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

 

Knowledge

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, November 21, 2019

My wife and I both grew up reading mission stories, and we read mission stories to our kids. I sometimes marvelled at the common themes in these stories. Mainly, once people learned of Jesus and started following Him, their lives became better. They were kinder and happier.

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge 1 Corinthians 1:4

As we are coming up on a season of thankfulness, I believe we can look at our knowledge of Jesus and be thankful.

Strength

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

When I think of strength, one of the images that comes to mind, is this one. Thousands of gallons of water pouring over those slippery rocks, crashing hundreds of feet below. As many will recognize, this is Snoqualmie Falls – Washington.

God is the creator of the majestic falls, as well as the one and only source for strength. In this context, I’m not just referring to the raw power of the water, but the strength that is needed to face all the ugliness of this planet.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

I know we ALL long for the day, when the strength of God is with us, Jesus returns and we find the perfect eternity in our heavenly homes.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee and Autumn

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Each autumn I’m reminded why we elected to plant a maple in our backyard to replace the two spruce trees we removed. While I was sorry to see the evergreens go, the color the maple brings with the change of seasons makes their replacement a welcome sight. I’ve wondered if the birds that occupy its branches enjoy the color as well. Certainly they are aware of the change, likely much more aware than we are, but do they enjoy the reds and oranges that tell us fall has arrived? I suspect many of us believe their behavior is purely instinctual, prewired conduct to accommodate seasonal demands.

While that may be the case, part of me hopes it’s not true. After all, if my own personal response to this bash of color is only to groan as I head for the tool shed to pick up the rake, the rake I’ll be needing to use to clean up the mess, then my world would certainly be missing something of value. No, both the chickadee and I need more than pragmatic responses to shorter days. We need beauty.

John Donne must have felt a spirit akin to that feeling when he penned these words: “No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.” (The Autumnal) And I know it’s metaphorical, but Psalm 96:12 still gives nature a personal touch: “Let the field be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” (NIV) If that’s true, then surely their autumn song must be their best.

From the Collection of the Master Designer

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 18, 2019

I took this picture of a mariposa (Calocortus macrocarpus), also known as the green banded star tulip (the green stripe is on the underside), in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. They can also be found in Central Washington.

Most of these lilies are a lavender color but you occasionally find deep pink ones, light pink ones and even white ones. The colors inside the flower can also have some variation.

These delicate flowers grow when it is really hot (early July) and when there doesn’t seem to be much moisture in the ground. The spring flowers are long gone but, if you look for them at the right time, you’ll find these beautiful wildflowers in bloom.

Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it?
Matthew 6:28 (The Message)

Bargain Blessings?

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, November 17, 2019

You’re looking at an unusual purchase. A couple of years ago I paid full price for this board that proclaims “BLESSED.”

When I was growing up, the ads for our town’s two grocery stories were printed in Wednesday’s newspaper, and that night my father spread those ads out on the dining room table and started writing our weekly shopping list, guided by those sale prices. My mother would look over his shoulder, in consultation.

We lived in a town with four dead-end roads, so didn’t quickly rack up a lot of miles on our family car. I remember we had one station wagon for 9 years, and either its predecessor or successor for 13 years. What I remember most is that my parents bought the new station wagon with savings bonds they’d been purchasing for years and years. My mother said that the bank employees would bring them a tray of savings bonds from our safety deposit box to sign, and then another tray, as they cashed them in to finance our new vehicle

And so I find it normal to not primarily deal with credit, and to approach stores with sale prices in hand, and coupons on my phone. I brought my “BLESSED” board to the store counter and wistfully asked if it happened to be part of the big sale that was going on throughout the store. The answer was a kindly “No.”

But I couldn’t walk away from the “BLESSED” board. (I had not yet composed my mantra that I sometimes pay attention to: “Feel free to admire without needing to acquire.”) And so I bought it, paying full price. I comforted myself with the thought that I had not bought the much bigger version, which of course had a much bigger sales tag.

We’re in the midst of my favorite time of the year now, the time when we think about thanking. I enjoy the reminder that, “If we pause to think, we’ll have cause to thank!”

Our “BLESSED” sign is not on display in our home during this season only; it shouts out its news every day of the year. When I walk past it in the morning on my way to fix the oatmeal, I hear it. When I douse the lights at night on my way to bed, I hear it again: We are blessed, we are blessed, we are blessed!

I got to thinking this week that, against my very nature, I’m glad I paid full price for my sign. It reminds me that my blessings are priceless gifts from God; none of them are on clearance, off-season, out-of-date, slightly used, somewhat flawed merchandise that I can negotiate to purchase for a lower price. No discounts when God’s blessings flow. They are not bargains, and we are certainly not bargains. Jesus paid the highest, most costly price for us.

For some reason that we may never fully understand, He loves us with a hungering love and came looking for us, and bought us, full price.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . .  Ephesians 1:7

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

Be encouraged this week as you remember God’s Word, and live loved.

 

Helper

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 16, 2019

The last Monday in October I was heading home from a Bible study when I got into a line of slow-moving traffic behind this Waste Management truck. Since there wasn’t much else to look at, I studied it for awhile. I do not claim to be any kind of an expert on the structure of such trucks, but something didn’t look right.

Then I noticed what it was—two black rubber bungee cables angled down across the CAUTION sign and ended in a rectangular frame, which sported three little red lights. I mean, the truck had regular lights, large ones, above each mudflap. Why these extra ones?

About a quarter mile later the truck turned slowly to the left, and I had my answer.

As you can see, the waste management truck isn’t operating under its own power. A painted sign on its side proclaims proudly, “This truck runs on natural gas,” but this time it’s not. Its entire front end has been hoisted up by what I think is a Class C tow truck, which is lumbering along ahead, towing it toward repair. And those two bungee cables are helping display indicator lights which themselves are also controlled by the tow truck.

In other words, in its current condition, the waste truck is contributing absolutely nothing to its forward progress. It can’t even signal left or right.

Though humans aren’t trucks, the Bible makes it clear that we are dependent on God and His Son and His Spirit for everything. First, They created us and gave us life. When we chose to distrust God, They went into “rescue mode.” God gave His Son to die for our sins, and the Spirit speaks to our hearts, guiding us toward Them again.

Take a moment with the following three links to read Bible verses about our heavenly Helpers:

https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/god
https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/jesus-christ
https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/holy-spirit

The Cat in the Window

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 15, 2019

A few weeks ago, on what must have been a sunshiny day, I paid a visit to the University Bookstore in the University District. Just to the north of the parking lot is an eight-story building which I’ve never really focused on.

But this time I saw a black-and-white cat in one of the windows on the first floor. Somehow it had managed to work its way between the blinds and the glass, and now it was staring blankly down in my direction.

If you look at life from the point of view of that cat, you have a pretty limited concept of everything that’s out there. All the cat knows is the apartment which it inhabits, unless it is coaxed into a portable kennel and transported yowling to the vet. From thumpings on the floor above, it must have extrapolated the existence of living creatures up there, but of course had no way of getting to meet them.

You might not be able to spot it since you’re looking at a smaller picture than I am, but in the middle window three floors up there seems to be a bit of green peeking over the sill. If the cat were in that window rather than the first floor one, it’s possible that it might have spent some time chewing thoughtfully on the plant’s leaves.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can identify pretty closely with this feline. All I know about the world I live in is what I can detect with my five senses.

But that’s where the Bible comes in. The Bible is kind of like the human Maylan Schurch with his smart phone camera. With its record of thousands of years of human history, God’s Word shows me that I am not alone, either in my existence or in my particular problems. Others – including Jesus – have been locked into their own “rooms,” facing temptations I face, and those Bible stories give me the nuances I need to know to discover the devil’s plots.

Want to read several verses which describe the Bible’s purpose? Click the link just below. (Interestingly the photo on the side shows someone reading the Bible beside a window!)

https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/bible