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)

 

God’s Designs

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

I like these verses in Ephesians about God’s designs for us and our lives. It’s good to know that we are part of His plan.

We can look all around us in nature and see patterns and designs. If God can take the time to do this with plants, animals, birds and even rocks, we can know that He will work things out for us.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
Ephesians 1:7-12 (The Message)

She Stitched Love

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

She stitched love.

The cross-stitch creation shown above hangs next to the piano in our living room, a hand-made gift from our dear friend Jeanette, who died this past Tuesday night. She gave it to us many years ago, as a thank-you to Maylan for bringing music to Evergreen Court, the assisted living center where she served as activities director for almost 18 years.

As we gathered together yesterday for Sabbath School and our worship service, she was on our minds and on our hearts. When I spoke with Lorrie Uribe, she pulled from her Bible this bookmark:

Jeanette gave this to Lorrie on the day of her baptism, when, serving as head deaconess, she helped Lorrie prepare for the service.

She stitched love.
She gave gifts.

She remembered how much I loved lilacs, so a fragrant bouquet was waiting for me at church to celebrate springtime, year after year. She knew I was from Alaska, so I found a cup and saucer featuring forget-me-nots, the Alaska state flower, in a gift bag in Maylan’s office. Her cards to us were always addressed to “Pastors Schurch.”

One of the gifts she gave all of us, her church family, was an invitation to come to Evergreen Court once a month on Sabbath afternoon, to join with the residents in an hour-long “Gospel Sing-Along.” How we’ve enjoyed these gatherings through the years, and we saw how the residents loved Jeanette, whose goal was to make every day a good day for them. Jeanette always said, before she closed our time with prayer, how much she enjoyed bringing her church family and her work family together.

She stitched love.
She gave gifts.
She brought people together.
She created celebrations.

She knew how to create and celebrate moments, large and small, to recognize not only holidays, but people. Through my tears I look forward to the greatest Celebration of all, when Jesus comes again. Jeanette rests in peace now, only an eye-blink away from seeing Jesus – and all of us who love her.

Tuesday night, after hearing of her death, sleep did not come easily. I reached for my bedside Bible and read Revelation 21 and 22, the very “back of the Book.”

I thought again of that cross-stitch downstairs near our piano with its message, “In Music there Is Harmony, in Harmony there is Peace.” That reminded me of another beloved “back of the book” message. This one is the last paragraph from the book The Great Controversy, by Ellen White. It was that word “harmony” that reminded me of it:

“The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.”

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

To Whom This May Concern

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

I’ve never gone on an archaeological “dig,” and have only fleetingly and intermittently wanted to go on one.

But a week ago this past Tuesday I participated in a tiny such event, and even though it was pretty insignificant, I felt the spark of wonder which every archaeologist must feel when discovering a human artifact long-buried.

In one of the elementary-level buildings at Kirkland Seventh-day Adventist school is a small corner storage room. It contains a large copier, which makes it convenient for a teacher to rush in and duplicate worksheets without having to travel over to the main office two buildings away.

I had about ten minutes to spare between the classes I was visiting that day, so rather than sitting at the back of a classroom (and maybe distracting its very young students), I parked myself in that storage room.

In an out-of-the-way bookshelf I discovered a line of maybe 70 or 80 green-bound songbooks. I pulled one out discovered that it was Singing Youth, produced in the late 1950s or early 60s, more than a half-century ago. I opened it, and discovered the above archaeological find.

Newer songbooks have been produced since then, so this Singing Youth probably hadn’t been used for at least three decades, maybe close to four. But at one point, back in the day, an eighth-grader had (maybe illicitly) unwrapped a stick of gum and popped it into his or her mouth, maybe during a time of singing. To get rid of the gum wrapper, he or she folded it up and enclosed it this piece of paper, after first inscribing a message for the ages: To Whom This May Concern.

Does this concern me? Nope. Did it concern the student? Nope. Two minutes after inserting the little packet into the song book, he or she forgot all about it. And since it was never discovered and removed by anybody else, it didn’t concern them either.  And here it is again, a bit of evidence of human interaction with gum and paper, a human with a sense of humor. (I was hoping that the wrapper actually contained a piece of the original gum, so that I could nibble on a corner to see what Primordial Gum tasted like, but no such luck.)

Did this concern God? Probably not, but it may have generated His indulgent chuckle. But God is indeed concerned with other things—words, actions, attitudes—we might think are as insignificant as this.

Jesus, after all, once said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36 – 37 NKJV) If you look at these verses’ context you’ll see that they have to do with blasphemy—speaking casually and discourteously about the things of God. Because atitudes, good or bad, can be communicated through speech and actions, and we’re held accountable for this.

For a sober Bible tutorial about blasphemy, in this case against the Holy Spirit, click the following link:

https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/why-blasphemy-against-holy-spirit-unpardonable-sin

Eyesight

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

If you listened carefully a few minutes back, you may have heard, from the direction of my house, (1) an agonized groan, and (2) a sharp tire-squealing sound.

The groan meant that a photo I had snapped this afternoon (Thursday) in a parking lot was out of focus. The tire-squealing sound was the intent of this Photo Parable rapidly changing direction. Because, yes indeed you can clearly see that the above photo is something you can not clearly see.

Fuzzy as the photo is, you can see that here’s one of my favorite sights—a car festooned with bumper stickers, and the more opinionated the better. Normally I only agree with 30% of the sticker-sentiments on cars like this, but I am overjoyed that their owners are vigorously exercising their right to express them.

So. What do I do now, when we can’t even read them? Here’s what I decided to do. Let’s pretend that the fuzziness is a lack of spiritual discernment, poor spiritual eyesight. Right there in the photo are many opinions, but we can’t see them clearly enough to evaluate them.

In His advice to one of Revelation’s seven churches, Jesus mentioned the dangers of poor spiritual eyesight, and suggested a solution. After telling the Laodicean church that they are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked,” Jesus suggests that they anoint their eyes with eyesalve, so they could see (Revelation 3:14-18 NKJV).

An old gospel hymn turns the “sight” metaphor in a different—yet equally important—direction. Because some people simply go through life with their spiritual eyes closed.

Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

For several Bible texts about the power and work of the Holy Spirit, click the link immediately below:

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

Dimensions

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, March 28, 2019

We had a chance to drive through the Columbia River Gorge recently and stopped at Multnomah Falls. It is always impressive to see this falls, and with winter ice and snow, it seems to gain an extra dimension.

In the field of physics, scientists have many theories about how atoms work. Some propose extra dimensions of space to explain how the universe works. It still remains true that no one really knows why atoms work. But there are many different perspectives and theories.

Similarly, there are many different opinions and perspectives about God. It still is true that the best way to learn about God is to read the Bible. Like atoms, we don’t know scientific details of how God works, but we can read what is important to God. One of the things I like is that God cares about us and wants good things for us.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31

Let’s consider the dimension of God where He is on our side. I think that can help change our perspective.

Sculpting

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

If you’ve ever worked with clay, you know what the act of sculpting or forming is—taking an object and shaping it into something different. A great example can be found in a little town in Arizona. This specific image is from Antelope Canyon, which is found in Paige, Arizona (right on the Utah/Arizona border). When we look at this image, we can see where water has sculpted this sandstone during flashfloods and heavy rains. The pressure of the water, flowing by, carves out these curves and edges in the sandstone. The lines, colors and shapes that are created, make this place one of the most photographed. As the canyon is on Navajo land, there are restrictions on when and how you visit. Hopefully these restrictions will ensure the canyon stays the way it looks now, long into the future.

God is always attempting to “sculpt” our lives. Do we allow Him to change, adjust and mold us into who we should be? I guess it’s both bad and good that WE have the ability to allow the sculpting to take place or not. Each morning, we have the decision to make – Do I allow my Creator to change my life today? It’s obvious these changes will be for the better, so it shouldn’t be that difficult of a decision. Just like the water sculpting the beautiful red sandstone – adjusting colors, creating gorgeous lines and shading – we have the chance to be changed too. Where the sculpting of Antelope Canyon has been happening over many, many years, when we pray that God changes us, we could possibly see the difference in days. Pray those changes happen.

Steadying Your Boat

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Just to be sure, I had to look up the definition of “ballast” in the dictionary. It confirmed what I already believed but also added additional insight. My initial idea was verified by the American Heritage Dictionary which stated: “Heavy material that is placed in the hold of a ship or the gondola of a balloon to enhance stability.” Childhood had provided another illustration of this as I tried to fly a kite in turbulent winds and found it only possible when a tail was added. But the dictionary continued: “Something that gives stability, especially in character.” It was the especially in character that caught my attention. But back to that later.

What brought the term to mind was seeing various statues scattered throughout the many temples in Thailand. Some of these were in the shape of an animal and put among the shrubbery for decorative purposes. Others depicted warriors armed with appropriate weapons, while still others portrayed philosophers, monks, or noblemen. The most graceful were those of Chinese ladies carved in stone. Today, many of these Up Chao are found upon the temple grounds.

Their origin came from an earlier time when Thailand carried on an active exporting business with China. When the ships carrying these goods returned from China these heavy statues were placed in the bottom of the boat to give it stability. That was their primary function, but the Chinese merchants also hoped affluent members of Thai society would find them of interest. And of course they did. Porcelain and seashells were also used for the same purpose.

But let’s go back to that reference which alluded to providing stability to our character. While we shouldn’t confuse these statues as depictions of gods, we could certainly offer our belief in an All-knowing God who provides us with assurance in a troublesome sea. Scripture furnishes us with a mental picture of what we personally think Christ must have looked like. The individual I envision delivering the Sermon on the Mount certainly has little resemblance to the warrior guarding this particular temple gate. Blessed, we are, to have such a loving God.