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)

 

Appreciation

Photo and Commentary ©2021 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, April 18, 2021

Let me explain. This man, nose to rose, is my husband. Whenever I call his attention to a flower, he courteously leans forward to sniff it, and then declares whether or not it has any detectable fragrance. In this case, it looks like his sniff might result in a sneeze.

The day that I’m writing this is Saturday, April 17, which I learned just this week is Husband Appreciation Day. (It is also National Haiku Poetry Day, National Cheeseball Day, and International Bat Appreciation Day.)

I’m happy to hear about this husband holiday, because I thoroughly appreciate my husband and want him to know it. He is one of the most unselfish and generous people I know, and God’s great gift to me for almost 43 years of marriage.

I also appreciate him as my pastor, and it was with a heart spilling over with joy that I joined him and other church members today as our doors opened for the first time since the pandemic closed them. As I stood at the back of the sanctuary and soaked in this long-anticipated moment, I thought, This is the body of Christ, gathered in His name to worship Him.

That reminded me of another description of the church, as the bride of Christ. I think it was my new knowledge of this being Husband Appreciation Day that brought to mind Old Testament passages where God declared that His chosen people, linked to Him in covenant relationship, had turned away from His love, breaking the covenant and breaking His heart:

“Return, faithless people” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband.” (Jeremiah 3:14 NIV)

For your Maker is your husband — the LORD Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5 NKJV)

We leap ahead to the New Testament, to the back of the Book. Imagine the incredible sounds of this scene:

Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:5-7)

Ready . . . what a confident word, full of anticipation. And appreciation! As I honor my husband for his promise-keeping love, I honor our Heavenly Husband, covenant-keeping God, who’s preparing a feast of rejoicing for us. May all our days be full of His full-throated praise, as we look forward to praising Him face to Face, forever and ever.

Amen!

The Sign is Fixed!

Photo and Commentary ©2021 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, April 17, 2021

Last October I wrote a Daily Photo Parable blog about the above damaged stop sign. I compared it to the Ten Commandments which, like the sign, give life-or-death guidance for daily life. Satan, however, has sabotaged every single one of the Ten. I mentioned how neighbors had done their best to patch up the stop sign so it would do its work, and I concluded with this sentence: “May each of us be like the anonymous sign-repairers, keeping and defending God’s law for the greater good!”

This week Shelley and I walked past that sign, and I happened to glance at it again. I discovered that it has been professionally repaired! Take a look:

Isn’t that sturdy metal post a much better support than the well-meaning but makeshift amateur efforts?

One of my favorite Bible verses says very clearly that God can—and will if we ask Him—do professional repair work on our hearts, so that keeping His commandments will be easier and easier. The verse is Hebrews 10:16: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:16 – 17 NKJV)

At the link below you’ll find some more verses about God’s laws and why they’re so important.

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

It Won’t Be Long Now . . . .

Photo and Commentary ©2021 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, April 16, 2021

Shelley and I have lived in our current neighborhood for 16 years now, and we often walk on the sidewalk above. And I nearly always notice this ancient splash of white paint, which to me looks like the head of a cartoon devil looking to the left. (Can you spot him? Large sharp nose, open mouth with sarcastic smile, the hint of devil horns to the upper right of his head?)

I’ve actually featured this demon paint-splash a couple of previous times in this blog over the years. I think one time I used the title “He’s Fading,” because the paint-mark has indeed become more weathered over time.

However, when I took the above shot earlier this month, there was a stone—exactly where you see it—as though aimed for the devil’s head. I immediately thought of King Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in Daniel chapter 2, where an entire metal statue, symbolizing world empires often infused with Satan’s ideas and carrying out his plans, was finally destroyed by a stone from heaven.

Sadly, even though the devil’s intents and purposes and actions are actually ratcheting up since he knows he has just a short time (Revelation 12:12), that divine boulder is cocked and loaded, and the devil will finally be destroyed.

The Bible doesn’t obsess about the devil, but mentions him just enough so we can spot his deceptions and be encouraged by his final fate. To read some of those verses, click the link below.

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

Wheels

Photo and Commentary ©2021 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, April 15, 2021

Have you ever stepped inside a tire shop and savored the deep aroma of tires permeating the air? Some people love that smell, and some people hate it. There do not seem to many people in between. I find it a little shocking when I first step in, but then it brings up memories of my first car when I was able to sit right in the garage while the mechanic changed one of my balding tires for a less-used tire I picked out from a rack of used tires. But I sort of enjoyed the hassle because having wheels to get around was wonderful.

This brings to mind some other things that are wonderful that we sometimes take for granted. The ability to talk with God through prayer at any time, is a wonderful thing. What would it be like if we were stuck in difficult situations, and we couldn’t raise our thoughts to God and run our difficulties by him to ask for help? What if we had great news and we couldn’t tell God thank you?

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18

Just like we enjoy having wheels to take us places, let’s exercise our ability to pray and stay close to the Lord.

Escape!

Photo and Commentary ©2021 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Ever have one of those days that things just seem to continue to pile up, and before you know it, you have WAY too much on your plate? I’ll speak for myself, but lately it does feel that way at times. The “to-do” list is a couple pages long, work is busy, yard work is calling, etc. There are times when I feel like I need to escape from it all.

Of course we can’t always take a nice vacation to the beach (image selected specifically) and we can’t just walk away from our job, school, problems, etc. How can we “escape” without escaping? Prayer. A pause in the day, where we can forget the pile of work, the long to-do list, and anything else consuming our thoughts. In that moment of pause – we catch our breath, we talk to our Friend and we get away for a few moments.

As a photographer, I’m a visual person. When I find myself in those moments of panic, if I can, I like to view an image and get my mind in a good place in order to take my pause and pray. Of course you can rely on your memories of a perfect spot, or you can look at an actual image. I chose this one today, as a reminder of a trip to the Washington coast. For me, the beach is a tranquil place. A place where the sound of the wind and waves coming to shore are what fills my head. It’s almost like the problems I had, before I got to the beach, don’t have room to be thought of. You can see why I like the beach so much. Prayer can have that same effect. God is always a quick pause away. He is ready to listen and bet the calm you need. Give it a try the next time all the walls are closing in – pause, see the peaceful image, breath and pray. It will help.

Downy Woodpecker

Photo and Commentary ©2021 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Certain words carry with them a tonal quality that goes beyond just the denotation of the word. Take for instance the word misty. The term doesn’t just conjure up a picture of a meadow or lake wrapped in a soft blanket that removes harsh edges, but even the sound of the word carries with it a velvety connotation. Another term like that is the adjective “downy.” While the name undoubtedly originated from the soft feathers which encase baby birds, usage extends far beyond those boundaries. Even paper companies recognized its inference and as a result awarded this title to their line of toilet paper.

But why should taxonomists bestow this label upon North America’s smallest member of the family, the Downy Woodpecker? It doesn’t retain those natal feathers longer than other woodpeckers, nor does it appear softer than other species. Perhaps they were subconsciously influenced by the overall demeanor of the bird. While it will drill for hidden insects, generally it prefers to probe the bark of trees or glean for insects on the outer branches, even dangling from twigs like a chickadee. Its behavior, to recall a political slogan from the past, reminds us of a “kinder, gentler, nation.”

Paul, writing to the Philippian believers seems to express this same sentiment: “Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your lord.” (Philippians 4:4-5 J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Freedom

Photo and Commentary ©2021 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, April 12, 2021

These tumbleweed became loose from their previous moorings and went rolling across the landscape until they tumbled over and down a bank, hit the road and were then stopped by the bank on the other side of the road. I guess more and more tumbleweeds will join the pile until they block the road and someone comes along to remove them.

Sometimes it seems like we can come loose from our moorings. We may think we have freedom but we really don’t. These verses in Romans explain this very well:

What Is True Freedom?

So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!
Romans 6:15-18 (The Message)