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

Devotional Photo Blog - May 2009

Thanks to all the photographers from our church photo club who have kindly accepted my invitation to provide their photos and commentary. Here's the schedule of those whose excellent, thought-provoking and encouraging work you'll be seeing, and when: SUNDAY--Bev Riter; MONDAY--Cheryl Boardman; TUESDAY--Robert Howson; WEDNESDAY--Darren Milam. I generally handle the rest of the days using photos from the point-and-shoot camera I keep on my belt.-- Pastor Maylan Schurch

Thanks for visiting our blog page! If you'd like to see previous entries for this month, simply scroll down


The Chains of Peter
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 31, 2009

In a recent sermon Pastor Maylan talked about Peter's miraculous deliverance from prison by an angel.  Some time ago, while in Rome, we visted the San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) Basilica to see not only Michelangelo's "Moses" but also the chains that bound Peter while imprisoned in Jerusalem. The chains became famous after they were mentioned at the Council of Ephesus in 431. This basilica was built in the middle of the 5th century to house these chains.  According to legend, when Empress Eudoxia (wife of Emperor Valentinian III) gave Pope Leo I the chains as a gift, he compared them to the chains of Peter's first imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison in Rome and the two chains miraculously fused together.
While Peter was in prison, his fellow Christians continually prayed for him. During the night before he was to be executed,  Acts 12: 7 states that "And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands." KJV  Miracles happened to Peter.  Can miracles happen in your life, too?

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Craw-crammin' Crow
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 30, 2009

Let me hasten to assure you of two things. First, your calendar is not wrong--this isn't a Tuesday Robert Howson bird blog. Second, there's no sub-species of crow known as "Craw-crammin'."

However, I simply couldn't resist trespassing gingerly on Robert's "territory" (to use a term birders use when they talk about the area a bird stakes out for itself) after seeing how three crows interacted with a Dairy Queen meal a little over a week ago.

I'd pulled in to a parking lot near a DQ in order to make a phone call. Close to my driver's door was a box with the familiar DQ colors. Suddenly a crow appeared, plunged its beak into the box, emerged with what looked like a piece of breaded chicken about four inches long, and flew quickly away with it. Another crow swept down (they must forage in packs), pulled out another piece of meat like the first, and flopped away.

A third crow got to work on the French fries. And I noticed something really intriguing. Even though he stuck his beak in the box and speared a couple of fries, he wasn't content, but continued to go down for more. At one point this crow--or maybe another because several were French fry aficionados--had five fries in his beak at once!

I still grin when I think of those birds. An evolutionist would say, "Aha! Survival of the fittest!" Someone from a moral or spiritual background would say, "Tsk-tsk! Greed runs rampant throughout all nature!"

I'm looking forward to heaven, where there will be birds and animals and other creatures--but no "pecking order" and no starvation!

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Peter's Escape from Prison
Drawing ©2009 by Kuyler Lang
Commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 29, 2009

Last Sabbath I preached on the story of Peter's miraculous deliverance from prison by an angel of the Lord. In the congregation--and you'll recognize his work by now if you've been a frequent visitor to this blog--was Rogers Elementary School teacher Kuyler Lang, sketching-pen at the ready. As before, he developed the concept and executed the sketch within less than 30 minutes, during my sermon.

My sermon title was "Praying Beyond Belief," and during the message I mentioned how important it was to develop the habit of not merely praying prayers that our limited human minds might believe are possible. Instead, we should pray "beyond belief"--pray for totally exciting, baffling, over-the-top answers. Kuyler picked up on the idea, because you'll notice that his angel is almost twice the size of Peter and the prison guards!

Thanks again, Kuyler--not only for the sketch but for the "He's a big, big God" concept!

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By Their Shoes

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Jason Meert

Thursday, May 28, 200

I came across this funny scene at a campout last year.  There's only a pair of shoes sticking out of the bottom of this tent, and they are attached to the feet of a young person.  I know this person is a pathfinder from our Sojourners club because he is carefully following our club rule not to wear his shoes inside his tent, to help keep the inside clean and cared for.

I wonder how recognizable we are as Christians sometimes.

Matthew 7:20: "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." 

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Closer Than It Appears
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Whenever I am looking forward to something--such as an upcoming trip or an event--it always seems too far off, 'way in the distant future.  Of course it never fails that this once-far-distant event all of a sudden is right in front of me, and I am surprised. There are times in our lives that things sneak up on us when we least expect them.
Since Jesus died on the cross for our sins, generations have been looking forward to Jesus' return and our journey to eternal life.  In 2 Peter 3:10, the Bible describes that very day, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up."  A "thief in the night"? That sounds a lot like something that could sneak up and surprise us, if we aren't prepared. 
Before we know it, Jesus will return in the clouds and take us to our new home and we need to be ready for that day. As we continue our daily walk with God, we need to continually prepare our hearts for that long awaited day.  Together we can look toward the sky and know that Heaven is closer than it appears.

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The Bird With a Bad-hair Day

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What term would you use to describe this Red-breasted Merganser?  Dapper?


Just plain messy? 

Although a female Merganser might be impressed, I'm going to go with terms that might be used to describe your teenager's bedroom or your garage.  An even better equivalent might be an out-of-work actor trying out for a bit part in a bad-hair-day commercial. 

Paul, writing for the Lord, seems to be impressed with order.  Notice how he addressed the Colossian church in chapter 2, verse 5, "...I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is." (NIV)  The New American Standard puts it this way, "rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ." 

While we must make sure we don't confuse appearances with actuality, there appears to be at least some connection between practice and perception.  The effort the church at Colosse put forth gave Paul confidence their newfound faith in Christ was firmly grounded, and in this he rejoiced.

While avoiding the artificial, we must always strive to present the clearest and most positive picture of Christ to a world which is looking for answers.  That should be our joy, even on bad-hair-days.

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Faith Looks Up
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 25, 2009

I came across this little ceramic tile a few years ago.  I really like the reminder that we need to look up (to God) for our faith.

We recently had an evangelistic series at our church called "Peace Amid the Chaos."  I really like that title, and still carry the little attendance card around on my key chain because it has "Peace Amid the Chaos" stamped on it.  Mark 4:35-41 tells the story of how Jesus was out in a boat with the disciples when a storm came up.  Though the wind was strong and the waves were high and the boat started to fill with water, Jesus was asleep!  The disciples woke Him up because they were scared and felt He didn't care that they were about to die.

Jesus said, "Peace be still!" (vs 39) and the wind died down and everything was calm.  Jesus asked the disciples, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith (vs 40)?"  

If we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we have no need to fear the storms of life.  (This is not to say that there won't be storms but Jesus will be with us through the storms.)

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In Memory of a Fallen Hero
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 24, 20

Memorial Day is a special day to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who have died in our nation's service.  Originally known as Decoration Day, this day was set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. Later, it became known as Memorial Day to honor those who had died in all of America's wars.  Today, men and women are still giving their lives so that we may have freedom.

Many of you will recognize the scene in this photo, taken yesterday while honoring one of our fallen church heroes, Herb Brown, who not only fought in the Pacific theater in World War II, but who was also a charter member of our congregation.

As I look at the above photo, I find the two stanzas of "My Country, "Tis of Thee" quite fitting:

My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring. 

Our fathers' God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing: 
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.

Romans 5:8 (NEV) states that "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, and that is God's own proof of his love towards us." We have so much for which to be thankful--for men and women willing to die for our freedom while serving in the military, and even more imporantly, a Savior who died, giving each of us the opportunity to enjoy eternal freedom and life everlasting with Him.

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Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 23, 2009

Alert and calendar-conscious viewers of the above photo will notice that the date's wrong--or to put it another way, it was the correct date a year ago when I snapped the shutter.

It's always seemed ironic to me that libraries close on Memorial Day. After all, its shelves are stocked with thousands of pages which portray war and the sacrifices men and women have made to keep their countries free. A couple of weeks ago in a Barnes and Noble store I paged through a book containing World War II photos, and got so absorbed in that titanic struggle that it was a literal jolt to finally come back to the 21st century.

Once a week God offers us a memorial day--a day to reflect on His creation and on His re-creation of those who give Him permission to enter their hearts. And on these Sabbaths, the great library of books known as the Bible is not closed, but open, so that we can reflectively immerse ourselves in the story of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. He longs for you and me to regard this day with at least as much reverence as we will this upcoming Monday. To read more about God's "memorial day," click here.

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Watch and Be Ready
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
< span style="font-style: italic;">Friday, May 22, 2009

A week ago last Sunday, Shelley and I were taking our usual walk along a trail which borders our neighborhood, when we suddenly heard sharp, excited barking. Glancing up, we saw this dog standing on his owner's back patio, head thrust through the rails to get an unimpeded view, staring at us with the utmost concentration.

I got not only a chuckle but a lesson from the above photo. This dog has lived alongside this trail for at least four years (that's how long we've lived here), and strangers walking along the trail are certainly no novelty. Yet by his alert gaze you'd think he was Robinson Crusoe and we were the first human beings he'd seen in a decade.

Again and again Jesus urges us to watch, stay alert, for signs of His return. "But take heed to yourselves," He warns in Luke 21:34-36, "lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."What should you watch for? To find out, click here.

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Push On!
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Thursday, May 21, 2009

Up until Tuesday of this week, I can't remember ever being particularly inspired by a water faucet. But I was by this one. I've tweaked the photo's contrast so that hopefully you can read the handle's message: PUSH ON!

When you stop and think about it, you and I were created to persevere. All of us have had times when we felt as though life wasn't worth living. But does our heart obediently come to a stop? Nope--it just keeps chugging away. Our synapses keep synapsing, our eyes keep focusing, our lungs keep exchanging bad air for good, our food keeps digesting, our hair keeps growing, and on and on.

That's good news--but there's even better news. When we're going through "low" times, our Creator calls to us from the Bible's pages, "Hold on! I have what it takes to help you!" In fact, Jesus urges us to come to Him for strength and courage: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden," He says, "and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29 "Surely," says Isaiah 53:4, "He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." Hebrews 2:18 says, "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."

Singer and songwriter Chuck Fullmore wrote:

Hold on a little longer, my friend!
Hold on a little longer, and don't give in!
Jesus has promised His love till the end,
Hold on a little longer, my friend!

To read three encouraging Bible verses about perseverance, click here.

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Finding Your True Strength
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

With all the challenges you face each and every day, it's difficult to make it when you feel you're running on fumes. Society tells us to "help ourselves"-- whether that means watching the newest self-help TV talk show, reading the latest self-help book or powering up with the latest-greatest energy drink.

I look at all of these things as false strengths. We could spend hours (and hundreds of dollars) listening to someone, or something, tell us where to find the strength in order to be a better person or have the energy to face the day. Isn't it reassuring we don't need to spend a single penny to find the true strength? The only strength we need is God's.

As I look at this image I captured of Snoqualmie Falls, I think of how awesome God's strength truly is. As the water pours over the rocks, you can hear the thunderous roar. If you haven't been to the falls in the early spring, it's an amazing experience. I have visited several times, at different times of the year, and each season the falls have a different look. But by far, my favorite is when it looks like this.

Just as God gives the power and strength to the falls, He also gives us the strength for life's' challenges. We can read it in Psalms 121, "I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains."

The next time society tells you to get some "self help," tell them you have all the strength you need....directly from God's word.

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American Tree Sparrow
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 19. 2009

For many it's just another LBB (little brown bird) also known as an LBJ, (no, not a past president but a little brown job). If you are among that group you may identify with Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame. Andy thought of all birds as being sparrows until he purchased a bird book and discovered there were huge numbers of species and dozens of different kinds of sparrows on top of that.

This just happens to be one of those sparrows that isn't found around the Seattle area very much. If an American Tree Sparrow does happen to wander into our area, it would undoubtedly be in the winter, before it returns to Alaska to nest. For that reason, I made five trips to a nearby park where it had been seen before getting a decent picture of it. Each time I was able to see the bird, but that wasn't enough. I wasn't satisfied until my desired goal of obtaining a picture was accomplished.

Some of Christ's most difficult parables to understand are found in the Gospel of Luke. He includes several parables recorded in none of the other Gospels. The story of the persistent widow found in Luke 18 is one of those. Christ used this story to encourage his followers to be determined in presenting our requests to Him. Put another way, He wants us to care enough about what we are seeking to make five trips, or however many are needed, to fulfill our desired objective. God apparently places worth upon what we really value and for that reason encourages us to not give up in presenting our requests to Him.

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In Its Time
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 18, 2009

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

I recently went to the Tulip Festival in the Skagit Valley, where timing is everything. If you go too early in the season, you will see only daffodils. If you go too late, the tulips will have finished blooming. This year's Tulip Festival ran through the month of April, but the fields didn't really start blooming until around April 19 this year.

If you go too late in the day (especially on the weekend) during the peak tulip blooming time, you will be stuck in traffic and the roads will look like a parking lot--and there's no parking on the shoulders!

I found that if you leave home at 5:30 AM, you will be at the tulip fields by seven and you will be able to find good parking, maneuver around the roads with comparative ease, be able to see great tulips and, hopefully, get some good tulip pictures. And you'll be safely out of there by 10:00 AM when the hordes start descending from all over the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia!

God's timing is not our timing. We can make all the plans we want to but sometimes we just have to wait for His schedule before we start seeing the beauty.

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Tuscan Vines
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 17, 2009

In addition to its wonderful food, Tuscany is known for olives, beautiful scenery, marble and grapes. Since they immigrated from Tuscany, my paternal grandparents grew several varieties of grapes, and as a young child I could hardly wait for them to ripen so I could eat them. Also, with my tiny hand in my grandfather's big hand, we would go to his earth-smelling cellar to sample the juice of the grape. We were bonded, or connected, by him spending time with me--like sampling the grape juice, feeding the chickens or herding the cows. I've taken cuttings from his grapes and now have my own grape vines--a meaningful symbol of my heritage, remaining connected!

Last week at the Women's Luncheon we heard about the importance of "being connected" one with another. With the many challenges that we live with in today's world, "being connected" with the right people seems so important--we need each other!

The Tuscan grapes in this photo, like grapes anywhere else, develop and grow only if they're connected to the vine. When we place our hope in Jesus Christ--our Vine--and abide in Him, we have hope in salvation and eternal life. With Him, our lives can be changed. "I am the vine, and you the branches. He who dwells in me, as I dwell in him, bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 NEB

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Just One Weed
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 16, 2009

A couple of Fridays ago I grinned when I spotted the one bright-yellow flaw in an otherwise delightful scene in our neighborhood. There you have the well-kept mid-1980s-vintage home; there you have the two beautiful lawns which merge together. But lurking at the near corner, close to the sidewalk, stands a single dandelion.

Being a prairie boy, I must confess to feeling kindlier toward dandelions than a more seasoned suburbanite, but even I understand that whoever owns the soil in which that little pest has taken root had better immediately attack it with tooth and claw.

That's the way sin starts, right? All you see at first is the seemingly innocent, even attractive outer appearance--yet while the flower dazzles, the root is growing deep and spreading, sucking nourishment from more healthy aspirations. Check out some Bible facts about sin by clicking here.

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John and Mary at the Cross
Drawing ©2009 by Kuyler Lang
Commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 15, 2009

Once again, artist and Rogers Adventist Elementary School teacher Kuyler Lang spent a thoughtful thirty minutes during my Sabbath sermon creating yet another dramatic Bible scene. His face grim with grief, the disciple John tenderly holds Jesus' mother Mary as she sobs out her sorrow.

As I gaze at Kuyler's masterful penwork, including the various tones of the background, I'm reminded how each of us needs to use our imagination to bring the Bible stories to life. During your devotional time this week, why not mentally--or even physically with pen and paper--create an image that represents the Bible passage you're meditating on?

Thank you again, Kuyler, for inspiring us.

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Love to Hop
Photo and commentary © 2009 by Jason Meert
Thursday, May 14, 2009

At the Pathfinder Fair a few weekends ago, our club marched in the opening parade. Just a few minutes before approaching the main stage area we learned a brand new command just for fun: "Hop - up!" With only a few practice hops we were able to make it look good. I took this shot from the back of our formation during one of the practice hops.

I'll bet the disciples didn't have any trouble learning the new command in John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

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Lion and the Lamb
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When I took this shot, on Safari in Kenya, I had to restrain myself from jumping out of the truck, running over to this lion cub, picking it up and hugging it's soft fur. Of course I did refrain from doing just that and it was better for both of us (even though you can't see the face of this cub's me, she's alert). As you can imagine, if I had done what I felt compelled to do, it would have ended pretty ugly for me. That's the result of sin.

We have all heard the quote, "and the lamb will lie down with the lion." I did a little research and confirmed this is not an exact quote out of scripture, instead it's more like a combination of a few texts from Isaiah. The texts reference Jesus' 2nd coming where He will rule the world and peace will be restored -- thus the "vicious lion" will be able to sit peacefully with the "innocent lamb".

As much as I like visualizing a beautiful lion sitting with a precious lamb, I like it more when I look past the symbol. We are named "lambs of God," Jesus is called the King of Kings or Lion. If we are the lambs and Jesus is the lion....we will be able to lie down with Jesus, without the influence of sin around us. I very much look forward to that day!

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Wagontire, Oregon, Pop. 2
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If you've ever driven highway 395 through Central Oregon, you've probably seen it. Its name, Wagontire, speaks volumes about its Wild West setting. The desert stretches into the distance as far as the eye can see in all directions. But still, it holds possibilities. Just think, if you moved there, and you could get your spouse to vote for you, the chances of being elected mayor, or at least chief of police would be pretty good. Don't know exactly what your job description would be, but seems like there should be plenty of time to find out with on-the-job training. And obviously, there's plenty of room for growth.

If you're considering relocating, there's at least one other place you might consider. It's mentioned in Revelation 21. The population there is at least 72,000 times larger than Wagontire's and it appears they already have a mayor, or at least someone on the throne. From a description of the place, it looks like you might have a difficult time getting a job as chief of police, but it seems that musicians might be in big demand. On the other hand, one of the benefits is it appears to have plenty of water available because early press releases speak of abundant springs of living water available. I would recommend looking into that a bit further for clarification.

One last thing to consider before deciding which place to select as your future residence; there is some indication that some relative of yours must have lived there before or at least invested in property in that region, because the small print indicates you already own a piece of land there as an inheritance. Perhaps it would be wise to see what provisions have already been made for you. In all fairness though, it should be mentioned that Wagontire does have full hookups and a café, although last time we passed through, it was closed.

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Wherever Two or Three are Gathered

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 11, 2009

I took this picture of the Orcas Island Seventh-day Adventist church when I was on the island a few weeks ago. I think it's a pretty little church in beautiful surroundings.

There are a lot of places in this world where people don't have a church to attend. They may have a rented hall or use someone's home or meet in the open air.

The important thing about getting together to worship is that Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20 NKJV

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My Grandmother

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day . . . a day to remember and honor our mothers and grandmothers. I didn't take the photo I'm sharing with you today, as it was taken about 100 years ago. It's a photo of my maternal grandmother reading her Bible. As a child I would look forward to attending Sabbath School with my grandmother in a tiny country church with a wood-burning stove up toward the front and the 10 commandments mounted on the wall behind the pulpit. The Sabbath School class for the children was in the basement and the outhouse was out back. It was this same grandmother who later encouraged me to attend a Seventh-day Adventist Academy where I learned to know Jesus as my personal Savior.

Mothers and grandmothers can greatly influence life-changing decisions of their children. I was greatly blessed to have been close to both of my grandmothers and to my mother - now all gone. My grandmothers lived to be almost 100 years old and sadly, my mother passed away just a few months ago.

Mothers (and now also fathers) are responsible for training and educating their children as well as loving them. We're all familiar with the text in Proverbs 22:6 that states, "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." KJV Thank God for loving, Christian mothers! The following is a poem I'd like to share with you:

No Love like a Mother's Love

There is no love, like a mother's love,
No stronger bond on earth...
Like the precious bond that comes from God,
To a mother, when she gives birth.

A mother's love is forever strong,
Never changing for all time...
And when her children need her most,
A mother's love will shine.

God bless these special mothers,
God bless them every one...
For all the tears and heartache,
And for the special work they've done.

When her days on earth are over,
A mother's love lives on...
Through many generations,
With God's blessings on each one.

Be thankful for our mothers,
For they love with a higher love...
From the power God has given,
And the strength from up above.

by Jill Lemming

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A Little Light Comic Book Reading
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 9, 2009

Back in my day (he said in a wheezy voice, his waxy old fingers gripping the knob of his cane), comic books shied away from deep, deep philosophy and stuck to giggles or the super-unrealism of superheroes. Then suddenly graphic novels and Manga burst upon the scene, and now you have people reading comic books the way they once read novels--and the concepts portrayed are not only deeper but sometimes darker.

Which is okay, of course. There's no reason why picture-books shouldn't deal with the most serious issues of life. But as in the case of TV versus radio, the introduction of pictures makes the messages far more powerful. In case you can't make out the printing above (which I photographed from an open comic book page in a bookstore in late April), here it is:

"All humans, without exception, eventually die."
"After they die, the place they go is MU (Nothingness)."

Again, I'm all for freedom of speech. But as a pastor I have simply met too many people who really believe that the above two lines express the totality of what's beyond. Whenever I see ideas like these in print (especially dressed up in such intriguing ways that they attract a lot of attention), I want to raise my voice and say, "No! That's not the whole story! It's only half-true, and only true for those who don't know that there's a Creator with a joyous smile on His face who wants you to live forever!"

Please join me in gathering with other Christians for prayer and Bible study so that God's kindness will become so real to us that we'll be able to live His irresistible love so that others can see it.

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Chocolate Covered Sins

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 9, 2009

Toward the end of April I stopped at a Walgreen's drugstore, and was delighted to notice how the round yellow price-sticker on this snack bag totally changed the meaning of the label.

You know where I'm going with this, right? Of course you do. Ever since Satan the Master Fruit Salesman convinced Eve that a juicy slice of whatever hung on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was better than trusting God, the Deceiver has only enhanced his persuasion techniques, until somehow every broken commandment seems as tasty as the best chocolate.

It's only when you and I open our hearts to the fact that our disobedience nailed the spikes through Jesus' flesh, and to the fact that His death paid for our eternal life, that sin's truly selfish nature is revealed.

Into my heart, into my heart,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.
Come in today, come in to stay,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.

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Amazing What a Little Sun'll Do
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 8, 2009

Back on April 22, when Shelley and I were on a morning walk, I couldn't resist snapping the above shot of these tulips. It was a gray day, and those flowers-to-be seemed in a rather gray and unblooming mood. Yet they stood there so strong and supple and ready that I knew what would happen if they got a little sunshine to help them out.

Sure enough, by May 2 they had thrown off all self-restraint and opened their glory to the sunlight. TA-DAAAAAA . . . .

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How's your spiritual life these days? A little gray? A little unfulfilled? In the midst of a gloomy last-day prophecy, Malachi suddenly introduces us to the Life-giver, theeternal-life Giver: "But to you who fear My name [in other words, for you who have learned to revere the Lord] the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings . . . ." Malachi 4:2. Why not pray to Him right now, asking Him to enter your heart with His rejuvenating, beauty-bringing light?

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Memory Like an Elephant

Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

They say that elephants never forget. What if we had a memory like an elephant? Would we make the same mistakes over and over? God allows us the freedom to choose, decide, question and even forget--and unfortunately it can result in us making similar mistakes again. I thank God I have the freedom to choose to do what's right, but I wish my memory was like an elephant's, when I face the same dilemma.

Since there is no magical formula to increase our memory, we need to rely directly on God. Each and everyday, we need to remember God's love for us and the promises He has made. In Psalm 105: 8 & 9 we read, "He remembers his covenant forever, the word He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac." The promises God made to Abraham and Isaac still hold true for us today.

Not only did God make the elephant with the "never forgetting memory," but we also have the promise that He never forgets His promises to us. Now it's our turn to never forget that!

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Dare to Be Altricial!
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Remember the last time you felt really, really vulnerable?  It's not a feeling most of us enjoy.  We like being in control of our own destiny, or at least feeling like we are in control of our own fate.  I suspect human pride has something to do with  that desire for self-reliance.

Baby birds tend to fall into two general categories:  those which are altricial and those which are precocial.   A baby robin would be a good example of the first group.  These hatch with their eyes closed and are totally helpless for an extended time.  Precocial babies are well represented by the baby Killdeershown above.  These generally go through a longer incubation period but when they hatch, they are much more developed and able to walk and leave the nest in a very short time.  The baby shown above is probably less than two hours old, and while still very much a baby, looks surprisingly like its parents.

In spite of its precociousness,  or maybe even because of it, the baby killdeer still looks extremely vulnerable, being dwarfed by the stems of clover which tower over its head. Somehow we find this quality endearing, a response that is not limited to baby birds.  We are attracted to this same quality expressed by Solomon when he was promoted to serve as the king of Israel.  His response in I Kings 3:7 shows a genuine humility which makes his request for wisdom to govern all the more appropriate.  "Oh Lord my God, now you have made me the king instead of my father David, but I am as a little child who doesn't know his way around."  (Living Bible)   Wisdom was granted as he recognized his own need.

So the next time you find problems towering over your head and you realize that, like Solomon, you don't know your way around, follow his example.  Dare to admit that you’re altricial! This is probably good advice whether you just hatched or have been out of the nest a long time.

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The Next Chapter
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 4, 2009

I saw this window in La Conner, on a recent trip to the Skagit Valley for the Tulip Festival, and I thought it was a great name for a bookstore.

Lamentations 3:19-26  (Message) reads: 
"I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
The taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all--oh, how well I remember -
The feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
And remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
His merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
To the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
Quietly hope for help from God."

I like the part about how God's loyal love and merciful love are created new every morning.  No matter where we are or what we are going through, we can open a new chapter with God every day. 

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God Feeds the Pelicans!
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, May 3, 2009

As we stopped at the fisherman's market in Chorrillos, south of Lima, Peru, we were lucky to get there at feeding time for the pelicans! They were waiting for their meal of freshly caught fish. Nothing interrupted them from their goal of getting a good meal!

These birds, as we see, are being cared for. Mathew 6:26-27 says, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow and reap and store in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. You are worth more than the birds!" I'm glad that God is always present to provide spiritual food for us.

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Esther and Mordecai
Drawing ©2009 by Kuyler Lang
Commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 2, 2009

This past Sabbath, as I was greeting people at the door after preaching a sermon on Esther on the occasion of Yvanna Hammen's baptism, I was delighted to see that Rogers Adventist School teacher Kuyler Lang had been present, and that during the message he had been creating yet another of his dramatic drawings. Here Esther is being taken somewhere by one of King Ahasuerus' servants, while Mordecai watches anxiously from a nearby doorway.

Kuyler didn't know what I was going to be preaching on, so this entire drawing was created during the service. I asked his permission to put it on this photo blog, and he cheerfully agreed, but asked me to give the original to Yvanna.

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