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)

 

Feeling Upside Down?

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

No, you don’t need to adjust your glasses or screen – this image is indeed, upside down. Although the reflection can be a bit deceiving. This particular small craft was anchored in a tiny harbor near Peggy’s Cove, about 35 miles outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. In the harbor there were lots of lobster traps, buoys, working fishing/lobster boats and then I saw this one – all alone anchored and weathered. It’s fun to capture the reflection of the object, as well as the actual object – in some cases turning them upside down to see how still the reflection resembles the “real thing.”

When I was looking at this, I thought about my own journey and the times (with all that is going on in the world) I feel like I am upside down. When I catch myself feeling this way, I make sure I am “grounding” myself with God. I make sure I am following a routine of prayer and discussion. We all know He is the true anchor. No matter what’s going on – physically, emotionally, spiritually – that has you feeling like you are turned upside down, Jesus is there for us. He is right beside us. He is waiting to help us get right side up.

Here’s a perfect example of Paul writing an encouragement letter to Timothy – 2 Timothy 4:17 & 18:

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

Allow God to be there for you, strengthen you and protect you. Get right side up.

Graffiti

Photo and Commentary (c)2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, August 4, 2020    

It goes without saying, if I were the property owner my views would undoubtedly be skewed  much more strongly to the right.  But as one driving past with the car window down, there is at least a part of me that has to acknowledge the artistry of those producing their messages on city walls.  One of the signs caught my eye and I only had time to capture part of what it had to say.  In large, red letters it read:  “GOD CANT SAVE”.  But what you can’t see is the rest of the message.  It continued:  “…THE COPS”.   Without a doubt it was written out of anger or frustration toward a political system rather than an effort to take a stand on theological issues.

What made the sign even more interesting is the event that took place after the original sign was painted on the wall.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but this is what I’d like to believe happened.  One of the conscientious protesters, upon reading the bright red sign, recognized in the sign-maker’s enthusiasm that he had limited the power of the Almighty.  So, armed with a spray can of blue paint, he painted over the T.

Wishful thinking, perhaps, but what it does is exhibit a challenge to you and me to make sure we present a picture to the world of a God that does, and can save. Save COPS, save BLM supporters, save BOOGALOO backers, save FORTUNE 500 members, save absolutely anyone.  There may be times when a can of blue spray paint might be employed to get the message across, but I suspect you can come up with ways you think personally might be more effective.

The Warning

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, August 3, 2020

I did a bit of exploring recently and drove up the Entiat River Road about 30 miles. As per the name, the road follows the river and heads west from where the Entiat River empties into the Columbia (dammed at that point to create a reservoir called Lake Entiat) and goes past orchards and houses initially but then for about the last third, you are in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

The valley is between the Entiat Mountains and the Chelan Mountains. In the forest, there are numerous places to camp and a lot of trailheads that are accessed from this road or side roads heading off of this road.

The warning sign appears soon after you start heading up the valley. I had heard about this road but had not been there before and it’s very scenic although this time of year things were quite dry. There are places to get good views of the river and it’s definitely somewhere to go back to when the wildflowers are blooming..

The road was even paved up to where I turned around and at that point, half of the pavement looked to be washed away. As I don’t have a high clearance vehicle, I decided that would be my turnaround point!

The paved way in is basically out and back. I did pass a gravel forest service road that you could take to get to Chelan. I didn’t go on it but I presume it is well maintained because if there is a forest fire in the middle of the valley, people would need a way to escape.

While the warning sign doesn’t say that you should avoid heading up the valley, it does alert you to the fact that you need to be careful and to be aware that other people who may not be as careful could discard a cigarette improperly or start a campfire which could easily cause a fire that could get out of hand.

You need to know where your escape routes are and be prepared to use them.

The Bible tells us:

A wise person will learn more from a warning
than a fool will learn from a hundred lashings.
Proverbs 17:10 (NCV)

Boots on the Ground

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, August 2, 2020

I did not pose these boots; they posed themselves for me. At least, that’s how it seemed when I came upon them as we walked by our neighborhood park on our morning walk.

A work truck was parked close by and we saw a handful of men at work in the park. I’m not sure why one of them shed his boots while he worked.

Delighted by my discovery, I whipped out my phone to take this photo, murmuring, “Boots on the ground,” as I did so.

The first time I remember hearing that phrase was at a wedding reception many years ago. The groom and his attendants were all military men, and I overheard another guest ask one of the groomsmen how soon they had to report for duty overseas.

His answer was, “Boots on the ground,” followed by the date.

That phrase has stayed with me ever since, although the date long forgotten. It has such a strong, purposeful ring to it. Four words that promise action.

The BBC News online Magazine Monitor, which promises to answer “the questions behind the news,” says that “’boots on the ground’ is shorthand for combat troops deployed in a foreign country.”

I prefer peace to war, yet I was born on a battlefield. You, too. Our “boots on the ground” date was our birthdate. We are equipped for the battle, though, as Paul describes in Ephesians 6:11-18:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, was deployed to our planet to do combat with the devil, who had staked his claim to this world. Our Savior’s Bethlehem birthdate was also His “boots on the ground” date. After doing battle daily with the devil, He won the war on Calvary’s cross, and freely shares His victory with us. All we have to do is ask and accept.

When we lace up our boots each morning, we can remember this Good News, and walk confidently into the day, knowing Jesus will walk with us, all the way home.

Scaffolding

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, August 1, 2020

Every morning after breakfast I take a brisk walk on a mile-long loop in our neighborhood. A couple of weeks ago I was startled to see sturdy scaffolding attached to this large house. I paused to study it, and discovered that the house was being brush-painted. (In fact, you can actually see the owner—I know he’s the owner because I talked with him a couple of days later—as a dark silhouette up to the right of the chimney top.)

I’ve always been uneasy about heights, so I studied this scaffold thoughtfully. Finally I decided that it’s actually one I would have been willing to climb up on. But with a thrill of horror, I saw that the scaffold-side of the chimney itself had been brush-painted all the way to the top! How could that happen? The scaffold didn’t—and couldn’t—go up that high!

Do you notice the sturdy waist-high panel on the scaffold next to the chimney? That’s where the owner must at some point have placed the feet of a ladder in order to climb up, painting the chimney as he went. My knees turn to water at the thought of doing that, but logic tells me that if the scaffolding is solid, and that safety panel is solid, and the ladder is solid, and the painter works safely and methodically, all will be well.

A couple of days later as I walked by, the scaffolding was down and everything was painted just fine. The owner happened to be in his driveway, and I chatted with him a bit. He was an interesting guy. From his accent I decided that he’d some from Eastern Europe or the Ukraine, where he must have been a carpenter or maybe even a house painter. He told me that the reason he’d used scaffolding was that the property line of his neighbor was so close that he couldn’t safely use a ladder on that side. And that scaffolding provided the solid, dependable standing-place he needed to protect him from danger.

Jesus used a different “house” metaphor when He talked about spiritual security:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24 – 27 NKJV)

Notice what the scaffolding is? “These sayings of Mine,” Jesus says. And not just the sayings, He said, but doing what the sayings tell you to do.

Which “sayings” are He talking about? Well, the verses above come from the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7). This might be a start in order to get more deeply acquainted with what Jesus actually said.

To find this Sermon with a single click, click the link just below.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205-7&version=NKJV

Fence

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, July 31, 2020

In the photo above, you’re looking at one of Shelley’s and my favorite places to walk. It’s the Lake Youngs Trail, which circles the huge lake which is one of Puget Sound’s main sources of clean water.

This part of the trail is bordered by the back fences of homes just a few blocks from our own neighborhood. Different homeowners deal differently with the strip of land between their backyard fence and the trail. Some just let wild blackberries grow, and leave it to the Lake Youngs trail crew to keep them trimmed back. Some try to plant vegetables which they hope the deer and rabbits will allow to grow to maturity—and they put up stout protective woven wire. Others don’t put up a fence and even allow their lush lawns to come right up to the trail border, which means that as we walk along we can look into inviting backyards.

The homeowners in the above photo have taken a middle-of-the-road approach. They do have a wood fence, and they’ve done some miscellaneous planting, though not vegetables.

But for some reason they have decided to put up a fence. I recognized these angle-iron posts from my boyhood days on the farm. We used a more heavy-duty version, and strung barbed wire firmly between them, rather than the baling-twine drooped limply between the posts above.

I was puzzled by this fence. What or who are they trying to keep out? And why? Bunnies would obviously slip right under. Deer, after a suspicious glance, would either leap over the twine or actually walk around to the left, unimpeded–maybe even making a light lunch on the twine itself. And after all, there doesn’t seem to be much edible foliage within the “protected” area.

So what’s the deal here? I don’t know. But this fence made me think of the Ten Commandments. They were carved in stone with the very fingernail of God, but people break them all the time. There’s no heavy woven wire or barred cage around those laws. People can break them with ridiculous ease if they want to (though they’ll face consequences later, of course, and not even from divine displeasure. Make a habit of robbing someone and you’ll probably eventually get caught. Commit adultery and you’ll do a lot of lasting damage to many people.)

To me, the fence above seems to be a mild warning. “Neighbors, we would really wish that you didn’t come on to our property.” And even though the Commandments are immensely more serious, and their consequences more eternally deadly, God has chosen to preserve them not with eight-foot bars with spikes at the top, but with the human conscience and freedom of choice.

Which means that once in awhile we need to review why God’s law is so important. To make that review, click the link just below. What you read might just surprise you.

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

Window to Another World

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, July 30, 2020

I drove through town and past an apartment complex to a new office building to make an appointment. Feeling a bit rushed, I made it up two flights of stairs to arrive at my destination out of breath. It turned out I didn’t need to rush and had an extra minute. Looking out the window, I stopped in my tracks. It looked like a different world from where I had just come. Not a road or building in site. Just trees and hills.

The Bible gives us many views into a different world. I like how Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13: 31

Maybe when we are engrossed in troubles of the world, it might be something little that can kick into our consciousness to remind us of the world the Lord has planned for us and that we can have a little bit of it when we follow him.