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)

 

Clay-colored Sparrow II

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Being a bird photographer is not always the easiest of avocations. It may involve hiking considerable distances while carrying what seems like a tank-load of heavy equipment, only to find out the bird had already flown south for the winter without issuing any departure notices. At other times the bird is most certainly present, yet frustratingly remains hidden behind a cluster of leaves or deeply cloistered within the tall grass. But then, there are the other times; times when all that is needed is to drive up to a bush growing most conveniently by the side of the road and shoot away. Such was the case of this Clay-colored Sparrow, a species not frequently found in my home state of Washington.

But wouldn’t you know it. The bird was in perfect light, however, perched on the wrong side of the road. The camera was too heavy to hand-hold from my position in the driver’s seat. What I needed was help from a friend. And there she was, my wife sitting comfortably in the passenger’s seat, looking directly at the sparrow. All that was needed was to transfer the camera into her possession, place the long lens on the window molding and push the shutter. Truthfully, it wasn’t quite that easy, but what would have been impossible for me, without scaring the bird away, was simplified by help from a friend.

On my part, I was less than confident about what the results would be, but it turned out to be the best picture of the species taken on the entire trip. The author of Hebrews wants to assure us that we must have no such reservations concerning God’s willingness and His ability to answer all our needs: “ Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)

Hope

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, July 9, 2018

I like Emily Dickinson’s poem about hope. Here is the first verse:

Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

Sometimes we get so caught up in our day to day “stuff” that we forget about the bigger picture and we can’t see the Light at the end of the tunnel!

This is what we need to remember:

We are filled with hope, as we wait for the glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He gave himself to rescue us from everything that is evil and to make our hearts pure. He wanted us to be his own people and to be eager to do right.
Titus 2:13-14 (CEV)

God sent Jesus Christ
our Savior
to give us his Spirit

Jesus treated us much better
than we deserve.
He made us acceptable to God
and gave us the hope
of eternal life.

Titus 3:6-7 (CEV)

Beauty in a Sinful World

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

God is so good to us! Jesus sacrificed, so we could survive, long after this sinful planet is wiped clean. Think of what Jesus had to endure – becoming human, living a perfect life as an example to us, and ultimately being crucified on a cross in order to bear all of earth’s sin. What a mighty God we serve.

When I look at this image, I see this colorful, beautiful, delicate cactus bloom, growing right up through a bed of thorns. It reminds me of the life of Jesus. He was born (like us) amidst the sharp and dangerous pitfalls of life, yet He rises above it all and shines His light for all to see.

In chapter 10 of Isaiah, we read about the Israelites and their trouble with Assyria. Starting in verse 5, we read of God’s judgment and promise to destroy this nation of sin, protecting the Israelites. Verse 17, in particular, summarizes (for me) the length God is willing to go for us and His constant love and protection for us:

The Light of Israel will become a fire,
their Holy One a flame;
in a single day it will burn and consume
his thorns and his briers.

It’s more than comforting to read that all the “thorns and briers” will be consumed by the fire that God sends. Even more reassuring is the fact that the “the LIGHT” and “the Holy One is, quite literally, God taking care of business, in order for US to be safe and saved.

Protected

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Bev Riter
Sunday, July 8, 2018

Even though it dates back to Roman times, the town of Lucca (Italy) was a dominant city for wealthy silk merchants. Because of disease, political strife and raids, defensive towers were built to protect the “important” people. During its heyday, as many as 250 towers existed with only nine remaining today. The 125 foot tall Torre Guinigi is shown above and is topped with ancient Holm oak trees. It’s not known when this tower garden was started, but an image from the 15th century shows trees on it. Another impressive tower, Torre delle Ore or clock tower is located nearby. Both towers can be climbed for those wanting an excellent view of Lucca and the countryside.

Like tall towers provided refuge and protected people in Italian towns during the medieval times, God can protect us from evil today. ”He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” Psalms 91:1, 2

Please Don’t Bully this Truck!

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 7, 2018

A week and a half ago I rolling along Interstate 5 through Seattle when I spotted the flatbed truck you see in the photo above.

Ordinary-looking truck, right? It looks like it’s carrying—at least at the end closest to the camera–a small load of pipes. Actually, I took that photo only after I took an earlier photo while pulled up alongside. On the edge of the flatbed I was startled to see this piteous plea:

“Do Not Hit” was stenciled several times on that gray-and-white metal strip all the way down the flatbed trailer, and on the back, and probably on the other side as well.

I grew up on a farm, and my first thought was, “If you don’t want your work equipment damaged, don’t depend on meek little signs to protect it. Build it tougher!” It seemed as though this metal strip might be used to tie the load down—but if it’s too wimpy to withstand a hit, then it’s probably too wimpy to have a rope lashed to it. In fact, the tie-down strap in the photo is not attached to the strip, but goes over the top of it and onto a spool sturdily bolted to some stronger metal below.

So what’s happening here? I have absolutely no clue as to why this flatbed was designed this way. If you’ll look closely at that “Do Not Hit” strip, you’ll see that despite the printed warning it has received quite a few dings and dents over the years.

Life isn’t easy for any of us. We can start the day happy and complacent, and a single cutting remark at work can leave us disillusioned and stomach-crampy. We can assume people mean well, and then discover their flashes of unselfishness. And most horrible of all, we can find these tendencies in ourselves, and wonder if there’s really hope for us.

This is where the Bible helps. First, it gives us a sense of perspective, a wide-angle view where we can place our hurts in a cosmic context—Jesus, and even God Himself, have been falsely accused, but righteousness will finally prevail, and secret things be made known, and evil banished while good becomes the norm.

The website www.bibleinfo.com is where I often direct readers of this blog to help them gain Bible insights on any number of issues. I’d suggest that you check out that website and spend time there. For now, you might want to look at the link below:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/comfort

Angst

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 6, 2018

Earlier this past week I bought an electric shaver, and when I opened the box I discovered this forlorn, tragic face! I have no clue whether the preparers of the packing materials understood that they had created this image of anxiety and trepidation. I’m sure that their first goal was to rigorously design a box which would withstand any kind of manhandling in order to get an unimpaired shaver to an eager customer.

As you can see, I took this piece of cardboard outside and tossed it onto one of our hedges to get it in the best light. Lying there, it looks for all the world like it’s staring fearfully up into the sky, teeth chattering, quavering, “What’s next?”

My dictionary defines “angst” as “a feeling of anxiety or depression,” and you don’t need me to tell you that a lot of people are feeling angst-y these days. While driving this afternoon I heard a radio interview with a young man who’d grown up in a coal town and whose father had worked in the mines. But now the mines were closed, and he and his girlfriend were working low-paying jobs, surviving (as he put it) “by the skin of our teeth.” The interviewer asked him how he felt, and he actually started sobbing.

According to an online search I just made—verified by a number of reputable links—the command “fear not” shows up in the Bible 365 times, which includes several times Jesus gave His disciples this advice.

How can we achieve this kind of fearless calm? From my personal experience, and from observing other Christians, I’ve decided that the more we immerse ourselves in God’s reality—as revealed by His words and acts in the Bible—the less affected we are by the roller-coaster crises we might be facing.

How can I say this so confidently? Click on the link below to see the comfort Scripture gives us about fear (and don’t skip the “God’s promises” link after the first paragraph).

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/fear

4th of July

Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, July 5, 2018

Last year, my photo entry was of fireworks. This year, I wanted to show a more peaceful scene illustrating a day where we celebrate independence and freedom. The 4th of July is a great day to spend with family and friends and contemplate the importance and costs of freedom.

Jesus also wants us to think about freedom.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21

Metaphorically, we are all prisoners to sin, who are also blind and oppressed by sin. Jesus came to save us from sin and to set us free.

Freedom in this world is very important, and we should all do our part to defend freedom. Let’s also take advantage of a different kind of freedom through Jesus who saves us.