Daily Photo Parable

Cardboard

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 28, 2023

A few days before Christmas this past December, I stopped in at a store. When I came back to the car, I saw this hefty sheaf of lottery tickets on the parking lot blacktop. By zooming up the photo, I can spot at least $40 worth of tickets, and I can see the corners of three or four more (chillingly, the same color as the $10 ones) peeking out from behind.

So what happened here? Since these cards are all together in a stack, did someone spend all that money in the store buying these cards, and then drop them without noticing as they got into their vehicle? Or did they buy them, check their numbers, find they were unlucky, and discard the whole batch in disgust? Looking back on this experience, I guess I should have taken them back inside the store, but not knowing if they were still worthy anything, I just left them there.

I’ve always regarded gambling the same way my parents did. They’d grown up as Dakota farm kids in the Great Depression, and the thought of throwing their money away on gambling froze their Christian souls in horror. They trained me to be so careful with cash that the moment I see that a penny has fallen to the carpet in our house, I reach down and retrieve it.

The Bible has a lot of balanced, sensible advice about money. For a couple of good refresher courses, click on the two links just below.

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

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

Builder’s Pencil

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, January 27, 2023

While dropping off some letters at our local post office a few weeks back, I spotted the above pencil nestled against a curb. I couldn’t resist picking it up and carrying it to my car.

As you can see, it’s a humble pencil. It wears no company logo or any other kind of printing, and I would imagine its chipped-paint scars mean that it’s been hauled around in a carpenter’s toolkit.

And notice the point –

As I mentioned, this is a wider-than-normal pencil, which means it can’t be inserted in an ordinary sharpener. So the point must be created the old-fashioned way, by jackknife. However, if you’ve ever been involved in construction work, you know that builders’ pencils don’t necessarily need to be fine-pointed.

Finally, here is the absolutely delightful eraser-end. Notice its impressively chewed brass sleeve. As I mentioned, this is a super-size pencil, and the mauler of this eraser-container must have strong teeth and lots of determination.

So—Sherlock Holmes style—what can we deduce from this writing instrument? It is almost certainly a builder’s pencil, and its owner carries it among his or her work tools. The size of the point—and its broken condition—means its owner used it for marking large lumber rather than fine cabinetmaking projects. And its chewed eraser-end is a sign of a builder who evidently pauses to ponder.

Do you mind being called God’s builder-pencil? I don’t. I came from humble circumstances, and maybe you did too. My dad used pencils something like this, and made sure to measure twice before cutting once.

“Use me, Lord,” our daily prayer should be. “Help me to mark Your will clearly. And cause me to refer regularly to Your Bluepprint as I pause and ponder Your plans.”

 

More Energy

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, January 26, 2023

This tree came down across the trail in a recent windstorm. Fortunately, with careful stepping, hikers can get around this obstacle. An electric power company maintains this trail as an access road, so they will clean it up eventually.

The wind reminds me of this verse.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8 ESV

At a time when it seems so many bad things are happening, it is also a time when the Spirit of God is working in our lives. We can take courage that we have access to God’s energy to navigate around obstacles that are thrown our way.

Only Thorns?

Photo and Commentary by Darren Milam
Wednesday, January 25, 2023

This past week, I, along with several other thousands of employees, were informed our jobs had been eliminated. In the moment, there is shock, discouragement and pain. You start to process the situation and there is a moment when you only see the loss and can’t see what’s next.

In this first image, what do you see? Well, if I did my job as the photographer, you can clearly see a few thorns on this green stock. Now, if that’s the only image you had a chance to look at, you’d think of the time you got stuck or scratched by these brutal sharp barbs. You might even pull your finger or arm back in a wincing motion, recalling that quick stab of the little spike. Only pain, from these thorns – right?

Maybe we should continue to pan out and see the bigger picture. What do you see in this second image?

Exactly (I presume I heard you say the correct answer) – a nice juicy berry. In this particular case, it’s a Rubus spectabilis (but you already knew that). For us laymen folk, we call them Salmonberries. This plant is actually part of the rose family, bearing delicious edible tart and tangy fruit. If you haven’t had one, seek them out. They native to the west coast of North America – Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and into Idaho.

Now, don’t you feel better? Are you still dwelling on that vicious thorn attached to the lower part of the bramble? Or is your mouth watering at the thought of that orange-yellow (or red) fruit at the top of the bramble? I know which I am thinking about.

You see, whatever moment we have in our day (or career), we have the tendency, as humans, to look at the negative side of things. That’s due to the sinful world we live in. When we take ourselves out of that situation, or at the very least, allow God to show us the big picture, we now see the resolution. Every day, I want to concentrate on seeing the end result, not just the ugly/painful part. Pray, with me, when you can only see the thorn, that God will supply and show you the fruit.

Bald Eagle in Flight

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Imagine yourself as vulnerable prey; nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and those long, sharp talons of a Bald Eagle extended and rapidly descending upon you. That’s the fearful picture the Lord presented to Israel. It was intended to cause anguish, concern, and change, for that was what Israel needed to do. The prophet Hosea was given the responsibility of conveying this message to the people who had turned their backs upon God. “The Lord said: ‘Sound a warning! Israel, you broke our agreement and ignored my teaching. Now an eagle is swooping down to attack my land.’ Israel, you say, ‘We claim you, the Lord, as our God.’ But your enemies will chase you for rejecting our good agreement.’” (Hosea 8:1-3 CEV)

Why would God use such a gruesome image to convey His message to the people He loved? The simple answer is because they were too spiritually insured, at least in their own minds. Notice their response to God’s warning. In essence they responded that they had all their bases covered. After all, they insisted, “We claim you, the Lord, as our God.” The implication is they rightly regarded themselves as the chosen people, a people particularly blessed by God, which would, of course, include His protection. What they failed to acknowledge was their failure to abide in that relationship. Benefits without responsibility; coverage without signing the check; affiliation without rapport.

Do you think His message to the church today would be that different from the one He gave so long ago? After all, aren’t we now living under the protection of grace? Ask yourself this question: Do you think the people Hosea wrote to with this fearful warning were under God’s all-sufficient grace? I suspect the mercy He offers to all included them as well. And if that is true, it would mean we also need to make sure our part of the agreement is signed.

He Will Rescue You

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, January 23, 2023

This picture is of the leaf of a sundew. It was taken on a trip to Pacific Rim National Park in British Columbia a number of years ago. This unusual plant is considered an insectivore and what looks like dew is actually a sticky liquid that traps insects. Enzymes in the plant then digest the insect and that is how the plant gets its nutrients.

Fortunately this plant is quite tiny and of no danger to mammals.

Do you ever feel trapped in a situation or circumstance and can’t seem to find a way out? I like these verses in Psalm 91 about where we can go for help:
This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Psalm 91:2-4 (NLT)

Home

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, January 22, 2023

If you spy a trailer with a hitch, and you happen to be in possession of a truck, the most reasonable thing to do is to connect the trailer to the truck and take it on the road.

At least that’s what my preschooler friend thought. While his mother and I were visiting on my front porch steps, he saw our Home Sweet Home trailer nestled among several pots of begonias, pulled a little green truck out of his bag, and quietly got to work.

I took the above photo to help document a delightful visit with him and his mother. The photo not only takes me back to that warm, sunny afternoon, but also prompts me to mull over homes I have known.

Until I left home to marry and set up my own home, I’d only lived in that one home – not counting dorm rooms and solo apartments. They really should count, though, if “home is where you hang your hat” (even if most of your stuff is in your parents’ basement).

In those early adult years I thought of myself as portable, not sure where I would eventually settle down. And then I was blessed with the job of teaching in a one-room church school on a logging camp island. I lived in the two-story schoolhouse situated on a large raft that was connected by strong cables to land. So not only was I portable; so was my home. After I’d lived there two years, the school and all the logging camp trailers, bunkhouse, and power plant were floated and towed twelve miles away to another island we would call home.

Thinking back on all the places I would consider home, I calculate the total to be 15. I don’t know how many more will be added to the list, but I would be happy if Jesus came while we were still living in our current home!

All my life I’ve sung with others, in church and around campfires, hymns and choruses that acknowledge all our homes here are temporary addresses:

“I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger . . . ”

“I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home . . . ”

“How far from home? I asked as on I bent my steps, the watchman spake . . . ”

“Out on an ocean all boundless we ride, we’re homeward bound, homeward bound . . .”

“Let us sing a song that will cheer us on the way, in a little while we’re going home . . . ”

And this cheerful chorus I learned as a teenager:

My home’s in heaven
Just a-waiting for me,
And when I get there
How happy I’ll be.
My home’s in heaven,
The rent is free,
For Jesus paid it
On Calvary.

I’ve always liked this chorus and still sing it around the house, but I object to one word. Maybe you’ve spotted it – the word “rent.”

Do you picture yourself renting a home in heaven? Me neither! Do you picture Jesus as your landlord? Me neither!

Jesus has paid for our heavenly home, not as a landlord but as our Best Friend and Saviour. It might be more accurate to sing, “The mortgage is free,” but it wouldn’t fit so well with the melody. I’ll keep singing the song the way it was written because I understand and appreciate the songwriter’s message.

As one of my bosses used to say, “The point is . . . ”

The point is that home is where you hang your heart. Jesus hung His heart here, when He hung on the cross.

He made His home with us, died for us, and is waiting now for us all to come home.

Home sweet home.

Blog Archives

Cardboard

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Maylan Schurch Sabbath, January 28, 2023 A few days before Christmas this past December, I stopped in at a store. When I came back to the car, I saw this hefty sheaf of lottery tickets on the parking lot blacktop. By zooming up the photo,...

Builder’s Pencil

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Maylan Schurch Friday, January 27, 2023 While dropping off some letters at our local post office a few weeks back, I spotted the above pencil nestled against a curb. I couldn’t resist picking it up and carrying it to my car. As you can...

More Energy

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Russell Jurgensen Thursday, January 26, 2023 This tree came down across the trail in a recent windstorm. Fortunately, with careful stepping, hikers can get around this obstacle. An electric power company maintains this trail as an access...

Only Thorns?

Photo and Commentary by Darren Milam Wednesday, January 25, 2023 This past week, I, along with several other thousands of employees, were informed our jobs had been eliminated. In the moment, there is shock, discouragement and pain. You start to process the situation...

Bald Eagle in Flight

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Robert Howson Tuesday, January 24, 2023 Imagine yourself as vulnerable prey; nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and those long, sharp talons of a Bald Eagle extended and rapidly descending upon you. That’s the fearful picture the Lord...

He Will Rescue You

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Cheryl Boardman Monday, January 23, 2023 This picture is of the leaf of a sundew. It was taken on a trip to Pacific Rim National Park in British Columbia a number of years ago. This unusual plant is considered an insectivore and what...

Home

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Shelley Schurch Sunday, January 22, 2023 If you spy a trailer with a hitch, and you happen to be in possession of a truck, the most reasonable thing to do is to connect the trailer to the truck and take it on the road. At least that’s...

Jesus Cap

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Maylan Schurch Sabbath, January 21, 2023 This past Wednesday, while strolling through our church sanctuary on some errand or other, I noticed this bright blue baseball cap lying on a pew. I snapped this photo before carrying the headgear...

One Life

Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Maylan Schurch Friday, January 20, 2023 A little over a week ago, idling at a traffic light, I snapped this shot of a heavily-stickered wheel-cover on what was probably a Jeep. The cover’s main message, as you see, is “One Life. Live it.”...

Sharing

Photo ©2023 by Amber Jurgensen Commentary ©2023 by Russell Jurgensen Thursday, January 19, 2023 I have heard of neighborhood libraries before, and here is an example of one. It is great that neighbors can find ways to share with each other. I'm sure that very few...