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)

 

Long-eared Owl

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

As citizens of this world we find ourselves living in a state of tension. Not just the tension of having too many demands on our time and resources, but of ideas pulling us in opposite directions. Christians certainly are not immune to this and in fact may be even more susceptible to these pressures. One of the most challenging of these is the call to live in two worlds at the same time; to be faithful to the immediate tasks before us, but to live for eternity while doing so. Some have elected to give up this fight, assuming it to be an impossibility. Others simplify things by denying such a tension even exists, either by withdrawing from the world and assuming an ascetic lifestyle, or by living only in and for the moment, ignoring the promise of eternity to come.

A third alternative is suggested by Christ’s prayer found in John 17 where the believers are encouraged to be “in the world but not of the world”. Paul likewise seems to encourage the same spirit in I Corinthians 3:18 where he states: “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.” (NIV) It’s a paradox to say the least.

We may be tempted to question if such a life is even possible. And while the following illustration doesn’t answer the question, it at least lets us see the possibilities of living successfully with apparent contradictions. The Long-eared Owl was not so named because it has long ears but because it has long tufts of feathers at the top of its head which reminded some of ears. In truth they do have very sensitive ears which allow them to successfully hunt in complete darkness. They build no nests but successfully raise broods of 3 to 8 young per season. They do so by appropriating abandoned nests of crows, magpies, ravens or hawks. These young leave the nest when they are around 21 days old, but at this point they cannot yet fly. They must wait for two more weeks before setting out on wing. This means they must leave the nest by walking – not very far fortunately – just to the outer limbs on the nest tree where they engage in what is known as branching. These cryptically colored owls which sport an attractive mustache and eyebrows have a wingspan of three feet yet weigh only ten ounces.

Should we read just part of the facts stated above we might conclude the owls would be destined for futility. And while our own lives are far more complex than any owl’s,we would do well to remember that God never asks us to do the impossible – even if that does mean spending two weeks out on a limb.

For Its Own Time

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 15, 2018

This photo is of an Eight-spotted Skimmer. Besides being very beautiful, I find dragonflies to have such fascinating behavior. They can swoop and turn and hover and hide in plain sight.

The Eight-spotted skimmers are quite common and you are likely to see them in the Pacific Northwest starting in the spring and ending in the fall. They are most abundant in the summer months.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

Promise of Hope

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Solfar or Sun Voyager sculpture is one of the most photographed attractions in Reykjavik, Iceland. This contemporary sculpture that looks something like an old Viking ship is made of shiny stainless steel and is located on the town’s waterfront. As an ode to the sun, the artist wanted it to convey the promise of undiscovered territory and a dream of hope, progress and freedom.

Promise of hope. This makes me think of examples in the Bible where God promised hope. The woman with a flow of blood hoped for healing (Mathew 9). Blind men hoped Jesus would give them sight (Mathew 20). Hannah hoped for a child (1 Samuel 1). The Book of Job is full of hope and at times, lack of it. What other Biblical examples can you think of about hope? Like people in Biblical times had hope, we, too, can have hope in God today. He can provide spiritual healing for you and me.

Keep Your Tents Light!

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Maylan Schurch
Friday and Sabbath, October 12 and 13, 2018

Tuesday evening of this week I was at the church when one of the co-leaders of our Pathfinder club dropped by. (Pathfinders is a co-ed version of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.) The club had been on a campout this past weekend, and it had rained enough to dampen the tents and plastic tarps which are part of their gear. So when they returned home Sunday, the leaders hung them to dry in our large fellowship hall (above) and in a long hallway in a lower level.

When the leader arrived, I offered to help fold the by-now-dry tents with him, and he accepted. Thanks to his experienced knowledge of what to do, the task went quickly.

Not being a camper, I hadn’t kept up with how far tent technology had come since the bad old days of heavy canvas. I was amazed at how light yet waterproof today’s fabric is. Two large tents can be folded and rolled into a small enough packet to fit—along with their collapsible poles—into a bag like the one you see on the right edge of the photo. And one ten-year-old could easily carry that bag.

When I look at the photo above, it reminds me that you and I need to travel through life with “lightened tents.” Our purpose should not be so much to settle down and accumulate possessions around us, as to be quick on our feet, ready to go where, and do what, the Lord wants us to do.

Many years ago, armed with a couple of teaching degrees, I had just settled down in Lincoln, Nebraska to teach English at an Adventist college. But shortly after the Lord provided me with an intelligent, perceptive and loving wife, He called me into the gospel ministry. This meant uprooting ourselves from Lincoln, going to seminary in Michigan, and eventually moving out here to the Puget Sound area, where we’ve been ever since.

One of my dad’s favorite songs was “A Child of the King.” The verse we could hear him crooning softly while going about his work was this one:

A tent or a cottage, why should I care?
They’re building a palace for me over there;
Though exiled from home, yet still may I sing:
“All glory to God, I’m a child of the King!”
–Harriet Buell

Shocker

Photo ©2018 by Amber Jurgensen
Commentary ©2018 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, October 11, 2018

In this image there are a few interesting surprises. The primary subject is helpful with good advice on being mindful of sugar intake. Reducing sugar along with regular exercise can go a long way to improving health and making a person feel better. However, there are several other things that caught my attention in this picture.

The model of a brain in the top left corner is cool, and the daisy at the top right is nice. But, by looking at the reflections in the framed pictures, you can start to discern the environment looking the opposite direction. You can see a parking lot with cars (look just above the “Sugar Shocker”). You can see the silhouette of the photographer (the “ker” in “Shocker” is just inside the silhouette). The head of the silhouette is in the picture at the top right, with a little hair bun.

Just like we can see things in reflections of pictures, our lives are also reflections. “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Proverbs 27:19

Let’s strive to keep the Lord in our hearts so we can be reflections of God’s love.

Flowers in the Sky

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The winglet of our Alaska Airline aircraft, as you can see, has a vibrant painting of tropical hibiscus flowers. I presume the idea was to entice me to book my next flight to Hawaii or Mexico, where I could enjoy those flowers first-hand, in-person. Well, I haven’t booked yet, but I’m thinking about it…

At 30,000 feet in the air, the last think I usually think of is amazing tropical flowers, especially when I am looking out the window, but, here we are. High above the clouds, I am far away from the troubles of the earth below. It almost feels like I am closer to OUR “true” home – Heaven. I can only imagine the bouquet of tropical flowers we will all be able to enjoy – each and every day.

How many times a day do we dwell on negative things? I can answer for me – personally – it happens all the time. Instead of focusing in on all the concerns of this world, find time to meditate on all the incredible things we have in store for us, when we arrive in our long-term home – Heaven. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be greeted with a beautiful bouquet of tropical flowers.

Path of a Mountain Stream

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Have you ever noticed how streams seldom go from point A to point B in a straight line?
It’s not that gravity fails to do its job; it’s just that the flowing water meets varying degrees of resistance as it wends its way to the ocean. In much the same way, have you noticed how you seldom make it from your present stage to your objective or goal on a direct path of progress? The reasons for that are undoubtedly more numerous than even the factors causing the stream to wander. And it’s not as simplistic as just blaming it all on sin. Sin certainly can derail our best-laid plans, but the overall weakness of humanity on the complexity of life has much to say about our advancement as well.

Much has been made over the inconsistencies of King David and his son Solomon, but they both serve as fitting examples of this point. Both were committed to serving God and began their political careers with admirable goals. They chose to make God uppermost in their lives and they were amazingly successful as long as they kept that priority. Your and my falls are probably not as dramatic and certainly not as well publicized as the rulers’, but they too are generally a result of loss of focus. Instead, we should remember there are factors beyond our control which cause delays in reaching our desired goals.

For the idealist, it would be easy to become discouraged when we find ourselves at less than the optimum. And we should never lose that idealism. But it would be unfortunate if we gave up because we don’t reach our own goals, much less God’s goal for us. For unlike us, God is more than patient: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4 NIV) Don’t give up. Remember, even the most convoluted stream eventually makes its way to the ocean.