Fifteen years in the books

The photo above is the one which started it all. I had picked up photography in 2005, and I wanted a place to share it. And so it began on New Year’s Day, 2006. And, like many of you, I’ve made a tradition of visiting the capitol on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, whichever works out. I’ve only missed it once, a few years ago when I was busy having surgery at Mayo Clinic. Otherwise, I’ve a spotless record.

Ya know what’s tough? Finding new angles after fifteen trips to the capitol on a cold winter’s night! But I try…and thankfully, the capitol grounds have changed a bit over the years. This angle, however, has always been here. I discovered it last year, and took another crack at it this year with a slightly different twist. Last year I didn’t feature the columns.

It’s said that good artists borrow, and great artists steal. I’m borrowing this angle from my friend Kyle. I didn’t duplicate what he did exactly, but I like my treatment of this one. Previously I’d featured the entire statue, but this is a more interesting perspective.

These guys are totally lit for New Year’s Eve.

Remember how I said the capitol has changed over the years? One thing is the lights on the pioneer statue on the capitol mall. Its look has changed a lot over the decades; I have an old postcard on which they’re surrounded by flowers, granite posts, and a chain to protect the flower beds. But I’ve never seen this statue lit before. It saves me the trouble of lugging remote flash units out there!

Okay, I brought lighting for this one.

One other way in which the capitol has changed is the new monument/sign at the south entrance to the grounds. This is its first New Year’s Eve, so of course I had to find a way to work it in. Thankfully I was able to find a spot that included the pioneer statue, the entrance sign, and the capitol itself.

The new sign is really nice, and has its own lighting, but that leaves a lot to be desired. For some reason they opted not to light the state seal! It’s normally a dark gap in between the text. It’s less obvious in this processed, long-exposure photo; it’s a dark gap otherwise. I have a painfully bright tactical flashlight on me these days, and parking it in the snow provided some much-needed fill light in the center of this new addition (you can tell in the photo above this one).

The capitol has a nice backside, too. Thankfully the numbers are on all four sides. As I took this, it was the wee hours of the morning and the weather was starting to do some weird things. There was some sort of temperature inversion or something causing the exhaust from the refinery and/or power plant to hang low in the sky, drifting southward. That’s the line you see in the sky behind the capitol tower. As I drove home later, the same thing was happening at ground level with the exhaust from home furnaces in my neighborhood. This morning it’s just plain foggy.

And we might as well go vertical for the last one. I do a wide-angle shot of the capitol grounds from the northeast for the banner of my blog’s Facebook page, which you can see by clicking here. That’s another tradition I’m glad to uphold.

I didn’t take a lot of photos in 2020. In fact, my camera barely left the bag this year, aside from a brief period of awesomeness in June. But I’m glad that, of all the things 2020 took from us, it didn’t take this annual labor of love away from me.

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!

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, taught by wonderful parents to love and respect the Lord from the very beginning. In catechism we were taught that we had to rely on good deeds, performing sacraments and that sort of thing, yet could not know how to get to Heaven. But 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!

Running out of angles

I’ve photographed this building from all over the place, including the air, and I’ve taken photos while hanging off of its roof on multiple occasions. So I struggle with trying to find something different each year. I don’t think I’ve tried this one, so it seems like a suitable way to ring in the new year.

My eclectic Christmas 2017 playlist (with links)

I know Christmas is only a couple days away, and I should have done this three weeks ago, but here it is: my 2017 Christmas Playlist.  It runs on my iPod and a little FM broadcast so I can tune it by radio anywhere on my property.  It’s an odd yet comprehensive mix, just over 1/4 of my actual Christmas collection, and I’m certain there’s something in here for everyone.

These are links, folks…almost every one of these songs is available on YouTube or iTunes.  Enjoy!  If you find ones that you like, leave a comment.  For my favorites, I’m actually embedding the videos…but I’m not about to do that for over about a hundred and seventy of them! So let’s get started…


Glow – Brett Eldredge

The Nutcracker Suite – Les Brown & His Band of Renown
Sleigh Ride – Ferrante & Teicher
Silent Night – Sinéad O’Connor
Dig That Crazy Santa Claus – Honey Jumpers
Christmas As I Knew It – Johnny Cash
Getting’ In the Mood (For Christmas) – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year – Burl Ives


The First Snowfall (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters

Christmas in Heaven – Scotty McCreery
A Strange Way To Save the World – Rascal Flatts
Ding Dong Merrily On High (The Celebration’s Starting) – Rend Collective
Everybody’s Waitn’ for the Man with the Bag – Kay Starr
The Christmas Waltz – Leslie Odom Jr.


Go Where I Send Thee – Fred Waring & the Pennsylvanians

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Pentatonix
When We Are Together – The Tenors
Make Room – Casting Crowns & Matt Maher
Hallelujah This Christmas (feat. Straight No Chaser) – Jon McLaughlin
Christmas on the Road – Sleeping With Sirens
I Saw Three Ships – The Piano Guys


I’m a Little Christmas Cracker – Diana Decker

I Wish You a Merry Christmas – Bing Crosby
Back To God (with Lauren Daigle) [Acoustic Version] – Reba McEntire
O Come O Come Emmanuel (feat. Máiréad Nesbitt) – Nathan Pacheco
Candy Cane Lane – Sia
All the Love – XO-IQ
Must Be Santa – Bob Dylan
Sleigh Ride – Johnny Mathis


Christmas Medley – Neil Diamond

What I Didn’t Get for Christmas – Jimmy Buffett
Sing We Now of Christmas – Straight No Chaser
Children Go Where I Send Thee – Nick Lowe
Christmas the Whole Year Round – Sabrina Carpenter
Happy Holiday (feat. Bing Crosby) – The Andrews Sisters
Rise Up Shepherd – Nick Lowe


Christmas At the Airport – Nick Lowe

We Wish You a Merry Christmas / Silent Night Holy Night / O Come All Ye Faithful / Jingle Bells / Where Is Love – Tony Bennett
My Favorite Things – Kelly Clarkson
Christmas Medley: Carol of the Bells/Melodies for the Day/O Sanctissimo – The Swingle Singers
Run Rudolph Run – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Christmas Is – Run-DMC
Merry Christmas Polka – Tex Ritter


The Merriest – June Christy

The Little Drummer Boy – Johnny Cash
Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) – Elvis Presley
O Holy Night – Celtic Woman
Nuttin’ for Christmas – Spike Jones
Gaudete – Nathan Pacheco
I Saw Three Ships – Lindsey Stirling
Old Tex Kringle – Tex Ritter
Jingle All the Way – Lena Horne


Chiron Beta Prime – Jonathan Coulton

Silent Night – Jingle Cats
You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch
The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle – Burt Bacharach
I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You – Claudine Longet
Jingle Jangle – The Penguins
Snoopy’s Christmas – Royal Guardsmen
Deck the Halls (Stephen “Shebby” Ruchelman Remix) – XO-IQ
Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses


I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus – Brenda Lee

Christmas In Hollis – Run-DMC
The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – David Seville & The Chipmunks
They Shined up Rudolphs Nose – Johnny Horton
Dominick the Donkey – Lou Monte
I Wanna Spend Christmas with Elvis – Marlene Paula
My Everything – Owl City
Santa’s Beard – The Beach Boys
Sleigh Ride – The Ventures


Humbug – Greg Lake

The Star Carol – Simon & Garfunkel
The Little Drummer Boy – Harry Simeone Chorale
Light of Christmas (feat. tobyMac) – Owl City
Little Saint Nick (Single Version) – The Beach Boys
Frosty the Snowman – Jimmy Durante
Last Christmas (Studio Version) – Jimmy Eat World


Song of the Sleighbells – June Hutton

It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
The Twelve Days of Christmas – Mitch Miller & The Gang
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Bing Crosby
Peppermint Winter – Owl City
Carol of the Bells – David Benoit
Here We Come A-Caroling – The New Christy Minstrels


What a Glorious Night – Sidewalk Prophets

Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24 (Instrumental) – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Snow Snow Snow – Band of Merrymakers
The Amens – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Pat-A-Pan / While Shepherds Watched Their Flock – Bing Crosby
What God Wants For Christmas – Darius Rucker
White Christmas – The Drifters


Somewhere In My Memory (feat. Audrey Smith) – Michael W. Smith

December Prayer – Idina Menzel
All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
Christmastime Again – MercyMe
O Come O Come – MercyMe
White Winter Hymnal – Pentatonix
I’d Like to Hitch a Ride With Santa Claus – The Andrews Sisters


Jing-a-Ling Jing-a-Ling – The Andrews Sisters

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (A Shrift Remix) – Andy Williams
Winter Wonderland – Bing Crosby
Jingle Jingle Jingle – Burl Ives
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Gayla Peevey
I Saw Three Ships – Sting
Blue Snowflakes – Ernest Tubb
Jingle Bells – Band of Merrymakers


Christmas Dinner Country Style – Bing Crosby

Joy to the World – Mannheim Steamroller
I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Single) – Bing Crosby
Yabba-Dabba Yuletide (extended) – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Run Rudolph Run – Bryan Adams
Overture and A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
He Shall Reign Forevermore (Live) – Chris Tomlin
Jingle Bells – Count Basie Orchestra


Thirty Two Feet Eight Little Tails – Dale Evans

Very Merry Christmas – Dave Barnes
A Marshmallow World – Dean Martin
I Pray On Christmas – Harry Connick Jr.
Winter Wonderland (Bonus Track) – Jason Mraz
O Holy Night – John Williams & Chorus
Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters


Angels We Have Heard On High – The Brian Setzer Orchestra

Auld Lange Syne – The Lonesome Travelers
Merry Christmas Everyone – Rend Collective
Jangle Bells – Love Tractor Christmas
The Christmas Song (Chestnut Song) – Love Tractor Christmas
Carol of the Bells – Mannheim Steamroller
Christmas Candy – Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely


It Snowed – Meaghan Smith

The Christmas Song – Mel Tormé
O Tannenbaum – Naturally 7
We Need a Little Christmas – Percy Faith
Sleigh Bells – Gene Autry
Happy Holidays – Percy Faith & His Orchestra and Chorus
Mistletoe & Holly – Robert Davi
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
Somewhere in My Memory (Chorus & Orchestra Version) – John Williams


Winter Wonderland (Christian Prommer Remix) – Shirley Horn

Gabriel’s Message – Sting
Only at Christmas Time – Sufjan Stevens
It’s Christmas (Medley) [Live] – Chris Tomlin
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2
Charlie Brown Christmas (Album) – Vince Guaraldi Trio
My Favorite Things – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Thanksgiving Theme – Vince Guaraldi Trio


The Closing of the Year (Reprise) – Wendy & Lisa

Carol of the Bells / Jingle Bells – Barry Manilow
Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance! – Sufjan Stevens
Great Pumpkin Waltz – Vince Guaraldi Trio
We Are Santa’s Elves – Burl Ives
Jing Jing Jingle – XO-IQ
Happy Holiday (Beef Wellington Remix) – Bing Crosby
Deck the Halls – Mannheim Steamroller

These are unavailable on youTube, but can still be found on iTunes:

Christmas Dreaming – Seth MacFarlane
Snow (From White Christmas) – Seth MacFarlane
Merry & Bright – The Ellas
Calling for Snow – The Ellas
Candy Cane Lane – The Ellas
Our Father of Life – Cheap Trick

Finally, there were a few that I just simply can’t find in the usual spots:

What Child Is This (Greensleeves) – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson
O Holy Night – Lorie Line & Robert Robinson
Christmas Medley (Music from the Videocraft TV Musical Spectacular) – Burl Ives
Hallelujah (Remix) [Bonus Track] – Mannheim Steamroller

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.

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!