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

Devotional Photo Blog- October 2009

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

NOTE: To see previous photos from this current month, simply scroll down. To see previous months' blogs, click here, and follow the instructions.

Be Prepared to Stop!
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 31, 2009

Since this is Halloween, it's probably as good a time as any to ponder the huge orange sign which workers in our neighborhood lay on a sidewalk near Shelley's and my home. At the time I took this photo, they were working in another street and hadn't yet come to the point where they needed to prop this message on an upright tripod.

Isn't it interesting how many recent TV shows, movies and novels speculate on the Great Beyond--everything from the movie Paranormal Activity, to TV shows about psychics who can communicate with the restless dead, to fallen angels, to vampires who don't even die? This interest probably signals that we're all subconsciously searching for answers about what happens when our lifespark expires.

And since God's original plan for us was eternal life, He did not program Adam's and Eve's minds to be easily able to "be prepared to stop." That's why the human race has never dealt comfortably with death. We simply don't have the tools to naturally cope with it. Therefore, if we don't have the truth, we quickly invent comforting myths and believe those.

Here are a couple of links to the only dependable Source Material we have on this topic. To read more about eternal life and how to make sure you have it, click here. To read more about what happens when you die, click here.

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Feed Your Mind
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 30, 2009

Monday night Shelley and I stopped at the SuperMall on the west edge of Auburn. Just past the food court, in front of the indoor rock-climbing display, I spotted this vending machine. My eyes scanned it automatically to see what varieties of candy it contained, and to my surprise I discovered that the top three levels were filled with books. And arched above the display box were the words "Feed Your Mind."

I have a "zoom-in" advantage you don't have, so I can tell you that the top row includes a success manual, a couple of Sudoku books, a novel (and a pack of playing cards in case the book you choose is boring). The second row begins with a volume which combines inspiration and mental exercise: The Chicken Soup for the Soul Search-and-find, and continues with three more novels, and finally Barak Obama's inauguration speech.

Things are looking up, right? After all, it's a an improvement on wall-to-wall M&M's, Twizzlers and corn chips. As someone who has always loved to read, I thoroughly approve.

I suppose, however, that the arched words above form an incomplete sentence. What's missing is what we old grammarians would call a "direct object," something that would answer the question "Feed your mind what?" Though the titles proclaim most of the books (except the success and the Obama ones) to be pretty much brain candy, at least they start your mind and not your stomach churning. Yet which of those books will come to your assistance after you die?

You know where I'm going with this, right? "For whatever things were written before," the apostle Paul says, "were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Romans 15:4, NKJV. Hope in what? Paul told his young pastoral intern Timothy, "from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 3:!5 For more of what the Bible says about itself, click here.

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To Everything There is a Season
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Thursday, October 29, 2009

In the first chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon tells us
To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away. A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

As the leaves on the trees burn into shades of gold and amber, as the glory of the flowers fades and the winds come and sweep them away. As the rains begin to pour down and the waters in your life begin to rise, remember

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven.
God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Behold, I make all things new...these words are true and faithful.
Revelation 21:4-5

Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? Isaiah 43:18-19

Hold fast to the promises in His Word, for
God has made everything beautiful in His time.

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Ablaze For Him
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I am not sure the last time you were near a campfire, but for me, it was just a few weeks ago. As a church, we went on one of our annual events -- Rosario. This is a Marine Biology Station owned by Walla Walla University. On the "off season", the university rents out the facilities and we all have a great time, hiking, walking on the beach, investigating the tide pools, singing, worshiping....and one of my favorite parts, the camp fire. This shot was taken after several logs had been added and it was putting out a good amount of heat.

In Hebrews 12:28 & 29 it reads, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." In this context, this was a warning not to "refuse" God, as He can and will shake the heavens and earth. The "consuming fire" was a warning.

Instead of a warning, shouldn't: "God is a consuming fire" be a promise to us? Shouldn't we be a "consuming fire" for God? In that I mean, radiating the heat or the love of God to others around us. Shouldn't we be spreading like wildfire, to our friends and loved ones?

The next time you are out under the stars, enjoying the warmth of the fire, remember we too can be a consuming fire for God!

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The Black Turnstone
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One of the shorebirds found along the rocky shores of the West Coast is the Black Turnstone. Its name is derived from its habit of flipping over pebbles in search of invertebrates which make up a large part of its diet. They have been known to work cooperatively to flip over larger rocks which were too big to be dislodged by an individual bird.

If you were to search through a Bible concordance under the word stone, you would find a variety of entries. They would range in usage from description of a literal rock, to a description of a hard heart; from a means of capital punishment to a description of the New Jerusalem.

But my favorite reference to a stone is one made by all of the Gospel writers. Its inclusion by all indicates to me it must have been a significant part of the story. It too incorporates the turning of a stone, only this time a much larger one. This stone, of course, is the one used to seal the tomb of the Lord.

I like the way Matthew tells this part of the story, because only he speaks of the removal of that stone in an active way. The other gospels just mention passively that the stone was rolled back, but Matthew says, "There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it." Mathew 28:2 (NIV) "He sat on it." I don't know why he did that, but I like it.

The turned-back stone reminds us of the sufficiency of His sacrifice, that sin was defeated and along with it death was destroyed. Next time you're walking down a rocky beach, look for a shorebird among the rocks and remember the stone being rolled back.

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What's the Point?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 26, 2009

This is a picture I took of Point No Point Lighthouse which is located on a small spit not too far from Kingston, WA. (Apparently the person who named it, initially thought it was a much more substantial point than it turned out to be!) With so many miles of coastline in the area, this is a great area to see lighthouses.

Just like the watercraft passing by need the light on the lighthouse to show them the way, we need Jesus to help us see the way. 2 Samuel 22: 29 (NIV) states: "You are my Lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.

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Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do you notice refections in water, especially on still days when there is no wind or breeze? Sometimes when reviewing my photographs it's hard to tell the difference between the reflection and the scene I photographed - they look so much alike!

Yes, this has a spiritual application! Knowing God and developing a strong relationship with Him can help you lead a life that reflects Him. "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." I Corinthians 10:31 Are you using your talents to reflect God's glory?

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War of the Words
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 24, 2009

Friday afternoon Shelley and I were heading up from Renton to visit someone in a hospital. Still in south Renton, paused at a stoplight, we saw a little hot spot in one of the most interesting local political conflicts I've ever witnessed.

It all started with the big yellow-and-black sign in the center. If I have the correct grip on this issue, some of the citizens of the little community of Fairwood want to break off from Renton and incorporate--in other words, become their own town. Other citizens say "No way," including--evidently--the firefighters' union. The sign urges passersby to support firefighters by voting no. Several days ago, a pro-incorporation person put up the white sign to the right, making clear who paid for the yellow-and-black sign!

Friday afternoon, literally as Shelley and I were at the stop light, the two ladies on the left hurried up with another explanatory sign and started pounding its stakes into the ground. "Firefighters are Renton employees," the sign reads.

This all reminds me of another controversy, a far greater one, in which a created being--an angel--began to spread lies about God's character. And it's a sad fact that this controversy has caused many people to ignore, and many more to despise, their loving Creator.

But Jesus is the answer to all the lies. "I and My Father are one," He said in John 10:30. "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." John 14:9. Whatever charges the devil has circulated about God evaporate immediately in the light of the Son. And whatever myths your nonbelieving friends hold about Christianity can be shattered by your own Christlike words and actions.

Be like Jesus, this my song,
In the home and in the throng,
Be like Jesus all day long,
I would be like Jesus.

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If They Don't Know, Then Who Does?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 23, 2009

For several weeks an earnest group of laborers has been at work in our neighborhood, operating several pieces of machinery which have enabled them to rip an 18-inch-wide trench down the middle of our streets, lay in a bright yellow plastic gas line, and cover the scar with dirt and blacktop.

And before the trench-rippers appeared, other workers armed with metal-detectors and spray-paint cans had marked off guidelines for the trench, spritzing different colors of paint according to some pre-arranged code, sometimes adding cryptic fractions and other symbols. These red and yellow and blue and white paint-lines were applied so confidently that the message was clear: Never fear--even though we're going to chop up your street, we know exactly what we're doing.

That's why the above white-sprayed question mark was so startling. It's evidently not random graffiti. Its shape is disciplined, not scrawly, and is carefully sprayed in the same professional manner as those of the other symbols a couple of feet away. I wonder what befuddled the spray-painter? What did he have a question about? And if someone with enough experience to confidently mark out a path for a trench-digger could be this uncertain, then who can you turn to?

You don't need me to tell you that we are living at a time when things we imagined we knew are turning out to be less true than we thought. Just Thursday morning I was talking to a member of another church's pastoral team, who told me that a non-Christian friend has been so jolted by recent events that she's starting to question her own unbelief. And later that same day I heard a radio report that cast new doubts on the credibility of a recently-announced fossil which was supposed to be proof of a "missing link" between species.

Fortunately, God knows the answer to every question we might ask. He can soothe any worry, calm any fear, give perspective to any anger. As singer Mark Lowry puts it, there are indeed some things that God doesn't know, but that's good: "God doesn't know a sinner He can't love, a broken heart He can't mend, a fallen tear He can't dry."

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who knows the future
And I know He holds my hand.

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Peace of Mind
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Thursday, October 22, 2009

The advertisement flashed next to my inbox as I was catching up on email. Below the picture and attention getting words, a 10-year life insurance policy worth $500,000 was offered for the introductory premium of $18 per month. At the bottom in large, bright letters was the deal cincher, Get A Free Quote - Click Here.

I looked at the woman bent over in grief, kneeling at the grave of her lost loved one maybe anguishing over words unspoken or wondering how to move forward. A dear friend of mine just lost her earthly father a few days ago. He was a wonderful saint, passionate for the Lord and zealous for His children. He left an empty space in many hearts and a large pair of shoes waiting to be filled. I understand her pain.

I thought about my own Father and Savior, my dear Best Friend in heaven. I thought about how by kneeling at His feet, I receive the gift of One who has given His very best for me, One who has paid the highest price for my life. If I should die or lose someone dear, I know the price for our freedom has already been paid. A premium price for an eternal policy all at no cost to the receiver - guaranteed peace of mind with no fine print.

I encourage you today that if you don't already own that same peace of mind that you fix your eyes on Jesus, upward towards the cross, and claim the promises of His Word. The premium price for your life has already been paid and your inheritance is guaranteed.

In the words of Paul Harvey, "Jesus Christ. Don't know Him? Get to know Him." Act now, while the offer lasts.

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"Too Much?"
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A couple of months ago, I went to the Japanese Garden, in the Seattle Arboretum. In their massive pond, there are hundreds of Koi as well as the occasional turtle. No one was feeding the fish at the time, but I guess my mere presence started the 'Pavlov-like' auto-mouth-moves by the Koi. Unfortunately, the turtle was in the right place at the wrong time. He too, was ready for lunch, but had never thought he might be the main course.

Just like that Koi, there are times when we feel we have too much to handle. Maybe it's an illness, a loss in employment, family troubles, whatever it is, we feel it's too much. Take comfort in the many promises we have that God is always there for us. First we can feel confident that God wants us to ask Him for help: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. We also have the promise of God giving us the needed strength, read in Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we hear the promise that God will not let us be tempted beyond our limits: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it"

If you have ever read the book of Job, you know how much Job had to rely on these same promises. God allowed Satan to throw everything he had at Job, yet Job stayed true to God. I certainly don't wish anyone to be tested as much as Job, but I do believe we can learn from his lesson. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and just the all-around sensation that you have too much -- remember the promises of God's strength.

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Ring-necked Duck
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It makes you think some of those early biologists, intent on discovering new species, must have been blind. If you'd been there instead, out exploring the wilderness, would you have named this bird the Ring-necked Duck? Ring-billed maybe, but give me a break, Ring-necked? Yes, I know, under ideal light conditions, a slight ring may be visible, but really, how much better light are you going to get than this? But Ring-necked Duck it is. Names should help us, guide us to a better understanding, but such is not always the case.

Take for instance the ruler that followed King Nebuchadnezzar as ruler of Babylon. His name is mentioned in the last few verses of the book of Jeremiah and a similar account of him is given in II Kings 25:27-30. His name was Evil-Merodach, not a first name most of us would select unless we wanted to sensationalize our thrilling motorcycle riding exploits. Even looking more closely, we see his name simply means "man of the god Marduk". Still not a name that is likely to go over big in Christian circles. In spite of this less than auspicious beginning, the two paragraphs devoted to his life in Scripture have only positive things to say about him. Most notably, he freed Jehoiachin, king of Judah, and treated him kindly.

Has anyone ever jumped to conclusions about you? Prove them wrong. Live your life in such a way that your two-paragraph evaluation would have only good things to say.

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"First You Look Down . . ."
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 19, 2009

"First you look down, then you look down again and then you get scared!" That's what my nephew, Zack, eight, had to say after jumping off the high dive which was about 18 feet above the water. There was a lot of walking out to the end of the board, looking down, jumping up and down a bit, turning around, walking back, letting another kid go and then repeating the process until the big jump finally happened!

This past August, we were watching the boys jumping into Lake Okanagan at Peachland, British Columbia. This photo is of Zack watching his brother, Jake, 10, jump. Both boys did jump several times after the initial jump. (My sister told me that they both successfully dived off a high board this past week.)

Jumping or diving off a high board is elective (you wouldn't have caught me up there!). Sometimes, though, we don't have a choice but still have to "step out in faith" to do something that might be scary for us.

John 14: 27 (NIV) Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

It's good to know that we can have peace during those scary times and there is Someone to turn to to get us through.

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Never Take It for Granted
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 18, 2009

Have you enjoyed seeing the fall colors - the various shades of red, orange and gold? The aspens, as in my photo, can turn brilliantly gold. It's always interesting when some red-orange vine maple adds to the spectrum of fall colors in a scene. Psalms 19:1 (KJV) states that , "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." The many colors of fall leaves is clearly a testament of His glory and handiwork. And what a privilege to be able to "see" them!

Sometimes we take our sight for granted. Sight is actually very complex and acts almost like a video camera, capturing beams of light. As long as there is light, there's something to see. From the time we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep, our eyes are taking in information and relaying it to our brains. Because our eyes are so important, many features such as eye brows, eye lashes, eye lids and tears help protect them. We use our eyes in almost every act we perform. Let's thank God for being able to see and at this time of the year to see the beautiful colors of fall.

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Macroevolution Busters 2,385,632,001 and 2,385,632,002
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 17, 2009

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by these seeds with the built-in helicopter blades. Often I would find two such seeds--in younger, greener condition--connected nose-to-nose in a V-shape, and I would toss them in the air and watch them spiral back to earth.

And even the more battered seeds in the photo above, bathed in an early-October sun, shout "Intelligent Designer!" to me. The latest (11th) edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines "macroevolution" as "evolution that results in relatively large and complex changes (as in species formation)." That's the type of evolution which claims that land animals originally came from sea creatures which developed legs, and that human beings ascended from lower primates. The theory says that species that adapt are the ones which survive, and that you and I are simply at the top of a long ladder of survivors.

Being a firm Creationist myself, I look at the above helicopter-seeds and begin a mental monologue with a macroevolutionist: "Okay. What gave that very first bladeless seed the idea to grow a blade? Or let's say it didn't grow a full-fledged, aerodynamically-shaped blade at first, but just a little tiny fin? And say that one fin-seed survived, and the others didn't. Under normal conditions, if you have a deformed seed, it doesn't automatically follow that the next batch of seeds is going to be deformed in the same way, or even deformed at all.

"What caused this blade to gradually shape itself over the supposed millions of years, always striving for that perfect propeller shape, with the spine along one edge and the blade perfectly supplied with nutrients all along its length? And what caused the aerodynamic perfection of bird and butterfly wings? And how did a dragonfly or a hummingbird learn how to hover motionless in the air?"

And I refuse to be put off by implied responses like, "Hey. You're no scientist. Your thinking therefore carries no weight. Just humbly bow the knee to the people in the white coats." Nobody in a white coat ever test-tubed a propeller-blade from an ordinary seed.

Charles Colson, writing in the October 2009 Christianity Today (p. 58), mentions several high-profile atheists who are having second thoughts about whether there's a God, people like Antony Flew, A. N. Wilson and Matthew Parris. Colson says that Wilson "noticed that the people who insist we are ‘simply anthropoid apes' cannot account for things as basic as language, love, and music. That, along with the ‘even stronger argument' of how the ‘Christian faith transforms individual lives,' convinced Wilson that ‘the religion of the incarnation . . . is simply true.'"

Not long ago I was in a doctor's office. While I waited for him to show up, I studied a chart on the wall filled with beautifully-colored, realistic drawings of the human body. I saw the great arteries which branched out from the heart, passing by--but not through--the kidneys and other organs. A chill passed over me, the same chill I got while reading William Blake's famous poem. Speaking to the "tiger burning bright in the forests of the night," the poet said, "What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

Fortunately, the Immortal has left us a 750,000-word book which gives the answer--the only answer--about the propeller-bladed seed.

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Childish Things
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 3, 2009

Any guesses as to what the object in the above photo is?

If you're the parent of an elementary-age child, you might have a clue. To the rest of us the white object might look like a tiny fortified castle, but you've probably guessed correctly that it's a new set of plastic vampire teeth, so new they haven't been bent in the middle and inserted into a young mouth!

I couldn't resist placing my Nikon point-and-shoot camera on the sidewalk and snapping this photo--because this toy's location is significant. Beyond the plastic teeth you can see Highway 101, and on the opposite side is a gas-station-turned-Mexican-restaurant in the town of Forks, Washington. A week before Shelley and I were there, an estimated 35,000 tourists descended on this tiny logging town--the setting for the recently-created Twilight vampire novels and movies--to celebrate the birthday of the series' author Stephanie Meyer. (To set the record straight, Shelley and I have never even read a Twilight novel--we've been coming to Forks since the late 1980s as a mini-vacation spot, mainly because of the quiet, natural beaches on the Pacific Ocean. It's been amusing to see what has happened to this little town as a result of all the publicity.)

It looks as though the young owner of the above set of neck-biters must have dropped them while walking along the sidewalk. And knowing the rapidly-changing interests of children, maybe he or she didn't even miss them, but soon became focused on some new toy.

"When I was a child," Paul muses in 1 Corinthians 13, "I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." He says these words toward the end of his famous "love chapter," where he says that even when paired with two other supremely important qualities--faith and hope--the Christian's greatest need is love.

How grown-up is your love-level? (The Greek word is agape, the same mature and selfless love Jesus spoke about in John 3:16, where "God so loved the world.") For more of what the Bible says about love, click here.

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Lord, Not My Feet Only
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recently, as I walked the dusty pathways of ruined cities and civilizations in Turkey, I found myself marveling at the beauty that was struggling to remain and the rebirth taking place among the remnant pieces. Lost in my own thoughts and cares, I was often captivated by the scenes and happenings around me and many times I turned around to find that the others in my company had moved on. As I struggled to make up the distance, I looked down and noticed that my feet were covered with several inches of dust and I thought of Peter.

When Jesus came and knelt before him and began to wash his feet, Peter exclaimed: You shall never wash my feet! But Jesus answered him and said, If I don't wash you, you cannot join me. Upon hearing this, Peter said, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head! Like a little child, Peter was thirsting for the reassurance that he would be with Jesus. If the requirement for His friendship was to be cleansed in the healing water flowing only through Him, then Peter wanted as much of that Water as he could get. That's how I feel too. Lord, not my feet only!

Jesus has given us His Word, His faithful promise that He will rebuild from the dusty remains of our sinful lives, beautiful temples of His Holy Spirit. To Peter and to all who seek for Him in His Word, Jesus promises: he that has been sanctified and cleansed through the washing of water that comes by the reading of the Word, does not need to wash his feet, but is already clean in every way: and you are clean.

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Light At The End of The Tunnel
Photo and commentary ©2009 by
Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

With all the challenges we face each and everyday, we are bound to be disappointed and discouraged. You can't help but think about the bad news - wars, recession, famine, poverty, crimes and the list goes on and on. It seems there is no end to this sinful, depressing world. Yet, we do have hope and it is far greater then any breaking news story we have ever seen. We also don't have to wait to see it on CNN, or read about it in the paper, as it can only be delivered from our creator Himself.

We can read about this hope, this promise set before us, in Matthew 16. To give context to the verse, we read in the latter part of the chapter, Jesus is predicting His own death and asking His disciples to follow in His footsteps. He was asking them to continue to tell others about the Love of God, at all costs. In fact, Jesus knew the cost He would have to pay - death on the cross. In the same breath, Jesus mentioned the reward for anyone that was willing to do just as He had asked. In verse 27 Jesus says, "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."

Yes, the world we live in is full of sin. We can easily get wrapped-up and consumed by all the doom and gloom. When we find ourselves dwelling on the negative, we don't see the light. But in fact, there is light at the end of the tunnel and that light, is the glory of God returning in His triumphant victory over sin. Let's pray we are all there together, basking in the light.

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Eight-spotted Skimmer
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When dragonflies emerge during the warm summer months, they give us just one more reminder of our Father's love. Not just the beauty of another exquisitely crafted creation, but a numerical reminder of two more special gifts to us.

Numbers play a significant part in identifying individuals, species, or even groups. For example, Queen Elizabeth I should not be confused with Elizabeth II. We should be able to easily distinguish this as an Eight-spotted Skimmer in contrast with a Four-spotted or a Twelve-spotted Skimmer. Dragonflies they all are, but the difference is clear.

Members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are very conscious of numbers as well. When searching for a name that would clearly identify beliefs held by this fledgling church, they selected two which, at the time, set them apart from other Christian denominations. The first of these was the Sabbath, the seventh day, as proclaimed by Scripture. Essentially all of these early believers had been good Sunday-keeping church members. But their reading of the Word convinced them that God intended to set aside the seventh day of the week as special, and it was their intent to honor God by keeping this day holy.

The second part of the church's name could also properly contain a number, the number two. We, along with many other Christians, look forward to the Second Advent when Christ will return again to complete His mission to save those for whom He died. Both of these numbers are significant. One points back to His work of creation, the other, forward, to a time where we can endlessly be with our Lord.

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"Be Still and Know that I AM God"
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 12, 2009

[Note from Maylan: As I mentioned yesterday under Bev's photo, Mt. Shuksan has recently risen to the tops of three of our blog photographers' minds! Maybe this is something like why there were four gospels--each person sees something or Someone beautiful with his or her own perspective!]

I sped up on the freeway recently to get out of the way of the young girl who was driving in the lane beside me because she was texting as she was driving north on I-5! Don't you find some of this multitasking pretty scary?!

People these days seem to have a hard time just being still. Silence is a vacuum that needs to be filled! They either have their TV blaring, have their radio on, are listening to a CD, are on the computer (guilty!), their I-pod, their cell phones or blackberries or whatever. None of these things are good or bad in and of themselves but how much time do we take out of our busy days to just be still and have a quiet time with God?

I took the above photo of Mt Shuksan at Picture Lake, Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, WA, last summer. I find it easy to be still when I am out in nature looking at God's beautiful creation.

Psalms 46:10 (NIV) states:
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

Fortunately, we have Sabbaths rolling around every week or we would never take a break! Take some time off everyday to just sit quietly and commune with God.

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Mt. Shuksan
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 11, 2009

[Note from Maylan: I got a chuckle out an unusual coincidence that happened recently. Evidently Mt. Shuksan has arisen in the minds of at least three of our photographers as a worthy Devotional Photo Blog subject. Robert Howson presented us with a view of it this past Tuesday, and here's Bev's today, and Cheryl Boardman has one for tomorrow! There was no collusion between these expert shutterbugs--it just happened that way.]

Our friends from Italy and New Zealand thoroughly enjoyed hiking in the Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker/Shuksan areas during their recent visit with us. I took this photo when the clouds mostly covered the mountain views, giving a glimpse of the mountains only briefly. This view is of Mt. Shuksan from Artist's Point. These hikers walked on the ridge, then dipped into the clouds. The next moment, the mountain was completely enveloped in cloud cover.

This reminds me of our walk through life. Sometimes the path is easy to follow; other times it can be difficult to see, let alone to follow. All we need to do though, is let Jesus be our guide and stay close to Him. Psalms 119 contains many thoughts about holding a steady course and choosing the path of truth. Verse 105 (KJV) states "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Many of you are familiar with these words put to music:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
When I feel afraid, think I've lost my way,
Still you're there, right beside me.
Nothing will I fear, as long as You are near.
Please, be near me to the end.
I will not forget, your love for me and yet,
My heart forever is wandering.
Jesus be my guide, and hold me to Your side,
And I'll love you to the end.

--Words and Music by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

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Several Photos of Duane Childs' Creation Week Paintings
Art by Duane Childs
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 10, 2009

When I posted the link to the article about Duane's Creation Week paintings which is on the Washington Conference website (if you haven't seen it, click here), someone immediately e-mailed begging, "We need to see more of the paintings!"

Good point, I thought. Obviously, the best way to view them is to stop by the desk at Puget Sound Adventist Academy, get a visitor's pass, and go see them in the hallway downstairs. Until you get a chance to do that, here are some more shots below, along with explanations.

Duane decided to use bold colors whenever possible. Painting with acrylics in his living room, light flooding in through a patio door at the left, he works on the Day Four canvas. Beyond the canvas, hanging over the fireplace mantel, is another of his paintings, a composite of his daughter Janine's favorite scenes from Florence, Italy.

Look closely at the above painting of Day One ("Let there be light!") and you'll see not just white but other colors as well. What a glorious blaze it must have been!

Using a straightforward, almost cartoonish style--again in basically primary colors--Duane depicts Day Five, the creation of birds and sea life. Notice the "open color" approach which deliberately allows parts of the painting to bond with each other, and actually gives the impression of swift flight for the bird, and fin motion for the fish? And did you notice what happened to the right side of the swan? And can you spot the egg?

Day Six shows a newly-created Adam and Eve, lips parted in amazement, heads spinning with the wonderful patterns they can see in the animals, created earlier the same day.

Duane told me that Day Seven was the hardest concept to come up with. Here, within a barely-suggested outline of Ten Commandments to the left of a stark, broken-line cross, he paints a "IV." You'll notice that this serene and restful painting is brightest at that point.

One of the great joys of visiting Duane and Emily's cheerful, gracious home was knowing that both are not only talented people, but have spent their lives using those talents for the Lord. Emily's decades of caring, loving work in the Beginners' Sabbath School division have "painted" a joyous picture of Jesus in the hearts of hundreds of children, just as surely as Duane can portray Him in his art.


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"Oh, God, You Are SO Amazing!"
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Natalie Dorland
Friday, October 9, 2009

Both of these photos remind me of the power and magesty of God. He is so BIG, and we are so little! Yet He still loves us unconditionally and eternally. He's created an amazing and beautiful world for us to live in. And although we've tainted it with sin, He has still permitted us to see His grace and beauty through His glorious nature. Instances like these make me say, "Oh, God, You are SO amazing!"

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So Is My Lord to Me
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Thursday, October 8, 2009

The caption for today's picture is borrowed from the song As Water to the Thirsty, a popular hymn written by Timothy Dudley-Smith:

As water to the thirsty, as beauty to the eyes,
As strength that follows weakness, as truth instead of lies...
As home to the traveler and all we long to see,
So is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me.

During a visit to a well attributed to Saint Paul in Tarsus, Turkey, I was reminded of the story of Jesus and an outcast woman at a well. As the Apostle John describes in chapter four of his gospel, Jesus and His disciples were making the long journey on foot from Judea to Galilee. While passing through Samaria, Jesus stopped to rest at a well in the heat of the day hoping someone would come and draw out a drink to parch His thirst.

It was a rather strange expectation, given that the inhabitants of the desert region most often came to the well early in the morning or late in the day in order to avoid the extreme heat of the noon time. But in this story, a local woman of Samaria came to the well about midday and in so doing, happened unexpectedly upon Jesus. To make matters more unusual, Jesus spoke directly to the woman and asked her kindly to draw out a drink for Him.

I can only imagine the woman's astonishment. Had she been hoping to avoid contact with other citizens of Samaria? Why else come to the well in the heat of the day? Should she draw out water for a stranger, she being a woman and he a man and they being alone in a desert place? Should she speak with someone who was clearly not of her lineage, she being a Samaritan and he a Jew?

As the story progresses, the woman discovers that Jesus knows everything about her. He knows why she has come to the well. He knows why she has come at midday, willing to expose herself to the extreme heat. He knows why she puts up a front, changes the subject, and evades a direct response.

Of course Jesus knew the woman would be at the well that day--that's why He stopped. He was hoping that by waiting at a place where she was going to hide, by starting a conversation in asking her for something she could easily give, in demonstrating His ability to perceive the wants of her heart, and in expressing His desire to accept her and offer her a better way - that she would be willing to come, to give, to open her heart, and to receive something far greater in return.

He said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Like the woman at the well, I want to say to Him, Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.

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Dew The Right Thing
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A week or so ago, I took a quick trip to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens. The weather was perfect, as it had recently rained and all the flowers were naturally watered. God thinks of everything.

In Deuteronomy 32, we find Moses in his final days, encouraging the Israelites to continue to be faithful to God. The image above reminds me of Moses' song:

"Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As raindrops on the tender herb,
And as showers on the grass.
For I proclaim the name of the LORD:
Ascribe greatness to our God.
He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He."

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Mt. Shuksan
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's no great mystery why the alpine lake at the foot of Mt. Shuksan is called Picture Lake. It mirrors the image of the mountain and frames the image in our mind's eye. The ruggedness of the peak is etched in the placid waters below it, the contrast making it even more picturesque. I've wondered how many photographers have taken the exact same picture as seen here, not because it was unique or distinctive, but simply for the enjoyment of capturing its beauty.

Mt. Shuksan, unlike many of the other peaks in the North Cascades, is not volcanic in origin. It was lifted up from its former position on the ocean floor to rise 9127 feet above sea level. While we are impressed with its massiveness, imagine the emotions we would experience if we could have observed from afar the amount of energy displayed in this method of orogeny.

Paul writes in II Corinthians 3:18 of another kind of building, not of mountains, but of character. "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (NIV) Notice, this is an ongoing process, not something that takes place in an instant. Just like Picture Lake, we too are given the chance to reflect His glory by being more like Him. There are myriads of magnificent lakes scattered through the high mountains, but none more exquisite than those that mirror another's beauty.

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Where is Our Focus?
Photo and commentary ©2009 by
Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 5, 2009

"Did you see the bears?"  I was up at Camp Hope in British Columbia a couple of weeks ago when I heard that question.

After talking to some of the people who had seen them while walking around the perimeter of the camp, I got in my car and drove over to the dry creek bed where they were last seen.  The walkers had seen a mother bear and a cub.  I saw the cub but not the mother.  Unfortunately, it didn't stick around long enough for me to get my camera off of auto-focus and manually focus on the bear. 

This picture was the result.  You'd never know that my main goal was to get a good picture of the bear!

Sometimes, in life, we find ourselves focusing on the unimportant things as well.  Matthew 14: 22-33 tells the story of Jesus walking on water and approaching the disciples as they were out in their boat.  Peter, in faith, stepped out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus. However, when he lost his focus and started to be afraid, he started to sink.  Jesus stretched out his hand to him and saved him. 

We need to remember that our main focus should be on Jesus.

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This is our annual weekend church outing to Rosario Beach. We've been coming here for many years and have enjoyed the fellowship, hikes, scenery and sea life viewing. Thirty some years ago when our children were young, they could hardly wait to get here and start exploring the tide pools. More recently, something (or someone) is new around the tidepools - volunteer guides. When I first saw them, I wondered why they were here - after all, we know these tidepools! But, with all the people viewing them, their sea life began disappearing.

Once considered a limitless and inexhaustible resource, our sea life is now in jeopardy. Increased population has damaged the marine ecosystems and is depleting our coastal resources. Therefore, these "volunteer guides" are helping to maintain and restore the biological wealth of our Rosario Beach tidepools by allowing people to walk only on a specific path.

Psalms 69:34 KJV says that ,"Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein." In order to maintain our sea life, each of us needs to do our part to protect it.

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Remarkable Things Happen Here
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 2, 2009

"Remarkable Things Happen Here" is the public relations theme of Valley Medical Center in Kent. Shelley and I often meet in this hospital's parking lot to carpool up to prayer and board meetings, and in late September I snapped this shot.

Remarkable things also happen in another "birth center," the place where you surrender your heart to Jesus and ask Him to give you His new birth. Looking straight into the eyes of a Pharisee whose mind was well-stocked with religious ideas but was clueless about real conversion, Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3.

Have you been born again? Click on this link: Spiritual Rebirth.

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Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior
Photo and commentary ©2009 by Beth-Anne Harvey
Thursday, October 1, 2009

An Ichthys as photographed in a pagan temple at Ephesus, Turkey, August 2009.

2000 years ago, the Ichthys symbol was used by early Christians to signify safe gathering places, to mark the tombs of resting saints, or to distinguish someone as a believer. By superimposing the five Greek letters ΙΧΘΥΣ, an eight-spoked wheel was created as a representation for the phrase, Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior.

Ι - Iota (I), first letter of Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), Jesus
Χ - Chi (kh), first letter of Khristos (Χριστóς), Christ or anointed
Θ - Theta (th), first letter of Theou (Θεοῦ), God's
Υ - Upsilon (u), first letter of huios (Υἱός), Son
Σ - Sigma (s), first letter of sōtēr (Σωτήρ), Savior

Over time, the eight-spoked wheel design was simplified to the fish pattern commonly seen today on the backs of cars and in business logos. According to Biblical historians, when a Christian would meet a stranger on the road, the Christian would draw one arc of the simple design in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc and completed the outline of the fish, both persons knew they were in the company of a fellow believer.

While visiting the ruins of ancient Biblical cities located in modern day Turkey, I became weary of seeing one temple after another dedicated to the worship of yet another false god. It was a bit disheartening to see the attention to detail, the expense, and the incredible labor that must have been involved in raising these idols and I began to feel quite jealous for the Lord.

When I happened upon my first Ichthys I shouted with glee! Evidence of fellow believers! And not just any believers, but believers who lived over a thousand years ago. Who, under the threat of severe persecution were fighting for their right to worship the One, True, Living God and seeking others to join them in their fellowship. I was thrilled and to each site we visited, whether temple, meeting place, or otherwise, I searched for another, and another, and another. Each one found was photographed and often I would include my shadow in the image to say, Yes, I join you too and I am not afraid to leave my mark.

Have you left your mark?

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