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)

 

Let’s Reflect On Our Reflection

Photo and Commentary (c)2019 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 16, 2019

In virtually every encounter we have with another human, we give them a sort of idea of our current mood. It may be in the tone of our voice, the way we smile (or don’t) and it may be the sparkle (or lack thereof) in our eye. All these things are a reflection of what we feel like in that moment. If we are happy and positive, can you imagine people walking away from us, with a more positive attitude than before they interacted with us? What would that look like? Changing attitudes, with every conversation? On the flip side of that scenario, what if we had the opposite effect? What would that look like?

Even though we are well into the Winter months, the recent sunny days we’ve had in the Seattle area remind me more of Fall. It’s still chilly outside, but the sun is out and that makes a difference. It’s similar to this image I captured while walking through the Halifax Public Gardens, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The colors from the trees, reflecting in the pond, shining brilliantly back at me. Almost a perfect reflection.

In Proverbs 27:19 we read about that reflection and how it shows others what we are truly feeling:

As water reflects the face,
    so one’s life reflects the heart.

If given the chance, be a change for the positive. Ask God to help you strive to reflect His love, so the individual on the receiving end of your reflection walks away with God’s love.

Dying Inside

Photo and Commentary (c)2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The truth was evident long before the men with their chainsaws set about to put the yard into shape. Fewer leaves where leaves should be was probably the first indicator.  We hoped it could be blamed upon a dry summer, but feared the problem might be deeper.  Another season, and evidence of more limbs dying back confirmed our concern.  But the depth of the problem wasn’t as obvious until the noise of the saws died down.  And then, even a captive encased in the concrete jungle could see the truth.  The problem wasn’t with the leaves or even the limbs.  The problem rested deep inside where none could see.

That doesn’t mean the indicators weren’t there.  Our vision however is partial.  God’s, on the other hand, is not.  That passage towards the end of Revelation used to cause me some concern, almost like the prediction forced us into the behavior.  But read it again:  “…for the time of fulfillment is near.  And when that time comes, all doing wrong will do it more and more; the vile will become more vile; good men will be better; those who are holy will continue on in greater holiness.  See, I am coming soon…”  (Revelation 22:10-12 Living Bible)

Those dying leaves didn’t cause the trunk to decay.  Sickness had become the very nature of the tree.  And that’s what John was talking about as well.  And that’s good news, news that what’s seen and on the outside and what’s on the inside will correspond completely.  But good news only if our leaves cast a giant shadow of the cross.

As a Deer Thirsts

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, January 14, 2019

This photo is of a blacktail deer up at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. It’s eating glacier lilies which come out pretty much as the snow is melting. The meadows can be wet up there at that time of year and finding water is not an issue in a place like that.

I picture the animal referred to in Psalm 42:1 as more of a desert dweller. Water would be more scarce and considered even more precious in an environment like that.

Regardless, I think we’ve all experienced being desperately thirsty and know how much we want a drink of clear, cool water when we get to that point. We need God in that same way.

My soul is dry and thirsts for You, True God, as a deer thirsts for water.
Psalm 42:1 (The Voice)

Singing Through the Pain

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sunday, January 13, 2019

(If you’re missing Bev Riter’s usual Sunday blog, be patient. She’s devoting her time to caring for husband Ron. But soon you should see some past photos of hers, from years back–classic Bev creations! Keep watching this space. — Maylan Schurch)

A couple of weeks ago Shelley and I made a quick trip to Portland, where we meandered through the rooms of the multistory Powells City of Books. On the top floor I found a book containing the above photo, which has had a powerful effect on my emotions since I first saw it as a college student. I immediately took a picture of it with my camera.

The title most often given this photo is “Organ Grinder.” It was taken in 1898, possibly in Paris, by French photographer Eugene Atget (I’ll include his Wikipedia entry below). The reason it touches me so deeply is that I grew up in the Great Plains, where the 1930s Depression hit really hard, and the worst years happened before my father turned 10. Those were desperate times, and they made him the sad and introspective person he often was.

Yet what makes this photo far more powerful than just a couple of poor people on a street is that, while the man is impassive – maybe numbed by years of poverty – the woman is singing. No matter how she feels, she smiles bravely and belts out a tune to make people happy enough to come over and give her a coin.

I don’t know what the year 2019 will bring you, or me. If you trust what the Bible tells you, you know that things won’t entirely be rosy. But if you are a part of a Bible-believing and Bible-reading church where people care for each other, you know people with this woman’s spirit. And you also hear about the Man who humbled himself and became poor so that we could become as rich as He. And that’s something to sing about!

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5 – 11 NKJV

To learn more about Eugene Atget, click the link below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Atget

Lifelines

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 12, 2019

Thursday morning of this week Shelley and I took a brief walk before she had to leave for work. Against the sky we saw the silhouette of three large trees, plus some smaller ones on either side.

I grew up on the Great Planes prairies, where every winter we would see the bare-bones of cottonwoods and other trees like this. We had no vineyards there, so Jesus’ “I am the vine, you are the branches” comments are a step or two removed from what I can relate to. But when I see the pattern of these branches – growing out from the main trunk, then splitting off and continuing to grow, then splitting off till further – I get His point immediately. The vivid green leaves I see in the summer happened because the branches are connected to the trunk.

And the main purpose of any tree, of course, is to grow. A fake Christmas tree does not grow. But a towering cottonwood gets that way because its dependable water source courses up the trunk and out through those connections.

And this makes it easier for me to understand Jesus’ grapevine parable. Here it is, in full:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:1 – 8 NKJV

Written in Tongues

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 11, 2019

A couple of days back I got a surprise in the mail—a huge white envelope from Lithuania. It contained a large 8-page newspaper called Vilties Saltinis (which Google Translate tells me means “Source of Hope”). A 3-inch-square white post-it note attached said, “Hi, Maylan. Your article is on page 6, ‘How to Really Believe in Jesus.’”

I turned to page 6, and saw what you see in the photo above. The orange-brown lettering of the title contains no words I could recognize from French or Latin (though I’m no expert in either, but you can sometimes pick up hints). The only one I can make a guess at is the last one, which is capitalized and which probably means “Jesus.”

I admire the editorial staff for making a valiant stab at “Maylan Schurch.” As in English, they almost get it, but they’re still a little off. “Meilanas” has a mellifluous, hopeful sound, but everything grinds to a halt with “Scerc,” which even to Lithuanian ears probably sounds like a collision between two Mini-Coopers.

But then comes the article itself, and there I am frankly at sea. Meilanas Scerc and his words are entirely at the mercy of the translator, who—since the newsletter staff liked the article—has presumably put forth a conscientious translation.

What happened is that my article originally appeared in the Signs of the Times, an Adventist magazine written with the general public in mind. The Vilties Saltinis people saw it, and decided it could meet their needs as well.

So here I am, circulating around Lithuania, being read by Adventists and non-Adventists alike, speaking in tongues—not directly in an Acts 2 manner, but through the mind and typing fingers of someone as devoted to God as I am.

Would you like to read the English version of “How to Really Believe in Jesus”? Check it out at the link below:

http://www.signstimes.com/?p=article&a=40051216384.739

God Knows You

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, January 10, 2019

It is always fun to see a neglected track or path in the woods and wonder where it goes. Does it lead to new opportunities or adventures? The track pictured turned out to be an old logging road.

No matter what path we follow in life, we can know that God will be with us and He knows us.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3