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!

And I used to think I took too many of these

sunset_28907I used to chase sunsets on an almost daily basis, then post the results here.  Maybe that’ll resume someday, but for now I have plenty of irons in the fire.  I’ve gone through a number of major changes in various aspects of my life over the past several months, and my cameras have barely seen the light of day as a result.  It’s about time to change that as time allows.

Take, for instance, tonight.  I was actually able to witness a sunset.  It’s odd that I’ve had little opportunity to do that lately, but I’m glad things are starting to resemble normal in the middle of all this chaos.  I was able to grab a somewhat decent shot, and it felt GREAT.

Here’s looking forward to more normalcy…and sunsets.

It’s even the perfect color!

lambo_iphone_2124Anyone who knows me knows that I love that Kawasaki Green.  I’ve been a diehard Kawasaki fan for decades and have owned many green bikes over the years, including two of my bikes now.   I have lots of lime green possessions as well, many of which have little or nothing to do with motorcycles.

That’s one reason why I spotted this car from a LONG distance yesterday.  I’m sure many of you saw it making the rounds, or parked at Hu Hot, or wherever else it was cruising around.  Awesome. Lamborghinis have been among my favorite cars since junior high school (I’m sure most boys agree), but they’re a rarity around here.  Maybe the Bakken boom has something to do with their appearance.  Out of respect for the privacy of the owner, I obscured the license plate – but I will say that it was a North Dakota plate.

I heard an unconfirmed report of an orange one in town too, but I’m not sure if that one is very credible.  In any case, they sure do add to the scenery here in Bismarck-Mandan!

At this point, I guess they’re probably just doing it for my amusement

The City of Bismarck has put out a notice that load restrictions on the city’s roads started on March 15th.  It gives me the perfect opportunity for a little good-natured ribbing over the “Restrictions in Effect” signs traditionally seen around Bismarck this time of year. Restrictions of what nature, you ask? If your only source of information was these signs, I suppose it’s anyone’s guess.

I first saw these signs go up a few years ago (and every Spring since) and thought they were pretty funny. It’s because of the load restrictions I mentioned, but the signs omitted that detail. It’s only after someone figured out what was missing (maybe they read this blog) and wedged a little “Load” in there that the signs made sense:

This is how the corrected signs look. I am still occasionally surprised to find an unmodified one posted. As I drove down Centennial yesterday, I noticed that someone’s going to have to dig through a drawer for another “Load” sticker!

When life hands you Mayo, make photo

mayo_plummer_28842I don’t remember if I’ve alluded to it here, but I’ve been dealing with some medical stuff for a few months.  That explains why I haven’t had a lot of photography to share.  Well, in my most recent trip to Mayo Clinic, I dragged my camera bag along so I could photograph the rather unique Plummer Building on campus.

mayo_plummer_28901This building is home to some really unusual masonry work, and having a 300mm lens with me made it a lot easier to inspect more closely.  I still couldn’t find a building that gave me a nice, straight-on vantage point, but at least I got a decent angle.  One has to wonder what thought goes into these things.  I had to chuckle at the “big head, tiny body” motif going on here.

 

mayo_plummer_28851Then, of course, you have the gargoyles.  These beasties stand watch at each corner.  Maybe it was my mood, maybe it was my meds, but they reminded me of Sam the Eagle (you Muppets fans will get the reference) and made me chuckle.

 

mayo_plummer_28881Again, as a photographer I had to play with different angles and framing.  To be honest, this was the first time any of my cameras had seen the light of day in a LONG time, and I was determined to use every available minute between appointments.

 

mayo_plummer_28858From afar off, this looked like a bunch of Monty Python characters looking through binoculars.  It was nothing quite so strange once I zoomed in, however.  Just lots of scrolling and that sort of thing.

 

mayo_plummer_28883These were the spookiest of the bunch…not so much because of their shape or anything, but because of the weird symbols below them.  I stay clear of the occult as a matter of general principle, and so things like this had my Spidey sense tingling.  I don’t think it’s anyone’s way of preparing to summon Gozer or anything like that!

Thanks to the many people who have given us encouragement and support through this time.  I appreciate the help.  I appreciate the prayers.  I appreciate the love you all have shown me and my family.  I’m not in seriously bad shape, thankfully, although I’m not out of the woods just yet.  But I sure am encouraged!  Praise the Lord.

Eager for the color to return

tree_60D_0040I forgot to post this tree photo after I took it last fall.  It’s a favorite spot of mine, but one I rarely get to visit.  You see, it’s near Valley City, and I don’t find my out that far east as much as maybe I used to.  When Fargo had a Fuddrucker’s and I was single with a loaded sports car, I’d drive to Fargo for dinner.  Of course, that was before four dollar a gallon gas and a family.

This winter has been rough for me, with few opportunities to get out and take photos.  I’m hoping to get out a lot more now that spring is arriving, and I just have a few things to get out of the way before the photography commences.  Meanwhile, I have plenty of gems like this one which I planned to share but somehow overlooked.

Brrrrrrrr… but I still got windmills

windmill_winter_28812Yes, it’s been pretty darn cold.  Even many of my fellow North Dakotans are starting to whine instead of brag.  I did manage to get out for a brief photo trip the other day, and of course I had to go to an old standby: my favorite windmill.

 

windmill_28816I haven’t been able to do much in the way of photography, which means long stretches in between blog posts and nothing but regurgitated political stuff on Facebook.  Sorry ’bout that.  I am hoping to stretch my legs more photographically here in the near future.  In the mean time, however, here’s some cold metal.

 

winter_tree_28795And some cold wood, I suppose.  Although, in order to maintain my self-deprecating joke about always photographing windmilss, I did manage to sneak one into the background.

Think Spring!

A couple more Aurora photos to add some color to your day

auroras_28780When I returned from my recent Aurora Borealis photo trip, it was around 4am.  On a work day.  I hastily grabbed and processed a few shots to share, grabbed a combat nap, and went on with my day.  This weekend was busy, but I had the opportunity to peruse the shots from the day and found a couple more that I really like.  The above shot is one that I used for this blog’s Facebook page.

auroras_28792While the layout looks a little jumbled, this one by far had the best colors.  The Northern Lights are a fleeting target, and you don’t often get the same light twice.  In fact, I don’t have a whole lot of different angles from the night because the peak of the lights came and left so suddenly.

I’m going to take another look to see if I have anything else that I haven’t shown already.  Hopefully the next time they come along, I’ll be ready!

Back in the saddle a bit

auroras_28783After dozing off early in my recliner tonight I woke up to a text from a friend who was out on patrol tonight.  He noticed that the Northern Lights were in full swing.  I grabbed a good friend, hopped in the truck, and took off.  We were not disappointed.

 

auroras_28789As I mentioned recently, I’ve had some health issues and other things that have just plain sidelined me as far as photography and blogging.  This was a great way to get back in the saddle for a bit as much as my pain would allow, and happens to have been one of the better aurora borealis nights in a long time.  Just because I’ve been in my recliner doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching what the sun and skies are up to.

auroras_28793

We appear to have arrived along one of my favorite rural roads just in time to see some very spectacular lights.  We saw spikes, we saw ripples, and we saw a lot of them.  I worked the area the best I could within the time allowed, and we pointed the truck back toward the Bizzo once things began to taper off.

I can’t speculate on the frequency with which I ease back into my beloved photo hobby, but hopefully this is a harbinger of good things to come.  With the weather changing in our favor and another spring and summer on the way, things are looking pretty good.  I hope to be on the mend in time for mountain bike and volleyball season, too!

The Democrat letter-writing machine is in full gear. Here’s how to spot ‘em

quinn_lettersHere we are, well into 2014 and the Democrats barely even have any candidates named for office.  That’s no surprise, considering the destruction their party has wrought on a national level.  Anyone with a “D” next to their name is likely to get a well deserved, good old-fashioned hinder-spanking.  What they are doing, however, is getting their tinfoil-hat brigade into full swing in letter-writing mode, hitting the “Letter to the Editor” pages as frequently as they can.

I’ve written my share of letters to the editor of our local newspaper as well, and I think it’s a great means of citizen activism.  What I am pointing out in this article is the orchestrated wave of motivated foot soldiers, belching Democrat Party talking points to the printed page in increasing volume.

I’ve noticed it lately because I check the Tribune’s Letters to the Editor page regularly.  I’ve mentioned before that their Comments sections (when they had them) were where one could go to kill a few brain cells.  But these are actual letters submitted to the paper, verified by the editor, and signed with people’s real names.  But who are these people, and why should you pay attention what they’ve written?

In the case of the Bismarck Tribune, you only have to do one additional click to get some background on a letter writer before you lend credence to what they have to say:

lebak_letterTake this cookie-cutter screed from Henry Lebak (to whom I’ve retorted on the Tribune’s Letter to the Editor page) going after Margaret Sitte.  This is the only race I can think in which the Democrats actually want to compete, so here comes the attack.  Well, simply click on good ol’ Henry’s name in the blue byline text, and you’ll come up with this list of what he’s written in the past:

lebak_lettersMister Lebak’s been busy.  He’s got a litany of “Republicans bad, Democrats good” type stuff in his repertoire. Fine…that’s his right.  But my point is that this isn’t just some regular guy who finally got so fed up with Senator Sitte or the Republicans that he had to finally write a letter and air his grievances.  No, this is a semi-pro.

There are other leftists, such as the one shown in the top image, who have an even longer list of vitriol than Henry does.  I don’t have to accuse Mr. Lebak or others of being shills for the Democrat Party, and it doesn’t matter if they are.  They’re activists, as evidenced by the volume of their writing, and it all reads like Democrat Party fundraising letters and talking points memos.

I’ve got few letters to the editor on the Tribune’s site, too…but I’ve got a website on which I’ve boldly declared where I stand on matters of faith and politics.  You may agree with me, you may not.  But if you still don’t know who I am, clicking on my byline will also bring up my list of rants and give you a good picture of who this crazy right-winger extremist zealot is.  Do your research.

This is especially important right now because, as I have pointed out above, agents of the left are already busy pecking away at their keyboards (with the W’s still removed, no doubt) and flooding newspaper editors’ inboxes all over North Dakota.  Take the time for one extra click, see what else they’ve written, and if you get a list as long as the guys above you can be sure you’re dealing with an activist.