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)

 

Getting Through

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, September 14, 2020

This photo is of some rebuilt trestles on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in Myra Canyon in British Columbia. A lightning caused wildfire came through here in mid August of 2003. You can probably relate if you currently live or have lived in the western US or Canada. As I write this, my air quality is hazardous even though I’m nowhere near the fires and not at risk of losing my life or home or possessions. Visibility is not good.

The 2003 wildfire burned for almost a month. 270 houses were lost and 26,000 hectares of forest and parkland were burned. More than 33,000 people were evacuated including my sister and her family.

In this park alone, 12 wooden trestles burned and two steel bridges were damaged. It took five years to get the trestles rebuilt. The year it was completed, 2008, 54,000 people visited the canyon. It’s a very popular hiking and biking trail with tunnels and beautiful views. The views were completely altered after the fire.

It seems at the moment that we are just having disasters piling one on top of the other. Remember that you do have somewhere to turn to help you get through this:

You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
Psalm 32:7 (NKJV)

If you want to hear a great song based on this verse, you can check out “You Are My Hiding Place” by Selah on Youtube.

Puzzles and Troubles

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, September 13, 2020

I suppose we should have seen this coming – or seen them going. When the pandemic was in its first stages, and stay-home orders were tightest, there was such a run on jigsaw puzzles that inventories were depleted, and have yet to fully recover.

As a longtime enthusiast, I was not surprised by this pandemic puzzle popularity. Puzzles can be solo endeavors or family put-togethers. They come in all shapes and sizes and designs. I walk right on by the type of puzzle that features a polar bear in a blizzard, or one black jellybean in a sea of red jellybeans. My criteria are firm: puzzles should be relaxing and fun.

In the midst of all the grim coronavirus news and chaos, it was soothing to open a box of puzzle pieces and make order. I follow my father’s teaching: first, put together the outer edges until you have the frame in place. Then, consulting the picture on the lid as necessary, start filling in the interior.

The procedure I follow when I complete the puzzle is my own: after a sigh of satisfaction, I take a photo of the accomplishment and then take it apart.

When I had followed that procedure on the puzzle in the photo above, and was rounding up the pieces in order to put them back in the box, I realized they were almost in a heart-shaped mound. So I worked with them a bit until they fully formed a heart, then took another photo.

As I did, I thought how fitting this shape was, because hearts are often puzzles. We often have heart trouble. I’m thinking of David. When God directed the prophet Samuel to anoint David as the next king, He called him a man after His own heart. Yet we know that David did not always live up to that amazing description, and his failures are in the Bible for all to see.

More than failures, some were sins that rocked the nation and his personal world, especially when he committed adultery and murder. In Psalm 51 he pours out his confession and repentance and begs God to “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

In Psalm 139 David describes how intimately God knows us, from before our birth, and concludes with this request, “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.”

In times of trouble many of us find comfort in reading the psalms, in praying the prayers David prayed as he poured out his heart to his God. In Psalm 31:24 he gives encouragement that I take to heart: “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

No matter what troubles or puzzles us this week, we can bring it to the Lord, knowing that He who fashioned our hearts will steady them and strengthen them.

Be of good courage as you walk into this week, knowing Who walks beside you.

Vernacular

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, September 12, 2020

Because of the pandemic, our King County Libraries have a plan in which you can check out books online, and pick them up by standing in a line by the library doors. I took advantage of this plan earlier this week, picking up a historical documentary DVD at the Bellevue library. While I was waiting, I studied this outdoor art installation I later learned is called “Vernacular” (you can learn a bit more about it by scrolling down several screens at the link I provide below).

I don’t know whether each of these words has actually shown up on real “vanity” license plates. Maybe several have. However, because they’re so uniform, and have no other data such as the state they’re from, I’m assuming these plates were stamped out for this art project.

At first glance, I thought, Cute. Public art. That’s neat. Took an incredible amount of trouble, but worth it.

But then I found myself almost spellbound. To me, the power in this display happens because each of these seven-letter words is mounted by itself. It’s separate from any phrase or sentence, and as a result, you’re forced to give it your entire attention for a second or two. Try it. It’s a lesson in how important and evocative words can be.

Yesterday’s Daily Photo Parable also insisted that words are important, and how we use them—and where we disperse them—need to be carefully considered. But as I look at the photos above, I’m reminded that John’s gospel (John 1:1 – 3) introduces Jesus as “the Word.” Each metal-embossed word in the photos above communicates something. And Jesus arrived to communicate what the word “God” means. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” He told His disciples in John 14:9.

And why would Jesus need to reveal who God is? We can use some of the license-plate words in the enlarged photo above to explain. Satan has devoted his efforts to defame God, told hold up Divinity to our censure. He wants God deposed from His throne, so that as few as possible will be devoted to Him. (And you can go through several other words and apply them to this idea as well.)

Of course, the most dependable view of God is found in the Bible, focused through the lens of Jesus. To learn more about what the Bible says about God, click the link just below.

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

Now, here’s the link about the art display. (You’ll need to scroll down a bit once you get to the site.)

https://www.historylink.org/File/20243

Typebiter

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, September 11, 2020

During a recent visit to a large craft store, I discovered again that such places plan far into the future. The above item is designed to arouse in the customer an indefinable need to lay in an early supply of Halloween merchandise. While this doesn’t shock my system the way the array of fully-lit fake Christmas trees did in another store last week, there’s no doubt about it—fall is approaching.

I am of the vintage of people who spent quite a bit of time at the keyboard of a real typewriter, and that’s what caught my attention at first. But then I recoiled slightly at the sight of the snake with the amber-gem eyes.

And of course I immediately thought of a Daily Photo Parable theme, and here it is: Sometimes ill-chosen words we use can come back to bite us.

And how true this is, even more so today. Back when I was whacking away on my old Smith-Corona manual (which looked something like the one in the photo), the only way you could spread your words around for general public consumption was to induce a publishing company that you had something people would lay down real money for. If you didn’t, you had to resort to the mimeograph and the uncertainties of distributing your writing yourself.

Nowadays, anybody and their pet Pomeranian who wants to get published needs only to start a blog or a Tweet-storm, and ignite interest by being outlandish. This makes anyone my age–who knows what carbon paper is and the need to position it correctly in order to keep a copy of what you wrote–tear frantically at what hair they have left.

Long before typewriters, or even movable type, the Bible writers generated a nice round 750,000 words of prose, poetry, prophecy, history and biography. And some of those words were written about words themselves, and how important they were, and how use them carefully.

Want a sample of this valuable and desperately-needed advice? Click the link just below.

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

Plenty of Helpers

Photo ©2020 by Chelsea Jurgensen
Commentary ©2020 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, September 10, 2020

On this day at a horse farm it was the students’ turn to help teach the riders. As a student rode, the other students called instructions and encouragement to help the rider along. I’m sure this rider felt there were plenty of helpers.

It might be like that in life. On one hand, it could seem to be a burden to help everyone who came along. If we only looked out for ourselves, it would get lonely. Every other person would only be looking out for themselves as well.

On the other hand, if everyone looked out for others, we would see plenty of helpers to ease our difficulties. It may even seem that we get more help than we ever gave.

Let’s resolve to love others as we love ourselves and see how it can change our perspective.

Lead Me

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

For those studying the Sabbath School lesson this quarter, you know it’s centered around discipleship and the various steps/stages in this process. A common theme in these lessons, I noticed, is the willingness to be led. Whether you are praying, providing Bible studies, witnessing or helping as a mentor, it only works when you are allowing God to lead you down the correct path.

A few years back, we had an opportunity to travel to various parts of France. While walking around the outskirts of Avignon, France, I captured this image. As you can see, this winding brick road comes to an end, where you must choose a direction – in this case right or left. When we think of God leading us, there will be many opportunities for choices and we need to ensure we are being led, verses attempting to lead ourselves.

David prayed for this exact guidance. It’s recorded in Psalm 143:10,

Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Allow Him to guide you the right way. Allow Him to use you for Him. Allow Him to lead you.

Dublin Statue

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

It’s a good way to see a new city, those On/Off buses that tour the town and allow the riders to get off whenever they see something that catches their fancy, and then re-board at their own convenience to continue the ride. It’s especially rewarding when the driver carries on a knowledgeable banter about the local sites and culture. But one can absorb only so many statues and public edifices in a single sitting. And that is why this notable failed to register in my mind. It’s quite possible it is the likeness of Sir John Gray, but of that I can’t be certain. Whoever it is, I’m sure he made worthwhile contributions to his city, Dublin. But what interested me the most was the back side of the figure.

I think I understand why the artist carved it the way he did. Sicilian white marble, for all its fine qualities, can still be damaged. Two, skinny legs of stone may just not provide the strength required to support the rest of the figure. Thus, a sawed off tree, which reached just above the knees, was added to furnish the brawn needed.

Apparently Job was never a sculptor who recognized the vulnerability of stone when he asked the redundant question: “Do I have the strength of stone? Is my flesh bronze?” (Job 6:12 NIV) On the other hand, Psalm 147:10 seems to have a glimpse into the challenge such an artist might face: “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior.” The Song of Moses provides a more dependable answer as to where real power rests: “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” (Exodus 15:13 NIV) As Christians, engaged in a real battle, it’s good to know we have something much more dependable than a stone stump to depend upon.