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

Devotional Photo Blog - February 2011

 

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. I handle Thursday, 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. 



Do You Have the Right Gear?
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 28, 2011

I like going to ski resorts - in the summer!  It's great to catch a lift up to the high country and see really beautiful flowers, butterflies, birds and views. 

A couple of years ago, I stopped in at Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia.  While several people took the lifts up to go hiking or to see the view, the majority of the riders were young, mostly male, mountain bike riders. 

As you can see in the picture, they are all decked out in their mountain biking gear.  This equipment is very important to minimize injuries in case of a crash. 

As Christians, we too need to be wearing the right "gear."  We are told in Ephesians 6:11-18 that we are to "Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." (NLT)


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Racing
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Bev Riter
Sabbath and Sunday, February 26 & 27, 2011

We first saw signs asking us to slow down. Then we saw the bikers coming. I snapped this photo from inside the car, as we slowed down to let them continue their race.

Sometimes we get so involved with many things that we "race" from one activity to another. This can lead to a lot of tiredness or stress in one's life, including your children. Sometimes it's wise to make priorities of what's important and leave off things that really don't matter. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Mathew 11:28-30 Jesus is there to give us rest and peace. Slow down and spend time with Him!


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Get Some Rest. Or Else.
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 25, 2011

One sunny day couple of weeks ago I drove past these signs and got such a kick out of them that I actually parked the car and took the picture.

Even though these signs are fitted snugly one atop the other, they’re about two different issues. The top one announces the presence of the dreaded photo-enforced traffic light cameras which, if you dare to run a red light--or go a bit too fast in a school zone--will snap a photo of your car in the intersection. Later in the mail you will get a copy of this photo, along with another one where they have zoomed in on your license plate, together with the notice that you have been fined. (Do you notice the extreme detail I am able to put into that description? Yup. Been there, done that. Just once. School zone.)

The lower sign, of course, sends the signal that somewhere to the right are motel lodgings where you can rest your weary bones. What was so funny about the two signs together was that at first glance it seemed as though careful photo-reconnaissance was being made of someone’s resting habits.

As a kid, I loved to read in bed. Night after night in my upstairs bedroom I would devour mystery and science fiction novels I’d checked out from the library. And night after night my mother would come to the foot of the stairs and say, “Maylan. Turn off the light and get some sleep!”

I knew, of course, that Mom wasn’t a totalitarian dictator with the need to control every move of her subjects. Mom was simply a mom--who wanted the best for her kids, and who knew I would be fairly worthless at school the next day (especially in math) if I didn’t get my rest. And if my young immune system wasn’t sleep-fortified, I might get sick.

If more people could look at God's seventh day Sabbath through a parent’s eyes, maybe minds would start changing. No, the Sabbath was not an arbitrary Old Testament law to be suffered and endured until the cross. Yes, the Sabbath is a loving gift from a God who created it on Creation Week's Day Seven, when there was neither sin nor a Jewish nation. God knew that even the pre-fall Adam and Eve needed rest.

“And He [Jesus] said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27, 28 NKJV


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Whoops!
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has officially existed since the early 1860s, and not once has the denomination set any kind of date for the return of the Lord. (Baptist lay preacher William Miller tried it, in 1843 and then 1844, but Adventists never have.)

However, there have always been tiny little offshoot groups, whose leaders appear to have far too much time on their hands, who have occasionally tried to pin end-time prophecy down to particular time periods.

The above photo is part of a 36-page newsprint publication someone showed me recently. It was published in the early 1980s by a group of folks claiming to be Adventists but who were obsessed by the “jubilee” idea. Even though there is absolutely neither Biblical validation nor command for doing this, they and others have tried to calculate “jubilee years” and connect them to events at the close of time.

Anyway, you can see by the earnest diagrams above that the Antichrist was to have ruled from 1984 to 1987, and that the seven last plagues should have fallen in that final year, and that the millennium was to have begun.

Whoops. 

What’s so tragic is that the entire newsletter was made up of Ellen G. White articles! This means that the average subscriber to this paper—or someone who was given it by a subscriber—was being led to believe that Ellen White herself was predicting these events in these timeframes. She of course did no such thing, and preached vehemently against time-setting.

It would be tempting to track down these jubilee people today, poke a finger in their chests, and and say to them, “Okay. What happened? Why did you not only set these utterly invalid dates, but why did you use Ellen White’s writings to give them credibility?” However, those who produced this newspaper shrewdly kept their names concealed, and both a Google and Wikipedia search shows that their organization has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.

Okay. Some ground rules.

1. Just because something is mass-printed in a thick newspaper doesn’t make it true.

2. Thousands of words written by Ellen White accompanying a  newspaper’s assertions do not make those assertions true, if neither Ellen White nor (especially) the Bible validate those assertions.

3. Just because earth seems to be experiencing its final death agonies doesn’t give anyone the right to try to pinpoint dates of its final events.

4. We need to get such a thorough, intelligent, balanced grip on our Bibles that we won’t be drawn away from its actual presuppositions.

Amen? Amen!


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Father of Flutists
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I do not play a single instrument – unless the radio counts. My daughter on the other hand, plays several.  One of those instruments is the flute and is pictured above. If you don’t know, the flute has been around for a very long time.  In fact we can read about it in Genesis, starting in the all the genealogies.  In Genesis 4:21 it describes the family of Cain – “His brother’s name was Jubal.  He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute.”

Now, if I have done the math correctly, Jubal was Cain’s great-great-great-great-great grandson.  The genealogy wasn’t the part that intrigued me, it was the title he received – “Father of all those who play the harp and flute”.  This was interesting for one very big reason – I may not play an instrument or be the father of all that do, but God has a plan for me.  He has a plan for each one of us.  It may not be becoming the band leader or a player at all  Rest assured, whatever the plan is, it’s good and it’s up to us to follow.

 
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Long-tailed Jaeger
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
 
The sea is the home of the three jaeger species found in North America.  The smallest of these, the Long-tailed Jaeger, nests on the Arctic tundra with the western breeding population wintering off the coast of Ecuador and Chile.  As a result, it is seldom seen by most Americans.

 

The word jaeger has Germanic and Dutch roots and means “hunter” which is an appropriate name for this skillful flier.  Though it does so less than its two larger relatives, all three jaegers are known for their use of kleptopariticism, where they will harass gulls and terns, forcing them to give up the food they have captured.  On their breeding grounds their population fluctuates widely, depending upon the abundance of voles and lemmings although they also take large numbers of Lapland Longspurs and other birds. These characteristics cause some to dislike this species but this generally stems from ignorance rather than factual understanding.
 
Misinformation generally leads to faulty conclusions.  A writer often associated with the sea, Herman Melville, in a letter written to his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne in June of 1851, wrote the following:  “The reason the mass of men fear God, and at bottom dislike him, is because they rather distrust his heart, and fancy him all brain like a watch.”  Although he was sometimes critical of religion, Melville seems to have clearly grasped the source of the problem in this instance.  Humanity had long held a picture of God as an exacting taskmaster, with little love or concern for His subjects.  One of the primary reasons Christ came to earth and became man was to show us a clearer picture of what the Father was like.  His response to Philip’s request to reveal what God was like discloses that, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”  (John 14:9 NIV)  God and truth are always on the same side.  We don’t have to fear that sometime in the far distant reaches of eternity we will turn over some rock and find some sinister truth about God He has tried to keep hidden from us.  It’s good news!  We know what the Father’s heart is like.  It’s exactly like the Son’s.

 


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Turn Your Life Around
Commentary ©2011 by Cheryl Boardman
Photo ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Monday, February 21, 2011

 

Are you unhappy with the direction your life is going? It's not too late to change direction!

 

In Paul's letter to Timothy, Second Timothy 4:1-5. he told him: "I can't impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don't ever quit. Just keep it simple.

"You're going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They'll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant."

Do you know what direction you need to be going?  Do you know what the truth is?  Do you know why you believe?  Are you able to defend what you believe? 

 

Of course, the Bible is the ultimate book to study.  God is the only one who can truly turn our lives around. You can, however, get some assistance with Bible study.  We have a whole church library full of books, CD's and DVD's.  If you need some study guides for the Bible, sermons on certain topics (such as Creation or the Sabbath) or just want to read an inspirational story on what God has done in someone else's life, we probably have it in the library or can point you in the right direction to find what you are looking for.

 

Check us out sometime.  The library is located in the Fireside Room - just off the main lobby.  Turn your life around.

 


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Sitting and Listening
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 20, 2011

 

While hiking, I take every chance I can get to take a rest! Not only do I need to rest, but I like to stop and photograph scenic surroundings. Here, we are sitting (my companions are sitting and I am photographing) and enjoying the wonder of Sassolungo, in Italy's mighty Dolomites, from the mountain range to the east. We had been to the top and walked at it's base. Now it was time to pause, look and listen.

 

Nature can be very inspiring by listening to the birds, looking at majestic mountains and smelling the flowers. Nature might speak to you in other ways. God can “talk” with us if we sit and listen to Him. Stop and listen, God might speak to you! “Be still and know that I am God,” Psalms 46:10 KJV

 


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Universal Remote
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 19, 2011

 

A couple of months ago I pulled this mammoth “Jumbo Universal Remote” off a store shelf and studied it for a moment or two. (Yes, that's my very own left hand clutching all that power!) I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be super-convenient if we had a “universal remote” controller for our lives? I can imagine what the operating instructions might say . . . .

 

To get more rest, push “Sleep.”
For wisdom, push “Guide.”
For healthier eating choices, push “Menu.”
To live part of your life over again, push “Go Back.”
To adjust your mood, push “Up” or “Down.”
To adjust your friends’ politics, point the remote at them and push “Left” or “Right.”
To make everything turn out fine, push “OK.”

 

Luckily, life is a whole lot more fun than just pushing buttons—your  own or someone else’s. God has given each of us truly free choice, and in the end, He will give each of us what we truly want. If we truly have fallen in love with Him and His Son and His Word, and want to spend our lives with Him forever, and if we’re willing to respond to His Spirit, God will joyfully grant us that wish. If, however, we truly wish to be separated from Him, that will mean that He must grant that wish as well, and allow us to drift beyond His life-support system.

 

So grab your personal remote and push one more button (which, interestingly, you’ll see on the device in the photo)—“Code Search.” Open your mind and heart to new Bible vistas each day!

 


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Freeman on Judgments
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 18, 2011

 

Meandering through a used book store late last December, I caught sight of this impressive-looking legal volume. Evidently, Attorney (or Judge, or Professor) Freeman was someone who had the time (and someone who a legal-book company felt had the wisdom) to render publishable opinions on this topic.

 

As I stared at the gold lettering on this book’s spine, I found myself thinking that—all other things being equal—a person who’s a “free man” would indeed be someone best qualified to write about judging. All around the world today, the people of countries large and small are struggling toward democracy. But often one government is succeeded by another which soon descends to the same tyrannical and repressive methods as the one it replaced. The reason: those at the helm of the new government are not truly “free” people—in other words, they can’t, or won’t, allow the idea of universal freedom and equal opportunity to rise above their own greed or power-hunger.

 

In John 8;32, Jesus identified a key element of freedom:  “And you shall know the truth,” He said, “and the truth shall make you free.” In a strictly human, information-sharing sense, this was proven overwhelmingly true by the role which social media such as Facebook and Twitter played in the recent Egyptian revolution. Once the government’s Internet blackout was lifted, people could share what was really happening, and the rest is an astounding piece of modern history.

 

How well do you know Bible truth? Do you have some plan of daily Bible reading? Are you remembering to pause from time to time and ask the verses, “How should these truths release me from spiritual slavery?”

 


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Rest—If You Know What’s Good for You!
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 18, 2011

 

In the westmost line of stores in Kirkland’s Totem Lake Mall stands a well-known mattress shop. A little over a week ago I glanced through one of its windows and spotted this PosturePedic Preferred mattress, the very picture of serenity and slumber. However, lying menacingly on the mattress was a sort of mallet or small sledgehammer!

 

Try as I might, I cannot figure out what role a sledgehammer could possibly play in a mattress store. “That’s right, sir, just lie down on this mattress and you’ll soon discover what dreamless sleep is all about. Now close your eyes . . . .” Bonk!

 

Or maybe, “Sir, you and I are alone in this store right now. It’s just you and me, and this absolutely superb PosturePedic. And, of course, there’s also your checkbook. And we must not forget this well-balanced sledgehammer. Notice my impressive biceps. Notice the flexible wrist-action I’m using as I swing this hammer playfully back and forth. Whoops. Almost nailed your left ear that time, didn’t I, sir? Now let’s do some creative thinking about whether I can sell you this wonderful mattress.”

 

 We may never solve the Mystery of the Mallet (although, now that I come to think of it,  there’s a good chance it might have been brought in to help assemble or disassemble an iron bedframe), but we can use it to talk about a fantastic gift God gave humanity on Day Seven of Creation Week. Even before sin began—even before there was hyperstress—God knew that we needed a holy day of rest.

 

And this day was so important to God that He used His stone-engraving fingertip to write it into the very heart of the Ten Commandments. And it wasn’t an afterthought—it’s the command with the largest number of explanatory words and examples, by far the one He gets most specific about.

 

And there’ve been times when God’s been so serious about our need for physical and spiritual rest—a rest far more complete than a mere nap—that He’s not been above waggling a metaphorical mallet in our faces. “Hey. Look. You need rest, and you need a relationship with Me. I’ve given you a day to enhance these things. Use it—if you know what’s good for you.”

 

Christians who have discovered the total truth about God’s seventh-day Sabbath have welcomed it with open arms. It’s not a desperate legalistic spasm of self-righteousness—it’s resting trustingly in the care of the Author and Finisher of our faith.

 

 

 


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Pass the Salt, Please

Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

 

I like a little salt. Others in my family (mom) like lots of salt.  Whether a little or a lot, salt serves a purpose.  It makes something that may not taste just right, a little better. Salt can be used in many different applications, but whatever the use, it’s found all over the world.

 

We read in Matthew 5: 13 & 14, ““You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” In a past sermon, Maylan made a point (in fact it was sermon point #3), that we – God’s believers, are the only ‘Jesus’ people may see.  What would happen if the only ‘Jesus’ that the non-believers saw was not a positive, or a ‘flavorful’ view of Jesus?  I’ll give you a hint, it wouldn’t be good.

As we are the salt of the earth, be the best ‘Jesus’ you can be for the rest of the world.

 


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Ruddy Duck
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
 
The local zoo provides the opportunity to not only look at the birds and animals housed there but to observe the people watching them as well.  I’m not sure which is more interesting.  One exhibit contains a collection of waterfowl, most of which are found in areas nearby in the correct habitat.  The bird that invariably receives the most attention is the small Ruddy Duck.  And the feature that draws this attention is its bright blue bill.  People exclaim and point it out to their young children as though such a thing is impossible.  The truth is, it could generally be found in lakes right in their own backyards, should they care to look.  Unfortunately, during the winter season when the birds are present, they lack the bright blue bill as it turns to a dull bone color in the off season.  Overlooked is one of the more important characteristics, the stubby, upright tail which sets it apart from all other U.S. species except for one vagrant.   
 
Although the secular writer Mark Twain may not be the person most likely to be quoted when making spiritual applications, he does make a comment which perfectly illustrates the point.  In his book Roughing It, he tells of his experiences in the silver mines of the Comstock Lode.  As a novice at the mining game he recounts his elation at believing he had discovered untold riches when he came upon what he thought to be gold.  His emotions plummeted when he is told it is only worthless Fools Gold.  His comments follow:  “So I learned then, once for all, that gold in its native state is but dull, unornamental stuff, and that only lowborn metals excite the admiration of the ignorant with an ostentatious glitter.  However, like the rest of the world, I still go on underrating men of gold and glorifying men of mica.  Commonplace human nature cannot rise above that.”  Assuming his conclusion is correct, that gives us just one more reason why we should rely upon divine help from above.

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All Things Bright and Beautiful
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 14, 2011

 

Do you remember singing this song written by Cecil F. Alexander?  The refrain is:

 

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

 

James Herriot even used each of these lines for book titles! 

 

If you think the photo above is a picture of seaweed, look again.  This amazing creature is a leafy sea dragon that I photographed on another trip to an aquarium.   They are found off the coast of Australia.

 

It's just amazing to see the diversity and design in the world around us. We are told in Genesis 1:20-23 that during the creation week, "God said, 'Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.'  So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  And God blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.' So the evening and the morning were the fifth day."

 


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It Was Good
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 13, 2011

 

Rain forests are forests that are very wet because of a high rainfall. They are home for millions of plants and animals. Tropical rain forests have been called the “jewels of the earth” and "the world's largest pharmacy” because of the large number of medicinal uses of their plants and plant products. The tallest trees form a canopy over the lower ones restricting sunlight to the undergrowth. Our Olympic Rain forest is a type of temperate rain forest, whereas, rain forests closer to the tropics are tropical rain forests. My photo, taken in the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park in Queensland, Australia shows the lush plants in that tropical rain forest.

 

We are told that “In the beginning of creation, when God made heaven and earth...God saw that all that he had made, and it was very good.” Gen 1:1,31 “Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden away to the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. The Lord God made trees spring from the ground, all trees pleasant to look at and good for food.” Gen 2:8-9 NEB Did the Garden of Eden look something like this rain forest?

 


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From Bottle to Pen
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 12, 2011

 

During a quick trip to an office supply store earlier this week, I saw this interesting display. A nearly 6-foot-high "water bottle" is cut away to reveal several racks of gel pens whose bodies, according to  the advertising, were made from recycled water bottles.

 

I thought this was a nice display, and not only because I'm in favor of doing all the recycling I can. When you come to think of it, news about Jesus' "water of life" has been transmitted to ink by Bible writers and many Christians since then. In fact, the Word of God—penned by at least 40 authors over 1600 years—is the only way we can currently discover the full spectrum of truth about the eternal life Jesus promised to the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4.

 

For years, doctors and other health experts have insisted that we drink several glasses of H2O daily. Are we drinking an equivalent amount from God's written word? Why not start with the book of John and read at least a chapter each day?

 


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Our Wide Selection
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 11, 2011

 

Don't you love signs which have double meanings? The Christian bookstore who sponsored the above display was simply intending to convey that pastors who wished to buy pulpit robes at this store wouldn’t be limited to one or two kinds, but might choose among a variety of styles.

 

But fresh from writing the "healthy eating" blog just below this one, I can't help but grin at another interpretation of “wide selection.” And not only grin but wince a bit too, of course, because I myself “stress out” the bathroom scales--and my shirt buttons--a bit more strenuously than I did a few years ago. (And if it weren't for Shelley's vivacious yet virtuous cooking, I'd be a whole lot more hefty.)

 

"Pulpit Robes -- a Wide Selection." I don't happen to belong to a Christian culture whose clergy wear robes, but whenever I get up to speak, I want to be "wide" in other ways. I want my mind and heart wide open to the Holy Spirit's guidance. I want my ears wide open throughout the week as my church members communicate with me.

 

And I want to be properly broad-minded as well. Each year of experience I attain, I find that I know less, and therefore am probably more understanding. I want to be broad-minded enough to look at a piece of truth I had not recognized before, and be able to say, "Wow, even though I didn't know that before, it makes sense to me." I guess you could say that I want a wider and wider humility. And the world’s best mind-widener is, of course, the Bible, because it gives us the dependable perspective of eternity past through eternity future. 

 


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“Happy Eating!”
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, February 10, 2011

 

It was the chef herself who spotted the perky smile on the little white water chestnut, if that's what it is. This past Sunday evening Shelley fixed me one of her fabulous stirfries, and just after she'd put some on my plate, she said, "Look at this!" And there, winking coyly up at me, was a little symbol of the joys of eating naturally.

 

Shelley, who is not only a wonderful cook but who also has an aesthetic eye, is always commenting on how beautiful vegetables look. Frankly, I'm more of the "Where's my fork? Let's dive in!" school of culinary aesthetics, but I see what she means. Food is beautiful – and Eden food is most beautiful of all.

 

If you're not currently much of a vegetarian, I would encourage you to attend our church on a first or third Sabbath (Saturday) of the month. Hopefully you'll get some good spiritual food from the Sabbath school lessons and the sermon, but then you'll be able to be physically nourished at our fellowship dinner by some splendid offerings from many cultures.

 


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Location, Location, Location
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

 

While shopping in Target a few weeks back, Susan spotted this book (in the $1 bin).  We bought it, took it home, and as a family, started checking off all the locations we have been.  It’s great we have had an opportunity to visit numerous spots that are listed in this book.  All the locations seem visit-worthy, and we'll continue to work on our list.  That said I would argue that the book missed the most important location you can take your children, before they grow-up – CHURCH.

 

In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for such is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

I truly believe Jesus was not just telling His disciples to let all the kids that were hanging around, while He was speaking to the multitudes, to come closer to Him.  In fact I believe He was speaking to generations – telling all that the children are the future, and if they are pushed away, the results can be devastating.

 

There are lots of places to take kids before they get too old, but none more important than to the feet of Jesus.

 


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Northern Hawk Owl
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

 

All have heard of hawks and all have heard of owls, but few are familiar with the Northern Hawk Owl.  This species, which shows little fear of man and can be quite easily approached, is well named, for it only irregularly enters the Continental United States from the far north.  While it is clearly an owl, it has the long tail, profile, and flight of a hawk.  Like hawks, it is also diurnal, doing most of its hunting during the daylight hours.    
 
Names are important to help us convey truth about any subject.  This is also true when we discuss the names of God.  One of those names comes from the personal experience of Abraham and his trial in the region of Moriah.  It was here God asked him to take his son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice.  We remember Abraham’s gut-wrenching reply when Isaac asked where the sacrifice was: “The Lord Will Provide” was his response.  He undoubtedly had no idea how prophetic his own words would be.  But when he did pass the test and the Lord did provide the substitute, he named the place Jehovah-jireh, which means “The Lord Will Provide”.  Much more than a geographical title, this name is a one word, hyphenated summary of The Gospel. For isn’t that what the Good News really is, the Lord providing payment for our debt.

 


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Locked Out!
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 7, 2011

 

I saw this sign near the entrance to a marina.  It was definitely not open to the general public.

 

Unfortunately, this world is full of crime and it is generally not safe to leave gates open, houses and cars unlocked, boats unattended or even to walk around in certain neighborhoods.  I was burglarized in broad daylight while living in a gated community (Providentially, I wasn't home at the time).

 

Revelation 21:25 and 26 (NIV) talk about the New Jerusalem.  We are told: "On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it."

 

The footnotes in the Andrews Study Bible note that the phrase, "'gates shall not be shut,' indicates universal access and safety.  Everything that could threaten the city and its inhabitants has been defeated." 

 

I'm looking forward to heaven where we will no longer even need to think about safety and security.

 


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Chosen
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Bev Riter
Sunday, February 6, 2011

 

Do you like to shop? I'm really not a “shopper”! However, when traveling I do like to “window shop” or “street market shop” to look at all the interesting things for sale in that area of the world. I have to admit that I do buy food in the street markets and shops. (And, of course, gelato!)   In our travels, we don't find a Costco, Safeway or QFC, but tiny markets often run by one person! 

While in Italy this last summer, it was interesting to introduce our grand daughters to “shopping” in the various markets and shops there. This photo shows them in a ceramics studio/shop in Montepulciano, one of the Tuscan hill towns. As you can see, it was underground – actually in a former Etruscan cemetery!  They were shopping to chose a product they liked and wanted.

 

Once we choose what we want, we carefully protect it.  In the case of ceramics, we often hand carry them with us when we fly home.  We don't want our valued merchandise to get lost or damaged. That's the way it is with God.  He values us very much regardless of our past.   He has chosen us to be His children.  He wants to protect us and take us home to heaven.  “In him were we also chosen.” Ephesians 1:11 NIV

 


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Touch to Learn More
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 5, 2011

 

A little over a week ago I visited a little boy in Seattle’s wonderful Children’s Hospital. On the way to his room, I spotted this waist-high TV display. Scrolling across the screen were photos and the sentence “Touch to Learn More.”

 

Though I grabbed for my camera and snapped this shot, I didn’t actually stop and touch the screen, so I’m not exactly sure what a screen-toucher learns if he or she pokes it with a finger. But the three images on view in the above picture show a mix of old-fashioned and modern photos, so I’m assuming that the display will tell you some part of the history of this hospital which has done so much good.

 

But you’ll only learn more if you’ll touch the screen.

 

Are you sensing where I’m going with this? Stop by your Christian bookstore and run your eye over the Bible shelves. You’ll see almost breathtakingly beautiful (and very expensive) leatherbound versions. You’ll see tough-looking “men’s Bibles” with canvas bindings, soldiers’ Bibles with camouflage covers, even “hunters’ Bibles” with appropriate decoration.

 

You’ll see women’s Bibles in a spectrum of pastel hues. You’ll see youth New Testaments printed to look like popular magazines. You’ll see kids’ Bibles full of adventure-comic style illustrations. You’ll see Bibles on CDs.

 

All very wonderful, of course, but if we don’t interact with any of these Bibles, the amazing power of these Spirit-inspired Words can’t do anything for us.

 

So in the next few days, as Egyptians riot in the streets, and the rest of the world goes crazy, touch the screen. Touch to learn more. Touch to make sense out of the chaos.

 


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What Color is Your Blood?
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 4, 2011

 

It would be staggeringly difficult to find your way around Kirkland, Washington’s huge, multi-winged Evergreen Medical Center if smart minds hadn’t devised a brilliant system, using colors for the different wings. Ask the people at the information desk where a certain patient is, and they’ll say, “Let’s see. She’s in Silver. Just follow that sign.” And you look at where they’re pointing, and sure enough, it says “Silver,” with an arrow to the left. And as long as you keep your wits about you and don’t let your attention wander, you will eventually arrive at the Silver wing.

 

On my way to the Silver wing recently to visit a patient, I walked through the Purple wing, and I saw this sign. To the uninitiated it might at first seem as though only purple blood is stored in this bank, but Purple is the section, not the blood-hue. After all, when I happen to cut myself, the blood that oozes out is bright red.

 

But to turn the tables a bit, have you ever given blood? And have you ever had the courage to fix your eyes on that warm plastic bag into which you have deposited your pint? Remember what color it is? It’s purple. Dark, royal purple, still unpolluted by oxygen.

 

“Behold,” an elderly, amazed apostle once wrote, “what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1, NKJV) That same apostle, exiled on a small island off the coast of Turkey, wrote something else which made the believers’ royalty more clear: “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:5 – 6)

 

So royal, eternal blood can flow in your veins, if you care to accept it. “For God so loved the world,” said Jesus, “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

 


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The Sky is Falling!
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, February 3, 2011

 

Striding along on a morning walk—a rather soppy one—last  Friday morning, I happened to spot this natural cartoon on the wet pavement. (I assure you I did not adjust anything in this scene. This is exactly the way I found it.)

 

Doesn’t the artful arrangement of the twigs or whatever you call them on the right look like a chicken—maybe a Rhode Island Red—wings flailing, perhaps startled about whatever that other twig on the left represents?

 

This scene reminds me of the old fable about “Chicken Little.” That impressionable young fowl was walking through the barnyard one day when an acorn hit him on the head, and he came to the conclusion—on the flimsiest of evidence—that the sky was falling. And even though a few wiser voices tried to restore calm, other impressionable barnyard animals panicked and ran around screaming “The sky is falling!”

 

A nearby fox decided to take advantage of this chaos, and lured all the barnyard fowl into a cave (ostensibly for their safety), and then he followed them in and ate them all.

 

During my nearly three decades of ministry, I have known a few people who—on the flimsiest evidence—have followed after grotesque and exciting ideas, only to watch those ideas fade and leave a bitter, cynical aftertaste. Our only safe course is to let the clear, unambiguous statements of the Bible—especially those uttered by God or His Son—to be our guide.

 


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The Power of Our Creator

Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
 
In the song In Wonder, by the Newsboys, the lyrics walk us through the creation and how much we are, and shoot be, amazed by the creator Himself.  On the fourth day, our Creator wanted us to know the night from the day and wanted to give us light at the same time....and He created the moon.  I took this shot at home, on the night of the eclipse.  This shot was captured prior to the full eclipse (while the clouds were cooperating).  The moon, the stars, the sun and all that we see have been created by Him.  What a wonder YOU are!
 
So much wonder
Carved in your coral seas
So much wonder
Shaded by ancient trees
I consider all that your hands have made
Every newborn's eyes, every new sunrise
No power can tame your presence
No light can match your radiance

 

LET ALL CREATION SING IN WONDER
EVERY SEA, EVERY CREATURE, EVERY STAR
YOU OPENED UP MY EYES TO WONDER
WHAT A VISION, WHAT A WONDER YOU ARE

 

Such a wonder
Ordering time and tide
Such a wonder
Bridging the great divide
I consider all that you had, all you gave
And all that you endured
From this rebel world
What a wondrous cross you chose to bear
What a wonder you would even care

 

LET EVERY ROCK CRY OUT
LET EVERY KNEE BOW DOWN
YOU OPENED UP MY HEART TO WONDER
WHAT LOVE, WHAT A WONDER YOU ARE

 

No power can tame your presence
No light can match your radiance
Such a wonder...
Such a wonder...

 

So much wonder
Carved in your coral seas
So much wonder
Shaded by ancient trees
I consider all that your hands have made
Every newborn's eyes, every new sunrise
No power can tame your presence
No light can match your radiance

 

Such a wonder
Ordering time and tide
Such a wonder
Bridging the great divide
I consider all that you had, all you gave
And all that you endured
From this rebel world
What a wondrous cross you chose to bear
What a wonder you would even care

 

No power can tame your presence
No light can match your radiance
Such a wonder...
Such a wonder...

 

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Brant
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

 

Some have suggested that Scripture has lost the authority it once possessed.  They attribute this to the fact that the plethora of translations available don’t uniformly agree on all shades of meaning.  They of course are correct--translations do differ somewhat-- but this could be seen as adding to our understanding rather than distorting it.  Words are less than precise tools, but tools nevertheless.  Imagine John’s frustration trying to put into human words the picture of heaven he received in vision.  Inadequate would be a concise summary.
 
Science, which claims to value preciseness, also labors under this limitation.  A good example of this is the Brant, a small marine goose which has salt glands that allow it to drink sea water and eat saltwater plants.  Its scientific name is Branta bernicla, and it’s here the problem begins.  This species name, bernicla, is a reference to barnacles from which it was assumed these birds emerged.  Europeans during the Middle Ages knew nothing of the lands far to the north to which the Brant went during their yearly migration.  All they knew is they reappeared after being absent for several months.  Since they always showed up on rocks at the edge of the sea, they explained their appearance by saying they hatched from the barnacles found on those same barnacle-bearing rocks.
 
Consequently, what do we do, give up on words altogether?  A favorite key text reminds us that “All Scripture is inspired” or God-breathed. (II Timothy 3:16)  It continues to state that it is useful for teaching and training.  In other words, it is reliable, it can be trusted.  Maybe that’s circular reasoning, to use written words to establish their own authority.  But that’s the best we have.  So, what are you going to believe, God’s own testimony, or the guy that thinks the goose came out of the barnacle?

 

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Rest—If You Know What’s Good for You!
Photo and Commentary ©2011 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 18, 2011

 

In the westmost line of stores in Kirkland’s Totem Lake Mall stands a well-known mattress shop. A little over a week ago I glanced through one of its windows and spotted this PosturePedic Preferred mattress, the very picture of serenity and slumber. However, lying menacingly on the mattress was a sort of mallet or small sledgehammer!

 

Try as I might, I cannot figure out what role a sledgehammer could possibly play in a mattress store. “That’s right, sir, just lie down on this mattress and you’ll soon discover what dreamless sleep is all about. Now close your eyes . . . .” Bonk!

 

Or maybe, “Sir, you and I are alone in this store right now. It’s just you and me, and this absolutely superb PosturePedic. And, of course, there’s also your checkbook. And we must not forget this well-balanced sledgehammer. Notice my impressive biceps. Notice the flexible wrist-action I’m using as I swing this hammer playfully back and forth. Whoops. Almost nailed your left ear that time, didn’t I, sir? Now let’s do some creative thinking about whether I can sell you this wonderful mattress.”

 

 We may never solve the Mystery of the Mallet (although there’s a good chance it might have been brought in to help assemble or disassemble an iron bedframe), but we can use it to talk about a fantastic gift God gave humanity on Day Seven of Creation Week. Even before sin began—even before there was hyperstress—God knew that we needed a holy day of rest.

 

And this day was so important to God that He used His stone-engraving fingertip to write it into the very heart of the Ten Commandments. And it wasn’t an afterthought—it’s the command with the largest number of explanatory words and examples, by far the one He gets most specific about.

 

 

And there’ve been times when God’s been so serious about our need for physical and spiritual rest—a rest far more complete than a mere nap—that He’s not been above waggling a metaphorical mallet in our faces. “Hey. Look. You need rest, and you need a relationship with Me. I’ve given you a day to enhance these things. Use it—if you know what’s good for you.”

 

Christians who have discovered the total truth about God’s seventh-day Sabbath have welcomed it with open arms. It’s not a desperate legalistic spasm of self-righteousness—it’s resting trustingly in the care of the Author and Finisher of our faith.

 


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