Each day, a number of our church members, who are also photographers, post photos and spiritual commentary, following this schedule: NOTE: To see previous blog entries, access blog archives on the right sidebar.

  • Sunday (Bev Riter)
  • Monday (Cheryl Boardman)
  • Tuesday (Robert Howson)
  • Wednesday (Darren Milam)
  • Thursday (Russell Jurgensen & family)
  • Friday and Sabbath (Pastor Maylan Schurch)

 

Thankful for Variety

Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

During this week we are focusing in on the things we are most thankful for. Of course many of us will think of family, friends, our health and a variety of other things we are (and should be) very grateful for. Along with the already mentioned items, I am very thankful that our Creator had an eye for variety. It sounds funny to say, but during the first 6 days or our planets’ existence, it could have been very different. We could be looking at the same color, shape, and texture – in everything we interact with. Instead God made all sorts of differences – colors, shapes, sounds, etc.

The African violet plant is native to Tanzania, Kenya and other parts of eastern tropical Africa. This one in particular is from our house – sitting in our kitchen window sill. In fact, we have 3 different varieties of these plants in our kitchen. As you can see, not only does this one have a beautiful purple color, it also has lacey/wavy petals, and those petals have a shimmery, glittery look to them. My point? One type of one plant, yet we see 3 very distinct descriptions that are the result of careful and thoughtful design.

God created so much for us, but unfortunately some of it was ruined by sin. Even though sin is in the world we live, God shows His love through many different ways, including the variety of His creations.

Bald-faced Hornet

Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Bald-faced Hornet is not a true hornet, but only comes by that name in the American sense of the word, as a wasp which builds a hanging, paper nest. That detail aside, most of us give recognition to it because of its strong tendency to protect its nest with powerful stings. One who has been awarded this treatment is not likely to soon forget the incident for this species is more aggressive than others of its genus and their nest may contain between 100 to 700 individuals.

Just like bees, it is a social animal, with the queen, workers, and drones each playing an important, yet different role in the community. The fertilized queen is the only one to survive through the winter. She does so by burying herself underground or beneath a fallen log until emerging with the warmth of spring. She then begins building a nest into which eggs are deposited. These develop into female workers, which continue to enlarge the nest, as well as drones and future queens. Without the contribution of each, this “superorganism” could not survive.

Scripture pays little recognition to the communal nature of this insect, but instead focuses upon that which immediately grabs our attention, the stinging end. Speaking directly to the Children of Israel, the Lord incorporates this into a promise, followed by a reminder that He has kept His promise. “I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.” (Exodus 23:28 NIV) A few years later He reminds them how this was accomplished: “I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you – also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow.” (Joshua 24:12 NIV)

Unfortunately, just like the Children of Israel of long ago, we somehow like to envision ourselves as deserving the credit for our victories. We pick up our swords and bows and seek to impress others with our prowess. The truth is, as far as I know, I have no Hittites living over the fence and threatening my existence. But we all do have very real problems, problems just as real as those hornets we occasionally observe. Lord, help us to have the wisdom to see those small, flying reminders of the inclusiveness of your power, as well as Your desire to fight our battles for us.

 

This Old House

Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 20, 2017

I recently drove by this house that has definitely seen better days. I’m sure that when it was built, it was a wonderful, secure home and was someone’s pride and joy. Now, it has obviously been neglected and has holes in the roof and the walls and despite the lace curtains, is literally falling apart!

I enjoy watching those programs where people buy houses that have not been maintained and restore them but at this point, it would be more cost effective to tear this house down rather than trying to restore it. The “No Trespassing” sign is probably a warning related to the possibility of the whole thing falling down and injuring someone (and the owners getting sued) rather than a warning for anyone thinking about breaking in to steal anything or to use it for a shelter. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t buy houses and maintain them (shelter is one of our basic needs) but the photo illustrates how our treasures down here on earth are not long lasting:

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store you treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21 NLT

The Reformation – Is It Significant to Us?

Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Bev Riter
Sunday, November 19, 2017

During these last several weeks, I’ve shared photos and historical information about Martin Luther and the Protestant movement he started – 500 years since he took his stand against teachings of the Church in Rome and because I had just visited some of those sites. So…today, is the Reformation significant to us? After all, a lot has happened in these last 500 years. Many things in the world have changed during these many years, but God’s Word has remained the same.

Our Seventh-day Adventist faith is based on tenants of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther firmly believed that Scripture alone should be our highest religious authority and that people are granted salvation by faith in God alone and by the grace of Christ, rather than works. (As shared in previous weeks, before the Reformation started in the 1500’s the Roman Church was the main church in the Western world. It believed that the pope was the highest religious authority, rather than the Bible, with which Luther strongly disagreed. Since the Bible was in Latin, only the pope and his advocates had access to its teachings. Rather than salvation by faith, the Church sold indulgences or took payments thinking this would forgive sin and grant salvation.) So…you can see that Martin Luther’s teachings went against the Church and its beliefs!

Here, on our Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church website, click on “About”. This gives a summary of what we believe. Those wanting to learn more can click on the website at the bottom of the page: www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/. You’ll see the following, based on Martin Luther’s teaching and main reason for formation of the Protestant Reformation, “Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as the only source of our beliefs. We consider our movement to be the result of the Protestant conviction Sola Scriptura – the Bible as the only standard of faith and practice for Christians.”

Martin Luther felt that the common person should have the Bible available in their own language. He therefore translated it into the local German language. We are so fortunate to have many Bible translations in English available to us today, not only in print but also on Kindle editions. People can read the Bible on their computers or phones. Are the Bible and its teachings significant in your life? Can you, like Martin Luther and other reformers, stand for the Bible truths no matter if it means life or death like his statement in “Here I stand”? Check in next week to find out who one of these other reformers was… 100 years before Luther.

Thinking for Yourself

Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 18, 2017

Tuesdays I volunteer at our local Adventist school, and this week I paused beside the above bulletin board display. As you can see, the students’ artwork is uniformly excellent—except that while most of the birds are flying to the right (probably the orientation given in the teacher’s example), one student has chosen to depict the bird flying to the left.

Individuality in the classroom can of course be carried too far if it becomes disruptive in unhealthy ways. But in her seminal book Education (pp. 17-18), Ellen White insists, ““It is the work of true education . . . to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought.”

Which of course directly echoes the Bible itself. Almost without exception, the Bible’s heroes and heroines whose names are familiar to us are those who’ve done an about-face and marched in a direction exactly opposite that of the general crowd. Much of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) deals with thinking for yourself with God’s wisdom. “You have heard it said,” He says several times, mentioning some popular concept or other, and immediately refutes it by saying “But I say unto you,” followed by an opposite and often breathtaking assertion.

For a couple of pointed Bible references to the dangers of complacency, click the link directly below:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/complacency

Two Books Diverged in a Yellow Bookcase

Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 17, 2017

At least the Halfprice Books people had the decency to position these two books so that a stout blond (or yellow, if you want to allude to Robert Frost’s poem) bookcase partition stood between them. And that’s exactly how I found them last Saturday night as Shelley and I book-shopped.

You might not be able to make out what it says below the name of author Christopher Hitchens—the tiny print proclaims him the author of the New York Times bestseller God is Not Great. But you probably can very clearly read that this book claims to contain “Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever.”

On the other side of the wood partition, of course, is essential reading for the believer. Hitchens’ writings labor to disprove God’s existence, while the Bible takes His existence for granted and then goes on to show Him as a deeply interested and loving Creator and Redeemer, someone we have never given easy choices to.

Christopher Hitchens died in 2011 at age 62. His books will no doubt continue to sell for awhile. But the Bible is still the world’s best-selling book, and will continue to speak to the hearts of those who give it a fair hearing.

Because, you see, Hitchens was going against the grain, struggling in a losing fight. Genesis tells us that God created us in His own image, which may be why our hearts yearn for Him even though we may not at first be sure He’s there.

So don’t waste your time with works such as Hitchens wrote, no matter how brilliantly written. Your heart needs your Creator. And His heart needs yours.

Friends

Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Taffy, our golden retriever, is just settling down after a session of chasing tennis balls in the yard and playing at rolling balls into the creek. She seems content but looks like she would rather be out having an adventure. Dogs are super friends for people. They rarely ever complain about doing things, unless it is a bath or being left alone.

I think about people friends and I can see why God wants us to have friends. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Psalm 17:17 It is great when friends don’t complain about the things I do, and when they like to be around me anyway. We can think about what we like in a friend and then try to be that kind of person for other people. Thoughtful, not quick to judge, funny, good listener, etc. You can make your own list.

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, let’s be thankful for friends and see what we can do to be a better friend.