Monday, April 17, 2017

How to Read Medieval Art

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

How to Read Medieval Art.

That’s the name of the new book I picked up at the library.

How to Read Medieval Art.

So you mean there are hidden messages and clues in the art, like a mystery?  I’m in!  Give me that book.

Then I read something very interesting in the foreword, which was written by Thomas P. Campbell, the director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It’s also known as The Met in New York City, it’s the largest art museum in the United States, and it’s among the most visited art museums in the world.

In the foreword he points out that much of medieval art is based on biblical themes.  Now listen to this.  He wrote, “To modern readers and museum visitors, the narratives of the Judeo-Christian tradition may be as unfamiliar as those of Egyptian gods.”

Wow.

So here we are, with more Christian publishing, more Bibles, more books, more media, more websites, more preaching, and probably more churches and evangelism than ever.

And yet medieval art with biblical themes requires special explanation, similar to what we need to understand long-defunct, ancient Egyptian gods.

Can that be true?

It may be – partly because a chunk of the people hanging around at The Met are probably not prone to be in church this Sunday.

But even among church-going Christians, studies show a plunge in biblical literacy, especially among younger people.

Well, we can’t change the world, but we can make sure that in our homes and families, and in our churches, we are providing the education and teaching and biblical training that’s needed.

If we don’t, the truths of God are going to seem as mysterious to coming generations as some ancient Egyptian god.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

How is Your Family Dynasty?

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

Have you heard of the dynasty of King Jeroboam?

No, because it never happened.

Oh, it should have happened.  The dynasty of Jeroboam was foretold by the prophet.

In First Kings 11:38, it was Ahijah, the prophet of Shiloh, who told Jeroboam that God was going to make him king, and that God would give him a family dynasty...IF he would listen to the Lord’s commands and do what was right in God’s eyes.

And you know what?  That’s what I want to do!  It’s my heart’s desire and my prayer.  “Lord, I want to listen to Your commands.  I want to walk in Your ways.  I want to follow You, Good Shepherd, every day!”

And that, my friend, is how you build your family dynasty.

You establish your family dynasty on the foundation of God and His ways. 

Look around and see.  Families that put God in the center and walk in His ways – those are strong families.  They aren’t riddled and pockmarked with divorce, adultery, abuse and neglect. 

So how are you doing with your family dynasty? 

The good news is that, even if your family is a garbage heap up until now, you can change that starting today.  Start following God, walk in His ways and you will immediately begin to see the foundation start to firm up beneath you.

But poor Jeroboam.  He decided to ignore the prophet.

Some of the saddest words in the Bible are found in 1 Kings 12:28.  After seeking advice, Jeroboam made two golden calves.

He took the promise of the prophet and chucked it. 

No dynasty for Jeroboam.

But we can build a rich family dynasty!...when we seek the Lord with all of our heart and desire to walk in His ways.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Are You Drinking the Kool-Aid or the Living Water?

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

Are you drinking the Kool-Aid or the living water?

I mean, where are you getting your values?  On what foundation are you building your life?

Are you plugged into TV all day?  Is your favorite news channel like an IV pumping Kool-Aid into your veins?

Is it soap operas?  And you know that show you’re binging on is basically a soap opera, right?  That’s why you can’t stop watching.

But all these things impart values and morals.  Our books.  Our novels.  The people filling our news feeds.  The click bait.

We keep going back to the same sources and drinking the artificial...but colorful!...Kool-Aid.

Meanwhile, we have an amazing source of living water – the Holy Spirit of God who lives inside every Christian believer.  (John 7:38-39)

Living water – it’s a spiritual spring, teeming with life! 

It’s the Spirit of God inside of us, flowing within us...but we have to tap into it.  We seek God in prayer and praise and Bible study, and we tap into His living water.  We draw near to Him, and He draws near to us.  (James 4:8)

Then He shows us things, ways to live, attitudes to adopt; and when we do, He establishes our lives on a firm foundation.

In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter 7, Jesus said that when we hear His teachings and do them, we are building our lives on a solid foundation.

Sometimes people accuse fired up Christians of drinking the Kool-Aid.  On the contrary.  The world is sucking down the Kool-Aid like a maniacal third grader.  And even Christians can fall for the cartoonish colors, shovels of sugar and short-lived satisfaction. 

So stop with the Kool-Aid.

Instead, let us run to the living water, clean and refreshing and satisfying! 

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

I'm Supposed to Love People...But How?

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

Yes, yes, yes, I know I’m supposed to love people...but how?

I think we all know that if we are on our way to Jericho and we come across a beaten man, we’re supposed to load him on our donkey and take him to the inn, right?  Like the good Samaritan.

But life is full of people and their drama, full of neighbors and friends and strangers and people we like and people we don’t like so now what?

We’re supposed to love them...but how?

First let me note that love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22)  So the more we let the living water of the Holy Spirit flow in our lives, the more we will love people, automatically.

And the more we quench and grieve the Holy Spirit by our own sin and selfishness and disobedience and laziness, the less we will love people...automatically.

But I’m getting to a prayer we can pray, and this has really set my heart on fire.

Philippians 1:9 says, “And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”

So that’s my prayer.  “God, please give me that depth of insight into how to love people, each and every one of them.”

I’m a father of four adult children, all married.  I need to love them in different ways than when they were 5, 7, 9 and 11.  What do I say?  What do I give?  When do I act?  When do I offer my insanely wise advice, and when do I keep my big mouth shut?

To love them well I need depth of insight!

The homeless man on the corner, or at least he says he’s homeless.  See how I am?  I need depth of insight!

And so I pray, “Lord, please, I love You so much, and to love all these people You bring into my life, I need to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”

Amen.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.
 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Power Through

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

What might you have been excellent at if you had powered through?

Let me say it again.

What might you have been excellent at – if you had powered through?

See, we’re all made in the image of God.  He created us, and He packed us with individual gifts and talents. 

But it’s raw material.

It’s like the planet.  God created it, and He packed it full of astounding raw materials.  And I think we have only just begun to discover all the amazing things He put here.

The same is true with us.  Every one of us.  He packed us full of raw materials, but they are hidden.  They are under the surface.  It’s not obvious.  We have to dig, excavate, plow, work it.

I hate to see young people squandering so much time.  I hate to see anyone wasting time, but especially young people, who are still so much like an undiscovered land.  What might they be able to do if they just worked at it?

That’s the problem with raw materials.  They require a lot of work.

Phil Collins became known as one of the best drummers in the world.  But as a child it was just bare, raw materials.  He liked to hit things in a rhythm.

But he worked it, hard.  In his new autobiography he writes, “I must have put in my 10,000 hours before I’m even a teenager...when I’m home, I drum, to the exclusion of pretty much all else.”

You are a wonderland of raw materials, just waiting for you to discover!  What are you good at?  What can you be great at? 

Whatever it is, greatness never comes easy.  You start with the raw materials, and then you work.  You work, man!

You work now, so you don’t end up older with someone like me saying, “Just think - what might you have been excellent at if you had just powered through?

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

But You Don't Want to Go to Church


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

We lay down our lives for the brethren.

But you don’t want to go to church.

First John 3:16 says, “...we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

That’s our Christian brothers and sisters...the brethren.

It’s our fellow Christians and our fellow church members, and we’re supposed to LAY DOWN OUR LIVES for them.

But you don’t want to go to church.

“This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (NIV)

When you lay down your life, you give up your own wants and desires.  You say, “What I want?  I give that up. I give it up to be with you, to love you, to help you, to serve you, my brothers and sisters.”

Man, what would the church look like if we did this? 

God has placed every believer in the body of Christ, and we all are assigned a particular part in the body.  We all have gifts and talents and resources to be spent in the service of the body.  The body will thrive and grow (be edified) as we each fulfill our part.

The church would look like a wonderland of love and service!  And the fulfillment and satisfaction level would be out of this world!

But you don’t want to go to church.

Or you’re a church consumer, shopping around like a little Me Monster for the Me Me Me.

Man, that’s the OPPOSITE.

Going to church is about finding your brothers and sisters, connecting with them in the body of Christ, serving with them, working together along side in the mission of Jesus Christ!

We serve one another humbly in love.  (Galatians 5:13)

Because He laid down His life for us, we ought to LAY DOWN OUR LIVES for each other.

But you don’t want to go to church.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

A Just Man



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

I want to be a just man, like Noah.

Genesis says Noah was a just man, and he walked with God.

I want to be a just man, like John the Baptist.

Mark 6:20 says that Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man...and holy.

I want to be a just man, like Joseph of Arimethea. 

Luke says, “Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man.”

I want to be like that:  a good and just man.

I want to be a just man like Cornelius.

Acts 10:22 says Cornelius the centurion was a just man, one who feared God and had a good reputation.

Hardly anyone in the Bible is called “just,” but I want to be like them, a just man.

Proverbs 9:9 says, “Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

“Lord, I want that.  I don’t want to be a fool who can’t learn his lessons.  Lord, I want to be a just man who increases in learning.”

Proverbs 20:7 says the just man walks in his integrity.  His children are blessed.

“Lord, I want to be that man, the just man, with integrity, whose children are blessed!”

Proverbs 24:16 says a just man falls seven times...and rises up again!

“Thank You, Lord, that even if I stumble I will rise up again!  By Your Spirit I will keep the faith.  I will run the race.  I will live for You and love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.”

“Lord Jesus, I am clay on the wheel.  Mold me into the man You want me to be.”

A good man.

A holy man.

A just man.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.