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.

It was real, and it was spectacular

The capitol Christmas tree is nice, don’t get me wrong here…and it’s decorated with ornaments sent in by folks like you and me. But it wasn’t all that long ago when we still had a real, live, organic Christmas tree in the Memorial Hall each Christmas season.

I remember talking to Governor Dalrymple and his wife one evening when they mentioned that they were receiving pressure about fire code when it came to having a real tree. The writing was on the wall at that point. North Dakota has already managed to burn down one capitol building already, after all. So in 2015, when we got the new artificial tree, it wasn’t that much of a surprise.

Thankfully I took lots of photos of the real trees so I can still enjoy them. And yes, I do still enjoy the “fake” tree every year.

I fall for this photo every fall

Morton County is one of the best places in North Dakota for a photographer. It has so much variety of terrain – Badlands-like formations in its southeast regions, scoria roads in the west, buttes and wetlands dotting the landscape within its borders, and plenty of the “old farm stuff” I like so much. Then there are places like this one.

This is perhaps my favorite shot of this spot. It may be familiar to you…it was the cover photo for a calendar produced by one of my clients. I love the sky in this one too. Guess what – I had to Photoshop the sky in the first one. Those darn cloudless skies again…but this one is 100% legit.

I like the first one because it gives Morton County some props. It will always be one of my favorite places to roam!

Background check

I know Photoshop has a “sky replacement’ tool now, but I’ve never tried it. I did this one the old-fashioned way. I posted the original a while back with a perfectly blue sky. I’ve also mentioned in another recent post that I don’t really care for cloudless blue skies, because I find clouds so much more interesting. I’ve taken photos of just cloudy skies before in case I needed them for a project, and I decided to put one of those photos behind this windmill for effect. I’m pleased with the result.

It’s important for me to disclose that this photo is artificial as a matter of photographic integrity. I don’t mind this sort of pic, but in the proper context. I suppose I’m a bit of a purist in that regard.

The grass was greener

I actually have a backlog of photos to share, and most of them are from prior to “the autumn browning” which arrived some time ago. So here’s a cool old barn I spotted while bolting to another photo location.

I thought this yellow house looked pretty cool, too…although it’s from yet another photo trip. It’s interesting…I can look at a photo like this and tell you where it’s at and the photo trip from whence it came. Considering I have around 150,000 photos in my collection, that’s saying something.

A slightly different perspective of the same old house on a hill. I was blessed with interesting skies that day. I actually dislike going out on clear, sunny days…clouds make photos so much more engaging, and I had perfect clouds to work with this day.

I’m going to work on that backlog of photos to share, and hopefully get some interesting winter photos to add to them! Stay tuned.