. We decided to cut-back this Christmas but we were very blessed, nonetheless. The results, as you can see, were lots of scrap paper and boxes the presents were shipped and packaged in.

This got me thinking...this time of year we tend to think about New Years Resolutions. Something we know we need to start or stop doing, that will ultimately better our lives...if we stick to it. Some make huge lists of many different areas or things they need to work on. Others are more realistic and only make a short list. What if we made our list even smaller, and looked at our 'trash' and focused on nothing but that?

In Psalm 51:1-3 (The Message) it says, "Generous in love-God, give grace! Huge in mercy-wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I've been; my sins are staring me down." Look, we can look at our trash, our 'dirty laundry', and ask God to take care of it for us. I don't know about you, but this is a pretty straight forward way at looking at the New Year and all that talk about New Year's Resolutions: Step 1. Take out the trash. Step 2. Watch God take care of the rest. Step 3. Happy New Year!

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Horus and White-faced Ibis
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What do the two pictures seen above have in common besides they both show depictions of birds? To give you a clue, one was found in the British Museum in London while the other was in a swampy area in Utah. I'll let you determine which was which. What do they have in common? Representations of both of these birds were used by the ancient Egyptians as part of their system of worship.

The stone image of the god Horus was a depiction of a falcon. Worship of Horus began during the 2nd dynasty which started around 2890 B.C. To put this into context, the Exodus is believed by many scholars to have occurred during the 15th century B.C., centuries later. Horus was thought to be the son of Osiris and Isis and was worshipped as the god of the sky, having eyes of the sun and the moon. The god Thoth was shown with the head of an ibis, not unlike the White-faced Ibis seen here. He was believed to be the heart and tongue of Ra, the means whereby Ra's will was transmitted into speech.

We may excuse such beliefs on the basis of ignorance, but even today websites exist promoting religious tolerance by drawing parallels between Jesus Christ and Horus. Man has long been inclined to confuse the creature with the Creator, the imagined with the Divine Image. Maybe that's a good reason to spend more time looking at the genuine. If we do, the difference between the two should become apparent, even to the most stony-hearted of us.

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The Lord God Made Them All
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, December 28, 2009

This is another picture I took when I went to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park up in British Columbia last year. I'm not sure exactly which anemone this is because there are several that look similar and then there are color variations within each kind. I do think it's really beautiful, though.

We tend to compare anemones to flowers but they are actually animals. The ones that are exposed at low tide are not usually too exciting to look at because they pull in all the tentacles and look like blobs (you've probably seen the aggregating anemones at the tidepools at Rosario during a low tide) but they are amazing when they open up under water.

Psalms 23-24 (NKJV)
O LORD, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions-
This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.

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He Is Alive!
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, December 27, 2009

We followed the star and the wise men with their gifts down the road to the manger scene. The animals, sheep, donkey and llama (no camels!), were munching on hay. The area darkened as an angel spoke telling about the birth of Jesus. When the lights came back on, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were at the manger scene. The children in the audience whispered, "Jesus is alive and real!" The wise men knelt down and presented their gifts to Jesus. Soon many shepherds, young and old, appeared. We listened as the story of the birth of Jesus was told. As you can see in the photo I took, baby Jesus was alive and real - not a doll!

Today, Jesus is alive and real. Do you know him?

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Ballast
Photo and commentary ©2009 by
Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, December 26, 2009 

A little over a week ago on one of Shelley's and my morning walks I saw this pickup. It was familiar to me--we've seen it parked here often over the last several years--but I couldn't help chuckling as I saw what was in the back. Whoever owns it had bought several brand-new bags of all-purpose sand and tossed them in the box. This guy wants ballast, I said to myself.

The reason I know these sandbags will stay in this truck rather than get used for a cement project of some kind is that last year this truck bed held sandbags too, but those were older, and the bag fabric was probably starting to leak. This truck's owner knows that even though the Seattle area ices up quite infrequently, when you need ballast, you really need it. Hence the extra weight on the rear wheels, and if I'm not mistaken there are more sandbags this year than last year.

Judging by recent history, the year 2010 may be even more slippery and dangerous than 2009. That means you and I need fresh, dependable ballast to keep our spiritual wheels firmly on the straight-and-narrow. How do we get it? By prayerfully reading our Bibles with fresh, unbiased eyes, absorbing its wisdom with our current level of maturity. Just in the past couple of days I've discovered how powerful this is. To prepare for a baptismal celebration sermon, I've been re-reading through the book of Esther, and I'm seeing things there I would never have been able to understand as a youngster.

Why not try reading the Bible through in 2010? This website offers a day-by-day Bible reading plan, which you can use with your own Bible, or by clicking the day's link you can read an online Bible of your choice. Check it out by clicking here (you'll also find the same link on our home page, with the title "Bible Reading Plan.").

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The Wait is Over!
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, December 25, 2009

You couldn't really call Shelley's and my neighborhood obsessive about Christmas decorations, but you could call them creative. On a mid-December morning walk, we discovered Snoopy crouching hopefully on his doghouse, whose roof gleamed helpfully with the exact number of days, hours, minutes and seconds until midnight Christmas eve. (The seconds don't show in the photo, probably because the numbers were changing as I clicked the shutter.)

 

As I passed this display I tried to visualize eleven days. And I tried to think of them the way a nine-year-old kid would: Eleven days! That's eternity! As you're reading this, of course, there's no more delay--Christmas has come! I'm writing this at nearly midnight Christmas eve, and here's what the doghouse says now!



Unfortunately--or, let's change that to fortunately--there's no similar display which tells the day and hour of Jesus' glorious return to this planet. Bible prophecy gives a rough countdown (pretty much any denomination which takes the Second Coming seriously assumes that it can't be far off), and Jesus urged us to watch and be ready. The first part, the watching, isn't hard because the signs are hard to miss. It's the being ready that requires some thought, prayer and study. To find out more about Jesus' return and how to be ready for it, click here.

 

 

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The Light Shineth in Darkness
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Christmas Eve, December 24, 2009

 

In the beginning was the Word,
     and the Word was with God,
          and the Word was God.
               The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him;
     and without him was not any thing made that was made.
          In him was life;
               and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness;
     and the darkness comprehended it not.


God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! Don't be frightened for God has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David and he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!"

Mary asked the angel, "But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin." The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she's already in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true." And then the angel left.

A few days later Mary hurried to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, "You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is blessed. What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me! When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! You are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what he said." Mary responded, "Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior!..." Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the empire. Everyone returned to their own towns to register for this census and because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee and took with him his fiancée Mary, who was obviously pregnant by this time. While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.


That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!" Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors."

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.

About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him." Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, as was all of Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. "Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?" he asked them. "In Bethlehem," they said, "for this is what the prophet wrote: `O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.'"



Then Herod sent a private message to the wise men, asking them to come see him. At this meeting he learned the exact time when they first saw the star. Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!" After this interview the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Jesus said, I am come a light into the world
     that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
          And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not:
               for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.


He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears. In that day the people will proclaim, "This is our God. We trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!"


Jesus said, Surely I come quickly. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Scriptures from the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John, and the book of Isaiah.
Silent Night display located at NE 80th ST & 122nd Ave NE in Kirkland, WA, USA.

 

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(In the photo above, Alexis Milam plays the part of Mary in a nativity play she co-directed at her grandma's church.)

The First Christmas
Poem by Alexis Milam

 

On a fateful night many years ago
The plan of salvation had just begun
Once a virgin woman, in a Bethlehem stable
Finally brought forth her firstborn son.

In fields nearby were a multitude of sheep
With shepherds, a few keeping watch their best;
And suddenly they were awaken and frightened so bad
That those napping could no longer rest.

In the sky an angel appeared to these men
And told them to not fear, to be mild
(For their Savior was born).
They sang, "Glory to God in the highest!"
Then the shepherds found and worshipped the Child.

And aloof, far off to the West
There were three men, who had wisdom galore.
They followed a star that shone high in the sky
And showed them the way to the King to adore.

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Northern Cardinal
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
December 22, 2009

Symbols are important to each one of us. They help us get across town successfully during rush hour congestion by using red and green to help us lessen collisions with cross traffic when we come to intersections. We understand the symbolism. During the Christmas season red and green take on a different symbolic meaning. Now, these colors have nothing to do with stop and go but everything to do with December 25. The symbolic meaning can become so embedded in our thinking that we elect to overlook the factual in favor of the emotional connection we have with the subject. Which of us, thinking of the manger scene doesn't enjoy picturing the Wise Men standing next to the shepherds, both looking with adoration at the Christ Child, even though the timing of the event doesn't bear this out in reality.

Our Christmas cards are draped with symbols of the season: Christmas trees, mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias color our picture of Christmas. And with all deference to the unlikely event of a partridge parking in a pear tree, probably no other bird is more frequently seen on our cards than the Northern Cardinal pictured above. This New World species would certainly have felt out of place in a Middle Eastern manger setting, but it reminds us of the Currier and Ives picture we have formed of a snow-bound winter day, the kind children hope for on Christmas Day.

Isaiah too, prompts us that the Lord has blessed us with symbols in an effort to remind us of His goodness. He and his own family carried names to help the people keep this ever before them: "Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion." (Isaiah 8:18 NIV) We too have been blessed with reminders of God's goodness, and rightly understood, Christmas is one of the richest of these. May you and yours be blessed as you celebrate those reminders of His most precious gift to us.

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A Present to the World
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, December 21, 2009

I braved our local mall in the week before Christmas to get this picture of a present hanging on a Christmas tree!

I like the song that Connie Hopper sings on the Gaither DVD, "A Christmas Homecoming," called "Mary Wrapped a Present to the World." A Google search failed to yield the lyrics or the songwriter but the chorus goes:

"Mary wrapped a present to the world
On that first Christmas morn
When her baby was born
Mary wrapped a present to the world."

In this season of giving and receiving, it's essential to remember the most important present of all:

Luke 2:11-12 (King James Version) "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

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A Day of Rejoicing
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, December 20, 2009

After seven years in the making, including a delay of over two years, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner made its inaugaural flight test this last Tuesday. If you watched the news, you became aware of this unfolding of aviation history - the jet was made from carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. This is supposed to make it 20% more fuel efficient. After waiting in the 40 degree temperature for over an hour, everyone was excited as the plane started moving to the runway, taxied toward the end of it and took off "picture perfect" as my photo shows. We watched until the Dreamliner and the two chase planes ascended into the distant clouds. Fifteen years ago we watched the 777 take off on its first fight, too. It's exciting to see such an event happen. It has taken much planning, development and testing for the Dreamliner to get to the point of flying. Even though it was scheduled to be up for five hours, it landed after about three hours because of stormy weather.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus told his disciples "Go forth to every part of the world, and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation....After talking with them the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven, and he took his seat at the right hand of God; but they went out to make their proclamation everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed their words by the miracles that followed." Mark 16:15, 19-20 NEB Jesus also said "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and receive you unto myself, so that where I am you may be also." John 15:3

The Dreamliner ascended into the clouds and returned in three hours - and the people cheered. Jesus ascended into the clouds and will soon return and take His followers to heaven with him - what a day of rejoicing that will be!

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Guardian Angels
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, December 19, 2009

If you want to drop off an unneeded computer monitor at the Bellevue Goodwill store--as I did in late September--you must drive along the south side of the building, where you discover the donation lane firmly marked off with these fluorescent green and yellow figures.

I'd never seen these figures (I don't know what their technical name is) in such quantity before. But I often notice them individually in Bellevue neighborhoods, and they're always eye-arresting. They're used--often with a brightly-colored flag in hand--to alert drivers that kids are playing in the area. Who knows how many young lives these "guardian angels" have saved?

Notice their faces? Their visages are deliberately personality-free, because when it comes to their roles, personality isn't their main job. And though it's no doubt deeply unfair to compare these immobile plastic images with Heaven's alert, powerful guardian angels, in this respect they are very much alike. On the few Bible occasions when angels interact directly with humans, we get little or no hint of their personalities. There's no record of their getting mad, or laughing, or even smiling. They simply (simply?) arrive, deliver their message, engage in brief conversations if desired, and vanish.

Doubtless, this taciturnity was because in our planet's god-hungry cultures any truly supernatural being was in constant danger of being seized upon as an object of worship. Even human beings such as Paul and Silas--when they used heaven's power in dramatic ways--saw people fall on their faces and start getting animal sacrifices ready. That's why when in Revelation 19:10 John tries to worship an angel, the angel quickly responds, "See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!"

I imagine that when in heaven we have the opportunity to become acquainted with our guardian angels, we'll find them extremely friendly, with great senses of humor, and deeply interested in filling in the details of our lives for us. Yet when God comes close, they too will turn quick, worshipful eyes on the One who is their Father as well as ours. For several Bible texts about angels, click here.

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Endless Shopping List
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, December 14, 2009

I took this picture at Redmond Town Center but this is a typical scene at any shopping mall in North America at this time of year. These people are lined up to get their kids' pictures taken with Santa and so that the kids can tell Santa what they want for Christmas.

Sometimes we tend to treat God like Santa. I remember hearing Joni Eareckson Tada on the radio one time saying that, "God is not some vending machine in the sky!"

Babbie Mason sings a tongue-in-cheek prayer (written by Larry Bryant) called "Shopping List." Part of the lyrics read:

Gimme this, I want that
Bless me Lord I pray
Grant me what I think I need
To make another day
Make me wealthy, keep me healthy
Fill in what I miss
On my never ending shopping list

It goes on to ask for all the things this person thinks will make them happy, including "a brand new house with a heated pool. I can use them Lord for a witnessing tool." It's amazing how we can rationalize why we need stuff!

I'm not saying we shouldn't pray (we should!) but sometimes our perceived wants and needs may be very different from what God thinks we need. (See Matthew 6:7-13 for how to pray.) In Paul's letter to the Philippian church, Philippians 4:19 (NIV), he tells them, "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

 

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The Real Reason to Celebrate
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Christmas season is here again. Decorations and lights are up in houses and towns. My photo shows the lights on a house twice, if you count the reflection in the water. There's much advertising about special Christmas sales. There are the parties, special food, music, exchanging greeting cards, gift-giving, special donations to the less-fortunate and the list could go on. What do you especially like about Christmas?

The day after Thanksgiving our grand-daughters (ages 5 & 7) started decorating our house for Christmas. They actually wanted to when they arrived here from Portland before Thanksgiving, but I said we had to wait until after we celebrated Thanksgiving! Oh, how they were excited! They arranged decorations on the tree (a couple of years ago we purchased a "permanent" tree). They carefully made name labels for all the Christmas stockings we hung on the mantel making sure each family member had one. Last, we unwrapped the nativity scene and set the figures in place. It was interesting to see that their mood change while we talked about each of the figures in the nativity and who they represented. They whispered and showed a child-like reverence while talking about them and especially baby Jesus.

As much as we might like the decorations, lights, parties, food, music, greeting cards and gifts, let's not forget the real reason why we celebrate Christmas. It is a celebration about the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The gospels tell the story of His birth and Luke 2: 11 KJV states "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." Now that's a real reason to celebrate!

May Christmas songs touch the hearts of those who don't know Jesus as their Personal Savior. The popular song "Mary's Boy Child" seems to be fitting, with the words in the last verse a good summary:

"Oh my Lord (Oh praise the Lord)
You sent your son to save us
Oh my Lord (This day will live forever)
Your very self you gave us
Oh my Lord (So praise the Lord)
That sin may not enslave us
And love may reign once more."

 

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Another Faith Photo
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, December 12, 2009

Here's another "faith near the water" photo something like yesterday's (scroll down if you'd like to see the previous one). But this isn't the relatively placid Rosario Strait, but the mighty Pacific Ocean. I snapped this shot in late July when Shelley and I made a quick trip to Washington's coast.

In this photo, the ocean is definitely menacing. Not only is almost all the water we see foamy and white, but a wave is approaching which must be at least six feet high. Yet Dad strolls unconcernedly along almost at the water's edge, and his daughter seems to be singing some kind of contented song which she's conducting with two pointing fingers.

What Dad knows, with such certainty that he doesn't even bother to glance in its direction, is that as the frothing wave rumbles closer, it will suddenly collapse. Maybe without knowing it, he's trusting in a Bible passage spoken by God Himself. As the book of Job nears its end, God finally breaks into the conversation Job is having with his friends, and addresses Job directly, challenging him to remember just who the Creator is and what kind of authority He has:

" . . . 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 38:8-11 NJKV

And the God who created and controls the universe has foreseen and provided for anything we might face this coming week. Though He does not always rescue us from a crisis, He stays with us through it if we invite Him to. To find out more about God's protecting presence, click here.

 

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"I Will Lay Me Down in Peace and Sleep"
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, December 11, 2009

The first weekend in October, our church went on its annual "Rosario Retreat" to the Walla Walla University Marine station not far from Deception Pass Bridge near Anacortes, Washington.

The weather was as perfect as it's ever been on any retreat weekend I've attended, and several of our members lingered through to Sunday morning, which was when I snapped this photo. Spread before you are the waters of the Strait of Rosario, which along with the Strait of Juan de Fuca form the northern part of Puget Sound. As you can tell by the small, rounded rocks on the beach, there's wave action here on a regular basis.

Yet even though there are times when waves roar and smash across this beach, one of our retreat-attenders has lain down on the rocks, calmly crossed his legs, and--at the time of this photo--was "out like a light."

Perfect example of faith, right? Not foolish faith--not heedless faith but faith built on several things. First, this man has been coming here to this church retreat for many years. Second, he's familiar with the tide-times and other things which affect large bodies of water. In other words, this man's ability to lie down so close to the water is based on experience.

I happen to know that this man is also a dedicated Christian, who has spend decades searching his Bible to find what God is like and how He behaves. He's also made a strictly regular habit of gathering with other faith-seekers who are also searching their Bibles. And therefore, he is able to walk through each of his weeks, knowing that God is in charge, and that God is something like him--a loving father who wants nothing but the best for His children.

"I will both lie down in peace, and sleep," sang David the Psalmist, "For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8, NKJV Jesus Himself was able to sleep soundly, not on the shore but in a boat, at the lashing center of a Galilee storm. And when His disciples awoke Him, He calmly asked them why they had such little faith. Matthew 8:24-26 To learn how to increase your faith, click here.

 

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The Watchers
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Thursday, December 10, 2009

-- Standing high on a hill overlooking the city of Antioch in Turkey,
a flock of windmills waits patiently for the passing breeze. Aug 2009 ---

A long time ago, in this same city of Antioch, another group of watchers stood high on a hill waiting patiently for opportunity. Faithful men and women of God earnestly scanned the faces of visitors to the city, praying for a divine appointment to share the good news of a risen Savior and the promise of a better life to come:

Some of them...went to Antioch and began to speak... telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord...The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

It was at Antioch that the followers of Jesus Christ were first called by His name, Christians. They were among His disciples when the promise of God had been poured out and the power of the Holy Spirit had taken hold of their hearts:

...they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit....

They had received His great power because they had trusted Jesus' word:

...wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit...you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses...to the ends of the earth.

They had waited patiently for its fulfillment, longing for the grace of God to empower them to be witnesses for their risen Savior. And because they believed and acted in faith, they received the fullness of the Spirit and were imparted the strength to go into all the world. With the conviction of the Spirit burning in their hearts, they carried their torch of love for Jesus and held it high for all to see. Their act of faith in love was the fulfillment of another promise of God, as Jesus described in the gospel of Matthew:

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

The inspired writer of the book of Acts tells us that God's grace was evidenced in His people at Antioch, the Christians. This evidence was what drew others to believe in the testimony and in turn, to join in the faith and receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Verily, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

2000 years later, Christians are still waiting. Waiting for the fulfillment of a promise: the opportunity to act, the power to go, the strength to continue, and the beginning of the better life. To all those who are waiting, I say - Stand fast. Remain true to the Lord. Trust His Word. Believe His promises. Act in faith with love. And wait patiently for the fulfillment of His promise:

And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people...both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days...And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

 

 

 

Christians, Wait, wait I say on the Lord, and Watch.

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the Lord replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Scriptures from Acts 11, 2, 1; Matthew 5; Joel 2; Habakkuk 2

 

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Threads of Nylon or Buckets of Faith
Photo and commentary ©2009 by
Darren Milam
Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I don't consider myself to be afraid of heights. In fact I love flying in airplanes--I have jumped out of a perfectly good one while sky-diving--and I have enjoyed jumping off bridges and cliffs into rivers, lakes and even oceans. That said, I do not want to take on the responsibility of washing windows on buildings like this one. That particular job takes a bit more guts--at least for me it would. Hanging on the outside of a very tall building, with nothing more than a thin piece of climbing rope is not my idea of fun.

Each and every day, we go through life believing and trusting in God. Having the faith that God will care for us, provide for us and love us enough to protect us from life's challenges, is all He asks. In the book of Matthew, Jesus just healed a sick boy and the disciples wondered why they weren't able to heal the boy. Jesus replied, "Because you have so little faith.". Jesus continued, in 17:11, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Can you imagine--all we need is the faith of a tiny little mustard seed? It doesn't sound like a lot and in fact, it sounds quite doable.

When I look again at these men hanging from those tiny ropes, dangling in space, with all their faith on a few tiny threads of nylon woven together, it reminds me that I should be able to have tons of faith in God. No matter what I face, I should have this same level of faith in our true Creator. It's very clear to me that having the faith of a mustard seed, should be a lot easier then throwing myself over the side a of building, yet there are plenty of times that we tend to feel the exact opposite.

That's where our daily walk with God comes into play. If we know our Heavenly Father and talk with Him each and everyday, our level of faith will grow. We will be able to trust in God, whether we are holding on for deer life, or just trying to survive the rat race of the day. No matter what, with the faith of a mustard seed, it will allow God to care for us whatever the circumstance.

 

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Blue Grouse
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wildlife photography, like life, is composed of several critical elements: familiarity with the species, familiarity with your equipment, and luck. Luck really isn't a very appropriate word to use here. Some Christians would assert there is no such thing as luck. They may be right, but whatever you call it, circumstances have to work out right for the moment to happen. By putting yourself in the right place, at the right time, you can increase your luck, but that moment of serendipity must happen to get the picture you're after.

The Christian walk and getting the picture also share at least one common denominator, one which, out of necessity, we must put action into practice. It's not enough to read deeply about the topic. While that may prove to be beneficial, it's not enough. Augustine, writing in Confession, VII, put it this way, "For it is one thing to see the land of peace from a wooded ridge...and another to tread the road that leads to it."" Prime habitat for the Blue Grouse may be found on the pathways above Paradise on Mount Rainier, but sitting comfortably in the lodge probably won't get you the shot. Sitting in the pew at church may be beneficial, but that in and of itself probably won't get you to Paradise either, pun intended.

The walk itself, while sometimes arduous, has its own rewards. What the above picture doesn't show was the family of recently hatched chicks which were following their mother through the alpine color. Heaven holds limitless promise, but isn't it kind of the Father to enrich our lives on the journey getting there.

 

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Trail Closed
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, December 7, 2009

I saw this sign a couple of weeks ago when I was up at Snoqualmie Falls. They were apparently working on the path that goes down to the lower viewing platform.

I'm glad the path to God is never closed. This is a song David wrote when he had been saved from his enemies (including Saul):

2 Samuel 22: 29-31 (Message)

Suddenly, GOD, your light floods my path,
GOD drives out the darkness.
I smash the bands of marauders,
I vault the high fences.
What a God! His road
stretches straight and smooth.
Every GOD-direction is road-tested.
Everyone who runs toward him
Makes it.

 

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Our REAL Hero
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, December 6, 2009

This last Thursday morning we, with about 1000 other people in Snohomish County, attended the Real Heroes Breakfast sponsored annually by the American Red Cross to honor local heroes. Of the 43 individuals nominated, 14 were chosen to be honored because of extraordinary courage and compassion in the actions they chose to save the lives of others. Each of their stories was shared; with some of those saved being present. Some felt they were in the situation for a reason and others felt they were just doing their jobs. But they were selfless people saving others--they were honored as true heroes. They said they wouldn't hesitate doing the rescue or CPR again if it should happen. Many noted the experience changed their lives.

Also honored were our police and fire fighters who risk their lives every day to protect us and our communities. And a time of silence was held to honor the five recently fallen police officers who lost their lives in two tragic incidents. Our military personnel were also honored for all they're giving for us and our country. The honored heroes were everyday people whose acts enriched our lives and our communities. All were real people making a real difference.

The front of our program brochure is seen in the photo below
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As you can see, various adjectives were used to describe "Real Heroes." My thoughts turn to another person who was a Real Hero and saved lives--yours, mine and others. Not only did He save our lives, but He gave His life to do so--His name was Jesus and I think He is a Real Hero. Look at the adjectives to describe a real hero again. Which would you choose to describe Jesus? Think about them. Think about Him.

John tells us the story of people who became believers in Jesus because of the Samaritan woman's testimony. "They told the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard him ourselves; and we know that this is in truth the Savior of the world.'" 4:42 And we all know 3:16-17, "God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that everyone who has faith in him may not die but have eternal life. It was not to judge the world that God sent his Son into the world, but that through him the world might be saved. NEB

If you haven't accepted his offer of eternal life, consider doing so today.

 

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"What--Me Worry?"
Photo and commentary ©2009 by
Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, December 5, 2009

"What--Me Worry?" was the motto of Mad Magazine's happy-go-lucky mascot--the cartoon picture of a grinning boy with big ears. I couldn't help thinking of that attitude this past Tuesday night when Shelley and I were in our local Fred Meyer store and saw this display. A fierce platoon of strong-jawed "Nutcracker" soldiers stands in formation, while a grinning monkey dangles directly in front of them, his foot well within chomping distance, yet without a care in the world.

"What--Me Worry?" wasn't invented by Mad, of course. A Jewish woodworker set forth the same concept a couple of millennia ago: "Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?' or ‘What shall we drink?' or ‘What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things . . . ." Matthew 6:31-34 NKJV

Did you catch Jesus' single "how to" step in those verses? "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." For more information about God's righteousness--which is the basis of (and the security for) His kingdom--and how we can obtain it, click here. For more about God's protection, click here.

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The Chair That Will Not Die
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm a frequent thrift-store shopper, mainly for used books, and earlier this week--as I rolled into one of these stores' driveways--I saw this chair parked forlornly on the grass beside the entrance. I grinned, and murmured, The chair that will not die.

 

I know this chair well. In our church fellowship hall and our church classrooms we have probably two hundred of them, maybe more, of exactly this model--and they're all at least 30 years old [LATE-BREAKING NEWS: Make that 40 years. I just talked to someone who was a member of our church and she says we've had those chairs since the 1960!] Thankfully, ours are not a bright yellow but green, not even a bold tropical green but a rain-misted Pacific Northwest rainforest green.

Study the above chair closely. Is it sagging? No. Are there cracks in it? No. Are its legs bent? Not at all. In fact, if it weren't for a bit of rust on the legs' lower slopes--and the daycare-décor hue--it could proudly take its place in our fellowship hall and give several more years of use.

I often wondered what became of the person who designed this chair. It is very possible that none of his (assuming it was a man) superiors took him aside and patiently explained to him the concept of "planned obsolescence." "Look, Al," they should have said. "Here it is, 1965. Your job is to make a chair that will last for, say, ten or fifteen years max. This company's going to go out of business if we make chairs that will last four decades."

But word never got through to Al. So he designed this chair for the ages. It just won't break. In all my years at Bellevue, I think we've only thrown away two, and that was because a rivet in the seat had loosened to the point where, as you shifted your position, it caught you in the fleshy part of the leg and gave you a painful pinch. This happened to me once during my pastor's Bible class while I was trying to expand upon an important theological point. The sudden discomfort caused me to lose my train of thought, and I wasted no time in banishing that chair into outer darkness.

Happily, God too is unacquainted with the idea of planned obsolescence. He created everything--and especially His human family--to live forever. Death, though tragic, is not only the wages of sin, but is actually insurance against the horror of an 850-year-old Hitler.

The good news--and let's make those first letters capitals--the Good News is that "God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life!" (John 3:16). For details about this "planned permanence," click here.

 

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As the Waters Cover the Sea
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Sunset over the Mediterranean Sea in Antalya, Turkey on August 25, 2009.
Thursday, December 3, 2009

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

Sunset over the Mediterranean. The bright golden rays of the waning sun stretching out to the very height of the clouds and reaching down to stroke the crests of the deep blue waves, rolling along with them as they wash, wash, and wash upon the shore. - Standing tall on the right, the eternal rock. Still, strong, and resilient in the wind. Holding fast the many grains of sand that abide within its reach and providing a haven of refuge for the weary creature and way worn feet.

What a marvel it was to view this incredible sight! What a gift to see with my own eyes these incredible wonders wrought by the very hand of God. The sun - an ever present symbol of the majesty and power of the Lord. The shimmering deep blue waters and momentous sky, each extending as far as the eye can see - images of God's eternal throne, the sapphire stone from which He carved the tables for His commands each one everlasting. The many grains of sand tossed and carried about yet held within a greater grasp - a fitting representation of the many peoples, nations, and tongues that throughout the ages have pulled away from and drawn back again to the One Who is, Who was, and Who will always be. And the rock - an image to the True Rock, the Redeemer, our Savior - whose great strength and constant faithfulness can never be measured or contained.

A wonderful experience, and yet - these are as nothing when compared to the awesome opportunity some will have to be witnesses to the light that will shine forth across the face of the earth when the knowledge of God's character, His glory, is understood and truly lived in the lives of those who take His name.

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold.

Like pure gold, the love of God in the hearts of His children shall pour forth blessing upon blessing to all within their reach; to His way worn people, to His weary creatures, to all His embattled creation. Like drops of sweet dew His promises will be when speech full of grace and words seasoned with salt are spoken to quench the thirst and to sooth the sin sick soul. Through deeds of love and mercy and time spent carrying the burdens of another, their meat to eat will become as seed to the receiver, springing forth as Trees of Righteousness, plantings of the Lord, bearing fruit in their season and prepared for the harvest.

Yes, what a honor, what a privilege, what a blessing it will be to be accounted worthy to carry that cross, the cross of love, for our Savior and for our brothers and sisters. How amazing to witness the glory, His glory, with our own eyes.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

As you meditate upon God's holy law, His constant strength, and immeasurable love; as you think about the great gift He has given you in laying down His life that you might take yours back up again, I hope you will catch a glimpse of His great glory today. I hope it will be like seed planted in your heart; and you as drink daily from His eternal spring, I pray you will grow strong, full of wisdom and grace, to bear fruit in your season - that you may live to see His glory cover the ends of the earth.

Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you...for the sake of His body, which is the church...God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness - the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the [ends of the earth] the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea.

 

 

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Scriptures from
Psalm 19; Ephesians 1:15-22; Colossians 1:24-27; Habakkuk 2:14

 

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Glorious Light
Photo and commentary ©2009 by
Darren Milam
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A couple of months ago, our church went on our annual trip to Rosario. This spot is a favorite and when the weather is right (usually is), the sunsets are amazing. This shot is looking out into bay, toward the setting sun. When I snapped the shot, I thought of the lyrics to a song, "Here I am to Worship." Here are the first verse and chorus:

Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness.
Opened my eyes let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore you
H
ope of a life spent with you.

And here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you're my God,
You're altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

So true, Jesus did step down into darkness and saved all of humanity. There is nothing we should be doing more than sharing His love and this message to others. Next time you see the setting sun, over the trees, or right into Puget Sound, remember the beautiful light of God.

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Baby Marsh Wren
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How do you know that this is a baby bird? You may not even know what species it is, but you know that it is a baby. Why? Maybe it's the short tail. That certainly would be a good indicator for the tail is unquestionably abbreviated, but then so is that of the adult Marsh Wren, not quite as short as this baby's, but still short. Maybe it's the remnants of downy feathers still seen around the eyes. That would certainly be another indicator of its age. The list could go on, but what we're finally left with is, it just looks like a baby. We may find such qualities endearing in baby birds, but when it comes to fellow Christians, we often aren't as generous.

Paul recognized the young, or the less spiritually mature, would have a lot of growing to do. He also was aware of how those who had already had opportunity to grow might forget there were people who had helped them in this process. For that reason he gave a little nudge to the church members when he wrote, "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves." Romans 15:1 (NIV)

The first part of this verse is quite clear and understandable to most of us. It is easy to understand why babes in Christ would need time and assistance in helping them grow into what He wants them to be. But the end of the verse presents something of a paradox. Does it seem strange that the spiritually mature Christian would take pleasure in not being of assistance to these new believers? Maybe the verse is simply reminding those of us who have been walking the walk for some time, that we too may still have a few tail feathers that aren't quite as long as they should be.

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The Word at Work
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, December 2, 2009

On the last day of November I hurried into our local drycleaners to pick up one of Shelley's coats. Even though a little bell dinged when I opened the door, it was several seconds before someone appeared, giving me a chance to take the above shot of a huge Bible peeking out from under one of the workers' jackets.

During other visits I've picked up other hints that this establishment's owners are Christian, such as religious music playing softly over hidden speakers. But even before I heard that music, and saw this Bible, I could tell these people believed in God. Their smiles are always gracious, and their mood seems always serene, as though they know that even in a tough economy they're not having to handle it on their own, but that their Creator is watching over them. And to know that at least one of them brings a Bible to work--whether for personal study or to work through the next Sunday School lesson--makes me admire them even more.

Do you take the Word to work? I don't necessarily mean packing along your favorite study Bible--though that would be great if you could get away with it. I mean living out the Word of God which has entered your heart and changed your worldview, and given you an "eternityview" which many people would find positively satisfying. Can people tell you're a Christian even without hearing your hummed praise choruses or reading your car's bumper stickers?

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Eagle's Wings
Commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Photographs ©2009 by
Wayne Douglas Hasley (b. 8/14/51 - d. 11/18/09)
Thursday, December 17, 2009

 -- An eagle compasses the shoreline along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Oct '09 --

In the scriptures, the eternal, lovingkindness of God towards His children is likened unto an eagle with great wings that reaches out to give protection against the storm, refuge from pain and sorrow, and renewed strength and hope.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust." He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.

At this time of year, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of buying and selling, eating and drinking, coming and going, planning and doing. Sometimes, at the end of the day we wonder, Where did all of my energy go? How am I going to get this all done? Where did my good plans turn the wrong way and how am I going to deal with this? Who is going to help me?

Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.



Don't forget the One you need the most. Remember, He has everything you really need: time, energy, direction, motivation, comfort, peace, protection, hope, the list goes on and on - all in a supply that is more than enough.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Don't forget Him. He has not forgotten you. He never will.

Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

Scriptures from Psalm 91:1,2,4; Isaiah 40:31; Matthew 6:33; Psalm 61:1-4

 

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Spread the Word
Photo and commentary ©2009 by
Alexis Milam
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm..."

           ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Paul Revere's Ride (1860)

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere made his ride. He'd received the news of the British coming--and immediately he began spreading the word throughout the countryside.

Like Revere did on that fateful night, we also have a message to share: the gospel. We need to spread the news of our Savior-about how He "became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), His 3-year ministry, His death and resurrection, and that He is returning soon to take His children home. Most importantly, we need to spread the word that God is love, and that He loves each and every person-and that He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

Time is running out! Who will you share Jesus with today?

"Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
~Matthew 28:19-20

 

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Blue Dasher
Photo and commentary ©2009 by
Robert Howson
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dragonflies are among some of nature's greatest flyers. They have to be, since they prey upon other insects; they must be able to outmaneuver their quarry. This means they must be able to start, stop, and hover in midair, and do so very rapidly. This constant state of readiness is suggested by the wing position often displayed by the Blue Dasher when at rest. Even in this condition, the Dasher appears to be ready to launch itself into action by the forward pointing of its wings.

Peter encourages us to be in this same state of readiness. I Peter 3:1 states, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." (NIV) As Christians, we need not feel obligated to dash about as the dragonfly's name implies, but we would do well to be in a similar state of preparedness. Like the five wise virgins of Matthew 25, and the Blue Dasher of your local pond, we too need to be always ready.

 

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