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)

 

Leaves

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, November 20, 2020

For me autumn is the time to study leaves. If I were a tree-watcher, as Robert Howson is a bird-watcher (except he’s such a pro that he’s in the loftier “birder” camp), I would no doubt study trees all year round—noting their first buds, delighting in their shy spring colors, “forest-bathing” my soul in their lush, mature green, and so on.

But alas, I am not a die-hard afficionado, which means that a tree which wants to get my attention needs to fling its leaves across the trail Shelley and I walk. That’s when I become amazed.

In the photo above you see three kinds of leaves. The middle one, of course, is maple, proudly summoned into service as the symbol on the Canadian flag. Since our trail was lavishly slathered by these leaves, mostly in the giant economy size, I found myself staring at them as I walked along.

A quick search on Google Images revealed to me the names of the parts of the leaf. Five “primary veins” radiate out from the same point on the stem, while “secondary veins” flow from the primaries. There are always five primaries, no more, no less (except if the leaf gets really huge, I noticed another couple of primaries radiating below the others, one on each side. But six and seven were always tiny and tentative, even on the largest leaves.)

The leaf on the right I do not recognize, but there were several on the trail. Notice that there is just one primary vein coming out from the stem, and several secondaries radiating from the primary all the way to the point.

And then there’s the dapper little gingko leaf on the left. As far as I can tell, there are only two gingko trees in our neighborhood, but I’m continuing to keep my eye out. When I was a kid on the South Dakota prairies, I would read about gingkos in books, and they always seemed exotic, something you’d have to travel to another country to see.

Notice how different the gingko design is? While the other leaves have clearly-visible primary and secondary veins, the gingko’s are either small and numerous, or they’re just not there, I’m not sure which.

If I pause on that trail for a moment, and just look down at those leaves, my heart almost stops in amazement. Each of these trees knows exactly how to grow these leaves, and grow them in the same way each time, “after their kind,” as Genesis puts it.

Want to brush up on some of what the Bible says about creation and the Creator? Click the link just below:

https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/creation-and-evolution

Big Love

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, November 19, 2020

Fortunately, I got a picture of leaves before the wind arrived to spread the color around and send people out to rake their yards. It is that season where we transfer activities from outside to indoors. It seems like a good time to think about meaningful things and to talk about how thankful we are. One of the things I am grateful for is God’s love. Sometimes it is hard to focus on God’s love when life is difficult. However, the Bible reassures us that we can count on the Lord.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:11

Those are some big words. It may be hard to understand now, but God will make it plain to us in the future. For now, let’s share that love with the ones around us.

Life From Death

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

That’s an ominous title for such a beautifully colored image. Well, the fact of the matter is – when we see this incredible fall foliage, we are seeing the leaves dying. Most of you already know this, but the reason the leaves change to these gorgeous reds, yellows and orange colors, is part of photosynthesis – actually the lack thereof. During photosynthesis, chlorophyll is used to help the leaves stay green. When the weather changes and the temperatures start to decline, the process slows and eventually stops. Without this green pigment, the leaves turn different colors, and they begin to wither and fall from the tree. Where’s the life in that?

Well, think of what Jesus did for us – coming to this planet, growing into a man and eventually dying on the cross for us, taking our pain and suffering on Himself, and giving us the chance at life beyond this planet. Just as the process of the leaves ends in the loss of leaves, the trees begin the process to produce new leaves, new life – another chance, as the cycle continues.

As we marvel at the colors we see around us (for those near deciduous trees), take a moment to soak in the beauty. Now take a moment to think of the gift of life we were given, at the cost of Jesus’ death. It’s an incredible gift. Not one to overlook. Take advantage of the life Jesus has provided for you.

Human Defenses

Photos and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

It would be foolish to sit on our hands in the face of impending danger and do nothing. Presumption might be another name for that posture. But the opposite is equally as foolish, to depend upon our own efforts for security. A look back reveals the inadequacy of such efforts. On a scenic bluff overlooking the Irish Sea stood two relics of past efforts to ensure that security, each from a different era. The first was erected around 1800 when the envisioned threat of invasion came from the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. France was indeed a powerful nation at that point and the Irish feared an assault from the open sea. Consequently, this LOP (Look Out Post) was erected which was manned by 12 individuals. This was just part of a system of 81 towers covering 1076 km which theoretically could pass along warning if such an invasion was observed. This was to be done using visual signals which employed a system of flags and balls.

This second edifice was erected some 140 years later in reaction to Nazi Germany. This structure was smaller in that it housed only two men of the Coast Watching Service who could pass on anything out of the ordinary by way of telephone. Such advancement over that employed during the Napoleonic Era is immediately obvious, yet equally apparent is how archaic both of these efforts appear today in the abandoned, run-down state.

Fear is not a new reality; it has long been with us. Remember the words of Caleb and Joshua in response to the people’s reaction to the report given by the other spies who had scouted out the Promised Land. “Don’t be afraid of the people of the land! We will chew them up. They have no protection, but the Lord is with us. So don’t be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:9 New Century Version) It’s quite apparent these men of faith had a clear understanding of where their ultimate protection came from; it was from the Lord.

So, does that mean we should abandon our early warning satellite system? Maybe not, but also keep in mind those structures off the southern coast of Ireland growing moss.

Peaceful Streams

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, November 16, 2020

Life is full of uncertainty. It probably feels even more uncertain at the moment with the global pandemic that is hitting the United States particularly hard! When you look at the numbers of positive cases, hospitalized patients and increased deaths from COVID-19, things can look overwhelming.

Things can look worse when you look at the news and hear about division, people losing jobs, losing their health or homes or any sort of security. The world news includes conflicts and natural disasters.

Sometimes, we just need to take a deep breath and look to God’s Word for calm and comfort:

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
Psalm 23:1-4 (NLT)

 

How Sweet It Is!

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, November 15, 2020

Laughter helps. When times are troublesome, laughter lifts our mood and our mindset. Nowadays, I’ll take laughter wherever I find it, and on Friday I found it on the Clearance Aisle.

Over the last many months we’ve been thankful for curbside groceries pick-up, and the ability to order almost anything online, but sometimes we have masked up, cautiously entered a store as soon as it opened, shopped as swiftly as we could, and headed home. When we did this on Friday, we were happy to find that only one other shopper entered the big store while we were there.

As we headed for the counter, the Clearance Aisle caught my eye and I diverted the cart so that we could do a quick cruise-through, bargain lover that I am. That’s when I suddenly stopped in my tracks and laughed out loud. My husband looked over my shoulder to see what was so funny, and joined in my laughter.

In the photo above you see what we saw: a pair of praying hands, made of chocolate. They were slightly smaller than my hands, so this was a substantial amount of chocolate. This was the cover of a stiff, cardboard card that opened up to reveal a gracious prayer. The fine print described this as an Easter item, and since this was the Clearance Aisle rather than a display of coming attractions, I think we’re talking about last Easter.

I’m not laughing at prayer; I couldn’t live without it. But it seems so funny that someone, somewhere, decided that manufacturing chocolate praying hands was a good decision. It just doesn’t seem appropriate to nibble and eat hands that are poised in prayer!

I’m sure the card’s makers were earnest in their intent and not trying to be funny – otherwise they could have called this “Sweet Hour of Prayer”! That’s the phrase that came to my mind, though, and sent me to my hymnal for a review of the words.

The hymn begins, “Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, that calls me from a world of care, and bids me at my Father’s throne, make all my wants and wishes known!
In seasons of distress and grief, my soul has often found relief, and oft escaped the tempter’s snare, by thy return, sweet hour of prayer.” *

Just singing those words makes me feel better! I especially like the last two lines of stanza two: “And since He bids me seek His face, believe His word, and trust His grace, I’ll cast on Him my every care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.”

Laughter helps, hymns help, and seeking, believing, and trusting help. As you walk into this week, I wish for you a good week, filled with laughter, music, and the Lord walking close beside you every step of the way. Each day, one day closer to His Coming!

(*Words by William W. Walford, c. 1842 and music by William B. Bradbury, 1859)

Warning Sign

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, November 14, 2020

A few years back, Shelley and I took a vacation trip to her hometown of Juneau. Like most tourists—and all homegrown Juneauites—we made a pilgrimage to Mendenhall Glacier, a few miles out of town.

But while Shelley brooded on the glacier, commenting mournfully about how much it had shrunk since she was a girl, my mind was flitting uneasily to the warnings expressed on the signs like the one above, whose picture I snapped while there. (To me, Shelley’s attitude toward bears is shockingly casual, but she grew up there, and the general philosophy around with Juneau is, “Don’t mess with the bears and they won’t mess with you.”)

Anyway, several copies of this sign were prominently posted near the glacier. I conscientiously studied the terse commands beside the bullet-points, and tried to memorize them. I anxiously asked Shelley for clarification. For example, “Do not approach bears” makes sense to me. But “Do not run away from bears”—not so much. What are you supposed to do, just stand there?

Know where I’m going with this? You probably have an idea. As we travel through this world, we face an adversary far more voracious and cunning than any earthly bear could be. But we’re not at his mercy, because God has provided us with enough information—and enough instructional “bullet points”—to keep us safe along the trail.

Of course, we do need to do our homework. Forewarned is fore-armed. Click the link just below for some Bible safety facts.

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