WAS 2016 A TOUGH YEAR?

A Great Key In Expecting A Better Year Ahead

new-year
The New Year is upon us.  2017 is here!  Are you hoping for things to be better than they were in 2016?

Many people prepare goals for each new year.  It’s a good idea to have plans and expectations for a better year ahead, especially if the past year was challenging or difficult.

For me personally, 2016 was very challenging.  I could now list a number of difficult things that came up over this past year. Perhaps you could as well.  But the point of this article is not what was unpleasant this past year, but rather the blessings of 2016.

Oh Holy Night

The Words And The History Of This Song Are Awesome

My favorite song this time of year is, Oh Holy Night, by Nat King Cole. I know that dates me a little, but I think Nat’s voice is the most beautiful singing voice I have ever heard.

But even more than that, much more in fact, are the words to the song. And when you add to the words, the history of the song itself, it gives great insight to the the meaning of the long awaited Messiah, the savior of the world!

On our radio show, The Optimistic Spin, Saturday, December 24th, I share the awesome history of this song, and then play Nat King Cole’s version. I share my perspective of both the awesome history and the words to this song. You can listen live to the show at 11am pacific time.

On Monday, December 26, I’ll post the show on The Optimistic Spin website. And on Wednesday, December 28, the podcast of that show will be posted.
Below, a video of Faith Hill doing a fantastically beautiful performance of, Oh Holy Night. Below the video are all the words to this amazing song.

Oh Holy Night
Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees, oh, hear the angel voices
Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, oh night, o night divine

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother
And in his name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name

Christ is the Lord, then ever, ever praise we
His power and glory ever, ever more proclaim
His power and glory ever more proclaim
His power and glory ever more proclaim

Written by,
Adolphe Adam

HOLIDAY STRESS – REPOST

Lots Of Folks Need A Little Extra Love This Time Of Year

stressed

(In case you missed it, I posted this last year. This can be a very stressful time of year for some people) 

For some, “‘Tis the season to be jolly,” is more like, “‘Tis the season to be stressed!”  It is a busy time of year: lights, greeting cards, presents, parties and other joyful festive activities. While the “reason for the season” has become much less obvious, there are still many who will endure another year of holiday stress for lots of reasons.

Perhaps the biggest holiday stress comes from money, or the lack of it. Some feel obligated to buy gifts that often totals more than the funds they have. Far too many solve this dilemma by adding to their current debt which in turn causes more stress. Dave Ramsey offers some help with this on his site with a free tool called, “My Christmas Budget.”

GOD OF ALL MY DAYS

A Very Inspiring Song

There’s a great line in this song: “My seasons change, You stay the same.” I know I just posted this a couple months ago, but it’s very inspiring.

The song is by Casting Crowns.  The lyrics are below the video.

I came to You with my heart in pieces
And found the God with healing in His hands
I turned to You, put everything behind me
And found the God who makes all things new
I looked to You, drowning in my questions
And found the God who holds all wisdom
And I trusted You and stepped out on the ocean
You caught my hand among the waves
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days

Each step I take
You make a way
And I will give You all my praise
My seasons change, You stay the same
You’re the God of all my days

I ran from You, I wandered in the shadows
And found a God who relentlessly pursues
I hid from You, haunted by my failure
And found the God whose grace still covers me
I fell on You when I was at my weakest
And found the God, the lifter of my head
And I’ve worshiped You
And felt You right beside me
You’re the reason that I sing
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days

Each step I take
You make a way
And I will give You all my praise
My seasons change, You stay the same
You’re the God of all my days

In my worry, God You are my stillness
In my searching, God You are my answers
In my blindness, God You are my vision
In my bondage, God You are my freedom
In my weakness, God You are my power
You’re the reason that I sing
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days

Each step I take
You make a way
And I will give You all my praise
My seasons change, You stay the same
You’re the God of all my days

In my blindness, God You are my vision
In my bondage, God You are my freedom
All my days

DO YOU REALLY NEED TO FORGIVE EVERYONE?

Why Forgiveness Is So Important To Your Life!

It’s the season to think about Jesus’ birth. As a baby there in Bethlehem, he really didn’t do anything for mankind, but years later, he died for the sins of the whole world. And, because of him laying down his life for us, we now have forgiveness from God.

I’m aware the Bible teaches we ought to forgive others, “forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” But do we really need to forgive everyone? Even if they’re not sorry?

I’m also aware that Peter asked Jesus how many times in a day he needed to forgive someone. He asked if seven times was enough. Jesus’s response was seven times seventy! But what about someone who doesn’t deserve our forgiveness?

I have on many occasions forgiven someone who has done me wrong. I’m sure you have, too. And for all of us, there are times when it takes more effort to forgive. And we both know, remembering what God forgave us for makes it easier to forgive. But…

Do You Really Have To Forgive Everyone?

What about situations where someone hurts our feelings, or worse, who had no intention of hurting us? Someone in fact who has no idea their words or actions caused us any pain? Someone, for whatever reason, just acted like a jerk?

Some would say that person needs to be confronted. They need to be told how their words or actions offended. They in fact need to be sorry for what they did and then we can forgive them. But is that the real issue?

Many times people who choose not to forgive carry anger or resentment for any number of reasons. What was done to them was unloving, unkind; it was downright disrespectful. The person causing the hurt should have known better, and to make matters worse, they don’t even seem to care about the hurt they’ve caused.

The reality is, many times people don’t even realize they’ve hurt someone. If you’ve been married longer than a month or two, I’m sure you can relate. And those married for a long time know forgiveness is a huge key for a happy, long lasting marriage.

But What’s The Real Issue?

Yes, there are times when someone ought to be told their words or actions offended. Maybe they didn’t realize it, or maybe they just don’t really care. But that’s not the real issue.

What is important, very important, is that we forgive, regardless. Regardless of whether the one offending recognizes or cares. Regardless of whether the one offending is even sorry. We just forgive, period.

Small things? Easy, most of the time. Big things? Not so easy. But, for our own benefit, we just forgive, period.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with how much we are hurt. Forgiveness has nothing to do with whether the person who offended is sorry or not. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the person who offended getting away with something.

Forgiving others has everything to do with you.

Forgiveness Is About You

Carrying the resentment, anger, hurt, and disappointment is extremely hard on you. It will take a toll on you emotionally and physically. So, no matter how bad the hurt, forgive.

Those closest to us, family and friends, can hurt us the most. But carrying the hurt, carrying the resentment or anger, allowing the hurt to grow, brings great harm to us physically and mentally.

Proverbs 17:22 says, A merry heart does  good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.

According to the Mayo Clinic, forgiveness brings with it plenty of health benefits, including improved relationships, decreased anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure, a lowered risk of depression, and stronger immune system and heart health. Letting go of negative emotions can often have a remarkable impact on the body.

Forgiveness doesn’t justify the hurtful action, nor does it excuse the offender. But it does keep us from being robbed of our peace and joy in living. God, Who created us, offers great help to us when others hurt us: forgive.

And, finally, the words the savior of the world spoke, while in excruciating pain, so horribly and unjustly punished, ought to inspire us to forgive, regardless. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

THANKSGIVING 2016

Some Forgotten History Of The Pilgrims

cornacopiaHappy Thanksgiving!

For this traditional holiday of Thanksgiving, there are lots of family traditions. Some opt for ham instead of turkey; some play games before the big feast; some watch all the football games, before, during, and after eating; and some people will eat dessert no matter how full they really are.

Oh, and of course, it’s a day set aside to rremind us to give thanks.  There is always, always something to give thanks to God Almighty.  Thanking Him every day seems so very appropriate for all He has done. Have a great weekend!

Want Some History?

A few years ago on this blog I shared some forgotten history about the Pilgrims.  I thought I’d post it again.  For the most part what you are about to read is not taught in our schools.

A Valuable History Lesson That We Have Forgotten

Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered first hand, what could easily be identified as socialism.  It failed.

The original contract that the Pilgrims entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store.  Each member of the community was entitled to one common share.

Specifically, the contract read,   “All such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” In other words, each person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out his portion or his share.

All of the land they cleared and the buildings they built belonged to the common community as well. The plan seemed simple enough, right?  It was equal distribution for everyone.  But did it work?

William Bradford, the governor of the colony, saw the results of this first hand and recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He saw that not only was it not working, but if allowed to continue, it would threaten their very survival.

Change

Changing something for the sake of change is not always the best decision.  Changing to the wrong course usually ends in disaster.  But the right change at the right time can bring tremendously positive results.

William Bradford was a true leader.  He knew there had to be a change.  So, he decided to take bold action.

Putting all things into the common store meant that some people could put less in than others.  And even if you put nothing in the common store, you could still take out your portion from the common store.

Bradford wrote, “For the young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children, without any recompense.”

He also wrote that “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” As a result, some of the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was not adequate.

The results of their first two harvests were far, far from being abundant.  Bradford knew if they were to survive, there must be change.

His Bold Plan

After the poor harvest of 1622, Bradford wrote, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They needed a very radical change to their current economic organization.

Bradford in effect abolished their practice of socialism.  Instead, he gave each household a parcel of land and told them that they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market system that did a lot more than just put an end to the hard times

As a direct result, the harvest of 1623 was much different; they had great abundance.  Bradford wrote,” instead of famine now God gave them plenty and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.”  “Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

Isn’t it interesting that in a number of places around the world they have been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years.  They try to redefine it, fine tune it, and re-invent it.   But the Pilgrims decided early on to eliminate it. Why is this lesson not taught in our schools?

The Pilgrims learned first hand that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. What Bradford did was to simply introduce free enterprise with one of the great foundational principles: private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products.

The Results Of Bradford’s Change

Bradford wrote, “This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”  “In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves.”

This change that Bradford instituted was instrumental in the great prosperity of America that was to follow.  It wasn’t long before they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. They were no longer just trying to survive.  They were beginning to thrive.

Their profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. That fact had huge repercussions.  Their success and prosperity attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the “The Great Puritan Migration.”

Other Colonies

The same scenario happened in other colonies as well.  Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. What is striking is that the majority of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the people.  The others, for various reasons, chose to not work but expected to be fed.  In the winter of 1609-10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from five-hundred to sixty.

But Jamestown changed into a free market area and the results were just as dramatic as the results at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after they changed from the socialistic plan to free enterprise, there was, “plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure.”

He went on to say something that is almost unbelievable.  He said in comparison to the two systems, that “we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now.”

Most everyone knows the traditional “Thanksgiving Story.” For the Pilgrims at Plymouth, it was an extremely difficult first year.  Yet, very few have ever heard about what followed after that first year.  I believe it is something we all need to remember, and, we ought to teach it to our children.

That’s why I shared what happened afterwards first.  And now here is a short re-cap of the traditional “Thanksgiving Story.”  Who knows, maybe there are some details that you may not know.

The Journey To The New World

On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail for the new world. A total of 102 passengers were aboard, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. It was during this long journey that Bradford set up an agreement that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

This agreement is called the Mayflower Compact. Where did the ideas expressed in this agreement come from? They came from the Bible.  The Pilgrims were a people who deeply respected the Scriptures.

After the long three month journey to the New World, they were not greeted by friends, a nice hotel and delicious meals.  The New World was indeed “new.” Bradford described it as “a cold, barren, desolate wilderness.”

The First Winter

During the first winter, half the Pilgrims, including Bradford’s own wife, died of starvation, sickness, or exposure.  When the long cold winter was over, the Pilgrims who survived were a long way from prospering.

Some Indians taught them how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. The Indians were helpful. The Pilgrims were grateful.

What is referred to as “The First Thanksgiving” were these devout Pilgrims expressing their gratitude to God in surviving the first year.  Later, in 1789, in his first year, as the first president of the United States, George Washington made a proclamation.

George Washington

When you read President Washington’s proclamation the many references to God indicate very clearly his heart as well as the heart of the New Nation.  The New World, some 150 years before, was now a New Nation, the United States of America.

From those who landed on the beach of the New World, to those who fought for freedom in the Revolutionary War, it is clear that God’s blessings have been on this great country.  God’s blessings continue to this very day.  But has our recognition and gratitude to Him faded?

How rare it is today to hear our leaders recognizing the great power and blessings of God on our country.  When you read the proclamation by George Washington it is so very obvious that he recognized and was grateful for God’s help and blessings on this country.

Many other presidents followed the same course of unabashedly giving public thanks to God for His help and protection.  But it seems in the days we live, a casual, “God bless America” is now sufficient.

Nevertheless, each of us can choose to thank God for all He has done in our lives.  We certainly recognize God’s great blessings on Thanksgiving Day.  But we can also remember to give thanks and show our gratitude to our loving God and Father each and every day.

Have A Great Thanksgiving Holiday!

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU JUST WANT TO GIVE UP?

Some Great Keys To Help You NOT Give Up

sick of it
There are times in life when almost everyone has thought about giving up.  Frustrated and feeling like nothing is working for them, a person can get to the point of saying, “What’s the use in trying anymore?”

Reaching that point in life, most of the time a person chooses one of two courses.  If someone is really discouraged, they can choose to accept their “plight in life.”  They see their dreams or goals as unattainable.  They believe that for them, “This is just the way that it is.”

But others choose a different path.  Yes, they too may be discouraged.  They may very well be very frustrated and feel like giving up. But,

HELLO AFRICA!

Thanks For Being A Part Of This Blog!

africaIt is both humbling and exciting when people subscribe to this blog. While I know from the stats that hundreds of people come to this site every day, some of those decide to subscribe; they get the free eBook, an email when there’s a new post, and, sometimes something special from me personally.

In recent weeks I have noticed a number of folks from Africa subscribing to this blog. I appreciate that very much, and hope that the content on this site provides you with information you can use. Knowing there is fierce persecution of Christians in various parts of Africa, I would never use names or towns of those new subscribers.

But, I did want to send warm and loving greetings to all readers, and subscribers of this blog who are in Africa. May our loving God and Father supply all your needs.