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)

 

Leaning

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

What interested me about this scene were the leaning trees.  Some lean one way and some lean the other way. It made me think about how we might sometimes feel in life. Maybe we feel like everyone else has nice problem free and “upright” lives, but our lives are at crazy tilting angles.

No matter how much our lives seem to lean, we can lean on the Lord and trust in Him. When we do that, we don’t rely on our own strength, but on the Lord’s.

After viewing these particular trees from different directions, it became clear they are all leaning to reach the sun. Likewise, maybe no one has a perfectly problem-free life. We all really need to lean on the Lord.

(When I was processing this digital photo I applied a water color filter to make it abstract.)

Details, Details

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

I captured this image a couple years ago, during a time where the Snohomish area had a decent amount of snow and ice on the ground. What I love about this shot are the incredible details these ice crystals show – they look like a fern frond or even feathers from a tiny white bird. So delicate, so incredibly beautiful and ultimately planned.

A few weeks back, we received some pretty discouraging news about my father’s health. This past week, when I was reading through the Sabbath School lesson, I read about how God wants to be involved in every detail, every aspect of our lives. He wants to be part of all that is going on around us. This message and promise was exactly what I needed to hear. Although the news about my father’s health isn’t something small, I know that, even it was a tiny detail or something that should seem insignificant – I know God wants to be part of that concern of mine.

Matthew 10:29-31, Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

We may not know the exact plan God has for our lives, but we can rest assured He wants to be involved in all aspects of it.

Woolly Bears

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Known by a variety of names, Woolly Bears are one of the most frequently recognized caterpillars in America. Adding to their fame is the tradition they can accurately predict the severity of the coming winter. The legend maintains the longer the rusty brown sections are, the milder will be the winter. It goes even further and suggests that if the head end is dark, this will indicate the beginning of winter will be severe, but should the tail end be dark, this would indicate the end of the cold season will be particularly harsh. Such insight could be very helpful.

Apparently there is at least some scientific backing to support a correlation between caterpillar color and climate. Studies have shown the number of brown hairs does have to do with age and growth, the warmer the season, the more growing will take place. It will molt six times before reaching adulthood, and colors change with each molt with increasing amounts of reddish color following each molt. Which is all well and good, except for one simple detail, the insect’s color is based upon the previous season – rather than predicting the severity up of the upcoming season.

There may be some who consider Scripture to be a collection of legends, folklore passed down through successive generations. But for those of us who believe it has been given to us by God for the purpose of guiding us, we look at it in an entirely different way. Isaiah records God’s own words to us: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient time, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”(Isaiah 46:10) NIV) That sounds considerably more reliable than counting the hairs on the larval form of a tiger moth.

Our Identity

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, December 2, 2019

I had heard that Magnuson Park (on the west side of Lake Washington) was a good place to go to see dragonflies (I believe at least 18 species of dragonflies and damselflies have been recorded there) so one hot summer day I decided to go and check it out.

The reports were correct and the dragonflies were quite abundant. Some of the more common types were easily identified. There were red ones and blue ones and green ones and then there was this one pictured here.

I’m not quite sure what the name of the dragonfly in the picture is. According to my guidebook, with this color combination it should be one of two types of dragonflies but the spots on the wings don’t match the wing spots in the photos of either one of those.

As humans, we like to categorize everything. We like to know exactly what something is and how it fits in the big scheme of things. We can do this with people as well as with things in our environment.

We will probably never fully understand the people around us (and they may never fully understand us) or the things in our environment but we may get a better understanding of them as we get to know more about them.

The comforting thing is that God does know each of us and who we are and has since before we were born.

For You shaped me, inside and out.
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.
I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.
You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You
As I took shape in secret,
carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb.
Psalm 139:13-15 (The Voice)

The Great (Bookstore) Controversy

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath and Sunday, November 30 – December 1, 2019

One of the few bookstores left standing in this frantic online-focused decade is the stalwart chain of Barnes and Noble, whose local establishments Shelley and I drift through with great regularity.

We are both very fond of these “Barnsies,” and I appreciate their clear signs announcing the subject areas. However, I couldn’t resist snapping the above shot a couple of weeks ago. The two signs you see express the essence of what’s known as “the great controversy between Christ and Satan”—can you, or can’t you, save yourself?

Closest to the camera is the aisle of Bibles, and Barnes has an impressive supply of them. The Bible insists that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” and “there is none righteous, no, not one,” and “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His [Jesus’] mercy He saved us” (Romans 3:23, 10, Titus 3:5).

The aisle just beyond contains self-improvement books. Before I zoomed in on my original high-resolution copy of this photo, I assumed that this aisle contained such excellent books as Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. But no. Instead I saw several titles which promoted atheism (The Portable Atheist, Why I Became an Atheist, and The Atheist Manifesto.)

So the battle-lines are clear, at least in this slice of book-samples. Scripture is emphatic that nothing but our Creator can draw us toward Himself. But this He is very willing to do.

To find out how He does this, and how to cooperate with Him, click the link just below.

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

Like Fingernails on a Blackboard

Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 29, 2019

It’s increasingly possible that, to younger readers who may have happened upon today’s photo parable, that the word “blackboard” has scarcely any meaning. Blackboards are what schoolrooms had before they had whiteboards. And if, instead of chalk, you scraped your fingernails across a blackboard, the sound caused most people to shudder.

The phrase “like fingernails on a blackboard” has been widened to metaphorically describe anything which irritates or annoys you. I used to be an English teacher, and one line on the above sign causes me that same sort of feeling.

Can you pick it out? It’s “respect others property rights.” And can you discover what – at least to someone who used to teach grammar – is wrong? It’s the word “others.” And what’s wrong with it is that there should be an apostrophe after the “s.” The line should read:

RESPECT OTHERS’ PROPERTY RIGHTS

“Oh, hey,” someone says. “It’s just a sign. No big deal, right? The message gets across, doesn’t it?”

True. But I still wish they had put in the apostrophe. (I have a mind to go out there with a Sharpie and paint one on, because this is a sign that’s on our church property.)

Jesus never mentioned apostrophes, because the language He spoke in, Aramaic, didn’t have them. Neither did Hebrew, the language the Old Testament was written in. But some of the letters were smaller than others—the smallest was the “jot”– and on the corners of some of those letters were tiny pen-strokes (“tittles”) which clarified which letter it was.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentioned how important God’s law was. Notice what He had to say:

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17 – 19 NKJV)

Want to learn or review the Bible facts about this law Jesus considered so important? Click the link just below:

https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/law-god

Hard To Be Thankful

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

My wife loaned me a few ingredients from the kitchen that will soon become part of a Thanksgiving meal. I was thinking about what non-food ingredients were needed to be really thankful. The holidays can sometimes bring up feelings and memories that are on the less positive side. It is hard to stand in the midst of problems and say, “Okay now I’m going to be thankful.” There may be a few more ingredients that are needed to really truly be grateful.

Depending on a person’s situation, forgiveness might be an important ingredient. With the new movie “Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood,” we have a powerful example of how forgiveness toward loved ones can transform a person’s life. It is also amazing to see how someone who sticks to their core principles and relies on God, like Fred Rogers does, can have such strength.

What if the source of our troubles is a social system that passes us by? That might be a hard thing to forgive when it just doesn’t change. However, forgiveness deserves serious consideration as we look at what is holding our thoughts down.

Let’s think hard about how we might forgive even when the problem does not go away. It doesn’t mean that we stop trying to improve difficult things. It just means we will be that much more free to be thankful for the amazing people we have in our lives, and the love God has for us.