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)

 

Northern Waterthrush

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Anyone who has read much about the life of King David or pondered what he has written has undoubtedly come to the conclusion that this was one complex individual. His emotional swings shift from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a mere matter of verses or moments in time. The truth is, we’re not that much different, and you don’t have to be schizophrenic for this to occur on a fairly regular basis. We may rationalize the reason for this is the complex lives we are forced to live, with a multiplicity of changes dictated by our rapid changing set of circumstances. While this may be partially true, life is seldom that simple.

Consider the Northern Waterthrush, a large member of the wood warbler family. It too seems to have a complex and somewhat contradictory life. Frequently found near slow-moving water, its feeding behavior reminds one more of a small sandpiper than the typical warblers which flit through the treetops, for it will often wade in shallow water searching for insects which make up the majority of their diet. On one hand it is characterized as a skulker, favoring the shadowy understories where it can stay hidden. But its alter ego is displayed by its energetic song and its habit of constantly rocking back and forth simulating the motions of a teeter-totter.

Such is the complexity of life, for both the waterthrush and for us. For none of us are one dimensional, none sail through life on totally placid waters. And King David, a man after God’s own heart, perhaps received that title, not because he always had his act together, but because whatever situation he found himself in, he was willing to take it to God and honestly let his Father know how he felt about it. Such openness received the smile of God.

Paying Attention

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, May 16, 2022

A little over a week ago, I was using Goldendale, WA, as a hub to explore some of the surrounding area. That south central part of Washington was a new area to me.

It was pretty amazing how the scenery changed from scrubland to forested hills and rangeland and then the Columbia Gorge. You can get really good views of Mt. Adams and Mt Hood from Goldendale. This particular photograph shows part of the Bickleton Highway between Goldendale and Bickleton.

I had seen an article on Bickleton’s bluebirds in AAA’s Journey magazine last year and had kept the article on what to do and see there. If you like bluebirds, that’s the place to go. There are bluebird boxes for miles on the roads around Bickleton.

I drove about 35 miles of these back roads and saw lots and lots of mountain bluebirds. (Seeing mountain bluebirds and getting a good photo of these skittish birds with a 300 mm lens are two entirely different things! I pretty much just stopped and admired them through my binoculars.) I saw a tree swallow pair by one box but didn’t see any western bluebirds.

Anyway, what I thought would be a fairly mundane drive, turned out to be pretty awesome. I didn’t know about this canyon and there were wildflowers along the route. Paying attention to the road was important, however, even if the scenery was distracting.

This verse talks about paying attention on our way to God:

Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
Matthew 7:13-14 (The Message)

Good, Very Good, and Not Good

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, May 15, 2022

I’ve heard it preached that God created two institutions in the Garden of Eden: the Sabbath and marriage. “Institutions” is not a warm word – let’s call them “gifts” instead.

I’m writing these words on Sabbath, and on the 44th anniversary of our wedding, so we’re celebrating both gifts today.

I’m thankful for the Sabbath. I look forward to each Friday night, when I can shut the door on the hustle and hassles of the week. And what a gift to gather together Sabbath morning to worship God and call Him good.

We’ve been studying Genesis, the book of beginnings, where God begins the story of our world by declaring during His creation week that what He has created, day by day, is good. At the end of the sixth day, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31 NKJV)

But in the next chapter God pronounces “not good”:

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18 NKJV) So He created Eve, and the first marriage began.

I’m thankful for marriage, ours in particular. I’m thankful for the man God introduced into my life, when I was teaching in Alaska and he was teaching in Nebraska.

We were the second wedding to be held in the brand-new College View Adventist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, a church known for its beautiful stained glass windows that stretch from one end of the long foyer to the other.

The windows tell the Bible’s story from Genesis to Revelation. If you stand at the pulpit, and look down the center aisle and out the doors to the foyer, you see Jesus, with His arms open wide.

Our photographer was new to the building and its incredible windows, and it was difficult to pry him away from taking photos of the windows in order to literally focus on us! We were successful in asking him to combine the two, and photograph us standing within the outstretched arms of Jesus.

This is a picture of how life has been for the last 44 years; the two of us surrounded by God’s loving care.

As we step out into this brand-new week, may you live in the firm and joyful assurance that you are loved by a God with arms open wide and with nail prints in His hands.

Dare to Be a Road Bump

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, May 14, 2022

Earlier this week I was walking along a sidewalk beside a busy street near our church, and spotted this device which had been dislodged from the road. There’s probably a technical name for them, but I think of them as “road bumps.”

When I first arrived in Seattle from the Great Plains, I was surprised—and sometimes a bit annoyed—by these road bumps. I’d never seen them before. But then, when driving at night through our frequent rains, and finding the roads’ paint-striping hard to see, I began to be very grateful for these bumps. Not only did they reflect my headlights (both this type and the round dome-shaped kind), but they also rumbled warningly under my tires if I drifted too far to one side.

Have you ever heard or sung the song, “Dare to Be a Daniel”? The theme of that cheerful, challenging melody is that just like Daniel, we need to continue “standing by a purpose true, heeding God’s command” as we “dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known.”

Daniel, a Hebrew captive taken to Babylon, refused to let his captors intimidate him into disobeying God’s will, either publicly or privately. And this fortitude caused him to influence those around him in favor of the God of Heaven.

I would suggest that someone rewrite those lyrics to urge us to “Dare to be a road-bump.” Because, in their way, road-bumps do what Daniel did. If someone is veering off into spiritual danger, the very presence of someone who knows the true path can act as an early warning that God’s way is safest.

This is called “witnessing,” and is something Jesus insists that His followers be prepared to do. Most often, witnessing doesn’t involve lecturing people on religion, but simply being someone whose words and actions and attitude display the love of God.

If you’d like to read some of what the Bible says about how to do this, click the link just below:

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

Eye Ear

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, May 13, 2022

One rainy evening last November I was waiting in the car while Shelley shopped at a favorite farmers-market style grocery store. As you can see, the store had set up a lighted frame to which Christmas trees were anchored.

Gazing idly out at the scene, I suddenly realized that beyond the tree display I was seeing the words “EYE” and “EAR.” We’ve been coming to this store for many years, and I had the vague idea that there was a vision center in that building across the way, but I hadn’t realized they had anything to do with hearing aids.

Well, they don’t. You’ve probably picked up what my error was. I had parked at the exact spot where one of the pillars of the Christmas-tree frame blocked out one of the sign’s letters. Sure enough, I shifted my head sideways and saw that the word was “EYEWEAR.”

Eyes and ears, of course, are the two main senses we use to gather information. But the danger is depending too much on them for the truth about things which are beyond the senses.

Paul makes this clear in a very important passage, which I’ve reprinted below. And as you read it, try to avoid “reading into it” the idea that it’s only speaking about heaven, because it’s about more than that. As you’ll see, Paul’s point is that the Holy Spirit can reveal to us things that nonbelievers think make no sense, but which are far more true than “eye or ear” can teach us.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:7 – 12 NKJV)

 

Hazards for Bunnies

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, May 12, 2022

I believe it is a precarious time for bunnies lately with more hawks and eagles than average flying around. We have taken to keeping our chickens under cover to keep them safe after losing a couple to predators. I see this bunny in the yard occasionally. It is extra cautious and quickly ducks under a bush when it sees anything move. This picture was taken through window blinds.

Sometimes I wonder how safe we are in an environment of sin. Is our lot to be overcome by the world?

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9

I’m not sure this verse completely answers the question, but it is comforting to have reassurance that God is not slow in watching over us. It is wise to be cautious and mindful of our need for repentance. Let’s remember we can have peace as we follow the Lord in our daily lives.

Joy

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, May 11, 2022

For those of us in the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with the opportunity to see a lot of tulips this time of year. The image above is an example of those views we get. As you can see, the colors, the contrast and water droplets make it a pretty pleasing sight. When I come across scenes like this, I am reminded of the incredible artistry in Creation, and the amazing skill of the Artist.

One of the Fruits of the Spirit is Joy, and I am encouraging myself (and you) to find the Joy that surrounds us. How easy is it to find the opposite, when we live in a sinful and awful world? Unfortunately, it’s true, this world is filled with so much negativity, hatred, corruption and is downright hideous. What about looking for and concentrating on the beautiful things around you, the things that can bring you joy? It doesn’t make the other stuff go away, but it does allow us to have a different perspective on your day, week and the rest of your life.

Taking it a step further, looking beyond the tangible items that bring us joy, we can read in Romans where Paul gave instructions we can live by. In Chapter 12, verses 9-13:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Not only can we keep our eyes open for things we can find joy in, but as these verses mention – “cling to what is good….Be joyful in hope.” If we took the time to do these things, or continue to do these things – we all would be in a much better place. May God give you the power to find joy and pass it along to others.