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)

 

Happiness and Two Accords

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 21, 2020

Earlier this week on my post-breakfast walk, I noticed that someone had written “Be Happy” in chalk on the sidewalk in front of someone’s house. (The same hands—or at least hands from the same youthful neighborhood-encouragement team—had written more cheery messages in front of three or four other houses.)

I don’t know the names of the people who live in the above house, but from the wholehearted and lavish Christmas-decoration display they put on every year (which always feature Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus smooching), they’re at least Christmas lovers. And it seems they tranquilly care for each other.

I happened to notice their cars. Did you ever hear the joke, “Where are automobiles mentioned in the Bible?” Answer (from Acts 2:1 in the King James Version): “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Get it? Accord?

As it turns out, those two cars cuddled side by side in the driveway are both Honda Accords, quite possibly from the same model year. I had to darken the photo to make the chalkwork stand out, so it’s hard to tell, but they might even be the same color. That in itself should tell you something about their owners’ relationship, unless they happened to stop by the auto dealer on Two-for-the-Price-of-One day.

“Be Happy,” the chalk-printing says. What is happiness, and can you really command someone to be that way? Why not start your research with four rather surprising Bible verses about joy, which you will find at the link just below.

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

Exotic

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 20, 2020

After rain this last weekend, we finally got a couple days that were completely sunny. I headed outside with my camera and spotted our trusty rain gauge. It is rare to find it completely empty, as it is in this image, especially after the last few weeks. You can see the orange floating indicator at the very bottom since we emptied it a few days ago. At one point we were getting a quarter of an inch per hour and ended up with 9 inches of rain for that storm and 7 inches of that was in about 48 hours.

The generous precipitation does make our corner of the world nice and green. I once commented to a good friend about what an exotic area we live in with so much greenery. His response was, “Yeah, but we pay for it dearly!”

I can think of another better blessing that was paid for dearly. With the gift Jesus provides by his sacrifice, we do not have to worry about whether we will be saved when we believe in Him. No matter what troubles come our way, we have the true hope that one day the Lord will restore all things and give us a perfect and fair place to live. With the knowledge we have learned while living in a sinful world, we will always want to live according to God’s law of love.

When that time comes, we can look at our list of troubles to see they add up to nothing. So let’s be cheerful and continue to treat each other the best we know how while we are here.

Love It!

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Besides any kind of food, I am not sure our dog loves anything more than snow. When it’s falling out of the sky, he’s running around the yard trying to catch it. When there is a light dusting on the ground, he tries to sniff every flake. When it is a few inches, he goes crazy – rolling in it, eating it, plowing through it. He LOVES the snow. It’s fun to see this unbridled excitement and love he has.

Speaking of love, 1 John 4 details what love truly is:

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

God is love. Just three words, but three very powerful words. To know God is to love God, as love comes from God. An amazing revelation at the time of this scripture being written, as well as in February of 2020. Each and every day we can look around and see the opposite of love. Instead of being caught up in it, what God wants us to do is show His love to others. He’s not asking us to run around, like my dog when it starts to snow, but we certainly should be as excited to reflect the love of our Creator to others.

Australian Green Tree Snake

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Many young children may harbor an irrational collection of fears which creates for them a need of resolution. For some it may be that monster in the closet, but for me it was a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Mexico. Perhaps I had picked up a voluminous tome in the college library on the birds of Mexico where I read, or imagined I had read, about this island that was filled with almost limitless numbers of beautiful exotic birds. Unfortunately, it was also the home of venomous snakes of an arboreal nature which would drop from the branches above on any unsuspecting prey that happened along below. That may be the reason I never explored that mythical island.

My other fear involving snakes came from two 8mm home movies. Castle Films released a series on “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” where brave men would venture into places like darkest Africa to capture wild animals and then bring them back to zoos in the United States. For a period of time this seemed like an ideal profession for me. But another film showed a gargantuan boa constrictor engaged in mortal combat with a leopard. The muscular cat appeared to have the advantage at the outset, but the film ended with the snake’s vice-like coils wrapped around the dying feline. How could I be expected to go on these adventures with a creature like that out there? Fortunately, children are also creative, and I came up with a workable solution. I would design a coat of armor made out of lightweight steel. It had to be lightweight so I would be able to walk around in it, but to compensate for this, it would also have razorblades attached vertically to it so should a constrictor wrap his coils around me he would automatically be cut into pieces much like the chunked pineapple squares we got at the grocery store.

As we age, experience and rational thinking cause us to discard many of our childhood fears. For example, we had no fear of this Australian Green Tree Snake that hung from the overhanging branches of the tropical rainforest as we silently slipped beneath it, even though there are 100 poisonous snakes in that country. No fear, simply because the captain of our small boat assured us it was absolutely no threat to humans.

Instead, as adults we substitute our fears for more rational ones. While we may no longer be concerned about constrictors, we do seem to have a need to make sure our portfolio of stocks and bonds is ever-increasing. We make sure our premiums on every conceivable kind of insurance are up to date and our shopping carts at Costco are filled with amber-colored bottles containing vitamins to ensure there is no deficiency known to mankind we haven’t addressed.

It’s quite likely when all is said and done that many of our “solutions” will find their way into the same discard bucket where my razorblade-armor was placed. The only real solution has to be one that I learned back in childhood taken from Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (NIV) So simple, so childish, so hard to do, but also so needed, because, remember, it’s a jungle out there.

We Are Not Alone

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 17, 2020

Although we have heard and read this psalm many times, it is comforting to continue to draw strength from these verses:

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
Psalm 23:1-4 (NLT)

“Take to Him Everything”

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, February 16, 2020

I was going to throw it away. It was a small, inexpensive wooden word that I bought the week after Christmas on a 70% off sale, when the stores needed to move Christmas off their shelves so they could bring in hearts and shamrocks for the next holidays.

I brought it home and tucked it into our front door wreath, hoping the Home Owners’ Association wouldn’t object to this post-Christmas decoration which still looked good and smelled fresh. After all, peace isn’t something seasonal; it’s something we long for and pray for all year long.

But a few days later my word fell out of the wreath and broke in two, so I was heading toward the trash with it when I stopped. Looking down at it again, I saw my “peace” broken in pieces, and I could relate.

How many times have I let circumstances stir up anxiety and fear and break apart my peace? Was I learning to turn to the Prince of Peace to mend my connection with Him, and grow my trust in Him?

I thought of a sentence that I often repeat, to reassure myself that God is eager to come alongside me and provide just the help I need, when I need it, even if it’s something that seems a small matter to mention to the King of the universe. Here it is: “Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice.”

This good news is embedded in the middle of one of the most encouraging passages I’ve ever read, so I want to share it all with you:

Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of His children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:11} His heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3) The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son. (Steps to Christ, Ellen G. White, page 100)

As you walk out into the week may these words ring in your heart. Live loved!

Impostor

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 15, 2020

Being staffed with shrewd businesspeople—and thus still surviving—the Barnes and Noble organization seeks to keep their inventory fresh, ridding it of items which they no longer consider necessary. For that purpose, the staff fills anywhere from one to three “clearance” tables in case the guests should feel, for example, the need of highly-discounted 2020 planner notebooks and calendars.

A week or so ago, therefore, having dodged the temptation to buy one of the planners, I checked out the rest of the clearance items. I saw the above scene—an “Elf on the Shelf” box being cuddled closely by a definitely non-elvish pink fish of some kind. (To try to identify it, I pulled up the famous “Baby Shark” videos on YouTube to see if this fish fell into that category. I don’t think it does, but the song is now a permanent part of my consciousness.)

So, where am I going with this? I’ve called this blog “Impostor.” What the pink fish is, I don’t know. But the Elf on the Shelf is definitely an imposter. If you type “elf on the shelf” into Wikipedia, you will learn that the small elf in the box can be placed on a shelf in your house. After all, Santa has to have some way of telling whether kids are naughty or nice, and the elf tips him off.

But if you scroll down in the Wikipedia entry to the segment titled “Criticism,” you will find a paragraph tightly packed with negative comments from newspaper columnists, a psychologist, and a college professor. The professor argues that the elf “conditions kids to accept the surveillance state.”

Anyway, neither you nor I believes in Santa Claus, nor in spying elves. But do we believe in a “spying God”? Sure, God knows all about us, and His angels do keep record of our words, deeds and thoughts. But the original root of the great controversy between Christ and Satan is the character of God. What is God really like? How can we be sure we’re not worshipping an impostor? Would our heavenly Father be enjoyable—and safe—to spend eternity with?

For some valuable Bible information about what God is really like, read all the Bible references at the link just below.

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