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)
Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, February 14, 2020
I’ve mentioned before in these blogs that you can find very nice writing journals in thrift stores. The only downside is that often the first few pages will be cut or torn out, showing that the journaler’s zeal for soul-purgation had finally subsided.
Sure enough, a few weeks back I discovered another such expurgated journal, the one depicted in the photo above. As you see, this notebook was fancier than most, boasting not only lines for a table of contents but also numbered pages. And its former owner filled a staggering 52 pages (which must be some kind of a record for private paper-musings before a journal is consigned to the Goodwill box.)
So what did those 52 pages contain? Agonizings about personal failings or shorcomings? Heart-clearing confessions about sins? Whatever it was, they’re gone. No one can ever read them again.
That’s what our forgiving God will do for us. “Who is a God like You,” asks the prophet Micah, “Pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18, 19 NKJV)
Want more Bible evidence of how thoroughly God can not only forgive and cleanse but forget our sins? Click the link just below, and then follow the steps to take advantage of His offer.
Photo ©2020 by Amber Jurgensen
Commentary ©2020 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, February 13, 2020
This image may look like impressionistic art in a rock wall, but it turns out to be a mole hill situated in the center of a hardpacked gravel road. It must have been one persistent mole to go through that tough ground. The mole hill with its round pile of soft dirt looked terribly out of place in the middle of the hard road, so we scooted the dirt aside to see if there was indeed a “mole hole” and there it is.
Thinking about persistence, I think about how God never gives up on us. Likewise, we can exercise patience and persistence when following God. Sometimes it is tempting to give up because other ways seem easier. If this mole tried another way it might have been easier, but the ground is very soft and wet from last week’s rain. Perhaps its regular tunnels may have collapsed quickly. I’m not sure, but this mole may have chosen a good path after all.
Let’s do our best to follow the Lord’s path of love with persistence.
Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Ever been working outside too long, under the hot sun, and all you wanted was a nice cool spot in the shade? I think we all have been there, maybe some of us will be out there today. When I think of that feeling, I correlate it to how I view the world some times. Every day we are bombarded, not by hot rays of sun, but the results of sin. We hear the terrible stories of tragedies and we may even experience those tragedies firsthand. In those moments, all I want is to find that spot in the shade, under the palm tree (or cedar, fir, etc.), hoping to find some sort of relief.
This image was taken on the eastern coast of Mexico. You can feel the cool breeze kicking up from the beach, as the afternoon sun blazes overhead. Here, under these palm fronds, it’s 10-15 degrees cooler and you can fine refuge from heat.
Whatever you are facing, God is our refuge. God is our shade, from the blistering ‘rays’ from this sinful planet.
Psalm 121:5 & 6
The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Strange it is, the reasons why we do what we do. I suspect many of those actions we inherited from our parents, not through the DNA they passed on, but from the experiences we shared with them. For example, I can’t imagine my dad going to a health club for a work out when there was a pile of wood in the backyard waiting to be split. And I seem to be a limb from the same tree. It’s not that I like the lifting and exertion needed to split those logs, or the pain my back goes through to accomplish the undertaking, but there definitely is a degree of satisfaction associated with the task. Knowing where to put the wedge in place so as to avoid resistance from those belligerent knots, the pleasure that comes from a clean split with one swing of the maul, and the job completed, these all add to a sense of fulfillment.
And then there’s the reward of a crackling wood fire in the fireplace on a cold winter evening. Of course it means cleaning out the ashes and all the rest that goes with it, but for me it seems worthwhile. But there are other consequences too. For some reason, beyond my understanding, I lost one of the wedges I was using, and try as I might, I couldn’t find it. We did a diligent search through the leaf litter of the surrounding area without any success. Something that heavy doesn’t just get up and fly away. It’s a mystery. But, as a result, I just purchased a new one. I can’t be sure it was a wise financial investment, but it seemed like the thing to do. In a way it was an investment in the past, the smell of seasoned wood, and of tasks accomplished.
We recognize that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes toward the end of his life, after he had tried all the world had to offer. We also recognize a certain amount of cynicism in this wise old man, yet we also appreciate the wisdom contained in his words. “Don’t long for “the good old days,” for you don’t know whether they were any better than these!” (Ecclesiastes 7:10 (TLB) He’s undoubtedly right, but aren’t you glad you can remember those experiences and hold onto a worthwhile part of it?
Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 10, 2020
I found this sign posted on a door which led into a wildlife recovery center on Vancouver Island. It was a nice, restful place which had green plants, flowers, water features, a lot of birds and was pretty quiet.
This is in contrast to what our daily lives may be like. Some of us are on the go from the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed and getting any sort of rest or time for reflection is not an option.
This can amplify worries and concerns about all sorts of things which can lead to high levels of stress and can adversely affect our health.
The Bible tells us:
Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.
Matthew 6:31-33 NCV
Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NCV)
We live in the Pacific Northwest. We are acquainted with rain. With Puget Sound’s recent, relentless, record-breaking rainfall I have discovered two things: 1) I have my limit for rainfall tolerance and last week I reached that limit. 2) To my astonishment I have met several people in the last few days who, even with our float-a-boat weather, still tell of their love for the rain. They seem misty-eyed as they speak of this love!
It’s been good for me to listen to their reasons for loving the rain. It shook me out of my assumption that all of us were tired of the rain, and helped me look at the weather from another point of view. Not that it changed my perspective; I’m so glad to see the sun again!
What I disliked most about the recent rain was having to drive in it – trying not to hydroplane on the highways, and keeping the windshield wipers ready to do battle on high speed when sudden sheets of spray were kicked up by neighboring vehicles.
All of this reminds me of a day several years ago when we were driving I-90 west to home, over Snoqualmie Pass. I was driving while my husband was reading out loud to us, an arrangement we both enjoy. It was a beautiful sunny day until suddenly it wasn’t. A storm blew in as we reached the summit and the rain came down in such torrents that I could no longer see my surroundings.
But I knew that those surroundings had included vehicles on every side and ahead and behind, some of them large semi trailers, and all of us going the speed limit or beyond.
That’s when I heard my voice utter a three-word prayer. You would think that such a brief and desperate prayer would include the word, “Help!” but it didn’t. Instead, I heard my voice call out, “You know, Lord!”
The storm passed by, my visibility was restored, and my white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel relaxed. I pondered my unrehearsed prayer – “You know, Lord!” It was a cry for help. I was telling Him I knew that He knew my need, and I knew He could protect us.
Psalm 139 came to mind, especially the first three verses:
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
David concludes his psalm with an invitation that I echo as my own:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Be encouraged as you walk into this week in knowing that the One who knows you best and loves you most walks with you.
Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 8, 2020
Every Tuesday I spend the morning in several classrooms at Kirkland Seventh-day Adventist School. I read picture-books to the lower grades, and teach drawing or do whatever else the upper grade teachers ask me to, including grade papers.
In mid-January Mrs. Anderson’s second grade class presented me with the above puzzle, lettered by the teacher and colorized by the class. They’d put it together for me, but the photo above shows what it looks like when it’s apart. When I got home I separated the pieces and challenged my wife Shelley (a puzzle expert) to put it together—without showing her the completed picture. It took her under five minutes!
Then I removed the upper right corner pieces, and took this next photo:
As you can see, it says, “We [blank] you, Pastor Maylan.” These kids feel something about me, but without the missing pieces the message is incomplete. Do they “hate” me? “Tolerate” me? “Ignore” me?
You know the missing word, of course. Here it is:
And when you slide that corner in place, the puzzle is complete:
Okay. Let’s say I didn’t have the corner pieces. Let’s say somebody in the class misplaced them, and when I put the puzzle together they were missing, until the class hunted for them. Meanwhile, how would I know what the kids felt about me?
No-brainer, right? I know these kids. I’ve spent time with them. Every time I finish reading a book to them and start to depart, they say in chorus, “Thank you, Pastor Maylan!” I’ve looked into their eyes.
And you have already figured out where I’m going with this photo parable, haven’t you? When you first get acquainted with it, the Bible seems to be a huge puzzle with a lot of pieces. Some pieces are cheerful, others are darker, and some seem a bit menacing. A few pieces say, “God loves you,” but how do they fit with the other parts?
Time is the key. Time spent reading large portions of Scripture. Time spent examining nature with the idea that God designed and created it. Time spent talking to Him in prayer, or writing letters to Him.
So what is God like? Some Bible verses to get you started—or keep you going—on your quest for Him, are found at the link just below.