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)

 

Signs Ahead

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

When we read of the Second Coming, we know there will be many signs informing us of things to come. Some of these signs will be physical, some will be spiritual, some will be subtle and some we won’t be able to miss if we tried.
When I shot this wave, it had that “angry sea” look to it. As we read some of the signs of Jesus’ return, in Luke 21, we know the roaring sea will be one of those sings.

Luke 21:25-28:
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Regardless of the signs we notice, the most important thing to remember is your personal walk with Jesus. When you focus on your relationship, the signs actually won’t matter. In this New Year – don’t worry about the roaring sea or the angry waves, focus on your communication with our Heavenly Father.

Forsythia

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Don’t you just love being around people who are optimistic? Education, it seems, pushes us toward the opposite perspective; it encourages us to be skeptical, to question in order to determine validity. Certainly, we can recognize the need for that, but we can also all appreciate that breath of fresh air that comes with a swallow of the glass-half-full perspective. Ever since late November I’ve noticed a presumptuous shrub nearby, persisting on making a statement. Barren of leaves it is, but with four or five bright yellow flowers, it insists on doing its part to confirm Percy Bysshe Shelley’s line, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”. I know that forsythia is an early bloomer, that it adds yellow to our floral pallet long before daffodils venture to show their heads, but November?

Of course, that’s why we give it special notice. It’s not because its flowers are especially beautiful, but because it ventures to show its colors when those colors are notably absent from the season’s parade.

If everyone is smiling and cheering because the home team won the league championship, that’s to be expected. But it takes a true optimist to be positive when your team has been on the losing end of the scoreboard for the last 16 games. Some might call it being naïve, or just plain dumb, but the forsythia would say nothing. It would just show its true colors.

Squinting in a Fog

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, January 7, 2019

I went to Mt. Baker a few years ago and went on a hike with some friends one October day when the road was still open. Things were fairly clear around Picture Lake but up at Artist Point you couldn’t even see across the parking lot.

This is the start of the trail and things did improve a bit as we went along and the trail dipped a bit into a lower elevation.

1 Corinthians tells us that our visibility is limited down here on earth:

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (The Message)

Really?

NOTE FROM PASTOR MAYLAN: If you’ve been a faithful visitor to our Daily Photo Parable blogs, you’ll remember that Sundays have belonged to Bev Riter. She’s been with us for an amazing ten-plus years, providing us with both stunning scenes from all over the world, and thoughtful spiritual lessons drawn from these scenes. Bev’s husband Ron is facing health challenges, and Bev is stepping aside from this blog. She’s said she’s willing for me to use her past blogs in this spot, and we’re working on that. Below you’ll find a blog which I have written. 

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sunday, January 6, 2019

Ever since I started writing for publication in my college days, I’ve been obsessed with how-to-write-for-publication books. Over the years I’ve learned to temper my enthusiasm, so I don’t buy every such book I see, but I’ve got several.

And when I visit a bookstore—as I did this past Monday in Portland at Powell’s, the world’s largest used-book store–I naturally gravitated to the writing section. There I found this set of instruction manuals, packaged to appeal to people who think they have a novel in them.

Let’s take this packaging from the top. The “Writer’s Workbook” at the top hints that all you need to get your novel off the ground is to work your way through the workbook. Then comes, “Ready. Set. Novel!” and below that to the right, “Plan and Plot Your Upcoming Masterpiece.”

But there’s one more element which stops me in my tracks. The vivid vertical red panel with “Writer’s Workbook” at the top plunges downward—and ends with a manual typewriter! And the book at the left, No Plot, No Problem, also features a typewriter.

Really? You’re going to write your novel on a typewriter?

To the youngsters among us, who may be drawn to the typewriter because famous authors have used them, I say this: I have typed articles, and even books, on typewriters. And I would never go back. Ever. Typewriters are among the most ingenious mechanical inventions ever, but that was then. This—I’m glad to say—is now.

So what is this Daily Photo Parable about? It’s about forsaking what we once thought good in favor of something we now know is staggeringly better. Jesus says to the rich who obsess about money, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . .” Matthew 6:19 – 20 NKJV

Another old idea a lot of people still hold to is the idea that you can discipline yourself to be an increasingly moral and spiritual person. Not true. Paul quotes the Old Testament as he says:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
(Romans 3:10 – 12)

But in another of his letters Paul gives us the good news. Salvation, he says, comes–

. . . 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, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5 – 17)

Want a more complete set of Bible verses which explain salvation? Here’s a link:

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

Another New Year’s Resolution

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 5, 2019

Earlier this week Shelley and I took a quick overnight trip to Portland (Oregon), and stayed overnight in a Holiday Inn. The next morning, in the breakfast room, I discovered that the signs advertising the various food and drink items were a bit whimsical. I especially enjoyed the exhortation on the juice dispenser: “Squeeze the Day!”

Cute, right? But – like the New Year’s resolutions I suggested in yesterday’s blog – very true. And very Biblical.

Jesus, the master of paradoxes, provided a big one which is related to the juice dispenser’s message. In Matthew 24 and 25, He insists that we prepare for the traumatic times just before His return, whereas earlier in the same book, after 18 verses encouraging us not to worry, He sums up this advice by saying, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things . . . . (Matthew 6:34)

Maybe Jesus would give a chuckle at the play on words in the photo. But He would certainly encourage us to live each day as though it were the first – and the last – day of our lives. And He would insist that we stay in touch with Him, because He is the only one who can take us beyond today, and tomorrow, into that happy time when the calendar will have virtually no meaning.

Want to read some of what the Bible has to say about worry? Here’s the link:

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

Try These New Year’s Resolutions

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 4, 2019

I don’t know if you are the type of person who likes making New Year’s resolutions, but if you are, you can borrow the ones I found on the table-of-contents page of a book I saw recently.

I’ve deliberately zoomed in on the book’s “meat” chapters, because the ones before and after indicated that the general thrust of the book seemed fairly new-age-y. However, I entirely agree with the above four chapter headings, and plan to make them some of my own resolutions this year.

What encourages me about them is that not only are they common sense, but they are solidly biblical. Let me show you why I say that.

Be impeccable with your word. The Bible bristles with God’s abhorrence of deceit. Not only does Revelation 22:15 say firmly that “whoever loves and practices a lie” will not gain entrance into heaven, but Jesus insisted that we should not have to depend on the swearing of an oath to prove we’re telling the truth. In Matthew 5:37 He says, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

Don’t take anything personally. One thing that really disturbs me in recent years is the rise of the “revenge culture.” Gangs, of course, have lived this out for decades and decades, and many cultures before them. If you kill a member of my family, I will kill a member of your family, and so on. But that is not Jesus’ way. He insisted on “turning the other cheek,” and He Himself refused to retaliate when He was tortured in His last few hours of life. A few verses after His comments above on keeping your word, He says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44 – 45

Don’t make assumptions. Something else that makes me froth at the mouth these days is the seemingly instant willingness on the part of people to believe anything they hear on their particular flavor of radio talkshow–or on the websites and podcasts who politically or theologically agree with them–and then firmly cement those assumptions into their minds as truth.

God, on the other hand, celebrates reasoning. “Come now, and let us reason together,” He says as He introduces the topic of salvation and forgiveness. (Isaiah 1:18). And His apostle Paul highly commended the believers in the city of Berea for not accepting everything he said, hook, line and sinker, but instead checking everything by Scripture (Acts 17:11).

Always do your best. Again, this is an almost “no-brainer” Bible principle. Several times during creation week (Genesis 1:4, 10, 18, 21, 25) God paused to evaluate His creative activity and decided that it was “good.” And when He was all done, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. . . .” (Verse 31)

The book of Proverbs is full of admonitions to not be lazy, and if necessary to study the industriousness of living beings beside ourselves. One example: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?” (Proverbs 6:6 – 9)

Great resolutions, right? Let’s move forward into 2019 resolved to do our best, and be our best, for our Best Friend!

Wonder

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, January 31, 2019

Most people heat their houses or apartments with some form of automatic heat such as electricity or natural gas. They just have to turn the thermostat and the house begins to warm. Some people still heat with wood, which is not automatic. The stack of wood in this picture is ready for the wood stove. I talked with the owner (my father-in-law!) who cuts the wood on his own property from naturally fallen trees. I remarked that I heard wood heat warms you twice — once when you cut it and once when you burn it. He replied that it warms more times than that. After thinking about it, I can imagine there is chainsaw work, loading, hauling, splitting, stacking in the woodshed, hauling to the woodbox, and finally the burning for heat.

I admired how neatly he stacked the wood after all that work. But it struck me how things of value do take time and thoughtfulness. Spending time with family and friends is an example. Spending time with God’s word and praying also takes time, and provides immense value. In this new year let’s think about what we spend time on and make it something of real value.