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)

 

With My Song I Praise Him

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 20, 2019

I saw this little marsh wren singing its heart out as I walked by. After it finished singing, it grabbed some of the fluff from the cattail that it was perched on and flew across the path to where it was building a nest.

As I walked by I saw three nests and two of them looked like they were already completed. Apparently, the male builds multiple nests and the female will then decide which one she likes best to lay her eggs in. It is thought that the empty nests then become sort of decoys.

Now, the wren may not be singing for the same reason that we sing but I like this Bible verse about singing praises to God.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

Determination of Nonsignificance

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, May 19, 2019

I’ve kept this bright green notice in a binder for 27 years, along with other keepers, revisiting it from time to time. When it first caught my eye, it made me laugh, and then lean forward to read the fine print. What was so nonsignificant that it required such a lengthy notice to tell me so?

Near the bottom of the page I discovered what seemed to be the crux of the matter: “The lead agency for this proposal has determined that it does not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment.” In other words, no worries. This is a notice of reassurance.

And yet my eye and my mind wander back up to the bold heading, and I think how many times I have struggled with “determination of nonsignificance.” When I was young, schooling almost behind me and the rest of my life ahead of me, I was trying to figure out how to shape that life in a meaningful way.

Now that I have travelled many miles and many years of that life, I’m looking back, wondering if I’ve travelled well, if I’ve done anything that has lasting significance.

I think the devil would like to stamp “nonsignificant” on each of us and our doings, and have us believe this lie. Remembering that “crux” comes from the Latin and literally means “cross,” we realize that the crux of the matter is that Jesus died on the cross because He declares us His beloved children, well worthy of His sacrifice.

I John 3:16 joins the much better-known John 3:16 in emphasizing how significant God has determined us to be: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.”

With so much noise and news swirling around us to distract us from discerning God’s ways and will for our lives, I heard again this week the invitation of Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” And that reminded me of a sentence from the wonderful book, The Desire of Ages by Ellen White: “When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God.”

Listen for His voice, and be encouraged this week!

Enlist the Fairies!

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 18, 2019

If you’ve been reading these Daily Photo Parable blogs for a while, you’ve probably discovered that I am frankly an Old Snoop when it comes to reading journals which people have donated to thrift stores.

Most of the time people who donate their journals will carefully rip out the first four or five pages, on which they have expressed—often digging their pencil or pen deeply into the paper—some pretty raw feelings.  Eventually they calm down and decide to rip out the written pages and donate the book. But sometimes they forget to rip—causing me a great deal of curiosity and satisfaction!

Thursday afternoon, on the way home from appointments, I stopped at a Goodwill store, checked out the office supply section, and discovered a non-ripped journal. As I flipped through it, most of its comments seemed to be the standard self-improvement resolutions, such as “I want to be more organized. I want to relate to people better.”

But the above page gave me pause. The first two lines seem to continue the usual practical affirmations: “Stay grounded. Exercise.” But then, the journaler drew an explanatory arrow from “Stay grounded” down to the third line: “Enlist the fairies.”

Okay, what’s going on here? I wondered. Fairies? That’s how you stay grounded? My first thought was that “Enlist the fairies” might be a motivational speaker’s cutesy way of saying, “Call on your creative muses.” But when I got home and Googled the fairies exhortation, I couldn’t find it being used anywhere, in any setting.

So out there in the Puget Sound area, even as we speak, there’s someone walking around who believes that the way you stay grounded is to consult fairies. Whether the journaler actually believes in flitty little Tinkerbells, or whether his or her fairies are more metaphorical, I don’t know.

But I do know how to really stay grounded—and what to stay grounded on. When approaching the end of His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is very clear:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24 – 27)

So how do you discover Jesus’ solid-foundation sayings? A good place to start would be the Sermon on the Mount itself. It starts in Matthew 5, and can be found by clicking the following link

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5+-+7&version=NKJV

Fiction?

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 17, 2019

Thursday of last week I had parked myself at a library table to work on my sermon. It was mid-afternoon, and young people began arriving from school. At one point I glanced up from my laptop screen and saw the two teens in the photo above.

I could tell they were becoming friends, maybe not in a romantic way as yet, but getting there. The guy was doing most of the talking, and the girl was listening intently with a smile on her face.

Then I saw the sign hanging above their heads—“Fiction.”

That got me to thinking about the way we talk to each other, and how truthful we are. Because as any relationship grows—a romantic one or even one in which two people are becoming close friends—a growing honesty and openness always helps.

And the Bible—and the God of the Bible—are emphatically against lying. For nine sobering Scripture verses which discuss prevarication, click the link just below:

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

Where to Go?

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, May 16, 2019

I didn’t drive down the road with this odd contraption on the roof. Instead, it was used for a little testing in the driveway. There is a GPS antenna up on stilts to simulate being high on a big dozer. A dozer operator might want to know exactly where a road should be built or where not to go when clearing some ground.

Similarly, we might use the Bible to help guide us where we should go, and maybe avoid some areas that would be troublesome. In particular, we might try looking at the commandments in a different way. Instead of seeing the commandments as limitations, we can look at them as benefits. How can God’s law benefit us? Take for example, the Sabbath day. The Lord, in infinite wisdom, somehow knows that a Sabbath rest will benefit us. Perhaps, we can look at the intent of Sabbath and look to see how we can get those benefits. One thing is the Sabbath has an advantage for families. Instead of being off to work or chores, families can do things together. Bonds are tighter and memories stronger.

Each of the other commandments can be looked at in similar ways. Where do you want to go? Maybe a fresh look at the commandments in Exodus 20 will provide a guide.

Mindfulness

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

As many of you may know, May is Mental Health month. It gives all of us an opportunity to learn and attempt to understand all the issues surrounding these various diseases. I am sure all of us have very personal stories about loved ones, and even ourselves, suffering from such issues.

Mindfulness is the process during which you slow down and focus on the present moment, through various breathing techniques and meditation. This term is used a lot, when attempting to treat or manage minor issues around mental health. Among other things, the idea is to train your mind to stay centered, before it starts to drift off or focus on something less healthy.

Mindfulness exercises are not centered around a spiritual aspect, but you certainly can add that aspect. In fact, I highly suggest this practice. It’s not too difficult, start with pausing – in the morning when you feel stressed, in the afternoon, at work, at home, in the evening, before you go to bed – anytime or several times. My full suggestion is to find that quiet moment, focus on GOD, and ensure your mind is centered toward Him.

The photo image above can be used a focal point, while you bring your attentions to our Creator. Or if you are in the local area, take a moment to head over to the entrance of the Bellevue Botanical Gardens and you’ll find the exact location where I captured this image.

Isaiah 41:10 – “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Philippines 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

These are just a few texts that show us what we can do with our concerns, what we are capable of with God on our side, and where we should be aiming our focus.

These verses and the mindfulness exercises can help you get through the day. There are also situations that more help is needed. Mental health is very serious and should be taken seriously. If you need help or you know of someone that does, here’s a link that can get you started: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help

I know we all long for the day when God returns to take us home with Him. We’ll be in a place where there is no more sin, no more concerns, and our minds will be perfect.

Myanmar and Floods

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Should you be one of those who live on the top of a mountain, it’s quite likely the threat of being engulfed by a flood is substantially less of a concern to you than it might be for those living along a river in the valley. And while we might naively believe that those of us with an advanced infrastructure are immune to such hazards, a glance at the evening news might persuade us otherwise. For those who live in a state of perpetual greenness and beauty, that blessing is generally accompanied by the reality of an abundance of rain. Such is the case for those who live in Myanmar.

The country formerly known as Burma could rightly be assigned the title of a Third World Nation, with limited preparations to combat seasonal flooding. The day we crossed over the border we were immediately confronted with that reality. Recent heavy rains had swelled the already full rivers to overflowing, yet the residents of the city were doing their best to deal with the situation. Sandbags were passed down the line of assembled workers to create a buffer from the encroaching waters. It helped, certainly, but not to our untrained eyes, unaccustomed to such upheavals.

Christ’s parable about the wise man and the foolish man can lose its punch when read by those who have not experienced such devastation. Luke 6:48 concludes with this reminder to us: “They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” (NIV) Notice in this story the Master Teacher did not elect to advise them to build better flood reinforcements, but to build better buildings. From this I conclude that we will all be subject to difficulties at one time or another which we cannot avoid. Instead, His counsel is to make sure our foundation is one that cannot be shaken, whatever conditions we encounter.