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)


Spicebush Swallowtail

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Deception by imitation is as old as the third chapter of the Bible. We know the story well – the Devil disguises himself as a serpent and Eve falls into his trap. What may now seem like an ironic twist in nature is that the Spicebush Swallowtail has turned the tables and now employs this same tool for protection rather than destruction. This common swallowtail, found in the eastern part of the United States, carries on this trickery in several ways. Its primary way of avoiding predation is through mimicry, both in its larval stage as well as an adult.

In its early stages as a larvae, it is dark brown and looks similar to bird droppings which would discourage further inspection. As the larvae develop into their fourth and last instar they turn yellow-green. In addition, they are adorned with two large black dots with white highlights which make them resemble the common green snake. The deception is sufficient to keep at bay predatory birds, at least from a human perspective. The disguise is made complete with the addition of the osmeterium, a Y-shaped organ which is usually hidden. This red colored organ resembles the tongue of a snake, thus completing the illusion.

Another type of mimicry is used by the adult Spicebush Swallowtail. It closely resembles the Pipevine Swallowtail which is foul-tasting. Since the adult Spicebush Swallowtail does not have this same unpleasant taste, it benefits, as predators who have tasted its relative are less willing to risk encountering the same bad taste again.

It’s not that imitation is bad. True, Moses had warned the Children of Israel not to follow the corrupt practices of their pagan nations, but the author of Hebrews held up another example worth emulating: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (13:7 NIV) It appears we should be careful to select our role models wisely.

Minus Tide

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 23, 2018

This past weekend, there was a minus tide on Sabbath afternoon so I decided to check out the tide pool near Rosario Beach at Deception Pass State Park. There were some interesting creatures exposed by the lower than normal tide – a blood star, a lemon nudibranch, crabs, limpets, barnacles and different kinds of closed anemones.

This picture is of an aggregating anemone that is partially closed. You can see the pink tentacles kind of folded up. This is how you typically find them when they are above the water line. These little animals are very tough as they have to survive waves, being underwater, being out of the water and when out of the water are exposed to everything from snow, to rain to the sun beating down on them.

As the tide comes in and covers them, you may be able to find some that are open. They look very different then; the tentacles are out and they look more like a flower. They close up to stop from drying out when they are out of the water.

You may even see some that are more closed or you may miss them altogether because they may have bits of shells or rocks on them as a camouflage. They are easy to miss when they are fully closed so be careful where you step when you are at a tide pool.

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” Genesis 1:20 (NIV)

The Deer

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Bev Riter
Sunday, April 22, 2018

Our week-long stay at a farm in the Black Forest area of Germany was very picturesque and relaxing. Included among the farm animals was a herd of small deer with the buck shown above. Where we live in the Pacific Northwest, we don’t see deer on a farm but only in the wild. We learned there are over 4000 deer farms in Germany, for which a license is required. We enjoyed watching them as the grazed eating grass and jumping up to eat leaves off trees. They were interested in us but cautious by not getting too close. I was reminded Psalm 42:1 and the song, “As the Deer” by Marty Nystrom, of which the first verse and chorus are below:

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee.
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To you alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship thee.

Dancing Like a Manager

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 21, 2018

I don’t know how much attention you pay to the people who stand on sidewalks with large signs advertising sales at mattress stores. Over the years I’ve seen several, and they range from half-hearted wavers–more interested in their earphone music than mattress revenues–to one lady who smiled widely and warmed our hearts.

The gentleman whose gesticulating arm you can see in the above photo, is absolutely the most animated sign-holder I have ever seen. I snapped this picture a week ago Thursday, and this is where he stands at least a couple of days a week.

And he is always in motion, rain or shine. I have never seen him still. Not only does he vigorously wave his non-sign-holding hand (and often switches hands to keep up the momentum), but his feet do little jigs at the same time. If you study the photo closely, you will see that his right foot is elevated a couple of inches above the sidewalk.

What’s especially startling is that the mattress store whose wares he touts is fully three blocks away, which means that he is completely out of the store’s line of sight. In other words, he’s not in view of the boss, and could actually stand still for a bit, and probably even the boss wouldn’t mind.

Yet this guy grins widely, and dances like mattress sales are the most crucial thing on earth. He dances like he’s the store manager, knowing that the more people who see the sign, the more may stop in at the store, and the more coils of receipts the cash register will roll out.

Who this guy really is, I don’t know. But I do know that he’s faithful, he’s enthusiastic, and he’s an all-weather sign-wiggler. In other words, he’s thoroughly invested in delivering as many “Queen Sets from $299” as possible to his customers.

Okay. Change the scene to the entrance of the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, a couple of weeks back. While Shelley researched the Vegfest wares inside, I wandered around outside, and spotted a small group of Christians on the sidewalk, holding signs. But instead of being merry, these Christians were sober. One of them was talking solemnly into a microphone, saying something I didn’t catch. The signs were stark warnings about the end of the world.

And now that I look at the mattress guy, I’m wondering: what would happen if the sign-waving Christians wore wide smiles, and even danced jigs as they announced the return of the Creator? What if their signs listed the benefits of following Jesus, and the boundless joy His return will bring, rather than the penalties of rejecting Him? What if they behaved like true stakeholders in the joy God would feel if all came to repentance?

Just a thought.

For four Bible texts about joy, click the link just below.


Mr. Sales Master

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 20, 2018

I think I’ve mentioned before that I like to pop into thrift shops to check for books and office supplies. Late last week Shelley and I were in a non-brand-name charity thrift shop which had some quirky things you don’t often see at Goodwill and Value Village. One of those items you can see in the photo above.

I wish I would have pulled the camera back a bit to get the whole item—it’s good that I even got this shot, because a few seconds later someone came along and took it away, probably to the counter to buy it.

At first, it seems like several unrelated items jumbled together. But start at the lower left, which is where we see the near end of a briefcase, plus its handle. The next thing you see is a record turntable, with a gold arm with a needle behind it.

Now glance left. What you’re looking at turns out to be a gray metal filmstrip projector. At first I thought it was unrelated to this record-player-in-a-briefcase, but I quickly discovered that it was connected to the same coiled pink cord that the turntable was. And just behind that golden arm is a pull-down white screen on which you can project filmstrips.

And any mystery about this interesting device is cleared up by what it says on the machine’s label at the lower right: “Mr. Sales Master.” What we have here used to belong to a salesperson who would carry this briefcase to the home of a prospective customer, open it up, plug it in, insert a filmstrip, put a record on the turntable, roll down the screen, and settle back to watch the sales presentation with the client.

After a few seconds of digging online I found this question to an antique appraiser, which I have edited slightly:

“I just discovered my dad-in-law’s Mr. Sales Master briefcase that he used to sell insurance for Farmers Union Insurance, dated 1960. The case cover contains a pull-down shade which acts as a video screen. It also contains a film strip projector and record turntable. There are three sets of color coded records and film strips to sell which ever type of policy the agent felt appropriate to the particular customer.”

Isn’t that fascinating? Wouldn’t that have been a tremendously effective selling device—featuring a professional announcer’s voice combined with a prehistoric version of PowerPoint? I wonder how many people bought insurance policies because of this multimedia device—polices they later were very thankful to have.

As a pastor, I once in awhile have the opportunity of speaking with people who aren’t sure about God—whether He’s kind, whether He’s patient, whether He’s truly loving. If they’re also uncertain about the veracity or validity of the Bible, then I’ll turn to multimedia—and I don’t mean Mr. Sales Master, or its modern equivalent, the laptop.

Instead, I’ll often talk about nature, and how everything works so amazingly. I’ll talk about my finger, which has skin on it which hurts if you get a cut on it. But out of the ends of each of my fingers grows a tough substance which does not hurt if you cut it. I’ll talk about how the entrance to my ear is just small enough so that even my little finger can’t reach the eardrum.

Because when it comes to nature, God is Mr. Sales Master, for people who will just watch for awhile. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” David says. “The skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1 – 6, NIV)

For some Bible passages about Creation, click the link just below.




Varied Horizons

Photo ©2018 by Chelsea Jurgensen
Commentary ©2018 by Russell Jurgensen

This image on the Columbia River near Vantage has an interesting horizon. It is not just flat, but has a variety of features. There are mountains, clouds, spots of sun, a river, and there are possibilities. A person could go boating, or climbing, or relaxing in the sun. There could be people to meet or help along the way.

It is like that with our lives where there are many possibilities. In our lives we can see a little ways ahead. We can see challenges and also pleasant things. Sometimes we only see the challenges. However, with a little mental adjustment, we can start to see the possibilities for doing things of real value. That might be to smile more, meet more people, and look for ways put positive energy into someone else.

A funny thing happens when people go out of their way to make other people happy. They become happier themselves. For example, if you say hello to five people in a day, then five people will have also have warmly greeted you back.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

So next time you are not sure what to expect on the horizon, try find the opportunity to make the horizon a better place by putting positive energy into it.

Sea of Glass

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Technically, this is neither a sea nor glass. This is a small creek in Colorado, part of which has frozen and allowed ice crystals to be part of the scene as well. As I have mentioned before, I love taking images of water – in all forms. Here we have the liquid form, flowing underneath the frozen form, with a different variety of the frozen form growing like a crystal. A few yards away from this very spot was yet another form of water – steam. There were a few different hot springs, close by, with a considerable temperature difference than this cold creek.

The picture that is painted in Revelation 4, describing the throne room of Heaven, and what is in front of it is pretty amazing – (verses 5-8)

And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

Quite the sight to behold. I’m not exactly sure what Heaven will look like for us, but if there is this incredible “sea of glass,” I very much look forward to taking a few pictures of it.