Tuesday, October 22, 2019

You Do Not Know What You Are Asking

(Click to listen)

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

You do not know what you are asking.

That’s what Jesus said.

He said, “You do not know what you are asking.”

He said it to the mother of His disciples James and John.

In Matthew 20, she comes up to Jesus with her sons, kneels down, and Jesus says, “What do you wish?”

What she wishes is that Jesus would make her sons his top officials when He becomes king.

But she clearly doesn’t understand the situation.  She doesn’t know what’s going on.

And I don’t, either.  Do you?

Do we really know what is going on?

I mean, do we know like God knows?  He REALLY knows what’s going on, and by comparison, what do we know?

We don’t.  His ways are far above our ways.  Like Mark Batterson said in his book, “The Circle Maker,” His ways are 15.5 billion light years above our ways.

So when we bring our feeble prayers to God, it is highly likely that we don’t know what we are asking.

I like what it says in James 4:3, we ask and do not receive because we “ask amiss.” 

Is that prayer a hit?  No, that’s “amiss,” ha ha ha.

So how can we pray and not ask amiss?  How can we pray with knowledge and wisdom, and pray according to God’s will?

One way is praying the Scriptures.  For example, I often pray “Show my Thy ways, O Lord, teach me Thy paths,” which is Psalms 25:4.

There are tons of Bible verses that can be converted straight into prayers.

Another way we can pray and not ask amiss is by praying in humility and surrender.

One example of this from my life is when I decided to get into Christian radio back in 1986.  I sent a letter to all the Christian radio stations in the state and prayed, in fact I basically begged God, “Please, just open one door, the exact door You want me to step through; because if I have to choose, I won’t know which one to choose or how to choose it.  Either I will base it on worldly standards and career opportunities, or I will do the opposite of that on purpose, and I don’t want to do either of those in my own wisdom.  God, I want Your perfect will, and I don’t know what that is, so please, just open one door.”  And, one door opened.

The point of that story was praying a prayer of humility and submission.  “Not my will, but Thy will be done.  God, I don’t know what is best.  I’m not that smart.  And Your ways are 15.5 billion light years above my ways, so I trust You.  I put my complete trust in You.  I’m the sheep, and You are The Good Shepherd.  I love You and want to follow You wherever You lead.”

In Jesus’ name I pray.

Amen.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Is It a Young Man's Game?


I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire! (Luke 24:32)

I was talking to an older ministry leader.

He was sharing some of his frustrations, like the challenges of working with young people, understanding the current culture, the seeming shift away from Godly morals, even the ever-changing digital world. How can an older ministry leader keep up?

I was just listening and soaking it in, and then he said, “Maybe it’s a young man’s game.”

A young man’s game?

It CAN’T be a young man’s game. Leading a ministry cannot be a young man’s game. It can’t be an old man’s game. It has to be a SPIRIT-LED game.

Of course it’s not a game. That’s a figure of speech.

The question is, do you get to the place where you are just too old to be truly effective in ministry? What if you can’t keep up with the trends? What about your digital marketing? Your social media? What about motivating a new generation you don’t even understand?

Listen. I hope your ministry never was about how hip you were or how current you were or how well you understood the youth. I hope your ministry was ALWAYS based on spending time with God, rightly dividing the Word, and following the leading of His Holy Spirit every step of the way.

That is the key to ministry no matter how old you are. Look. Burn all your “How to Grow Your Church” books if you have to. I’m all for knowledge and education and learning and training, but that can’t be the foundation of your ministry. You’re not smart enough. You’re not quick enough. You’re not young enough. You can’t keep up with it all.

But you don’t have to. Listen. You don’t have to keep up with the trends. Forget the trends.

Lock yourself in with God. Dive into that daily time of prayer and seeking Him and running to Him and listening to Him.

He will empower you. He will strengthen you. He will open your eyes to exactly what you need to know and how you need to operate.

THAT is how you run a ministry, and age has nothing to do with it, and it never did.

Think of John the Baptist. No marketing studies. No trends. No memberships in the hip clubs. He wasn’t a chief priest. He wasn’t in the Sanhedrin. He didn’t poll the people to see what they wanted.

He just heard from God and did it. He stood out in the wilderness preaching repentance, and lo and behold, the people came...and they kept coming, and repenting, and turning their lives over to God.

So is it a young man’s game? No, it’s everyone’s game; everyone who will run to Jesus, be filled with His Spirit, and seek Him while He may be found. Throw yourself on His altar as a living sacrifice and become all that God has intended you to be from the foundation of the world.

You are NOT too old to dive in and be that blazing fire that God wants you to be, right now, and right up until the day you step into heaven and see Jesus face to face.

Hallelujah. Let’s do this. Come on.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

We End Up With What We Stir Up

(Click to listen)

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Don’t stir up trouble.

You’ve heard that before.  It usually comes right before you say something you shouldn’t, and your mom says, “Don’t stir up trouble.”

That applies to so many areas of life.  We end up with what we stir up.

Take fear, anxiety and stress.  You watch scary movies, crime programs, doom and gloom news, shows that are negative and divisive, and you wonder why you’re fearful, anxious and stressed?  That’s what you’re stirring up!  Turn it off.  And listen, don’t worry about missing the news.  The State Department is not on the verge of calling you to ask for your advice.

If you’ve watched so many zombie and vampire and alien shows that you’re thinking, “It could happen...”  It can’t happen!  You just keep stirring it up in your brain.

What about the unfairness of life?  Don’t ever stir up that line of thinking.  Don’t think about it for one second.  Are you pouting because you didn’t win the genetic lottery?  Someone is prettier than you?  More handsome than you?  Faster than you?  Taller than you?  Stronger than you?  Don’t stir up those thoughts!  Instead, enter into His gates with thanksgiving.  Be thankful unto Him and give Him praise.  Find out what God has given you and work it.  Maximize it.  Grow it.  Look at what you DO have, and turn that raw material into something great!

We end up with what we stir up, so be careful what you stir up.

Let’s say you like to steal.  You’re a kleptomaniac.  You get a thrill out of shoplifting.  How can you stop?  Don’t stir it up.  Those desires will die if you don’t give them oxygen.  Let him who stole steal no longer.  How?  Don’t stir it up!

What if you love food.  You love to eat.  You’re a problem eater.  How can you stop?  Proverbs 23:2 says put a knife to your throat.  Not literally.  It’s figurative.  It means cut off those desires.  It means “Don’t think about it.”  Don’t allow yourself to stir up those thoughts about food all time.

Thinking about it.  Dwelling on it.  Tossing it around in your mind.  That is how you stir it up, and we end up with what we stir up.

What about old offenses, what those people did to you?  For goodness’ sake, don’t ever stir up that wicked mess.  Let it go!  Don’t think about it.  If you’re going to stir up anything, stir up forgiveness! 

Our brains can get stuck in a loop, in a cycle, but we can break the cycle by not stirring up the wrong things, the wrong thoughts.

Don’t stir up worry.  That’s a dead end.  Stir up faith instead, and hope and trust in God.  Meditate on God’s word and just watch how that stirs up all the right things in your life.

What about adultery, or lust?  That is something that never gets anywhere unless you just keep stirring it up.  It’s evil and has no life of its own unless you keep stirring it up and try to fake some life into it, and still it's going to drag you into the dead pool in the end.  So please, don’t be the next idiot that destroys your family over a cheap momentary low grade B-movie thrill. 

We end up with what we stir up, so let’s stir up good things!  Like Philippians 4:8, “...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy...” think on these things.

The things we think on are the things we stir up, and the things we stir up shape our life.

So beware what you stir up in your mind, knowing that we end up with what we stir up.

May God bless you today!

I’m Doug Apple.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Start With the Box

(Click to listen)

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Start with the box.

That’s what I heard a famous composer say.

He was writing music for a new movie, and he said you start with the box.

You have to set up a framework, the boundaries you are going to work within in the creative process.  Otherwise you get sloppy, there is no consistency, and you end up with a mess.

So start with the box, then unleash your creativity within the box.

Believe it or not, creativity actually thrives within the boundaries of a box.

Yes, some people say, “I want to be free!  I want to do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want.  I want to be completely free to follow whatever whim hits me with no limits."

Yes, and that’s a good formula for ending up with a sloppy mess.

Studies show that kids thrive in a home with appropriate boundaries.  Children who are left to themselves, free to do whatever they please, end up in a sloppy mess.

Marriages with appropriate boundaries thrive.  Marriages without boundaries end up in a sloppy mess.

In a way, God gave us a box to live in, and we are free to wildly express our creativity within the box.  Our lives will thrive when they are lived within God’s boundaries, His rules, His statues and precepts, His righteousness. 

But something within us rejects the idea of living within a box, of living within boundaries.  Something tells us that it’s awful, it is terrible, it is restricting.  We can almost feel the noose.  We want no boundaries!

The problem is, if we don’t live within God’s boundaries, we end up with a sloppy mess.

When we don’t limit our physical intimacy to the boundaries of God’s marriage covenant, we end up with a sloppy mess.

When we don’t limit our speech to God’s boundaries of truth and love and grace, we end up with a sloppy mess.

When we don’t limit what we put into our mouths, WE end up a sloppy mess!

I remember playing a type of basketball game on the playground where there was no out-of-bounds.  I don’t know what kid made that up, but with no out-of-bounds you could run behind the goal or out onto the grass or behind the whole school.  It was dumb, and yet some kid thought it was a good idea.

Our world is full of dumb things, and yet someone thinks they are a good idea.  The problem is, if it is outside God’s boundaries, it will leave you in a sloppy mess.

That’s how people end up on these reality TV shows, arguing and bickering and even fist fighting, right there on the set.  It always comes down to someone who is trying to live outside of God’s boundaries and thinks it’s okay.

It’s not okay.  That’s how your life turns into a big dumpster fire.

So whatever feeling it is that makes you think God’s boundaries are stifling, that feeling is a deception.

Start with the box.  Live within God’s box, His boundaries of good and righteous and holy, for it’s within that box where we are truly free to live our life to it’s very highest and most exciting potential.

May God bless you today!

I’m Doug Apple.



Friday, June 14, 2019

Divine Ignition

(Click to listen)

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)
 

Here is something I pray for.

I pray for ignition.

I pray for God’s divine ignition.

Ignition is to ignite, to start the fire, to set the blaze.

We usually know what we OUGHT to do.  We know what we SHOULD do, so why don’t we do it?

We’re lacking ignition.

I want God to reach inside me and turn the key that fires the spark that sets the blaze.  I want to be on fire from the inside out, fully motivated, fully alive, fully woke.

Awake, o sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will give you light!*

I want my heart to burn within me like the men who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

I want to say like Jeremiah, “God, Your Word burns like a fire, like a fire in my bones, and I cannot keep silent.”

We pray for wisdom, and that’s great.  We need to pray for wisdom.

And then we get it.

And then what?

And then we’ve got to put it into practice, and that takes motivation.  It’s takes ignition.

Toby Mac has a song called ‘Til the Day I Die and listen to the message.

Do it for the King?  What do you know about that?
Say you goin' harder?  Mmm I doubt that.
You say you’re doing work but you're asking where’s the couch at.
How you doing work when you’re asking where’s the couch at?

And then it says, “I don't understand that life...'cause I'm all in...’til the day I die.”

Are you all in?  Are you all in for Jesus?

Just say, “God, I’m in.  I’m all in!  I want to do what You want me to do, say what You want me to say, go where You want me to go, be who You want me be.”

And if He’s already told you and you haven’t done it yet, then pray for this.

Pray for Divine Ignition.

May God bless you...with His divine ignition today!

I’m Doug Apple.

* Ephesians 5:14
** Jeremiah 20:9

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Time and a Place

(Click to listen)

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

I’m a firm believer that you should have a time and a place to pray.

A time...and a place.

Does God seem distant?  Does your relationship with Him seem shallow, or wispy, or vague?

Well let me ask you.  Do you have a set time and a set place to draw near to God in prayer?

James 4:8 says that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.

If it doesn’t seem like God is drawing near, are you drawing near to Him, consistently, with a set time and a set place?

Let’s open up our Bibles to the famous Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew 6:6, Jesus begins by saying, “when.”  WHEN you pray. 

So let me ask you.  When do you pray?  Do you have an appointed time to pray? 

Or listen, are you just tossing up “Jesus Take the Wheel” prayers, catch as catch can?

If you want to keep your relationship with God at lukewarm, that’ll do it.

But if you want to set it on fire, set yourself a time and a place to pray, to draw near to God in prayer, and worship, and thanksgiving.

Jesus said, “...when you pray, go into your room...”  That’s a set place.  You gotta have a place to pray. 

He said, “...go into your room, and when you have shut your door...”

He’s telling us to get alone with God.  That’s what Jesus Himself did, and He WAS GOD.  But the Bible says He often withdrew to be alone with the Father.  He went up on a mountain by Himself.  Maybe He went into a garden.  Maybe He went into the wilderness.

The point is, be like Jesus.  Get alone with the Father, and a great way to get your privacy is to go into a room, shut the door...and then what?

Jesus said, “...go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place...”

That is the time and place to go pour out your heart to Almighty God.  Cast your cares upon Him.  Intercede for your family and friends, your church and your country, for “Thy will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

What are you going to do with your life?  How are you going to fulfill your part in the body of Christ?  How can you possibly be the best child, the best parent, the best sibling, the best aunt or uncle or niece or nephew, the best student, the best worker, the best church member that you can possibly be?

You can’t!  You can’t do alone.  You can only do it in the power of God. 

We must have God’s Spirit fully alive within us.

So how can we do that? 

We must draw near to God in prayer, and I firmly believe that the best way to do that is by having a set time and set place to pray.

May God bless you today!

I’m Doug Apple.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

His Spirit Bears Witness With Our Spirit

(Click to listen)

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

How does God speak to us?

Does God even speak to people these days, or was that just for people in the Bible?

Some debate that, but here is one verse that most people agree on:  Romans 8:16.

It says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

That’s one way that you can know that you are a saved, born again child of God.  He will let you know.  His Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God.

That is one way that God speaks to people today, His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit. 

I like how it is Spirit to spirit communication, the Holy Spirit inside of the believer communicating to the spirit of the believer.  His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit.

I have heard from thousands of Christians and the testimonies are overwhelming.  So many of them talk about the ways that God has led them, or spoken to them, or communicated to them.  And I’ll say, “Give us the nuts and bolts of exactly how that happened in the real world.” 

And they say things like, “I was reading the Bible, and suddenly a verse leaped off the page.”  Or, “I was in worship, and suddenly a powerful phrase jumped into my mind, and I just knew it was God.”  Or even, “I was walking down the street, minding my own business, and I heard a voice telling me what to do.  I’m pretty sure it was God.”

I realize that some people say they heard from God when they didn’t, but today let’s focus on how God speaks to us, and I think many of these things happened in this way:  His Spirit bore witness with their spirit.  The Holy Spirit passed a message along directly to that person’s spirit.  It wasn’t verbal.  It wasn’t mental.  It was Spirit to spirit communication.

I like how The Passion Translation words Romans 8:16, “...He whispers into our innermost being...”

At our church we’re going through The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson and he refers to what he calls “Spirit-whispers.”  I love that!

I think that is when His Spirit bears witness with our spirit.  The Holy Spirit communicates directly to our spirit, our inner man if you will, in Spirit-whispers.

In John 14:26, Jesus said that the Father would send the Holy Spirit and He would be a teacher.

In Luke 12:12 Jesus again refers to the Holy Spirit as a teacher.

First Corinthians 2:10 talks about God revealing things to people through His Spirit.

When God teaches and reveals things through His Spirit, that is the Holy Spirit of God, communicating the things of God to the people of God, and what is one way He does it?

In Spirit-whispers.

It is Spirit to spirit communication.

It is His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit.

Of course you should always make sure this balances with Scripture, and you should bounce it off other mature believers, but watch for it.  Listen for it, not with your physical eyes and ears, but with your spirit.  Jesus said, “He has ears to hear, let him hear.”  That means spiritual hearing.

It is our spirit tuning in and listening closely to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He teaches and convicts and reveals and inspires us to draw near to God and become the on-fire Kingdom people He is calling us to be, as we listen and are taught and mentored and led by the Holy Spirit of God.

May God bless you today!

I’m Doug Apple.