Resurrection Morning 2017

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:8-19)

While Christmas is such a special time, the coming of the Messiah who was to save us from our sins, Easter is where Jesus Christ’s work was done. I think this holiday, when we commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior, is seldom given the importance it merits. This one particular event reconciled God and sinners…what could be greater than that?

Prior to Christ’s coming, the world was bound by God’s law. The Bible says that if a person transgresses the law in one point, he’s guilty of the whole law. Those are some pretty impossible commandments for a person to live by without breaking, aren’t they? Well, that’s kind of the point.

The people of Israel had to atone for their sins by giving blood sacrifices in the temple. They were told to sacrifice animals “without spot” or blemish by the law of Moses. That is, they had to sacrifice their best. The same thing applies to Jesus; we’re all sinners, so only a perfect sacrifice could be made on our behalf. Since there is “none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) there was no one able to make that sacrifice…until God sent his only begotten Son to die on our behalf. As Peter wrote:

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (I Peter 1:18-21)

Now you know why they refer to Jesus as “the Lamb of God.”

This comes back to the sad mistake of people trying to work their way to heaven by doing good works or following sacraments, or hoping that their good works outweigh their bad and somehow tip some sort of spiritual balance to make them “mostly good” and earn them a place in heaven some day. Neither of those things are outlined in God’s plan for salvation. Only the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross could pay the penalty for our sins.

This one time offering on our behalf has made a way for God and each sinner to be reconciled:

By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10-14)

Notice: doing any sort of ritualistic sacrifice can never take the place of what Jesus did, nor is there any need to perform that sacrifice again. The act performed on the cross stands not only as sufficient for all our sin, but as the only sacrifice capable of making atonement for us. No Saturday afternoon wafer required.

Things changed between God and man that day. Previously, people were not able to approach God in the temple; only a priest who had made atonement for his sins could do so. The holiest place in the temple was separated by a veil, so that not just anyone could approach God. When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was “rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38). There goes the priesthood, and the separation between God and men. An everlasting sacrifice was made by Jesus; no further sacrifice on the altar of the temple was necessary (or sufficient).

So now it’s up to each person to approach God on his/her own, in prayer. Jesus told his disciples, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24 Rather than perform a physical ritual through a priest, it is now up to each person to address God personally, spiritually, through prayer.

Look at the people who were saved in the New Testament after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. They simply believed in Him and in his death, burial, and resurrection. The very same things we commemorate this Easter weekend. They didn’t need absolution from a man; they didn’t need membership in a particular church; and they didn’t need to do it every Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. They simply acknowledged that they were sinners and put their faith in Jesus to save them. All that is required for eternal life in Heaven is that belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and acceptance that he died and rose again to save us sinners.

I could use a lot of keywords here as they appear in gospel tracts and literature, but I choose not to. Rather, I choose to just use my own words, because this message comes straight from my heart.

If you’ve never placed your trust in the sacrifice the Lord Jesus Christ made on your behalf, I urge you to do so today. It’s not some fancy ritual; rather, it’s the act of a sinner getting his heart right with God, talking to Him one-to-one in prayer as a child to a father. It’s a beautiful thing, and you’ll see Him someday in heaven.

If you live in Bismarck-Mandan, you are very statistically likely to attend church at least semi-regularly. Even if your attendance is spotty at best, today’s likely one of the days you do attend. But how many people, churchgoing and otherwise, realize the importance of this day?

Just like anything you possess, your soul has an owner’s manual: the Bible. If you haven’t read the owner’s manual, you don’t know how to fulfill God’s plan in you. And that plan was made ready on Easter.

I grew up Catholic. We were taught that we had to jump through all kinds of hoops, performing sacraments and that sort of thing, and could not know how to get to Heaven. Yet the theme of the entire Bible is that God gives us a way to return to him, repenting of our sins and confessing our belief in the sacrifice he made for us. That’s not just a few verses plucked out here and there to suit the message Christians want to hear. It is everywhere, in the Old and New Testaments.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, ye rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
(I Timothy 2:5-6)

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
(Luke 24:45-47)

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15: 1-5,21-22)

People everywhere are trying to earn their way to heaven and work their way there. We are unable to do this. The Bible says that there are “none righteous, no, not one.” We’re all sinners. And there is one way to true life: repentance and faith in Jesus.

What did Paul, the apostle to the non-Jews, write to the church in Rome?

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(Romans 10:8-13)

That’s it. That’s how you are redeemed and have a new heart, a new life, and eternal life that no one can take from you. If you’re going to church and don’t believe the above, you might as well not go at all. Because if you pick and choose the parts of Christianity you want to believe, then you might as well throw the whole thing out. That’s not for you to choose.

So if you want the truth, pick up the King James Bible and read it. All of it. You’ll be surprised at the continuity of it and the things that you never knew were in there (and the things that are NOT in there!). If you don’t put your faith in the Bible, you have no reason to be part of a church that claims to profess Jesus, regardless of its denomination.

The Bible is very clear: to be a Christian means to believe by faith that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and that he died on the cross for your sins, and he rose again to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible. Ask God to apply that price that Jesus paid on your behalf. That’s it! The Bible is about faith and personal trust in God from the beginning all the way to the end.

Do the research. Find out for yourself what God’s word really means, don’t just take it for granted by hearsay or tradition. And trust in Christ this Easter day, and it truly will be a resurrection morning!

Happy Birthday!

capitol_2017_44339You’d think I would be wishing you a Happy New Year, but that’s so cliche’.  Instead I’m celebrating the birthday of this website.  It was New Year’s Day 2006 when I started this thing with a photo of the year in the capitol windows.  Since then I’ve written thousands of posts, with more thousands of photos, and I’m still standing.

I used to post almost daily, and wondered how long it would be until I simply ran out of material.  That hasn’t happened.  There have been plenty of life changes since then…kids, new house, severe medical setbacks, and just generally being busy.  For instance, it’s been two months since I’ve taken any significant photos, even though I bought a new drone in December!  Life is like that some times.

I’m hoping the next couple of months bring a slowdown so I can get back to doing what I enjoy: roaming Bismarck-Mandan and other parts of North Dakota, having fun with my cameras and sharing the results here.  Hopefully there will be many more anniversaries like this one each New Year’s Day!

The four most important words you’ll hear this Christmas


Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.

One ubiquitous Christmas holiday phrase is “Peace on Earth.” As the hymn above shows, that is entirely appropriate; however, we tend to assign an earthly context to it by mistake. It’s not about peace between men at all; rather, it means peace between men and God. Those four most important words I alluded to in the title are the last four in the verse above: “God and sinners reconciled.” That is the source of peace on earth.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14)

That peace and good will didn’t transmit from man to man; it came from God to all men. Since the fall of Adam, that peace between God and men did not exist. By giving the gift of His son, however, God was offering that peace and good will to men once again:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

There’s your peace…

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:18)

Repeatedly in the Old and New Testaments, the Bible reminds us that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:23 points out that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We need as Savior, one whose birth we celebrate each Christmas. As the angel told Joseph:

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20)

This was the Savior foretold by the prophets. For example:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

God’s desire is to restore that fellowship and peace, reconciling (see those four important words once again) us to Him through his Son:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…”

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I believe what Jesus says in the Bible: “you must be born again.” He means that in order to be forgiven and assured a place in heaven, you must put your faith and trust in Him. We can not do anything to assuage the sin that we carry in our lives; only He can.

By placing your belief and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, acknowledging that He made the only sufficient sacrifice for them on the cross, you can be saved. Only then will you be able to truly partake in that “peace on earth” that the angel of the Lord spoke of when declaring good news to those shepherds.

I love the spirit of Christmas as much as, if not more than, the next guy… but the joy, the spirit, the family time, the celebrations, the lights, the gifts… those are all simply a by-product and a shadow of the joy that God extends to each and every person through His son, the one through whom we enjoy unspeakable joy and peace each Christmas and throughout the year.

2016 Christmas Music Playlist: Quality, not quantity

Charlie-Brown-ChristmasLast year I posted a lengthy Christmas music playlist, but to be honest I felt the need to pare down my playlist for this year.  Don’t get me wrong, I have still been adding music to my collection…after all, what kind of connoisseur would I be if I didn’t? But I did trim the fat a little bit, decreasing the odds of getting two or three of the same song (via different artists) in succession while shuffling in iTunes or on a mobile device.

Here’s what I have going on this year so far (I’m not above adding more to this list later):

Somewhere in My Memory (Chorus & Orchestra Version) – John Williams
Snoopy’s Christmas – Royal Guardsmen
Carol of the Bells – David Benoit
Candy Cane Christmas – Darius Rucker
Run Rudolph Run – Bryan Adams
Winter Wonderland (Christian Prommer Remix) – Shirley Horn
I Pray On Christmas – Harry Connick, Jr.
We Need a Little Christmas – Percy Faith
Jingle Bells – Count Basie Orchestra
The Star Carol – Simon & Garfunkel
We Wish You a Merry Christmas / Silent Night, Holy Night / O Come, All Ye Faithful / Jingle Bells / Where Is Love – Tony Bennett
Dominick the Donkey – Lou Monte
Christmastime Again – MercyMe
The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year (Music from the Videocraft TV Musical Spectacular) – Burl Ives
Snow (From White Christmas) – Seth MacFarlane
O Come All Ye Faithful – Amy Grant
Sleigh Ride – The Ventures
I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You – Claudine Longet
All the Love – XO-IQ
O Holy Night – Ray Conniff Singers
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
Silent Night – Sarah Brightman
Snow Snow Snow – Band of Merrymakers
Go Where I Send Thee – Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians
Merry Christmas Polka – Tex Ritter
We Three Kings – The Edwin Hawkins Singers
Christmas Medley (From “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” TV Special) – Burl Ives
Suzy Snowflake – Dale Evans
What I Didn’t Get for Christmas – Jimmy Buffett
Here We Come A-Caroling – The New Christy Minstrels
My Favorite Things – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
White Winter Hymnal – Pentatonix
I Saw Three Ships – Sting
The Amens – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Must Be Santa – Bob Dylan
Jingle Bell Rock – Brenda Lee
Name – Artist
Zat You Santa Claus – Louis Armstrong
All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
My Everything – Owl City
Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance! – Sufjan Stevens
Where Did the Snowman Go – Petula Clark
Jing-a-Ling, Jing-a-Ling – The Andrews Sisters
Light of Christmas (feat. tobyMac) – Owl City
The First Noel – David Archuleta
I’m a Little Christmas Cracker – Diana Decker
Jing, Jing, Jingle – XO-IQ
Silver And Gold (Music from the Videocraft TV Musical Spectacular) – Burl Ives
The Things We Did Last Summer – Dean Martin
Pat-A-Pan / While Shepherds Watched Their Flock – Bing Crosby
Christmas Medley – Neil Diamond
Wish List – Neon Trees
Christmas At the Airport – Nick Lowe
What God Wants For Christmas – Darius Rucker
Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) – Elvis Presley
White Christmas – The Drifters
It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
Carol of the Bells / Jingle Bells – Barry Manilow
All I Want for Christmas Is You – The 88
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Rascal Flatts
Stille Nacht (Silent Night) – Mannheim Steamroller
Christmas in Killarney – Bing Crosby
Frosty the Snowman – Jimmy Durante
O Holy Night – John Williams & Chorus
Shake Hands with Santa Claus – Louis Prima
What a Glorious Night – Sidewalk Prophets
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Gayla Peevey
The First Noel  – Plácido Domingo & Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) [Single Version] – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus – Brenda Lee
Dream a Dream – Charlotte Church
The Twelve Days of Christmas – Mitch Miller & The Gang
Song of the Sleighbells – June Hutton
Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24 (Instrumental) – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Deck the Halls (Stephen “Shebby” Ruchelman Remix) – XO-IQ
Santa’s Beard – The Beach Boys
It’s Christmas Time – The Five Keys
Merry & Bright – The Ellas
A Christmas Prayer – The Penguins
A Marshmallow World – Dean Martin
Christmas In Hollis – Run-DMC
O Tannenbaum – Naturally 7
Peppermint Winter – Owl City
O Holy Night – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson
Yabba-Dabba Yuletide (extended) – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Hallelujah (Remix) – Mannheim Steamroller
Thirty Two Feet, Eight Little Tails – Dale Evans
Joy to the World – Mannheim Steamroller
It’s Christmas (Medley) [Live] – Chris Tomlin
Happy Holidays – Percy Faith & His Orchestra and Chorus
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Norah Jones
Christmas Lights – Coldplay
Last Christmas (Studio Version) – Jimmy Eat World
Angels We Have Heard On High – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Christmas Dinner Country Style – Bing Crosby
Christmas As I Knew It – Johnny Cash
Sleigh Ride – Johnny Mathis
Deck the Halls – Mannheim Steamroller
The Merriest – June Christy
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (A Shrift Remix) – Andy Williams
Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental) – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Winter Wonderland (Bonus Track) – Jason Mraz
Another Christmas Song – Stephen Colbert
Little Jack Frost Get Lost – Frankie Carle and His Orchestra
He Shall Reign Forevermore (Live) – Chris Tomlin
O Come, O Come – MercyMe
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Mannheim Steamroller
Joy to the World – Percy Faith
Jingle Bells – Band of Merrymakers
It Snowed – Meaghan Smith
They Shined up Rudolphs Nose – Johnny Horton
What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder
We Wish You a Merry Christmas – Weezer
My Favorite Things – Kelly Clarkson
The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle – Burt Bacharach
December Prayer – Idina Menzel
I Believe in Christmas – Glen Campbell
Christmas Dreaming – Seth MacFarlane
Auld Lange Syne – The Lonesome Travelers
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
I Wanna Spend Christmas with Elvis – Marlene Paula
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2
Little Saint Nick (Single Version) – The Beach Boys
Children Go Where I Send Thee – Nick Lowe
The Little Drummer Boy – Harry Simeone Chorale
Rise Up Shepherd – Nick Lowe
Sing We Now of Christmas – Straight No Chaser
Twinkling Lights (feat. Syd Butler, Seth Jabour & Amy Carlson) – Office Romance
Christmas the Whole Year Round – Sabrina Carpenter
Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town – Wayne Newton
The Christmas Song – Mel Tormé
O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Very Merry Christmas – Dave Barnes
Jingle Jangle – The Penguins
Humbug – Greg Lake
Christmas Is – Run-DMC
Mistletoe & Holly – Robert Davi
Carol of the Bells – Mannheim Steamroller
Light of Christmas (feat. tobyMac) – Owl City
Gabriel’s Message – Sting
What Child Is This (Greensleeves) – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson

Most of these are available on iTunes, but I lack the ambition tonight to build the links. 🙂  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Nick Lowe.  You may remember his one big USA Top 40 hit in the 80s, “Cruel to Be Kind”.  He is the single greatest surprise I encountered when looking for new Christmas music.  You owe it to yourself to check him out.
  • Owl City (Adam Young): He’s got some awesome Christmas tunes, one of which is featured in a Veggie Tales film.  I have three in this playlist.  One is not Christmas specific, but a great tune nonetheless.
  • Sidewalk Prophets: I admit, I’m a sucker for any song that starts out with dialogue from A Charlie Brown Christmas.  But it’s a great song anyway.
  • The Brian Setzer Orchestra: These guys have a really upbeat take on Christmas music, and I especially like their Yabba Dabba Yuletide (obviously to the tune of the Flintstones theme).
  • Actor Robert Davi channels a pretty good SInatra.  I’ve seen him in dozens of films and TV appearances, but I always think of him of the Bond villain Sanchez in “Licence to Kill”.

I have lots of the old classics…the Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and the like. But in this list I’m more selective with the old standards and trying to painstakingly grab the best of the newer stuff.  I hope you like it.

In that resurrection morning

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:8-19)

While Christmas is such a special time, the coming of the Messiah who was to save us from our sins, Easter is where Jesus Christ’s work was done. I think this holiday, when we commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior, is seldom given the importance it merits. This one particular event reconciled God and sinners…what could be greater than that?

Prior to Christ’s coming, the world was bound by God’s law. The Bible says that if a person transgresses the law in one point, he’s guilty of the whole law. Those are some pretty impossible commandments for a person to live by without breaking, aren’t they? Well, that’s kind of the point.

The people of Israel had to atone for their sins by giving blood sacrifices in the temple. They were told to sacrifice animals “without spot” or blemish by the law of Moses. That is, they had to sacrifice their best. The same thing applies to Jesus; we’re all sinners, so only a perfect sacrifice could be made on our behalf. Since there is “none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) there was no one able to make that sacrifice…until God sent his only begotten Son to die on our behalf. As Peter wrote:

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (I Peter 1:18-21)

Now you know why they refer to Jesus as “the Lamb of God.”

This comes back to the sad mistake of people trying to work their way to heaven by doing good works or following sacraments, or hoping that their good works outweigh their bad and somehow tip some sort of spiritual balance to make them “mostly good” and earn them a place in heaven some day. Neither of those things are outlined in God’s plan for salvation. Only the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross could pay the penalty for our sins.

This one time offering on our behalf has made a way for God and each sinner to be reconciled:

By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10-14)

Notice: doing any sort of ritualistic sacrifice can never take the place of what Jesus did, nor is there any need to perform that sacrifice again. The act performed on the cross stands not only as sufficient for all our sin, but as the only sacrifice capable of making atonement for us. No Saturday afternoon wafer required.

Things changed between God and man that day. Previously, people were not able to approach God in the temple; only a priest who had made atonement for his sins could do so. The holiest place in the temple was separated by a veil, so that not just anyone could approach God. When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was “rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38). There goes the priesthood, and the separation between God and men. An everlasting sacrifice was made by Jesus; no further sacrifice on the altar of the temple was necessary (or sufficient).

So now it’s up to each person to approach God on his/her own, in prayer. Jesus told his disciples, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24 Rather than perform a physical ritual through a priest, it is now up to each person to address God personally, spiritually, through prayer.

Look at the people who were saved in the New Testament after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. They simply believed in Him and in his death, burial, and resurrection. The very same things we commemorate this Easter weekend. They didn’t need absolution from a man; they didn’t need membership in a particular church; and they didn’t need to do it every Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. They simply acknowledged that they were sinners and put their faith in Jesus to save them. All that is required for eternal life in Heaven is that belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and acceptance that he died and rose again to save us sinners.

I could use a lot of keywords here as they appear in gospel tracts and literature, but I choose not to. Rather, I choose to just use my own words, because this message comes straight from my heart.

If you’ve never placed your trust in the sacrifice the Lord Jesus Christ made on your behalf, I urge you to do so today. It’s not some fancy ritual; rather, it’s the act of a sinner getting his heart right with God, talking to Him one-to-one in prayer as a child to a father. It’s a beautiful thing, and you’ll see Him someday in heaven.

If you live in Bismarck-Mandan, you are very statistically likely to attend church at least semi-regularly. Even if your attendance is spotty at best, today’s likely one of the days you do attend. But how many people, churchgoing and otherwise, realize the importance of this day?

Just like anything you possess, your soul has an owner’s manual: the Bible. If you haven’t read the owner’s manual, you don’t know how to fulfill God’s plan in you. And that plan was made ready on Easter.

I grew up Catholic. We were taught that we had to jump through all kinds of hoops, performing sacraments and that sort of thing, and could not know how to get to Heaven. Yet the theme of the entire Bible is that God gives us a way to return to him, repenting of our sins and confessing our belief in the sacrifice he made for us. That’s not just a few verses plucked out here and there to suit the message Christians want to hear. It is everywhere, in the Old and New Testaments.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, ye rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
(I Timothy 2:5-6)

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
(Luke 24:45-47)

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15: 1-5,21-22)

People everywhere are trying to earn their way to heaven and work their way there. We are unable to do this. The Bible says that there are “none righteous, no, not one.” We’re all sinners. And there is one way to true life: repentance and faith in Jesus.

What did Paul, the apostle to the non-Jews, write to the church in Rome?

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(Romans 10:8-13)

That’s it. That’s how you are redeemed and have a new heart, a new life, and eternal life that no one can take from you. If you’re going to church and don’t believe the above, you might as well not go at all. Because if you pick and choose the parts of Christianity you want to believe, then you might as well throw the whole thing out. That’s not for you to choose.

So if you want the truth, pick up the King James Bible and read it. All of it. You’ll be surprised at the continuity of it and the things that you never knew were in there (and the things that are NOT in there!). If you don’t put your faith in the Bible, you have no reason to be part of a church that claims to profess Jesus, regardless of its denomination.

The Bible is very clear: to be a Christian means to believe by faith that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and that he died on the cross for your sins, and he rose again to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible. Ask God to apply that price that Jesus paid on your behalf. That’s it! The Bible is about faith and personal trust in God from the beginning all the way to the end.

Do the research. Find out for yourself what God’s word really means, don’t just take it for granted by hearsay or tradition. And trust in Christ this Easter day, and it truly will be a resurrection morning!

Easter kudos for Scheels

scheels_easter_ip_1416I went to Scheels to look at ammunition yesterday and was pleased to find these signs around the store.  It’s nice to see a business which still regards the most important Christmas holiday!  It was actually a thrill to see a regional business stand up to pressure against Christianity in public.  In the future I won’t even consider going to another sporting goods store (especially one that doesn’t even carry handguns, ahem).

 

scheels_easter_ip_1417The greatest news ever given.  I was elated to see it proclaimed at Scheel’s.  Not only is the company giving its employees to celebrate as they wish, but they’re also proclaiming the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ – good news that I’m willing to bet is enjoyed by the majority of Scheels’ customers.

Thanks again to Scheels and other North Dakota businesses who support people of faith and stand up for what’s right!

A brilliant new feature at the state capitol

capitol_new_star_36168If you’re like me and enjoy taking in the sight of the decorated capitol building each Christmas, then I’m sure you noticed something brilliantly new this year about the decorations.  In fact, it is visible from a long distance away: the new lighting on the stars atop the tower.

 

capitol_new_star_36181An interesting anecdote about these stars: my best friend’s dad built them and, in an old-school display of awesomeness, airlifted them to the top of the tower with a National Guard helicopter.  This was about 45 years ago.  They have since been touched up with welding to repair corrosion on the tips, had their mounts modified, been updated with different lighting sometime in the 80s, and they now sport some awesome LED light bars.

 

capitol_new_star_36190Like a nice, white, star-shaped cherry on top.  At a friend’s house on the big hill directly east of the tower, you can still see the stars from a 90 degree angle.  They originally caught my eye from east Century Avenue!  In other words, these stars are extremely visible and make a fantastic accent to the Christmas decoration of the tower windows.

I don’t care if today is the 29th.  Merry Christmas!

My Christmas music playlist for 2015

Charlie-Brown-ChristmasI know, Christmas is so yesterday.  Literally.  But I don’t care, I’m going to continue the Christmas spirit for a while. One of the things I do is to pump Christmas music out on  102.5 FM using an extremely low-power FCC-legal transmitter, allowing me to turn on a radio anywhere on my property and listen to the music playing on my garage computer.  I love Christmas music, and it’s great to be able to have it on in the background wherever I may be when I’m at home.

If you’re into Christmas music, I invite you to peruse this meticulously prepared Christmas playlist.  Clocking in at nine hours and fifty minutes in duration, it’s enough to play throughout the day with nary a repeat.  There are some real gems here, and I have no problem admitting that I’m a little proud of the collection I’ve curated this year.   They appear in no particular order; in fact, I went out of my way to randomize them.

Next year I will have to select a new frequency, as Dakota Media Access will be broadcasting on that frequency.  Now worries, a flip of a few DIP switches and I’ll be happy as a clam on another vacant frequency.  My sincere hope is that some of you take the time to check out some of these songs on iTunes and enjoy them for yourselves in future Christmases.

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Bing Crosby
The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year – Burl Ives
Gabriel’s Message – Sting
Jingle Bells – Count Basie Orchestra
Yabba-Dabba Yuletide (extended) – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Dean Martin
Deck the Halls – Mannheim Steamroller
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – The Andrews Sisters
He Shall Reign Forevermore (Live) – Chris Tomlin
Christmas Candles – The Andrews Sisters
The Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby
The Little Drummer Boy – Johnny Cash
Winter Wonderland – The Andrews Sisters
I Wish You a Merry Christmas – Bing Crosby
Sleigh Bells – Gene Autry
All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
Mistletoe & Holly – Robert Davi
Song of the Sleighbells – June Hutton
Silent Night – Jingle Cats
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2
Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy (With Dialogue) – Bing Crosby & David Bowie
Silent Night (1947 Single) – Bing Crosby
Little Jack Frost Get Lost – Frankie Carle and His Orchestra
A Merry Christmas At Grandmother’s (feat. Danny Kaye) – The Andrews Sisters
White Winter Hymnal – Pentatonix
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (A Shrift Remix) – Andy Williams
Christmas in Killarney – Bing Crosby
Here Comes Santa Claus [feat. Bing Crosby] – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas Alphabet – The McGuire Sisters
The Little Drummer Boy – Harry Simeone Chorale
Christmas Dreaming – Seth MacFarlane
Look Out the Window – Gene Autry & Rosemary Clooney
Christmas Dinner Country Style – Bing Crosby
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Thurl Ravenscroft
Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer – Dr. Elmo
Here We Come A-Caroling – The New Christy Minstrels
The Reindeer Boogie – Hank Snow
That’s What Christmas Means to Me – Eddie Fisher
The Things We Did Last Summer – Dean Martin
What Child Is This – Vince Guaraldi Trio
We Need a Little Christmas – Percy Faith
Peppermint Winter – Owl City
Twelve Days of Christmas (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
The First Snowfall (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Carol of the Bells – Mannheim Steamroller
Happy Holidays – Percy Faith & His Orchestra and Chorus
O Holy Night – Ray Conniff Singers
Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Santa Claus Meets the Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
What God Wants For Christmas – Darius Rucker
It Snowed – Meaghan Smith
When It’s Christmas on the Range – Bob Wills
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24 (Instrumental) – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Christmas on the Plains – Roy Rogers
A Marshmallow World – Dean Martin
Suzy Snowflake – Dale Evans
Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance! – Sufjan Stevens
Jingle Bells – Dean Martin
The Christmas Song – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Hark, The Herald Angels Sing – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Nuttin’ for Christmas – Barry Gordon
The Walk – Dickon Hinchliffe
Silent Night – Dean Martin
Sleigh Ride – The Ventures
Away in a Manger – Jeannie C. Riley
I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Single) – Bing Crosby
Star of Wonder – Sufjan Stevens
O Come, O Come – MercyMe
Winter Wonderland – Bing Crosby
It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
Silver Bells – Dean Martin
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
O Fir Tree Dark (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
The Littlest Angel – Bing Crosby
Thirty Two Feet, Eight Little Tails – Dale Evans
Christmas the Whole Year Round – Sabrina Carpenter
We Are Santa’s Elves – Burl Ives
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers – The Andrews Sisters
Sleigh Ride – The Andrews Sisters
The Christmas Song – Mel Tormé
Joy to the World – Percy Faith
O Tannenbaum – Naturally 7
Mele Kalikimaka (the Hawaiian Christmas Song) [feat. Bing Crosby] – The Andrews Sisters
Carol of the Bells / Jingle Bells – Barry Manilow
Christmas Island – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental) – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Run Rudolph Run – Bryan Adams
O Holy Night – Sufjan Stevens
Light of Christmas (feat. tobyMac) – Owl City
Christmas Carols by the Old Corral – Tex Ritter
If Santa Could Bring You Back to Me – Jimmy Wakely
Great Pumpkin Waltz – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Old Tex Kringle – Tex Ritter
Here Comes Santa Claus – Gene Autry
Frosty the Snowman – Jimmy Durante
Winter Wonderland – Dean Martin
The Winter Solstice – Sufjan Stevens
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Bing Crosby
White Christmas (1947 Single) – Bing Crosby
Jingle Bells (Single) – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
The Christmas Song (Chestnut Song) – Love Tractor
Humbug – Greg Lake
Peace On Earth / Silent Night – Dean Martin
Winter Wonderland (Bonus Track) – Jason Mraz
Auld Lange Syne – The Lonesome Travelers
Silver And Gold – Burl Ives
Silver Bells – Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely
Christmastime Again – MercyMe
Where Did My Snowman Go? – Gene Autry
Christmas Medley (Music from the Videocraft TV Musical Spectacular) – Burl Ives
Frosty the Snowman – Bing Crosby
What a Glorious Night – Sidewalk Prophets
Angels We Have Heard On High – Aretha Franklin
Christmas As I Knew It – Johnny Cash
Pat-A-Pan / While Shepherds Watched Their Flock – Bing Crosby
I Saw Three Ships – Sting
Für Elise – Vince Guaraldi Trio
White Christmas – Dean Martin
I’d Like to Hitch a Ride With Santa Claus – The Andrews Sisters
The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – David Seville & The Chipmunks
Jingle Bells – The Singing Dogs
The Twelve Days of Christmas – Mitch Miller & The Gang
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Dean Martin
Poppa Santa Claus (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
O Holy Night – John Williams & Chorus
Jing-a-Ling, Jing-a-Ling – The Andrews Sisters
Silent Night – Eddy Raven
December Prayer – Idina Menzel
Blue Christmas – Dean Martin
Skating – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (Single) – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Faith of Our Fathers (Single) – Bing Crosby
Jingle Jingle Jingle – Burl Ives
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Bing Crosby
Only at Christmas Time – Sufjan Stevens
Blue Snowflakes – Ernest Tubb
The Closing Of The Year (Reprise) – Happy Workers (“Toys” Soundtrack)
Up On the Housetop – Gene Autry
Jangle Bells – Love Tractor
My Little Drum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You (feat. Bing Crosby & Nat “King” Cole) – The Andrews Sisters
Joy to the World – Jeannie C. Riley
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Bing Crosby
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry
Happy Holiday (Beef Wellington Remix) – Bing Crosby
What Child Is This? / The Holly and the Ivy – Bing Crosby
O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
What Child Is This (Greensleeves) – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson
Do You Hear What I Hear? – Bing Crosby
Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Little Donkey – Beverly Sisters
Winter Wonderland (feat. Perry Como) – The Andrews Sisters
All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth (feat. Danny Kaye) – The Andrews Sisters
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
Snow Snow Snow – Band of Merrymakers
Santa’s Beard – The Beach Boys
You’re All I Want for Christmas (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas in Killarney (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Silver Bells (Single) – Bing Crosby & Carole Richards
Jingle Bells (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Thanksgiving Theme – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Snoopy’s Christmas – Royal Guardsmen
Chiron Beta Prime – Jonathan Coulton
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
Jingle Bell Rock – Brenda Lee
Somewhere in My Memory (Chorus & Orchestra Version) – John Williams
White Christmas – The Drifters
O Holy Night – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson
Is Christmas Only a Tree (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Christmas Is Coming – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Merry Christmas Polka – Tex Ritter
Very Merry Christmas – Dave Barnes
Overture and A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
Track Meet – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Christmas Candles (feat. Curt Massey) – The Andrews Sisters
It’s Christmas (Medley) [Live] – Chris Tomlin
Joy to the World – Mannheim Steamroller
Hallelujah (Remix) [Bonus Track] – Mannheim Steamroller
I Pray On Christmas – Harry Connick Jr.
Jingle Bells – Band of Merrymakers
Winter Wonderland (Christian Prommer Remix) – Shirley Horn
Blue Christmas – Ernest Tubb
Snow (From White Christmas) – Seth MacFarlane
Adeste Fideles (1942 Single) – Bing Crosby
Little Saint Nick (Single Version) – The Beach Boys
Greensleeves – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Wonderful Christmas Night – Roy Rogers & Dale Evans
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Single) – Bing Crosby
Christmas Candy – Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely
O Holy Night – Bing Crosby
My Everything – Owl City
Angels We Have Heard on High – Sufjan Stevens
The Merry Christmas Polka – The Andrews Sisters
The Star Carol – Simon & Garfunkel
The Christmas Tree Angel – The Andrews Sisters
Be a Child at Christmas Time – Doris Day
Last Christmas (Studio Version) – Jimmy Eat World
Frosty the Snowman – Gene Autry
Happy Holiday (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters

2015: the first “non-organic” Christmas tree at the Capitol

capitol_fake_tree_36123-5_hdrHere she is: the 2015 Christmas tree in the Capitol’s Memorial Hall. I wrote earlier about its assembly as the first artificial tree in Memorial Hall.  You may have heard about it a day or two later from one of the mainstream media stations/publications that follow my Twitter feed.

 

capitol_fake_tree_36131It’s a biggun, too.  Whereas previous trees were in the 24 foot range, this looks considerably taller.  In fact, as you can tell from the photo above, I couldn’t even take its photo from my usual location:

 

capitol_tree_32410This is how I would photograph previous trees, but this new one is so tall that the hanging light fixture completely obscures several feet of the tree top.

 

_MG_36149See what I mean?  That’s why I had to take the photo from an angle this year to get a pleasing perspective of the tree.  That’s okay, I get more windows (and the candle-shaped light in the windows) that way.

 

capitol_fake_tree_36135-7_hdrNo room for presents underneath, although that’s probably never been an issue.  While I’m extremely disappointed that we won’t have real trees again, this “tree” does have two redeeming features.  The first is that since it isn’t a fire hazard they can hang electrical lights on it.  In fact, the post I referenced earlier shows that the branches come with LED lights already affixed.  The other is that it has a LOT of real estate for the donated ornaments that come in from North Dakotans via the ND Council On the Arts.

So, this is what change looks like.  Again, as a matter of general principle I prefer a real tree.  But this artificial one is not without its merits.  Since it doesn’t change from year to year, I probably won’t be back next Christmas to photograph it.  I might see if there are any individual ornaments that catch my eye, and share photos of those, but other than that the Christmas tree will be on repeat in future Christmases.

Merry Christmas!

The four most important words you’ll hear this Christmas


Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.

One ubiquitous Christmas holiday phrase is “Peace on Earth.” As the hymn above shows, that is entirely appropriate; however, we tend to assign an earthly context to it by mistake. It’s not about peace between men at all; rather, it means peace between men and God. Those four most important words I alluded to in the title are the last four in the verse above: “God and sinners reconciled.” That is the source of peace on earth.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14)

That peace and good will didn’t transmit from man to man; it came from God to all men. Since the fall of Adam, that peace between God and men did not exist. By giving the gift of His son, however, God was offering that peace and good will to men once again:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

There’s your peace…

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:18)

Repeatedly in the Old and New Testaments, the Bible reminds us that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:23 points out that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We need as Savior, one whose birth we celebrate each Christmas. As the angel told Joseph:

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20)

This was the Savior foretold by the prophets. For example:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

God’s desire is to restore that fellowship and peace, reconciling (see those four important words once again) us to Him through his Son:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…”

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I believe what Jesus says in the Bible: “you must be born again.” He means that in order to be forgiven and assured a place in heaven, you must put your faith and trust in Him. We can not do anything to assuage the sin that we carry in our lives; only He can.

By placing your belief and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, acknowledging that He made the only sufficient sacrifice for them on the cross, you can be saved. Only then will you be able to truly partake in that “peace on earth” that the angel of the Lord spoke of when declaring good news to those shepherds.

I love the spirit of Christmas as much as, if not more than, the next guy… but the joy, the spirit, the family time, the celebrations, the lights, the gifts… those are all simply a by-product and a shadow of the joy that God extends to each and every person through His son, the one through whom we enjoy unspeakable joy and peace each Christmas and throughout the year.