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

Devotional Photo Blog - February 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.  




The Lord Keeps You From All Harm
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, March 1, 2010

It's a Toyota but I don't know what year. This vehicle served as a local taxi at the small mining town where we landed in Guyana. I got to sit inside and felt a bit guilty as there were about six people being tossed around in the back.

The speedometer registered zero the whole time we were racing into town. When we eventually came to our destination, I found out that I had to open my door from the outside. I don't recall seeing any seat belts.

It was somewhat reassuring to see cards with Bible verses hanging from the rear-view mirror. The windshield has the word Revelation painted across the top in red (just to the right of that is a white "L" which stands for learner!) and Psalms 121 painted on the bottom.

I decided that Psalms 121 is a good thing to keep in mind all the time (but especially when you're a passenger in a truck of questionable vintage with an unknown maintenance history and you are tearing down a road in a vehicle you have no control over!).
Psalm 121 is noted to be a song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. (I figure we're all pilgrims. As the old song says, "This world is not my home; I'm just a passin' through.")

I look up to the mountains-
     does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD,
     who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
     the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
     never slumbers or sleeps.
The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
     nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps you from all harm
     and watches over your life.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
     both now and forever.

May the Lord watch over you and protect you throughout this coming week.

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What Is It (Part 2)
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 28, 2010

A BLOG ESPECIALLY FOR CHILDREN! (Kids, also check out last Sunday's blog by scrolling down--and come back to this page next Sunday to see another of Bev's "What Is It?" photos!)

What animal made this print in the snow? I'll give you two guesses and the first one doesn't count!

Why did I say the first one didn't count? That's because many of you would have said a "deer". Oh, but this hoof print in the snow was much larger than a deer! It measured about 4 inches long and 3 inches wide. If you guessed an "elk", you're right! Well, if you guessed a deer, you were partly right because an elk is a member of the broader deer family. As you can see in my photo, elk and other members of the deer family have cloven hooves that resemble a split-heart shape. Elk are one of the largest species in the deer family and the largest mammal in North America. They live in the forest or at a forest edge in alpine meadows where they eat grass, plants leaves and bark. Because they are so large, they require a large amount of food every day. They blend in very well with their surroundings and are therefore difficult to see.

Bull (male) elk have large antlers which are shed each year. New antlers are covered in fuzzy skin called velvet. By fall, the antlers have hardened and are solid bone that can weigh up to 40 pounds. Now that's heavy! Elk have a great sense of smell, excellent hearing and can run up to 35 miles per hour. They can bugle, grunt, bark, whine, bleat and whistle. Never approach elk or other wild animals, just enjoy looking at them from a distance!

Thanks to God, for creating elk and other members of the deer family. You've probably know the song:

"As the deer pants for the water
So my soul longs after You.
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You."

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Used Books
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 27, 2010

While Christmas shopping for Shelley early last December, I snapped this photo in the parking lot of Third Place Books in Kenmore. Third Place offers a great mix of new and used books, so it's possible that this car belongs to the store's owner. At any rate, whoever owns this car really cares about books which get used.

As do I, though I haven't gone so far as to signal this caring with my license plate. In fact, I have had to talk firmly to myself whenever my car nears a used book store. "Maylan. Get a grip. Do you have the time to read the fifteen books now stacked on your bedside table, let alone the hundreds on your shelves? No. You can't even stay awake for more than a page and a half. So before you turn that steering wheel into that bookstore's parking lot, my friend, read the books you have!"

Maybe God feels the same way about our Bibles. Every year, thousands of new self-help books clank out from presses worldwide, each promising success or enlightenment or discipline or whatever else its author happens to be expert in. No doubt many of these books are good. But a surprising number of these books would never have had to have been written if people simply opened their Bibles and followed the ageless principles found there.

When's the last time you cracked open the book of Proverbs? Or the Psalms? Or the action-packed stories in Judges or Samuel or Kings? Or the greatest wisdom in the universe, spoken by God's Son during His sermon on the mount? Check out humanity's most-used book!

To read more about what the Bible has to say about itself, click here.

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The Missing Piece
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 26, 2010

Back in late January on a Sunday morning walk, Shelley and I saw what to her was a somewhat tragic sight, a single puzzle-piece lying in the gutter beside the sidewalk. Shelley possesses what I do not--the vast stores of patience and pacing which a 500- or 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle require.

We don't know the people in the nearest house, nor do we know why a single puzzle-piece would have been allowed to find its way outdoors like this (I'm assuming people don't normally put large puzzles together while riding in a car). Yet we're pretty sure that someone somewhere, after working many hours on the puzzle, is going to utter a cry of frustration as he or she finds that there's one remaining gap exactly the size of this piece.

I guess you could think of God's great universe as a giant puzzle, with every piece in place--except for one small, miserable planet which got itself lost. But heaven's Puzzlemaster wasn't content to sigh, or growl imprecations under His breath. Instead, even before the loss happened, He organized a search party. And the search was successful, and soon He will polish off our grime and road-oils and fit us neatly back into His Plan.

Will you let Him do this for you? To find out more, click here.

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60 Minutes
Commentary ©2010 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Thursday, February 25, 2010

As Christians, one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other is the gift of prayer. It's one of those things in life that's both priceless and free at the same time. From the perspective of the giver, prayer is valuable yet doesn't cost too much to give. To the receiver, the gift of a prayer said on their behalf often seems greater in worth than if they had said the same prayer for themselves.

Did you know that when Jesus walked this earth, He not only said many prayers for others, He also asked His friends to pray for Him too? It may seem odd that Jesus our Savior who never yielded to sin would ask frail human beings, sinners, to pray for Him, but He did. The story is recorded in the Bible in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke:

On the evening before He was crucified, Jesus led His disciples to an olive grove called Gethsemane. He turned to His disciples and said, "Sit here while I go on ahead to pray." Joined by His close friends Peter, James and John, Jesus moved further into the garden and as He walked, He began to be filled with anguish and deep distress. He said to the three, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me."

Jesus walked a short distance and falling to the ground He prayed, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine." After praying, He returned to His friends and fond them asleep. He said to Peter, "Couldn't you stay awake and watch with me even one hour? Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. Although the spirit is willing, the body is weak!"

Twice more Jesus left His friends to pray and each time when He returned He found them sleeping. The third time He finally said, "Still sleeping? Still resting? Look, the time has come. I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners."

Why did Jesus ask His disciples to pray for Him? Did He need His friends to intercede with God on His behalf? We read in the story that Jesus was already praying for Himself and we know from the other Bible stories that He often prayed for His disciples, so why in this case did Jesus ask His disciples to pray too? The answer is found in Jesus's own words to Peter, "Stay awake." "Watch with me." "Keep alert." "Pray; otherwise, you will be overpowered."

There is one great cost to the giver when sharing the gift of prayer. It's the cost of selflessness. When we pray for others, we take the cares and concerns of someone else into our hearts and make them our own. This sharing of the cross between friends brings our hearts closer to one another, and as a result, both the giver and the receiver are drawn closer to the heart of God. The closer our hearts are drawn to God, the further away the enemy desires to be.

Sadly, when the gift of prayer is not shared or received, there is an even greater cost to be paid. Reading further in this Bible story we discover that because the disciples did not join Jesus in watchfulness and prayer, when Jesus was betrayed into the hands of sinners most of His disciples fled, one ran naked into the darkness, and another reacted in violence. A few hours later, this same close friend denied knowing Him altogether. Amazing considering that just a few hours before, he had vowed that Jesus was his best friend. I wonder what the outcome would have been if the disciples had chosen to remain awake, and to pray and to watch with Jesus, for just one hour?

When we neglect the gift of prayer there is a price to be paid that can be far greater in cost than if we had been willing to purchase the gift in the first place. And sometimes that cost can never be reclaimed. I want to tell you that because someone, more than one, prayed for me, and often, I am able to share these thoughts with you today.

Have you got a minute? How about 60? Why not spend them today on the gift of prayer - for yourself and for a friend.

Please consider joining us for our weekly prayer meeting in the Church Sanctuary: Wednesday evenings starting at 7:30pm. All are welcome.

Scripture references from Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 22

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Faith of a Baby
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

There are plenty of times in our lives where we have to trust someone. I mean really trust them - give all of our faith into their hands. Sometimes it's willingly and sometimes it's by necessity. That said, there is no other time in our lives that we show this more then when we are a baby. All other times pale in comparison to when we are a baby and able to nothing on our own. During this time we have to trust and rely on someone else, for everything. The biggest difference now, is our choice. We have a choice whether or not to trust someone, to have faith in someone or something.

Our faith in God, in salvation and our relationship with Him, is no different except for the choice we have. Of course in God's eyes, He is automatic. He automatically wants to give us salvation, He wants to automatically love and have a relationship with us. There is no "trust" "faith" we will love him back. He knows we have a choice and He knows what He wants us to choose but that doesn't determine the love He gives -- it's automatic.

In 1 Corinthians 13, we can read all about love and when we get down to chapter 12 we can read how love and faith are intertwined, "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love."

When we approach our relationship with God, our faith, love and trust in Him, it needs to be as automatic as His -- full, open and complete.

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Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 23, 2010    

There certainly were a number mentioned in the Bible, but I can recall the names of only two. Maybe you can do better. Some of you can probably identify with them after a hard day at the office or running errands. Their feet hurt. Ok, maybe it was more than that. Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son, was crippled since he was five years old. The other fellow we know by name, also of royal blood, was Asa. He was one of the few kings of Judah that Scripture calls a good ruler, one who ruled righteously. After 39 years on the job, II Chronicles 16:12 states that he "was afflicted with a disease in his feet." He died two years later. I have no idea why this detail was recorded in Scripture but it was apparently important enough to be noted in I Kings 15 as well. Real life people, with real life problems.

Outside my back door I watched another real life saga unfold. This time the subject of my attention was a Chestnut-backed Chickadee. He along with his friends flitted back and forth between the feeder and nearby trees as Chickadees are apt to do. The flock contained both Black-capped and Chestnut-backed species, the later being slightly smaller and with a much narrower range along the Pacific Coast. What I didn't notice immediately was the condition of this bird's right foot. Its toes were missing. I'm not sure I agree with Aristotle's comment, "No one finds fault with defects which are the result of nature." This could be a major challenge for a perching bird like a chickadee. But then again, maybe he was right because its behavior appeared no different from other members of the group. There is always a temptation of focus on our problems, those things which seemingly hold us back or limit our options. Maybe it would be wise to follow the example set by this bird. When he returned the next time, perky as ever, he faced the other direction so I could photograph his "good side". Not a bad example of putting your best foot forward.

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In the Image of God?
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 22, 2010

I spent one full day in Georgetown, which is the capital of Guyana, before flying back home. We went to the Georgetown Zoo where we saw a lot of interesting creatures, including squirrel monkeys. One of them was actually going in and out of its cage and visiting the nearby spider monkeys and capuchins! Squirrel monkeys are quite small monkeys as they are only a little over 12 inches high (not counting their tails).

The squirrel monkey in the photo was part of a troop of wild squirrel monkeys that we saw near the sea wall. Apparently they like hanging out in trees in this particular area and seem quite unperturbed by people. In fact, they came over to us looking for a handout!

There are a lot of people who believe humans and monkeys have a common ancestor. They hold the whole Biblical account of a literal six day creation as a myth. In fact, these people do not believe that science is even compatible with religion.

Evolution is obviously not compatible with what the Bible teaches. The Bible tells us that people were created as people and did not evolve from anything else. Genesis 1:26-27 tells us,"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

While I think squirrel monkeys are cute, I certainly don't claim them as relatives!

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What Is It (Part 1)
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 21, 2010

A BLOG ESPECIALLY FOR CHILDREN! (Kids, come back to this page next Sunday, and the Sunday after that, to see more of Bev's "What Is It?" photos!)

Have you had fun trying to identify animal tracks? As a child living in the country I enjoyed this - and I still do! So, what animal made this track in the snow? It looks almost like a person's thin handprint, but it's not! I'll give you a clue: they are most often to be out at night. Another clue: they can go down trees backwards or head first. Have you guessed? If not, I'll give you the last clue: they have a black mask around the eyes with white fur around the mask. I bet you've guessed it by now! Yes, it's a raccoon!

You may have heard that raccoons "wash" their food before eating it. Actually, if water is near, they put their food in the water and roll it around. It looks like it is washing its food, but it is really softening the food and looking for parts it doesn't want to eat. The raccoon's front paws are very sensitive and flexible for holding food, examining it and removing unwanted parts especially in water. In fact, the most important sense for the raccoon is its sense of touch. The raccoon print in my photo shows a back paw print; the front paw is shorter and not as defined toward the back of the paw.

Raccoons live in wooded areas near water and like to eat fruit, nuts, berries, insects, rodents, frogs and eggs. If threatened, they quickly climb up vertical structures, like trees. They can hiss, whistle, scream, growl and snarl. One night while asleep, we were awaken by a loud "thump" on the roof above us. With my heart beating rapidly, I opened the door enough to see two raccoons on the roof in the light of my flashlight!

Even though they are "cute", never approach or try to catch a raccoon - they could hurt you. We are so lucky to be able to see so many wild animals created by God! Psalms 104:24 & 25 reads, "Countless are the things thou has made, O Lord. Thou hast made all by thy wisdom; and the earth is full of thy creatures, beasts great and small."

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Missing Steps
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 20, 2009

Not long ago I passed this escalator and noticed not only that it was closed for repair--and its offramps and onramps surrounded by plywood barricades--but that four of its steps had been removed and placed on end on the floor.

Let's indulge in a little fantasy for a moment. Let's pretend that two technicians, Jack and Jill, are working on this escalator. At the end of a hard day's work, Jack mops the sweat from his forehead.

"Hey, Jill," he says. "We've worked hard enough on this project. Let's just start the machinery and take away the plywood. People need to get up and downstairs on this thing."

"We can't do that!" Jill sputters.

"Why not?"

"Those steps are still out!"

Jack glances both ways and lowers his voice. "Let's hide ‘em in the truck."

Jill stifles an impulse to feel Jack's forehead to see if he has a fever. "You're crazy," she snaps. "What happens if an empty slot comes around just as someone's stepping down?"

Jack shrugs. "No biggie," he says airily. "After all, there are all those other steps they can use, all tightly bolted down."

Luckily, while the repair project in the photo is real, Jack and Jill aren't. So when this set of escalators gets moving again, passengers will be able to take for granted that they'll safely reach their destinations.

Since I photographed the scene above, I've taken to thinking of the Ten Commandments as escalator steps, each one giving us solid footing as we ascend higher in our Christian life. Yet some Christians have removed at least one, maybe more, of those commandments and still assume they can stay safe by resting their weight on the remaining ones.

Yet they forget that all the commandments--including the adultery one, the stealing one, the coveting one, the lying one, and yes, even the seventh-day Sabbath one--were inscribed with equal pressure into eternal stone by the very finger of God. 1 John 5:3 says, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." Revelation 14:12 tells us who the real "saints" are: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."

So . . . mind the missing steps!

To read more about God's great law of love, click here.

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How's Your Blessing-counter?
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 19, 2010

For years, the center court in Lynnwood's Alderwood Mall has had a shallow pool where people have taken to throwing coins. As far as I know, there's never been a stated use for the money--I imagine someone once threw a few pennies in, and then someone else did, and a tradition was born.

I chuckled when I recently saw, among the pennies and nickels, a little calculator. I don't know whether or not it was deliberately pitched into the water or dropped there accidentally, but it's far enough out so you wouldn't be able to retrieve it without getting wet.

It's a bit far-fetched, but in a flight of fancy I can imagine a kid standing at the edge of the pool holding that calculator and saying, "I'm gonna add up the amount of all those coins." But trying to number those randomly-scattered coins is tough, and he keeps losing his place. His eyes start to glaze over. "Forget it," he mumbles, and tosses the calculator into the water.

As I say, it probably didn't happen that way. But I suddenly said to myself, "That's something like trying to count all the blessings God has given us." I remembered something a Christian author said in a book I've recently been reading aloud to Shelley (I'm paraphrasing): "If at the beginning of a day you take paper and pencil and start listing God's blessings, at the end of the day you will still be writing. You'll never finish."

And I would imagine that if you did try to click a calculator once for each of Heaven's benefits, large and small, you'd soon find--as your mind expanded to encompass more and more of God's goodness--that the calculator's memory would finally be exhausted.

But don't let that discourage you! Get into the habit of remembering how God has blessed you--it keeps you healthily humble! "Forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2)

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The Battle Belongs to the Lord
Commentary ©2010 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Thursday, February 18, 2010

Do you ever feel like you're in a battle? Pressures flying at you with the speed of stallions leaving a whirlwind of flames in their wake? Stresses' piling up like crusading enemy soldiers whose line is reinforced every morning? Arrows and cannonballs whipping past your head - seemingly from out of nowhere - and aiming straight for your heart?

It may seem strange to talk about the problems of modern life in medieval terms but I've done so for a reason. In the Bible, there's a story about a brave young man named Joshua who was called by God to lead God's children through a terrible battle, which if won would gain them entrance into their inheritance, the promised land. The battle threatened to be long and difficult. In fact, the enemies to be faced were so great in number and so fierce in weaponry and tactics that there really was no way the children could win. That is, if the children insisted on fighting the battle themselves.

God knew that His children could not win this battle on their own. When fighting against a very powerful enemy, children can barely stand on their own two feet, let alone wield a sword, carry a shield, or run without fear into the fray. God tells His children that while He has called them to be His soldiers, He will do the fighting for them; the battle is His to win:

When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, and shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

So, if God promised to do the fighting, what was Joshua supposed to do? In chapter one of the book of Joshua, we find the answer. It is here that God gave to Joshua his marching orders and just to be clear, He repeated the orders three times:

1. Be strong and of a good courage.
2. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
3. Only be strong and of a good courage.

What was true for Joshua over 2000 years ago is still true for us today. We are all called to be soldiers in God's army and what He requires of us is to be willing to go, to be ready to go, to wait upon Him for our orders, and then - to just be still. We are called to accept God's gift of strength to wait patiently on Him, and to keep waiting. And we are also called to receive His gift of courage to not surrender to the temptation to rush in, to turn back, to doubt or disbelieve. We are to be strong and of a good courage.

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Be still. The battle belongs to the Lord.

 

 

Scripture references from Deuteronomy 20:1-4; 2nd Chronicles 20:17; Ephesians 6:10-18; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 46:8-10

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For All Nations
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ever been in a secret club? It feels good to have been "chosen" as one of the few. Not that you are glad others aren't allowed in but the fact you were singled out somehow, someway, feels pretty good -- members only. Guess what? Being selective and limiting, with groups isn't always bad but it's certainly not ALWAYS good either.

Enter God. When God puts a group together He opens it up to everyone. Everyone. Does that mean everyone wants to be part of the group? No, it does not. The beauty of God's club is the choice everyone has. It's selective--but only because we have the option to select in or select out.

In the book of Acts, we read of a time when Peter was visiting Cornelius and how God had told Peter exactly what to say, in order to discuss this very topic, (10:34-36) "Peter fairly exploded with his good news: "It's God's own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you're from-if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel-that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again-well, he's doing it everywhere, among everyone."

So no matter where you are, who you know, what you have done, if you want to be....You're in THE CLUB.

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Western Kingbird
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As culture has advanced and technology improved, the ways man has built his house has changed as well. Here in our Western society, few of our homes have much resemblance to those of biblical times. But while the use of brick and mortar may have been replaced by glass and steel, the principle Solomon outlined in Proverbs 24:3 still has as much relevance today as it did long ago. "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established..." (NIV) One might elect to limit these words to the physical construction of a building, and that would undoubtedly be true. But how much more does it apply to the way our home is structured.

Not only has man altered the landscape with his work, but nature too has adapted to meet those changes. The Western Kingbird is a bird of the open grasslands of the West. It is frequently seen perched on fence lines from which is sallies forth to catch flying insects. An arboreal nester, it generally builds its nest on a horizontal limb near the trunk of a tree. But trees can be a scarce commodity on the plains. A common species, its success is due in part to modifying its nesting requirements. Man-made structures work equally well as trees. I don't know if Solomon would have thought it wise to build a nest in such close proximity to grinding gears of this rusty windmill, but then again, I don't know how long it's been since those wind-powered blades pumped water from below the crusty surface of the prairie. What I do know is our families, our homes, are safest when they are built around the One who gives true wisdom.

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Misplaced Trust
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 15, 2010

When I was in Guyana, I was able to fly with my brother-in-law to a couple of small mining towns on New Year's Day. On the flight between the two towns, he pointed out what was left of Jonestown. This picture shows the clearing (just above the white reflection) that is slowly being overgrown by jungle. There has apparently been a small memorial erected there and that is really all that is left of the community where over 900 people died back in 1978.

Unfortunately, the Jonestown Massacre is the only thing that most people associate with Guyana. The mass murder-suicide of Jim Jones and his followers in the People's Temple of Christ cult was, "The greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001," per Wikipedia's article on Jim Jones. Sadly, the cult members put their faith and trust in one very dysfunctional human who they thought would provide Utopia for them.

Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6. We need to remember to put our faith and our trust in Jesus, who is infallible, and not in humans, who are fallible.

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For God So Loved
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 14, 2010

 

Has anyone wished you "Happy Valentine's Day" today? Like many other holidays, Valentine's Day has become very commercialized. I can think back to the fun we had making Valentine's Day cards. When in grade school I always looked forward to covering and decorating an apple box where everyone in the class placed their Valentine Cards through a slot in the top.

Valentine's Day is observed as a special day of sharing things with your loved ones. As Christians, we know that love comes from God and that God is love. I John 4:16 God has blessed each of us with many wonderful gifts. Since love is about giving, consider giving time for others - to give of yourself on this Valentine's Day. Remember that

     For God so lo V ed the world
            that he g A ve
                 His on L y
                 begott E n
                       So N
                            T hat whosoever
              believeth I n Him
                  should N ot perish
               but have E verlasting life. John 3:16


Many songs tell of the love of God. I'm reminded of the following chorus from "The Love of God":

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure--
The saints' and angels' song.

 

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Sunset
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 13, 2010

 

If you'll look closely at the horizon of this sunset photo I snapped in early December, you'll see the silhouettes of what look like several wooden fenceposts of varying heights. They're not fenceposts, however, but Seattle skyscrapers.

I'm no great photographer--I just saw trees and tall buildings against a glorious sunset, and had my camera with me--but the more I look at that scene, the more meaning I see. First of all, it's sunset over Seattle. And every line of Bible prophecy insists that we're nearing the sunset of earth's history. There will come a day when those buildings will most likely collapse during the tremendous earthquake which accompanies Jesus' arrival.

And notice how the nearby trees loom over the towers which--if placed right next to them--would make them seem like humble shrubs. The Bible promises that out of the ashes of the old planet will arise "a new heaven and a new earth," where righteousness dwells. So we will go back to Eden after all.

One more glance at this photo brings an old missionary gospel song to mind:

Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work 'mid springing flowers;
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man's work is done.

For more of what Jesus and the rest of the Bible say about His coming, click here.

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"How's Your Furnace?"
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Gene Trent
Friday, February 12, 2010

"During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet." (Deuteronomy 29:5 - NIV)

Have you ever wondered whether the Old Testament promises made to Israel apply to us as modern day spiritual Israel? I know I have. I have also been schooled by the Lord over the years to believe that His promises are good for all His people down through the ages. A recent example is the plight of our furnace.

As my job has me working away from home for awhile (thus explaining the photo above) I get these periodic calls for assistance from Kim, my wife. My cell rang Sabbath evening with the sad / bad news that the heat would not come on. Since I am in a place where I can walk the beaches of the Pacific in mid-winter I had to remember that in the PNW the heat of a furnace is still needed. The phone conversation between us went something like this:

"Hello Gene, are you busy?"

"No, what's wrong?"

"The heat won't come on."

"Check the pilot light on the furnace. Is it on?"

"I don't know how."

"Go down to the furnace and pull the lower door off."

"Okay. It won't budge! Oh no, the top door fell off."

"What, how did you do that?"

"I don't know, it just fell off."

"Well, do you see or hear the pilot light?"

"I don't see or hear one. Where is it located?"

"Just look for a pipe with a hole in it and a blue flame coming out of it."

"I don't see anything like that, and I don't want to blow myself up!"

"Okay, just call the repairman."

The repairman came in the morning and after the inspection I got the bad news....the furnace had provided its last bit of heat and given up the ghost. Time for a new furnace. Kim put Andy, the repairman, on the phone to talk with me and he explained why we really needed to replace furnace. "First, this is a 15 year furnace and I checked the installation tag and this furnace was installed 30 years ago. In addition, the replacement part will be hard to get, expense to replace....."

It was not the news I wanted to hear but then I stopped myself from letting a thought of frustration or dissatisfaction enter my mind. 30 years of heat from a 15 year furnace. This could have happened 6 months ago when things were very tight financially but it didn't. The Lord kept that furnace going until He was able to get me establish in a new job so we could afford to have it replaced.

Some might call this good luck, an anomaly or just having a good furnace from the start. But I don't think that is the case, no it is not my belief. Andy told Kim that he himself had never seen such an extension of life for such a furnace. But, this has not been the first instance of the Lord blessing our existing equipment. We had a roof that went 27 years without a leak underneath lots of pine trees that dropped heavily on it every year until we were able to get it replaced. Oh yeah, the 1991 Explorer is still going strong even though it is starting to show signs of wear and tear. I could on and on.

I am sure that when the Israelites showed their clothes and sandals to the neighboring countries and said they had not worn out in 40 years they weren't believed either but the story is still true. Sometimes it wise to stop and count our blessings. The Lord is true to His word.

How is your furnace?

" For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep his command, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess." (Deuteronomy 30:16- NIV)

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Going for Gold
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Sunset at Rosario Beach, Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, WA, USA - October 2009.
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Have you ever wanted something so much that you were willing to work as hard and as long as you needed to in order to get it? - Like studying for a scholarship, practicing to master an instrument, working for a promotion, or training for an event. How hard did you work? How long did it take? Was it worth it?

Were you ever interested in someone so much that you were willing to do anything to get close to them? A spouse, a child, a friend... - Like learning everything about them: what makes them happy, what makes them sad, what are their hopes, their dreams, their fears? As you learned more about them, did you find yourself wanting to know more and more, or did you discover something that made you want to turn back? If you decided to keep moving closer, did you come to a point where you realized that in order to be as close to them as you had hoped then there were things in your life from which you needed to move away?

Tomorrow, the twenty-first Olympic winter games open in Vancouver, BC, Canada. In the papers and over the broadcast waves, we've been hearing all about the preparations being made. Stadiums being built, restaurants and hotels being readied for visitors, and athletes priming for what they hope will be the shining moment of their lives.

I read an interview with one athlete. A young man attempting to go for gold - to break the world record for the number of gold medals won by a single athlete at the games. In the interview, the athlete shares his strategy in preparing for this moment. The never-ending expanse of early morning wakeup calls followed by long, wearying days of training, practicing, and exercising to prepare himself physically, mentally, and emotionally for his one, shining moment. His goal is gold, and more gold than anyone else has ever held before in his position. As I read the article, I was struck by certain phrases:

"Tired, but still pushing on,"
"Many distractions right now yet I'm staying on track."
"I'm about being better than yesterday."
"No distractions. Make a step in the right direction today. Stay focused."
"It's almost like a reiteration of what I want to feel like," he says. "It's almost like reminding myself, and motivating myself: 'Hey, look where you're at today. Look where you've got to go.' "

The article said that his statements were as manna to the athlete's many fans. I thought--look at how hard this young man was willing to work for what he wanted. Think of how long he was willing to endure. He much he must want that which he is seeking. The gold. I also thought how sad it was that the author of the article compared the young man's words and intentions to the pure and holy Bread sent down from heaven--the manna--the Word of God.

All of this the young man has done, and yet, none of it can he take with him. All of this time and energy; all of this practicing, perfecting, and emotional conditioning, and for why? The gold of this world is truly a snare. Whether it be the gold that is measured in a scale, the gold of our own reflection erected as a statue in another person's eyes, or the gold of our own convincing that covers us like a blanket of security and rocks us to sleep.

I cry for the times when we think we have gained so much, but have really lost everything of lasting worth. I cry for our Savior and our Father - for our God - for He has lost the most. Where was He when we were spending the best of our time and energies seeking for someone or something other than Him. He was watching. He was hoping. He was waiting. He was longing.

 



My friends, my sisters and brothers, let us strive for the real gold which is offered by the King of heaven. Although He is our a King, He was willing to wear a crown of thorns for us here, in order to fulfill His promise to us to where we are going: to place upon the heads of each of His children a crown of gold of unsurpassed beauty.

 

Let us go for the gold of heaven. Let us seek to know Him and strive to love Him with all of our hearts, all of our minds, all of our spirits, and with all of our strength. Let us work to help each other in this race. Let us seek to cross the finish line together, hand-in-hand. Let us work towards the mark of the prize of our high calling in Jesus - as hard as we need to, as long it takes. Compared with the eternal reward that is waiting on the other side of that finish line, the race that is set before us is but as a fleeting moment and the gold we will win, will never perish. That gold will endure forever.

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I Can't See Through This Beautiful Tree
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A couple of weeks ago we went to Long Beach, Washington. The scenery in the area is absolutely incredible. It's on the beach (obviously) and surrounded by sand, trees, cliffs--just beautiful. One day we drove south of the town and drove up a hill to get a better view. We stopped at a spot where they are constructing a "look-out" point. As you can see in this picture, someone made the decision to cut down this healthy, nice looking tree, for the sake of the view. Now, I am not naïve to think there are never times where trees shouldn't be cut down for the sake of construction. That said, I thought this particular image is a bit ironic. Here is this beautiful setting - trees, beach, sand, and waves. The ironic part of this is, someone put the priority or the value, on the view over the life of the tree.

I am so glad God doesn't think that way. God cares for each one of us exactly the same way. Perfect or not, He values us the same. Sinful or sinless, He loves us the same. Don't take my word for it, read it for yourself in John 3:16, I think this proves the extent of God's love - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

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In just about everything we are tasked with each day, we can find "Do It Yourself" step-by-step directions. Whether you are building a deck, writing a book or trying to lose weight--"Do It Yourself" signs are everywhere. Society puts a big emphasis on the self-help model.

The other day I noticed this car and took a closer look, specifically at those "flames" running down the side of the car. This picture doesn't do the paint job justice, as you can't see the detail....then again, there wasn't much detail to see. In fact this was a "Do It Yourself" project, as the owner utilized a can of spray paint. Now I am not putting down the person that chose to save some time and money to, instead, be creative on his/her own. It did get me thinking though. With all the challenges we face, how many times do we take the "I can do it myself" approach? How many times do concentrate on our own abilities--Versus focusing on the one source of true ‘Self-help' - God.

Next time you are faced with a challenge, at work, at school, at home - working on a project, working on a relationship--don't look any further than the one and only "Do It Yourself" book - the Bible. God is there for us, not matter what we are facing.

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Red-naped X Red-breasted Sapsucker
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So many things in our life are not that clear cut. Education and circumstances have taught us to look at multiple options and weigh all the considerations. Wouldn't it be nice to sometimes have a clear cut, definitive answer? Imagine you saw this attractive bird fly up and land vertically on a tree nearby. You recognize it must be in the woodpecker family so you pull out you trusty bird book and look through the pictures for an identifying match. No such luck! Part of it looks like a Red-breasted Sapsucker while other field marks cause you to think it's a Red-naped Sapsucker. Both species are found in your area so that's no help. Both drill holes in the bark of trees, creating sap wells to which they return to harvest this food source. So which is it? The answer is both. It is a hybrid between the two species.

Fortunately for us there are some things that are really clear with no blurring of the lines. The Apostle John makes a number of such statements. Take I John 5:12 for instance, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (NIV) That's pretty unambiguous. While we live in a world often made up of shades of gray, isn't it nice to know that with the things that really matter, like our eternal life, God has made it very clear.

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Water, Water, Everywhere
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 1, 2010

When I was in Guyana visiting my sister and family, I was privileged to be able to go to one of the country's most acclaimed natural wonders, Kaiteur Falls. I had seen pictures before I went but it really has to be seen to be truly appreciated.

The falls are 741 feet high. By comparison, Snoqualmie Falls (an impressive sight itself) is 270 feet high and Niagara Falls is 176 feet at it's highest point. 



We were also able to see the famed golden frogs which live in the giant tank bromeliads up there (the mist from the falls creates its own little ecosystem). Our guide also found us the Guianan cock-of-the-rock, a bright orange bird which looks like no other bird I've ever seen. (My picture of the falls turned out better than my picture of the bird! If you Google "birds of Suriname" and click on the first item that comes up, there is a cock-of-the-rock in the first row of birds. Click on that for some amazing pictures!)



Guyana consists of a lot of rain forest so there is a lot of water. There are streams and creeks and rivers everywhere. Drinking water, however, is more difficult to obtain. My sister and her family use rainwater which comes off the roof and collects in tanks. They have to filter this water before drinking it. (Even though I've been back almost three weeks, I'm still amazed that you can just turn on the tap and drink the water. This is something we take for granted in most parts of North America but for so many people in the world, this is not the case.)



Sometimes, when our physical need for water is being met, we forget that we need spiritual water as well. We need to remember the true source of that water. In John 7:37, Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."

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Velella
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If you've spent much time walking along the beach, or for that matter, anywhere near a marine environment you very possibly may have run into Velella velella. Velella has been classified as a communal hydroid which inhabits the world's temperate and tropical seas. Like others of its kind, it is carnivorous and feeds primarily on plankton which it captures by way of stinging nematocysts on its tentacles. But perhaps its most obvious characteristic is its sail which is composed of thin, chitinous material. This triangular sail catches wind currents and thus it is conveyed over the open seas until it finally comes to rest, sometimes by the thousands, on some far distant shore. This also gives rise to its common name, By-the-Wind Sailor.

Paul may have very well encountered Velella on his travels to Crete, Cyprus, Malta, or other areas in the Mediterranean. His description of the immature Christian seems to match perfectly, "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming." Ephesians 4:14 (NIV) Unlike the transient Velella, which has no particular destination and goes whichever way the wind blows, Paul encourages us to be grounded and fixed on Christ (verse 15) which will in turn give real purpose and direction to our lives.

 

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God of Impossible Things
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 8, 2010

I found this grasshopper at Kaiteur Falls in Guyana. It was about 4 inches long and is huge by North American standards. I've been watching Animal Planet's DVD's on The Jeff Corwin Experience. The one on Guyana is aptly called, "Land of the Giants." Guyana has the giant anteater, giant river otters, giant cane toads, giant river turtles, Harpy eagles and anacondas to name of few of its large creatures.

Remember reading the story in the Bible (Numbers 13 and 14) of when the Israelite spies were sent into Canaan on a reconnaissance mission to check things out? They came back saying that the land was overflowing with milk and honey but everyone except Caleb and Joshua gave a bad report. "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Numbers 13:32 and 33). Things did not turn out well for the rest of the spies nor for the Children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for another 40 years because of their inability to trust God in the face of adversity!

We may not have giant people or giant creatures in our lives, but we can have what appear to be giant problems. What we need to remember is that while things may seem insurmountable to us, nothing is hopeless with God on our side. When the angel Gabriel was telling Mary that she was going to give birth to the Son of God, he said, "For with God nothing will be impossible." Luke 1:37 NKJV

 

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Safety
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Seattle Aquarium has added several new features since we had last been there. I'm always amazed to study the wide variety of tropical fish and plants with their brilliant colors. Clown Fish, as shown in my photo, live among the tentacles of the Sea Anemone. The Clown Fish actually uses the anemone to save it from predators because other fish are afraid of the anemone. The Clown Fish is dependent on the Sea Anemone for its daily "bread". After the anemone paralyzes and eats a fish, the Clown Fish will eat the remaining parts for its meal. In return, the Clown Fish keeps the anemone free of dead tentacles by eating these dead parts. It also helps the anemone get its food by using its bright coloration to lure unsuspecting fish into the area of the anemone.

The Clown Fish depends on the anemone for its safety and survival. Let's take a "spiritual lesson" from the Clown Fish. Are you depending on the Lord for your survival? Psalms 18: 1-2 states "I love thee, O Lord my strength. The Lord is my stronghold, my fortress and my champion, my God, my rock where I find safety, my shield, my mountain refuge, my strong tower."NEB

 

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Than Tongue or Pen Can Ever Tell
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 6, 2010

As I crossed a parking lot early last June, my eye was caught by the sight of this used-up pen cartridge. It would be interesting to know the story behind it, because it's something you don't often see lying on the ground aside from its parent writing instrument. From its thinness it looks like it came from a fairly cheap ballpoint pen, yet whoever had used up the last drop of ink had taken the trouble, rather than simply discard the pen, to unscrew it and pull out the cartridge. The pen--humble and lowly though it probably was--must have meant something special to its owner.

And what kind of writing had used up the ink? Most of us are doing most or all of our writing on computer keyboards. I guess we'll never know.

A couple of verses of one of my favorite Christian songs conjure up an amazing image of another kind of writing that exhausts the ink supply:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky!

Oh love of God, how rich and pure,
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure--
The saints' and angels' song.
--from "The Love of God," lyrics by Frederick Lehman, 1917

 

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New and Bestselling!
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 5, 2010

This past Sunday Shelley and I stopped off at a Barnes and Noble bookstore which had placed a book on hold for me. On the way out I paused beside this rack in the lobby, and immediately reached for my camera.

If you make it a fairly regular habit to nose about in bookstores, you'll instantly spot that every single one of the "bestsellers" on this rack is blank. They're journals. Some have lines, and some probably not. The bottom line is that nobody has written in these books yet--and the other bottom line is that the Barnes and Noble people ignored the sign at the top, using this rack as a convenient display for a product they hoped would go home with happy book-shoppers. And it's not inconceivable that a teenager could grab one of these books and make notes for what might indeed become a best-seller one day.

If you will permit me to get philosophical for a moment, you and I and every other human being start out as pretty much a blank journal, each with wildly huge potential. In nearly three decades of pastoring, I've seen church members who have let the Lord write His love on their hearts in such large, eloquent letters that these members have become far more revered and cared-about than any blockbuster-novel author could ever hope to be.

So why not talk to the Lord right now, and say, "Heavenly Father, I present myself to you as a blank book. Write on my heart Your love and Your will. You've even told me that You would write Your laws on my heart! (Hebrews 8:10) Help me become a letter from You to those I know."

 

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The Bridge
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Beth-Anne Harvey
A bridge over the Kopru River in the Koprulu Canyon in Antalya Turkey - August 2009.
Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'm a child of the 70's - fond memories of stretching out on the shag carpeting in my big sister's bedroom listening to the soulful sounds streaming in through her radio. My sister loved music and I loved being with her. Listening and dreaming and being with someone I loved a whole lot gave me great comfort.

Many of the songs from that time are burned forever into my mind and intertwined with deep feelings in my heart. Lyrics like "You fill up my senses like a night in the forest" (John Denver, Annie's Song), "You don't bring me flowers anymore" (Neil Diamond), and "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away" (The Beatles) still carry me back to memories of thoughts, feelings, and experiences from when I was a little girl. Hopes, dreams, fears, doubts - it's funny how music can play such a large role in our lives.

One song in particular I'll never forget. Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters".

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all
I'm on your side when times get rough and friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down

When you're down and out, when you're on the street
When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you
I'll take your part when darkness comes and pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down

Sail on *Silver Girl, sail on by, your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way, see how they shine
If you need a friend, I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind


As a child, I didn't realize that these lyrics were painting a picture of the One who I would one day accept as my Savior: Jesus Christ. At that time, I only sensed that the person who wrote such beautiful words and sang them with great feeling, must be one who would be willing to go anywhere and do anything to help the person he loved.

Those words, those ideas, started me on a journey of seeking - searching for someone who would love me enough to carry me. Someone who would dry my tears, rid me of all my fears and make everything right. Someone who would always be my Friend. Someone I could always turn to. Someone who would give me great dreams and make them all come true.

Those words, those ideas, these are the same reason I fell in love with Jesus. He is my Bridge over the troubled waters of this life. He carries me, He comforts me, and He gives me hope. He laid Himself down when He gave His life for me on the cross at Calvary. Heaven opened a door for me that day, a way for me to cross over. I am so grateful for that cross. I am so grateful for Someone who would love me so much that He would be willing to go anywhere and do anything to help me, to rescue me.
Listen to the song on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYKJuDxYr3I

* Paul Simon wrote this beautiful song 30 years ago. "Silver Girl" was a nickname for his sweetheart Peggy (who later became his wife) who was struggling with the onset of grey hair. The song was sung by Paul's musical partner, Art Garfunkel.

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Do It Yourself
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 3, 2010 

 

In just about everything we are tasked with each day, we can find "Do It Yourself" step-by-step directions. Whether you are building a deck, writing a book or trying to lose weight - "Do It Yourself" signs are everywhere. Society puts a big emphasis on the self-help model.

The other day I noticed this car and took a closer look, specifically those "flames" running down the side of the car. This picture doesn't do the paint job justice as you can't see the detail....then again, there wasn't much detail to see. In fact this was a "Do It Yourself" project, as the owner utilized a can of spray paint. Now I am not putting down the person that chose to save some time and money to, instead, be creative on his/her own. It did get me thinking though. With all the challenges we face, how many times do we take the "I can do it myself" approach? How many times do concentrate on our own abilities? Versus focusing on the one source of true ‘Self-help' - God.

Next time you are faced with a challenge, at work, at school, at home - working on a project, working on a relationship - don't look any further than the one and only "Do It Yourself" book - the Bible. God is there for us, not matter what we are facing.

 

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Red-naped X Red-breasted Sapsucker
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So many things in our life are not that clear cut. Education and circumstances have taught us to look at multiple options and weigh all the considerations. Wouldn't it be nice to sometimes have a clear cut, definitive answer? Imagine you saw this attractive bird fly up and land vertically on a tree nearby. You recognize it must be in the woodpecker family so you pull out you trusty bird book and look through the pictures for an identifying match. No such luck! Part of it looks like a Red-breasted Sapsucker while other field marks cause you to think it's a Red-naped Sapsucker. Both species are found in your area so that's no help. Both drill holes in the bark of trees, creating sap wells to which they return to harvest this food source. So which is it? The answer is both. It is a hybrid between the two species.

Fortunately for us there are some things that are really clear with no blurring of the lines. The Apostle John makes a number of such statements. Take I John 5:12 for instance, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (NIV) That's pretty unambiguous. While we live in a world often made up of shades of gray, isn't it nice to know that with the things that really matter, like our eternal life, God has made it very clear.

 

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Water, Water, Everywhere . . .
Photo and commentary ©2010 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 1, 2010

When I was in Guyana visiting my sister and family, I was privileged to be able to go to one of the country's most acclaimed natural wonders, Kaiteur Falls. I had seen pictures before I went but it really has to be seen to be truly appreciated.

The falls are 741 feet high. By comparison, Snoqualmie Falls (an impressive sight itself) is 270 feet high and Niagara Falls is 176 feet at it's highest point.

We were also able to see the famed golden frogs which live in the giant tank bromeliads up there (the mist from the falls creates its own little ecosystem). Our guide also found us the Guianan cock-of-the-rock - a bright orange bird which looks like no other bird I've ever seen. (My picture of the falls turned out better than my picture of the bird! If you Google "birds of Suriname" and click on the first item that comes up, there is a cock-of-the-rock in the first row of birds. Click on that for some amazing pictures!)

Guyana consists of a lot of rain forest so there is a lot of water. There are streams and creeks and rivers everywhere. Drinking water, however, is more difficult to obtain. My sister and her family use rainwater which comes off the roof and collects in tanks. They have to filter this water before drinking it. (Even though I've been back almost three weeks, I'm still amazed that you can just turn on the tap and drink the water. This is something we take for granted in most parts of North America but for so many people in the world, this is not the case.)

Sometimes, when our physical need for water is being met, we forget that we need spiritual water as well. We need to remember the true source of that water. In John 7:37, Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."

 

 

 

 

 

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