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)

 

The Right Path May Be Rough

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, September 16, 2019

I saw this sign on a recent trip to Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park in Central Washington. I was on my way to check out Dry Falls Lake and consider it an accurate description although I was able to make it in my two wheel drive passenger car and there was adequate room to pass in most places.

Show me the right path, O LORD;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
Psalm 25:4-5

Bathing

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, September 15, 2019

Forest Bathing is all the rage – although rage may not be the best word to use for a practice that is designed to bring peace and calm to one’s body and soul. When I first heard the phrase I was slightly uneasy because I love walking through the woods and wondered if we would now need to be on the lookout for some non-shy individuals practicing a new cleansing ritual in the shared spaces of our national parks.

I needn’t have worried. Forest bathing has been practiced for decades in Japan, where it is known as shinrin-yoku, walking through a forest (fully-clad), taking it in through all of one’s senses and appreciating all of its benefits.

I’m enjoying my copy of a new publication which is an inspirational mix of research and statistics and photographs of beautiful forest scenes. Forest Bathing: How Trees can Help You Find Health and Happiness, is written by Japanese medical doctor and researcher Qing Li. Years of study have led Li to claim that spending time in a forest “can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and anger; strengthen the immune system; improve cardiovascular and metabolic health; and boost overall well-being . . . . Wherever there are trees, we are healthier and happier,” he says.

That’s good news for those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest, although perhaps not new news to those of us who have appreciated woodsy walks for a long time.

Oliver Wendell Homes is quoted on the benefits of another kind of bathing: “Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.” Every time I read that quote, I vow to put its counsel into effect that very week . . . maybe this week?

A third type of bathing is ours for the asking, without having to lace up hiking shoes or select a sound track, and we find it by submerging ourselves in Scripture and responding to verses such as these:

“But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

“ . . . not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit . . . “ (Titus 3:5)

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1: 5b-7)

Best kind of bathing ever, and forever! If we accept this cleansing, one of these days we’ll be walking through the forests of heaven, joining in with music more joyful and tuneful than we’ve ever experienced on this earth, meeting our Creator Redeemer face to face!

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

500-Year Diary

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, September 14, 2019

As I’ve mentioned before, thrift stores act as magnets for me, though I often simply drift through looking at the books and office supplies and emerge without buying anything. Not long ago I was nosing about in the latter department and saw this “500 Year Diary,” probably a satirical takeoff on the old five-year diaries of my childhood. (I actually had one back then, but probably just filled out a couple of months’ worth of Year One and put it aside.)

Anyway, I was intrigued about what a page of a 500-year diary would look like, so I opened it.

Yup, a joke after all. But it got me thinking. People who’ve surrendered their hearts to Jesus will—if they want to—keep a long succession of 500-year diaries and have something about each day to write in them. That’s one of the perks of eternal life.

The key, of course, is to claim that prize. It’s not easy—Jesus said that only a relative few will enter there. But if we follow His steps, we’ll make it.

This first link below leads you to two Bible verses which summarize how to have eternal life.

https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/eternal-life

This second link contains verses which are a more detailed treatment of salvation.

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

Special Delivery

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, September 13, 2019

I’m afraid that when I paused in traffic beside the above car-toting flatbed, the first conclusion I jumped to was that it was a tow truck bearing an injured vehicle. I noticed the BMW logo on the back of the car, and thought, Wow, even BMWs get the collywobbles once in awhile.

But then I noticed that the edge of the truck’s bed also had the BMW logo. So I jumped from my first conclusion to the second: Not only do BMWs once in awhile fall into disrepair, but there are special BMW-specific tow trucks to carry them carefully to the repair shop, where thoughtful specialists in white gloves are waiting with their tender ministrations.

Dumb idea, right? So I jumped to a third conclusion—and mind you, these successive leaps happened within just a few seconds. I noticed the yellow tie-down straps, and decided that a tow truck wouldn’t use this kind of securing device. My third conclusion? The BMW is brand new, and is maybe being transported to its new owner. It’ll pull up in front of the driveway, tip back the bed, and roll that car into the lives of its owners.

Can you sense the parable forming here? You and I weren’t created by a mindless, designless process. Instead, we’re high-quality, “branded” merchandise—we’re children of God, and He personally delivered us into the staggeringly lovely world He created for us.

And soon He’ll be back—our Creator—to carry us lovingly to our healing home, the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. Special delivery!

Doesn’t that make you feel safe, and loved?

For some basic Bible verses about our Creator, click the link just below:

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

Unfallen

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, September 5, 2019

Last weekend The Museum of Flight concluded its display of the Apollo moon mission. It featured the Apollo 11 command module that brought the crew home safely. I was surprised by how large it is. You can see its relative size compared to the people standing nearby. The heat shielding at the bottom of the craft is pitted and scarred showing the extreme heat of re-entry.

The museum display made me think about how difficult it is to explore space. We have to wonder what is out there that drives us to explore difficult to reach places. Are there other worlds in other solar systems that can be reached?

The Bible does not talk about other worlds. If we take the Bible account of creation seriously we might get an idea of the characteristics of other worlds if there are any. Earth was originally an unfallen world, where sin had not entered. But humans had choices to follow God or try things our own way. The results of trying things our way have led to the problems we see in the world today.

Other worlds may be out there with life. If so, it is highly likely that God created them perfect just like our world used to be. They would be unfallen worlds. It may be laughable, but that is partly why I don’t worry about alien invasions.

People will continue to dream and plan for space exploration in the face of difficulties. But, how should we live our daily lives? Perhaps, the two greatest commands can help us be more like an unfallen world.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37

Which Direction?

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, September 4, 2019

You don’t need to turn your device. The image is exactly the way you should be seeing it. If you have ever been to downtown Seattle, near Pike Place Market, there is a specific set of stairs aptly named “Pike Place Hillclimb.” There are 163 steps that rise 100 feet in elevation, over a distance of 375 feet. It’s a fun climb, not too strenuous. Also, as you are climbing these stairs, you can view lots of interesting things, including what I’ve captured in this image – a very unique light fixture. This statue, as you can see, is defying gravity. He is affixed to the wall, standing parallel to the ground below, while holding the light bulb at its “normal” angle.

There are times I feel like this little guy on the side of the wall – maybe not the defying-gravity part, but more of the which direction am I headed? In those moments, I pause and do a quick check, pray, and listen. God is our guide. He knows exactly where we should be headed and He also knows what can detour us. A tiny pause to check in with our Creator/co-pilot can get us back on course.

As it tells us in Psalms 119:105-109:

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path.
I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again:
I will obey your righteous regulations.
I have suffered much, O LORD;
restore my life again as you promised.
LORD, accept my offering of praise,
and teach me your regulations.
My life constantly hangs in the balance,
but I will not stop obeying your instructions.

Next time you aren’t exactly sure if you are on the right path, pause, ask and listen. You’ll be headed in the right direction in no time.

Antelope Horns

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Found widely in open fields through the Southwest are Antelope Horns, a colorfully named member of the milkweed family. Their common name comes from the curved seed pods which remind at least some of the horned appendages of the Pronghorn. Also known as Spider Milkweed and Green-flowered Milkweed, this and other members of the family are the primary food source of the Monarch butterfly. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillar and the flowers provide a nectar source for the adults. One of the side benefits to the Monarch is the plant contains toxic cardiac glycosides which when ingested by the butterfly makes them poisonous and unpalatable to predators.

Although native to the Southwest, it has spread widely. How this occurred is open to question but the following account is at least interesting. Because milkweed silk that is attached to the seeds is five to six times more buoyant than cork, it was used during World War II by the U.S. in the construction of life jackets and aviation life jackets. Schoolchildren were encouraged to collect milkweed pods for that purpose when the supply of kapok was cut off by the Japanese. The stowaway seeds may have been transported from North to South America in this way. It is also speculated that the seeds were transmitted from South Africa to New Zealand in a similar manner since it was used in the construction of ship ropes and as filler for pillows and life vests. Then again, maybe wind was the only active agent in dispersal.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (KJV) How many times have we read these familiar words in Matthew 24:14 and wondered how this could possibly take place? No problem. If milkweed can be transported via wind, life vests and pillows, don’t you think the Lord can take care of information dispersal as well?