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)

 

Metal

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, May 28, 2020

If you are like me you might wonder what makes the hardest metals. These used turbine engine blades were procured around 2002 just before the Concorde super-sonic airliners were retired. If the eBay listing and certificate are to be believed, they are from a Concorde Rolls-Royce Olympus 593 jet engine. At about eight inches long, the material is probably titanium or a nickel/titanium alloy.

A surprising amount of research goes into making metal alloys that can withstand the heat of turbine engines. Alloys that perform the best under intense flame are nickel-based to get the right kind of structure that resists regular grain patterns. I don’t understand it, but it has something to do with the way the atoms pack together so they hold on to each other without sliding around.

It reminds me of advice in the Bible that maybe we should firm up things in our own lives.

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Revelation 3:17

Maybe when I think I am a hardened metal, like a typical bolt in a hardware store, I really wouldn’t stand up well under heat. I should look to the Lord for guidance and study his word for true strength that comes from thoughtful counsel that is carefully designed.

 

Missionaries

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Tuesday morning on a walk I spotted this driveway with a strip of wood running down the center, and some delicate little purple flowers sprouting beside the wood.

I glanced at them, and turned back for a second look. The flowers themselves aren’t really all that dramatic. They’re not roses or tulips or tiger lilies. They’re just a splash of color, an accent of joy in a sterile landscape.

Which of course is what a missionary is. “Missionary” can seem an eye-rollingly boring and old-fashioned term, but Jesus Himself became a missionary to this weary planet, and one of His main purposes before His crucifixion was to train and launch other missionaries with the task of being lights in the world, salt in the earth–and you could also say flowers in the driveway.

Have you considered how “man-made” our world is? Almost everything we see in the cities, or hear about in the news, is man-made, whether it’s buildings or brutishness. That’s where true missionaries (reflectors of Jesus’ God-created, unselfish love) can make the greatest difference. Missionaries’ contrast with worldliness can make life difficult for them at first, but their witness for God can turn someone toward a happy eternity.

“Witnessing” is a word fraught with just as much fear and guilt as “missionary” can be. But to read some encouraging and challenging Bible comments about it, click the link just below.

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

Eastern Kingbird

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Over the years I have shot lots of pictures of Eastern Kingbirds, birds of the grasslands and found throughout the continental United States except for the southwestern quarter of the country. It presents an attractive picture, formally dressed in tuxedo black and white. But the pictures almost invariably find the bird perched on a wire or atop a fencepost. Not the most photogenic of locations, but such is the day to day pattern of life for this species. However, behavior early in the courting season found them in a much more attractive setting.

Careful study of Scripture, or any other written material for that matter, includes conscientious consideration of context; that is, the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, rendered in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. The last part of this definition deals with literary context. But we would like to focus on the first part which addresses the historical context. Put another way, historical context focuses on the situation in which something happens.

Paul’s words found in 1 Corinthians 9 show that he thought contextualization was also important, so important in fact that he changed his approach to meet their needs. “I am a free man, nobody’s slave; but I make myself everybody’s slave in order to win as many people as possible. While working with the Jews, I live like a Jew in order to win them; and even though I myself am not subject to the Law of Moses, I live as though I were when working with those who are, in order to win them.” (vs 19 and 20 GNB) Apparently to take an attractive picture, or to witness effectively, the context plays a vital role in producing positive results.

Meeting our Needs

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 25, 2020

I woke up to a perfectly blue sky the other day but by mid-afternoon the sky was filled with clouds. These particular clouds didn’t produce rain although we did get plenty of rain earlier in the week.

Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
Psalm 147:7-9 (NIV)

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

How Do You Look?

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, May 24, 2020

What do you see when you look at this photo?

In ordinary times I would see a bunch of pansies, those flowers that are often described as having faces, even “happy little faces.” I would smile back at them, because they would take me back many years to our Alaskan front yard, and the flowers my father lovingly tended there, with me as his sidekick.

I would see the Sitka rosebush in the corner, where my friends and I would catch bumblebees in little glass jars, then let them go – a non-fishing form of “catch and release.” I would smell the lilies of the valley beside our front steps, the fragrance I looked forward to each year. There were banks of nasturtiums in front of the big white trellis my father made; we enjoyed sipping on their nectar.

We weeded and watered pansies, daisies, violas, tiger lilies, bachelor buttons, golden globe, columbine, shooting stars, bleeding heart, marigolds, sweet william, and more. (And there was a flower we called “dirty dishrag” – why was that included in our garden?)

I remember the long sunny summer evenings in that front yard where friends congregated to play, not only because we were one of the few houses with a front yard, but also because my father made us jump ropes and stilts and made it a welcoming place.

All that would often come back to me in ordinary times when I looked at pansies – a loving trip down a floral memory lane.

But in these anything but ordinary times, I must confess that none of those fond memories came to mind when I recently saw these pansies and snapped their photo. Instead I thought they looked like they were waiting at a bus stop, several of them looking down the street to see if their bus was coming. And I immediately noticed they were WAY TOO CLOSE TOGETHER!

In this season of safe distancing I want to call out to them to spread out at least six feet apart and mask up! To be careful for themselves and thoughtful of each other! And do they have hand sanitizer in their pansy pockets?

A couple of months ago these pansies would have been simply those “happy little faces,” but now I look at them through the lens of what I’ve learned and experienced since the pandemic wrapped itself around our planet. The flowers haven’t changed their appearance, but I’ve changed how I look at them.

Many factors affect the lens through which I look at the world – personality, upbringing, circumstances, experiences, deep-set beliefs . . . My challenge is to bow before God each morning and ask Him to shape my lens, through His Holy Spirit, so that I will look as He looks, value what He values, and love as He loves.

So how do you look? Looking at you through His eyes, you’re looking loved!

Puzzle Piece

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 23, 2020

Shelley is the puzzle-fiend in our household, not me, but I still gave an internal gasp when I saw this missing piece at the side of a street during a walk Monday morning. Somewhere, probably in a box or maybe even laid out on a card table, is beautiful scene with a hole in it. And if that puzzle is indeed on display, the average eye quickly notices the gap, and the general beauty is marred. This is the back of the piece, so we don’t even know whether it was prominently part of a color section, or a muted background. But its absence is observed.

Have you ever thought of the seventh-day Sabbath as a missing puzzle-piece? “The law of the Lord is perfect,” David sang, and “The commandment of the Lord is pure” (Psalm 19:7, 8). But if a Christian looks at the Ten Commandments stone tablets and ignores the one in the center—which has more words and more details than any of the others—isn’t that like a missing puzzle piece, which distorts the rest of the picture?

I love the Sabbath. Its invitation to profound rest is healthy for my body, my mind, and my soul. Created in Eden before there was any sin or even any Jewish race (Genesis 2:2, 3), and celebrated by Jesus and the apostles, it’s the final commandment that our desperate planet needs to turn our hearts more fully to our Creator.

To read more of what the Bible says about the Sabbath, click the link just below:

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

Good-morning Flowers

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 22, 2020

Shelley’s and my front porch faces east, and what you see above is what greets us at this time of year on sunny mornings. We didn’t plant these rhodies–they were there when we moved in–and I really should burrow underneath them and do some trimming so it’s easier for the lawnmower to get under, but there they are, every morning, their dew-sparkled pink not only attracting the amiable bumblebees but flashing us a cheery “Good morning!”

Have you considered the many ways God says “Good morning!” to you each day? He made your eyelids to open automatically, your mind to become aware of your surroundings, your tummy to ache so you’ll eat breakfast, and on and on. And of course He has kept your heart steadily beating all night.

Have you ever thought of saying “Good morning!” back to Him? Someone whose name I could not discover wrote the following children’s song . . . .

When I wake up in the morning and I lift up my head
I sing, “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord!”
When I roll right out of bed, and my feet hit the floor
I sing, “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord!”

Good morning Lord! I love you! I just wanted you to know!
Here’s my life my, my heart, my will, my self, I yield it all to thee.
Take my life and use it, guide my feet along the way,
May your words my mind renew, your spirit fill me each day.