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)

 

Wall of Aspiration

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 18, 2020

A week ago on this page I posted a Daily Photo Parable about a poster I saw on a community bulletin board offering help with writing a book. Well, above you can see the entire bulletin board—the “You Should Write a Book” invitation is a bit up and to the right of the center.

Have you ever thought about the idea that a community bulletin board like this might be one of the supreme proofs of the Creator’s existence? It’s really a “wall of aspiration.” Many of this board’s posters challenge you to improve yourself, take a dare, be more creative. A bit to the lower left of the book-writing poster is one that advertises “Inglés muy basico,” evidently a class in basic English for speakers of Spanish. Directly above this announcement is one which urges the viewer to learn Japanese. At the board’s upper left corner is a “You can cartoon” ad. And above the board and down the left side are invitations to various concerts and other programs which sprung from the creativity of others.

Why this incessant desire to entertain and be entertained? Why this urge to teach and to learn? Survival of the fittest alone can’t account for this. There’s a creative desire within us—and most joyfully present in children—to imagine and aspire to something that hasn’t happened yet.

We have a Creator. Case closed? It is for me.

To reflect on the handiwork of the Master Envisioner, Aspirer, and Craftsman, click the link just below.

https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/creation-and-evolution

Great Symphonies

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 17, 2020

My habit—some might call it “obsession”— of staying moderately familiar with area thrift shops led me to one of these places on Thursday of this week. There I discovered the above venerable volume, which an internet search informs me was published in 1936.

Before gently replacing it on the shelf, I flipped through it. Sigmund Spaeth (1885 – 1965) was a well-known and popular musicologist, but my eyes glazed over as I glanced at his book’s pages. Because in one two-page spread you might see just a single line of music, treble clef only, and the rest was print. In other words, a lot of talk, but no complete symphonies!

In the Biblio.com link below, you’ll see that Spaeth recommends recordings of the symphonies he describes, but it seems to me it would be more effective if we just listened to the symphonies themselves. Nice job, Sigmund, and I’m sure you put a lot of work into this, but to me it’s something like trying to find joy in the Mona Lisa or a popular dish at a Thai restaurant by only reading newspaper reviews about them.

You get the point, I hope. Sigmund’s book is an excellent one, I’m sure, and he does recommend that we actually follow through and listen to recordings of the symphonies. But when it comes to getting to know our Creator, God wants us to know Him by personal experience. How do we do this?

True, we need to do quite a bit of reading in our Bible. But the Bible isn’t describing symphonies; it’s telling stories, stories of how God personally intervened in people’s lives. And Psalm 34:8 urges us to seek this personal relationship: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Two senses there: tasting and seeing.

Do this. If you have almonds or another kind of nut in the house, go and get one. Look at it. How did all that condensed nourishment get packed inside? Who figured out how to do that?

Now toss that nut into your mouth. I’ll bet you caught it on your tongue at the first try. How did your reflexes and muscles know how to do that? Now chew on the nut and absorb all that nourishment, and as you’re swallowing it down, think about all the processes which that nut will be going through. Who put in place the machinery for all that processing?

Anyway, you get the idea. For some Bible texts about our amazing God, click the link just below. (But don’t stop after you’ve read them. Think about them, and then keep an eye out for examples of why they’re true!)

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

Now here’s how to learn more about Spaeth’s book:

https://www.biblio.com/book/great-symphonies-how-recognize-remember-them/d/150925954?aid=frg&utm_source=google&utm_medium=product&utm_campaign=feed-details&gclid=CjwKCAiAsIDxBRAsEiwAV76N8-CJiY13Yyo6cHO4yVfgV0rBbMDCQV_yUnucou7Y3kWqSNLq4fIYlBoCE5gQAvD_BwE

Black and White

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, January 16, 2020

Here is a color picture of a neighbor’s contemplative pond. I was surprised how it looks so black and white. It got me thinking about other things that may not have various shades but are simply black and white.

A newspaper might have just black print on white paper. Even the pictures are totally black on white where the grey tones are made by printing small black dots. Oreos are black and white. Some sneakers are black and white.

I wonder if the truth is black and white. How important is it to treat the truth that way? Is it ok to exaggerate or blur the lines to make the truth a little grey? What about mixing a little untruth with things that are true?

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:31

Another question might be, why is the truth so important? The best answer I can think of is because falsehood harms innocent people. It also comes around to harm the person who misrepresents the truth.

Let’s really listen to Jesus when he says the truth is important.

Snow, Snow and More Snow

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It’s beautiful when you don’t need to get out and drive around in the white stuff. Over the last few days, I have been fortunate to work from home while we received several inches, making the roads a bit icy. I am sure there are folks in the mid-West or the East Coast, that chuckle when they see a few inches in Seattle and know what it can do to the surrounding area. Of course we (in the PNW) don’t get this very often and the we aren’t designed to deal with it.

Aside from what it can do to the commute, it is very pleasant to look at. Watching it fall from the sky, covering up the dirt and brown patches. It’s like a new clean blanket, covering up any imperfections. In the book of Psalms, David felt the same way. Unfortunately, he had a feel flaws to cover up and asked God to wash him of these sins.
Psalm 51:7-12

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

This specific covering of snow on my trees may not last but a day or two, but God’s covering can last a life time. Regardless of our faults, our imperfections – we all need the assurance we can go to our knees and ask our Creator to cover us with a blanket of forgiveness. He will.

Blue-faced Honeyeater

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Names are often given because they reflect a characteristic or quality which is apparent to the one conferring the label. It’s obvious why the Blue-faced Honeyeater was so named, the two-toned bare skin on the face is evident as is the fact that it feeds on flowers and fruit in addition to insects which make up the majority of its diet. What may not be so obvious is why, in 1801, John Latham first classified this bird as being three separate species, not realizing he was dealing with a single variety. He went so far as to categorize the three imagined species as a grackle, a bee-eater, and a thrush. Way off!

Colloquial names include Banana-bird, for its penchant for feeding on banana fruit and flowers, and Morning-bird since it is frequently the first bird heard calling, often 30 minutes before sunrise. As might be expected, regional names vary from New Guinea to Australia. In much the same way, the Jewish names of Joseph, Hadassah, and Daniel where changed to Zaphenath-Paneah, Esther, and Belteshazzar when they found themselves captives in a far off land.

But perhaps the greatest name surprise was the one that came to Joseph when an angel instructed him to name his son-to-be Joshua, or Jesus, a name meaning “Savior” with the explanation that “he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NIV) Think of the presumptive faith Joseph must have had to have exercised to follow through with those instructions. But unlike John Latham, no mistake was involved, only the greatest gift that was ever given.

Mold Me and Make Me After Thy Will

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, January 13, 2020

I enjoy making soap because you can get very creative in color, shape, type, ingredients, and fragrance. I also like the fact that you end up with something useful in the finished product.

The photo is of some of the molds I use after deciding what shape I want for my finished soap. Do I want bars or circles, ovals or squares or flower or insect shapes? Whichever mold I decide to use, that will be the shape of the finished product.

I love the old hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” written in 1907 by Adelaide A Pollard. The lyrics are about the Master Potter molding us as clay into something useful.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

Soap making makes me wonder what sort of mold God had in mind for me.

Jeremiah said that God told him:
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations— that’s what I had in mind for you.”
Jeremiah 1:5 (The Message)

Behold, Become, Be Blessed

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, January 12, 2020

I need a new pair of glasses, or, to be precise, I need a new prescription. I’m reminded of that increasing truth every time I whip off my glasses to read fine print, and tilt my head to better read my screen . . . and every time I read the number of this new year.

A dozen days into the new year, I’m joining what I’m sure is a large chorus of blog posts and sermons about 2020 being a wonderful number to remind us, all year long, of all things vision-related, whether physical or spiritual.

The stores have moved on from Christmas and are full of hearts and valentines now, but the Christmas ornament shown in today’s photo is not going to be packed away until next December. I’m keeping it daily visible as my invitation to keep my eyes on Jesus. One dictionary definition of “behold” is to “see with attention,” and I want to pay better attention to Jesus this year.

In her most recent book, Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship, artist and author Ruth Chou Simons reminds us that, “The advent of mobile devices brought a fundamental shift in the way we engage with the world . . . . We’ve been given so much to look at, but we are missing the art of beholding. We are so captivated by our technology and all that it puts before our eyes that we overlook the ways that God displays His glory through creation, relationships, and our ordinary circumstances in the day to day. We look for dramatic ways to experience God, but His presence and transforming work in our lives happen minute by minute.”

I’m on a waiting list for an appointment with my ophthalmologist’s office, but I’m thankful there’s no need to stand in line to have my spiritual vision checked and transformed.

And I’m thankful for the powerful “Behold” promises of that ring out from the back of The Book:

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:3-5)

“Behold, I am coming quickly!” (Revelation 22:7)

Could this be the year we behold Him?

Behold and Be Blessed this new year – Happy 2020!