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)

 

Community Wall

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 25, 2020

A few months back when I was at Bellevue’s Crossroads Mall I paused to take a picture of this wall. To the left is a long hall leading to restrooms, but along that hall is a longest community bulletin board I’ve ever seen, covered with posters, ads, program announcements, and so on.

Crossroads is really a community gathering place, and to echo their goal, they decided to create what I guess you could call a “community wall.” The white-lettered word within each of the circles says “Community,” each a different language.

Here’s a closeup:

And the people who enjoy this mall are truly an international group. Across the street from this mall is the Crossroads post office, and one Christmas several years back I was standing in a long line there. I suddenly realized that out of the nearly 50 people I could see (both in line and behind the counters), everyone was a different ethnicity than I was. I was definitely in the minority!

And God, looking down upon us all, probably grinned with delight. Because He is a community-minded God. The only reason He ever recruited a “chosen people” was so that they could occupy the frequently-traveled land bridge between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian desert, and expose people from distant lands to a few days’ worth of what God’s welcoming culture could look like.

And one day we’ll gather in heaven, not by a wall but around a “community throne,” where those who’ve been saved by God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice will rejoice. Here’s a preview–

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9 – 10 NKJV)

Theatron

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 24, 2020

A month ago Shelley and I attended one of the performances of Handel’s The Messiah in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. Once the beautiful oratorio was over, I realized I was missing the cap off a favorite mechanical pencil, so I went back to look for it. A courteous usher—whose shoulder you see at the lower right–took an immediate interest in the search, but we both came up empty-handed.

At one point I slipped my smartphone out of my shirt pocket and took this photo. On the stage you see stagehands taking apart the risers and getting ready to transport the harpsichord away. A vest-clad usher strolls the aisles looking for discarded programs. But moments before, there had been a heartpounding rendition of a spiritual classic.

Looking at that stage reminds me of a comment Paul made in his first letter to the Christians at Corinth. Speaking about the work of himself and his fellow apostles, he says, “we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” (1 Corinthians 4:9) The Greek word behind “spectacle” is theatron, which is where we get “theater.” Paul was saying that he and his apostle friends were on display, and that people and angels were watching, and the humans at least were coming to an important conclusion:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Are you willing to turn your heart and life and future over to your Savior, who is not only your Messiah but also your scriptwriter and coach for the theatron where you are already a player? And will you pray that your “performance” makes a difference as 2020 rolls along?

Seeking

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, January 23, 2020

Our 15 year old cat enjoys getting off his feet sometimes, especially on rainy windy days. When he is not relaxing, however, he often is asking for help with his food or asking for attention.

The Lord knows that we need things and relationships in our lives. When we have troubles or needs, or just want to understand something, the Lord wants us to come to him.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7

With the confusing state of our country and world, it is hard to know how to think about the many problems that need to be solved. Let’s take the Lord’s advice and ask Him for guidance in our lives.

Better Things To Come


Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

This past week, with all the snow and cold weather we had (in the Pacific Northwest) it got me thinking about warmth and springtime. I know I am a little early in talking about Spring, when we are barely into Winter, but Spring is my favorite time of the year and I needed to remind myself that there are better things to come. Better, in the form of sunshine, warmth, color, etc.

As we are just getting into 2020, I was reflecting on the previous year. I know I am not the only one, but 2019 had some rough patches in it. We lost loved ones, we learned about sickness, and we were challenged as parents. I recognize, our ‘rough patches’, are nothing compared to what others went through, but it still wasn’t the easiest year. That’s why I like the idea of ‘better things to come’. We know that, as Christians, it doesn’t mean we won’t face challenges nor be exempt from tribulations. Instead, we know, as we face these situations – God is with us. That’s why I love Spring – no matter what we experience as we plough through the Winter months, we know things will change.

Regardless what you are facing or have faced recently, know that God is with you. This image of these gorgeous, brightly colored tulips, should remind all of us that – better things are coming.

Bar-shouldered Dove

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, January 21, 2020

With the advent of the internet, information on absolutely anything is immediately available at your fingertips. However, the answers you receive may not always be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s obvious that clearer parameters need to be set. For example, I had observed this medium-sized dove near Cairns, Australia where it makes its home, but I wanted more information on it than the brief account the field guide provided. So I typed in Bar-shouldered Dove. Sure enough, I got material on this pigeon, but I also received guidance on how I could purchase Dove Bar beauty soap from Amazon. And not to be outdone, Dove Ice Cream Bars were also promoted. Since it was nearing dinner time I took greater notice of the chocolate offering, and did let my mind wander before returning to focus on the bird.

I discovered it is also known as the Mangrove Dove, Scrub Dove, and Kookawook; that they need to drink water throughout the day, and one other rather unusual fact. A bird raised in captivity at a zoo in Clères, France died from toxoplasmosis making it a new host to this organism. Toxoplasmosis in humans is often associated with eating food which has not been thoroughly cooked as well as exposure to cat waste in litter boxes. It has been suggested that up to half of the world’s population may be infected, yet without observable symptoms.

So, what do these loosely-related, irrelevant bits of information have to do with our spiritual well-being? Just this. By reading Scripture one can come up with a wide variety of unrelated facts, but without glue to hold them together they are of little value to us. What is needed is an understanding of the principles that hold these odds-and-ends together. Principles might be described as laws and rules which are applicable to all people, at all times, and in all situations. That means there are indeed very few principles, but those few are the ones our life must be based upon. And the best place to find these principles? The life of Christ would certainly be the safest place to start.

In Its Time

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, January 20, 2020

This photo is of flowers in the alpine meadows in the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park. I like the way the purple lupines and the magenta paintbrushes stand out.

There is a John Muir (noted conservationist) quotation engraved in a rock wall nearby (at least it was there when I took the picture but I’ve not been able to go back there for some time!) that says, “. . . the most luxuriant and most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings.”

Considering all of the places that John Muir had seen, that is quite the statement. Those of us who live in Washington are blessed by the abundance of beautiful things in this state.

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 (NLT)

Our Resolute Redeemer

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, January 19, 2020

I haven’t heard my mother’s voice for over 37 years, yet I’m often reminded of the things she used to say. Things like: “Time marches on!” which was usually an attempt to get her family out the back door and into the car on time, and “Clap a lid on it,” which concluded her advice for soaking a cooking kettle in hot soapy water.

So when I heard what today was (I’m writing this on Friday, January 17), I thought of two more things she used to say, quoting unknown sources: “The trouble with life is that it’s so daily,” and “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken.”

Halfway through this morning I learned that today is “Ditch Your Resolutions Day.” I thought it was odd for someone to designate a day, especially this early in the new year, to recommend that people give up on their recent resolutions, but I discovered I had the wrong slant on this day.

Apparently some research has shown that by this date a majority of people have given up on their newly-made resolutions, and all of the news coverage I heard today was encouraging people to keep going, giving them practical ways they could persevere in well-doing.

I not only thought of my practical, persevering mother when I heard what today was; I thought of Someone else, Someone she loved and taught me to love. I’ve never heard His voice, yet I’m often reminded of the things He used to say. Things like: “ . . . he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13), and “Stand firm, and you will win life.” (Luke 21:19)

And I’m reminded of things people said about Him after He was gone. Especially this:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I’m so thankful for our Resolute Redeemer. His archenemy, who is also the enemy of our souls, dogged His footsteps daily with diabolical temptations, but He never gave in or gave up. He knew where and why He was going. To the cross, because of love.

We know where and why we’re going. From here to heaven, because of love – Your love, that propelled You to the cross. Just as you fixed Your eyes on us, and then on the cross, we fix our eyes on You, and run the race, Your air in our lungs, Your love in our hearts.

Thank You, Lord!