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)

 

Hope

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, September 22, 2022

If I could pick one spot to visit in Arches National Park, this would be it at Balanced Rock. Fortunately, there are many interesting places, so we were not limited to just one. The thing about Balanced Rock that interests me is how a relatively weak mound of mudstone can hold up such a large sandstone rock. The rock itself weighs around 3,600 tons which is over 3 million kg.

If I try to hold a small rock above my head, I get tired very quickly. So, I wonder what strength the atoms in the mudstone must have to hold up the rock.

We take rocks for granted. They are always hard and gritty and just go on doing their job without seeming to change. But when scientists try to see inside the silicon, oxygen, aluminum, and other atoms, there is practically nothing there except motion and forces. The forces are strong enough for each layer of atoms to hold up the tremendous weight of all the atoms above.

When God created the universe, he gave atoms, like in the rocks, these strong properties so we would have an environment to live.

Switching gears a little, it is easy to get discouraged with our situations and human environment. There is a promise God gave the Israelites that I believe applies to all of God’s followers.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 31:8

Just like God created a reliable environment of strong atoms, he also offers us a reliable environment of his care for us. When I see Balanced Rock, I think about hope in God’s plan for us.

The Cross

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, September 21, 2022

While walking in the woods near our home, I came across this plant and blooming flower. I took a few images, as the contrast in colors and the details of the flower and leaf veins caught my eye (and lens). Later, I realized the formation of the flower and buds were basically the shape of a cross. It struck me, not only is nature considered the second book, but our Creator can even be MORE creative by allowing us to see messages in His works.

The cross can be a symbol of many things, to many people. For me, I view it (among other things) as a symbol of hope. Jesus died on one made of wood, in a horrible way. Through His pain and anguish, we have the hope of a better future. A chance to live in peace and harmony, for all eternity. The cross is that reminder of what He had to bear, in order for us to have a chance at all.

When Jesus was calling for disciples to follow Him, He said:

Mark 8:34 (NIV) “…“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

In this situation Jesus symbolized the cross as a focal point – pushing all other concerns aside and only focusing on what truly matters. This too allows the symbol of the cross to be of hope of a better life. You see, when our focus is on the cross, the rest of the world will simply slip away. I pray you (and I) ensure our sights are on the cross.

Crested Caracara

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Out of place it was, and no one really had a good explanation why it was there. You see, the rather colorful Crested Caracara is generally found far south of where it was photographed in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Someone described it as a tropical falcon version of a vulture, but one that generally only reaches the U.S. in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. There it’s generally found in semi-open areas in the company of scrub oak, cactus, chaparral, and similar plants, not the lush evergreen setting where this one was located.

But the caracara is unusual in other ways as well. Rather than being a rapid flier like most falcons, it’s rather sluggish in its movements, preferring to hunt on foot rather than swift attacks from above. It also differs from other raptors in that when flying they will transport their prey clutched in their beaks rather than dangling from their talons. Some have suggested that the Crested Caracara was most likely the “eagle” depicted in pre-Columbian Aztec art. The bird has been adopted as the national symbol of Mexico, but reclassified as the Golden Eagle.

There are times when we seem to pride ourselves upon being unique or special, but there are other times when we so strongly want to be like the crowd we’re willing to barter away our distinctiveness and call for a king to be our ruler so we can be like everyone else. David recognized the danger his nation faced as they lost that which set them apart and he incorporated this into his prayer addressed to their true King: “And what other nation in all the earth is like Israel? You have made a unique nation and have redeemed it from Egypt so that the people could be your people. And you made a great name for yourself when you did glorious miracles in driving out the nations from before your people.” (1 Chronicles 17:21 Living Bible) In our desire to be socially acceptable, we too must be careful not to lose our distinctiveness.

 

Better Water

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, September 19, 2022

Where would we be without water?  I saw this trailer in an otherwise empty parking lot the other day.  I liked the artwork on it that says that water connects us all. The little symbol on the bottom left is for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Things are really topsy-turvy in the world today in regards to water.  Lots of people seem to either have too much water or too little.  Some people are dealing with flooding and some people are dealing with drought and resultant wildfires.  Water conservation is being encouraged in drought stricken areas and people are trying to figure out how to manage and prevent flooding in others.

I like the story in John about the Samaritan woman and Jesus. He was thirsty and asked her for a drink of water when he saw her at a well.  She was shocked that a Jewish man would ask a Samaritan woman for water because the Jews at the time refused to have anything to do with the Samaritans.

 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

  Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

John 4:10-14 (NLT)

Carpenter Supply

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath & Sunday, September 17 & 18, 2022

Speaking of bookstores (as I did in yesterday’s Photo Parable), Shelley and I fondly remember the now-shuttered Lifeway Christian Store near the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila. Prior to that, it had been a Family Christian Store, and in both formats it sold an impressive array of Christian devotional and reference works, though over time general Christian merchandise (coffee mugs with Bible verses, cross-shaped jewelry, and large inspirational paintings) began to encroach on the book section. And finally the Lifeway chain closed for good, pretty much all across the nation.

Not long ago Shelley and I were in that area, and while she was shopping at another store, I strolled over to where Lifeway had been. I saw what you see above—by an interesting coincidence, what used to be a store honoring Jesus the Nazareth carpenter is now a high-end carpentry-supply shop!

There’s something very relatable in remembering that the God who became Man spent the first thirty years of His life helping His adoptive dad create and repair useful, everyday items for human homes.

And once He’d washed the sawdust off His callused hands and started His three-year teaching ministry, He never forgot the ordinary people He was talking to. His parables spoke of lamps and salt and logs and garment-patches and wineskins and sowing and reaping and yeast and birds and flowers, and much more.

At the following link you’ll find a Bible-text biography of your Creator and Savior. Take a few minutes to get reacquainted with Him!

https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/jesus-christ

Empty Shelves

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, September 16, 2022

Books are quickly disappearing from the shelves of one of Shelley’s and my favorite bookstores. It’s not because the store is closing—it’s simply moving to a new location in the same city.

What’s kind of sad, though, is that the new location is smaller than this one, so the number of books will diminish as well. And not only because of lack of space; books that don’t haven’t sold well here won’t be as numerous there.

This past Sunday I thought of this as I paused to snap this photo. I hasten to say that I don’t think “Self-Transformation” is a category that is suffering. Do you see the sign down at the opposite end of this batch of shelves? Though you can’t read it, it says “Self-Transformation” too, which means that all the empty shelves you see were filled with books on this topic. And they’ll probably show up in equal numbers in the new store, because people hunger for the ability to change themselves into something better.

Jesus gives us a sobering reality check. If the kind of change you’re hoping for is moral development (the most important kind), you can’t find it in a book of human self-help philosophy. The Savior says flatly, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” (John 8:34 NKJV) But two verses later He gives this encouragement: “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (Verse 36)

How does this work? Here’s a link containing Bible texts which provide the answer:

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

Three Kings

Photo and Commentary ©2022 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, September 15, 2022

In Arches National Park, these rocks reminded me of three kings. I believe the actual name is the Three Gossips, located in the Courthouse area of the park. They seem to preside over the proceedings of the valley, so I prefer to think of them as three kings. The sky was a little hazy from smoke on this day.

I like how they are so huge, standing around 350 feet tall. In thinking about the story of Jesus, three kings came to pay their respects. It is kind of fun to think about these rocks representing that event in nature.

The birth of Jesus was an indescribably huge event with God sending his son to live with us for a time. Later on, at his second coming we will see Jesus again. In the mean time, we can live according to the knowledge we have of God’s plans.