Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Year's Resolution - I Did It!

I’ve been on the Daniel Fast for one year now.

What is the Daniel Fast?

For me it means:

--Drink only water

--Eat no meat

--Eat no bread

--Eat no sweets

--Eat nothing fried.

Yesterday a friend at church asked me, “As you look back over the year, what do you think you’ve learned from this fast?”

I’ll get to that, but first let’s go back to the beginning.  In January 2007 our church announced a Daniel Fast for the first three weeks of the year, and I decided to do it.

For the first 2 ½ days I had a strange headache.  I am not prone to headaches, and I’ve never had a headache that lasted from one day into the next.  It wasn’t terrible, just a dull pain.  I guess my body was detoxing from, what? Sugar?  Caffeine?  I don’t know.

Then the headache went away, and I’ve not had a headache since.  Sometimes I used to get headaches in the afternoon, which I chalked up to too much time in front of a computer.  But since I went on the Daniel Fast I have had no such headaches. 

Sometime during the first few days I felt like I should take it to another level, to Daniel Fast all year. 

“Wow,” some people said, “You sure have a lot of self discipline.”  No, not really.  I believe God called me to do it, then He empowered me to do it.  It was not hard at all.

I must say, in the beginning I spent a lot of time hungry.  I had cut a lot out of my diet, but didn’t have enough to replace it. 

I came across this little phrase from Hemingway, “the discipline of hunger.”  He said his thinking was sharper and his writing better when he was hungry.

I thought of Ben Franklin’s maxim, “Eat not to dullness.”  Too much eating dulls our brain, while controlled hunger sharpens it.

Jesus said we must deny ourselves.  Our pastor said, “We are sacrificing the things that are pleasant in this world...”

Sometimes we look up and say, “God, please work in my life.”  But then we are unwilling to deny ourselves a single thing.

It was five months into the fast when I realized the greatest effect it had on me.  At that time I wrote this:  “My thoughts are more under control.  There is less impulsive thinking.  More peace.  I am more settled in my mind.  More faith.”

The thing that really hit me was, “There is less impulsive thinking.” 

Now let me say, I was never one to be hooked on a certain food or drink.  I know people who always have a soda to sip on, or coffee, or their daily ration of chocolate.  Not me.  I was chained to nothing.  Or was I?

Even though it was not one certain thing, I realized that many times each day I would impulsively grab something to eat or drink.  My mind would suddenly flash the message, “Oh, I need a Coke.”  “Oh, I need a cup of coffee.”  “Wow, you know what I could really use right now?  A burger and fries!”  After every meal I impulsively reached for something sweet. 

I had no idea how often I was interrupted by thoughts of food and drink.  It was a stunning realization.  I was not overweight.  I’ve never been on a diet in my life.  And yet in certain ways food had a controlling effect on me.  My brain would flash the message, “I gotta have it,” and I would jump to obey.

When I talk about the Daniel Fast, most people look at it like a good diet plan.  Yes, it can be that, but I encourage everyone who does it to ignore the health benefits and focus on the spiritual benefits. 

Paul told Timothy, “…bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things…”  Why focus on that which “profiteth little?”  Godliness profits in every way, including in physical health.

Now after a year of the Daniel Fast I feel more disciplined and self controlled.  I feel closer to God, and less prone to give in to impulsive thinking, both in food and other ways. 

So I highly recommend the Daniel Fast.  But if that’s not for you, I still encourage you to find something you can deny yourself in this coming year.  If you can’t do it for yourself, then offer it up as a sacrifice to God.

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Marriage Tune-Up

Time for a marriage tune-up!  Today let’s do a diagnostic on five areas of your marriage.

Are You Having Fun Together? 

Are you laughing together?  A key to a strong marriage is that you spend your most enjoyable times together.  If you’re not careful, your relationship can decay into a stale business partnership.  All you talk about are the things you must plan together, money, children, the house, where to spend your holidays.  A marriage danger zone is when you are having fun, but not with each other.

Are You Going Out On Dates?

This is just as important as it was before you were married.  You need some romantic time together.  It may mean a fancy restaurant.  Or it may simply mean a nice walk.  Just make this a habit, go out and do something pleasant…together.

Are You Having Silly Arguments?

Married people say things to one another that they would never say to a guest in their home.  Why should you be polite to strangers, then brutal to your spouse?  Hold your tongue.  And this especially applies when responding.  You feel like you just took a hit.  They just slammed you.  That’s when it is super important to not react.  Let it slide.  “A quiet answer turns away wrath.”  And often they didn’t mean it the way it sounded anyway.  A little common courtesy goes a long way.

Are You Filling Their “Love Tank”?

Everyone has a love tank, and someone will fill it.  It is very important that it is you.  When was the last time you left a surprise love note?  Bought some flowers?  Sent a “Just thinking of you” card, or even an e-mail?  What about hugs and kisses?  Even a five-year-old knows you need lots of X’s and O’s (and guys, I’m not talking about football!)

Are You Growing Spiritually…Together?

That means keeping each other current with where you are in your faith.  You should be sharpening one another, praying for and with each other. 

I’ll never forget what the actor Kevin Costner said one time, “Marriage is a tough gig.”  When I read that I thought, “He’ll be divorced soon.”  And sure enough, he was.  Because if you focus on the tough parts, you will burn out.  Or you will just become numb, with no feelings at all for your spouse. 

But it’s never too late to reignite your marriage.  Like focusing a magnifying glass on a dead leaf, when you focus on your marriage, soon that spark and flame will return, and then burn brighter than ever. 

(www.wave94.com)

dougapple@wave94.com

 

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Have you ever heard of “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom?”

It comes from Proverbs 9:1 which says, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars.”

Now if there was a tidy set of seven pillars of wisdom, it would have been nice if the author would have spelled it out right there.  But he didn’t.  That leaves it open to speculation, and many people have done so.  And now you can add me to the list.

That phrase “seven pillars” really struck my fancy, so what I did was a complete read through of the book of Proverbs to see if I could pick up on a set of seven branches of wisdom.

It wasn’t exactly obvious, because the Proverbs cover a lot of ground.  But here is what I think are the seven main “pillars of wisdom.”

#1  Righteousness

From beginning to end the Proverbs talk about the blessings of the righteous.  This includes integrity and purity, living upright and blameless.  If we put these in order of the number of times mentioned, righteousness has to top the list.  Some form of the word appears almost 80 times in the book of Proverbs.  The opposite of righteousness is wickedness, which Proverbs repeatedly warns against.

Righteousness is not just good for individuals, but look what it says in Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation…”

#2  Restraint

Restraint is self control.  It covers everything from holding your tongue to holding your temper.  A life of wisdom is a life of restraint.  The opposite of restraint is when we do or say whatever we feel like at the moment.

Proverbs 29:11 says, “…a wise man keeps himself under control.”

#3  Action

Sometimes when we think of wisdom we think of an old man sitting up on a hill doing nothing but dispensing wisdom.  Or we might think of wisdom as a bunch of things we don’t do.  Not so.  A man of wisdom is a man of action, a hard worker, a go-getter.  The opposite of this is being lazy, like a sluggard. 

Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

#4  Truth

A wise man is always true and never deceptive, whether in a court of law, or in business dealings, or simply when talking with friends.  He is honest and fair and just. 

Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.”

#5  Instruction

A wise man is always ready to receive instruction.  It may come in the form of teaching, or it may be a word of advice.  It might even be a rebuke or harsh discipline.  It comes in different ways at different times, but whenever it comes, a wise man is always teachable, always moldable, always open to instruction.

Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.”

#6  Generosity

A wise man is a giving man.  He never hordes for himself, but is always kind and good and ready to give away what he has been given.  He holds everything with an open hand. 

Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

#7  Humility

The Proverbs repeatedly warn of the dangers of pride.  The opposite of pride is humility.  A wise man is also a humble man.  The more he knows, the more he realizes he doesn’t know. 

Proverbs 11:2 says, “…with humility comes wisdom.”

Now you might say, “What about the fear of the Lord?  Why isn’t that one of your pillars?”

Well, I based my decisions on what was most mentioned in the book of Proverbs, and the fear of the Lord wasn’t mentioned as often as these seven.  However, it says in both Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”  So I will say this.  The seven pillars are built on this foundation:  The fear of the Lord.

Now here are some honorable mentions that are obviously important, but don’t show up as often in the Proverbs:

--love

--diligence

--faithfulness

--peacemaking

--whom you keep company with (i.e. not fools)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Spice Up Your Marriage

There is an insidious idea floating around that porn is a good way to spice up your marriage.

In the past this would have been less tempting, but the internet has changed all that. 

Like I said, it’s an insidious idea.  And the word insidious describes it perfectly, “beguiling, but harmful.”

I just read the story of a couple, and one day the husband suggested they spice up their marriage by looking at porn.  She was reluctant, but she was also curious.  So they did, and wow!  It really spiced things up…very briefly.

It created an almost immediate wedge in their marriage, driving them apart, not together.

I wish I could say that they worked it all out and everything is okay now.  But that’s not the way it went.  The story to date is that their marriage is barely holding together. 

Porn will spice up your marriage like crack cocaine will spice up your kid’s birthday party.

Here is another horrible way to spice up your marriage – by making your spouse jealous.  Again, it might provide an immediate boost of attention, a little thrill, the “high” of power, but it’s faulty wiring.  You might start a fire you can’t put out. 

Another terrible way to try to spice up your marriage is by cultivating a little relationship on the side.  Yes, it may give you a quick high, and you may take the good feelings home with you.  But the high is so short and the damage so swift, only a fool would think it beneficial. 

Some people try to spice up their marriage by reading racy novels.  “It puts me in the mood,” they say.  But again, it’s faulty wiring.  The lights go on, but something is starting to smell. 

“So, Doug, what can I do to spice up my marriage?”

Here’s what you do.  Go back to the Maker of marriage.  God had a perfect plan when He created Adam and Eve for one another.  Yes, our broken world has also broken marriage, but God’s plan is still best. 

So start by going to Him in prayer.  Pray for your marriage and your spouse everyday. 

The best way to spice up your marriage is with extra helpings of true love.  Go back to First Corinthians 13 and apply it to your marriage. 

One perceived drawback to this plan is that it doesn’t provide that quick high.  Maybe not, but it builds on a solid, true foundation.  And on this foundation your marriage will just get better and better as the years go by. 

I like what it says in Proverbs 10:22, that the blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow to it. 

See, these other schemes to spice up your marriage – sure, they may add some spice in the short run, but then they add sorrow. 

But the blessing of the Lord makes for a rich marriage – and adds no sorrow to it.

(www.wave94.com)

dougapple@wave94.com

 

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Such As I Have, I Give Unto Thee

One thing about working at a radio station, you always have a prize closet you can pull things out of.  In all my years in radio, there’s been a never-ending supply of things to give away:  CD’s, books, tickets to concerts, shows, theme parks, special events…there’s just always something to give away.

I love it when you give something away that someone truly appreciates.  A few weeks ago we gave away tickets for a concert at Wild Adventures Theme Park.  A young woman showed up in the front lobby to pick up her tickets, and I’m told she started crying.  She was so blessed to get those free tickets, tickets that she couldn’t afford on her own.

Often when I give away something I’ll say this, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, I give unto thee.”

Think of that phrase, “Such as I have.”  For you, what falls into that category?  What have you been blessed with? 

Now how can you give it away?  “Such as I have, I give unto thee.”

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Maybe you’re like me.  I’ve always been in that “silver and gold have I none” category.  But we are all in the “such as I have” category.  We all have something to give.

I got an e-mail yesterday from a woman who truly inspired me.  She is like most of us, working down here in the trenches of the middle class.  No silver or gold, so what does she have to give?

She told me how the other day she spent a couple of hours praying for people.  Then she said she felt like God gave her specific words of encouragement for certain people.  She went so far as to actually write down those encouraging words on cards, and delivered them. 

What a neat thing to give!  First of all, to spend all that time in prayer.  Then to actually step out on faith, write it down and deliver it - all in order to give some encouragement.  I love that story!

I remember one day someone went out of their way to give me a little booklet, five dollars worth of McDonald’s gift certificates.  Such a tiny gift, really.  But it meant a lot that they even thought of me.  What a beautiful gift!

A while back we received a letter from a relative, with a nice check in it.  Apparently he had been given some money, and he decided to pass it on to others.  He could have kept it, or saved it, or invested it, or bought some new clothes or a new TV or whatever.  But instead, he took what he had received, and gave it away! 

I have always loved photography.  Over the years I have taken pictures at various weddings and events, but I have never charged a dime.  For me, an interest and ability to take pictures falls in the category of “such as I have.”  It’s not my profession.  It’s just something I can do, so I give it away. 

I remember as a child my mom baking cookies for old folks and giving them away.  When my daughters were small, my mom used her sewing abilities to take fancy prom dresses from thrift stores, and somehow shrink them down into little frilly dress-up play clothes for my girls.  She took what she had, her sewing skill, and gave it away.

I say all this to inspire you today.  Look around.  What have you been blessed with?  Money?  Time?  Talent?  Well such as you have, give it away!

Like Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Color of Thanksgiving

Thoughts are the colors that paint our day.

The things we dwell on – these become the dominate colors.

If we think dark thoughts, we end up with a dark day.

If we think bright thoughts, we end up with a bright day.

Imagine Michelangelo, standing there with a brush in one hand and a color palette in the other.  What colors will end up on the canvas?  Only the colors that are on the palette.

The canvas is your day.  Each day is like a blank canvas, and you can paint it any way you choose.  And the colors you use are your thoughts. 

Here is one primary color that must always be on our thought palettes:  thankfulness.

This is Thanksgiving week, so I want to point out to you the incredible power of being thankful.

Colossians 2:7 says we should be “overflowing with thankfulness.”

It’s hard to have a bad day when you are overflowing with thankfulness.

It’s hard to be negative when you are thankful. 

It’s hard to be proud when you are thankful. 

Being thankful is a great way to control your tongue, because you know what?  It’s hard to say negative things when you are overflowing with thankfulness.

It’s hard to feel lonely when you are thankful, because being thankful is a way of recognizing, “Hey, I’m not in this alone.” 

It’s hard to feel covetous or jealous when you are thankful, because instead of looking at what other people have and feeling dissatisfied, being thankful means looking at what you have and feeling grateful.

Listen, thankfulness inoculates us from all kinds of ills.

We talk a lot about depression in America.  Well it’s hard to be depressed and thankful at the same time.

When your palette is overflowing with the color of thankfulness, it doesn’t leave room for a host of more negative colors.

You might say, “Well you don’t understand, Doug.  This will be my first Thanksgiving without a special loved one.” 

Well what color will you put on your palette?  Dark, ugly colors?  Does that honor them in any way?  Is that what they would want?  Would they say, “Yes, please have a terrible holiday in memory of me”? 

If our palette is to overflow with thankfulness, then maybe instead of focusing on our loss, it’s time to be thankful for the precious time we had with them.

Thankfulness brightens the most mournful day. 

“Well, Doug, I’m more of a realist.  And realistically, there is just not much to be thankful for.”

Au contraire!  We are to be overflowing with thankfulness!   That doesn’t mean we ignore problems or stick our head in the sand.  Yes, we must still work to solve problems.  But it’s so much easier with a healthy dose of thanksgiving.

Sure, we can walk around with a monkey on our back all day.  We can let our thoughts drag us down into a pit. 

But honestly, it all comes down to what we choose to dwell on. 

So imagine your thoughts as a color palette.  It’s our thoughts that will color our day.  And if we want a brighter day, we need to think brighter thoughts.

And one very versatile color, good for brightening any canvas, is that beautiful color of thanksgiving!

(as heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

www.wave94.com

dougapple@wave94.com

 

Friday, November 02, 2007

When You Get Married, Stop Looking

People are waiting longer to get married these days.  Why?  There are many reasons, but one reason I read about was that some people are waiting to get married because they want to make sure they get the very best person they can get.

Now on the surface that sounds fine.  “Marry the best person you can get.”  Compare that to “I married the first loser that came along.” 

The problem with this thinking is, what happens after you are married? 

Recently I read a marriage book with a Q&A section at the end.  One young man asked, “What if I get married, and then someone better comes along?”

The answer was simple yet profound:  “When you get married, stop looking.”

Marriage is not like buying a car – you get a sharp one this year, but then trade it in for a new model in a few years.  Once you are married, it’s quite simple.  The shopping ends.  If you are not ready to stop shopping, don’t get married.

Marriage is a big commitment.  You are making vows.  Vows!  Those are promises you swear to die before you break.  You NEVER break your vows. 

“But shouldn’t I make myself happy?”

That’s a stupid, selfish thing to say, “…make myself happy…”  If making yourself happy means breaking your vows, absolutely not.  Happiness is not the god that we Americans make it out to be. 

God is God, and happiness is not.  And besides, happiness doesn’t come from chasing happiness.  Happiness is a byproduct of following God, of living honorable lives, of keeping your vows, of being loyal to your spouse.

Would you like a beautiful flower garden, year after year?  Then you need to tend to it, year after year.  You want a beautiful marriage over the years?  Then tend to it, and don’t be daydreaming about someone else’s flowers.

I had lunch with a couple of men yesterday, and the topic of marriage came up.  One of them has been married for many years, and is now in that “empty nest” stage, where all the kids have moved out.  He said they were basically reinventing their marriage to adjust to a life where children were no longer the focus. 

Some people at this stage start shopping for a new romance.  That is wrong and not in anyone’s best interest.  Remember, happiness is not found by chasing happiness.  Happiness is a byproduct of following God, and in this case, being true to your spouse. 

Is it time to reinvent your marriage?  Then do it! 

I got an e-mail yesterday from a man who told me that he and his wife have been married for several years, but that in the last few months things had become strained.  They decided to go on a marriage retreat, and, quote, “I’m not exaggerating when I say we received some of the most important, if unexpected, breakthroughs we’ve ever experienced in our marriage.”  He concludes, “Isn’t it amazing that when you finally choose to listen to God’s leading, He blesses your socks off?  Go figure.” 

See?  He said God blessed their socks off!  And He’ll do the same for you and your marriage.  Just take time to focus on Him and on each other, and amazing things will happen!

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

Monday, October 29, 2007

Emotion Marks Our Lives

Can you remember a time when you had a really strong thought?  You know, it was just a great thought, a brilliant contemplation.

We’ve all had a few, but can you remember them?  Can you remember the time and place?

Now think of a time when you had a really strong emotion. 

When we experience deep feelings, we remember it keenly.  We remember who was involved and the circumstances around it. 

See, there’s just something more powerful about emotional moments that make them stick in our memory.

Why is it that I don’t remember any great thoughts from kindergarten, even though there must have been a hundred ah-hah! moments?  But what do I remember?  Feeling embarrassed when I fell down on the playground and tore a small hole in the knee of my pants.  I remember standing in line to go back into the school, hoping no one noticed.  I remember sitting at my little desk, putting my hand over my knee to cover it up. 

In first grade I don’t remember any great thoughts, though there must have been some.  But I remember clearly the teacher leaving the room and telling no one to leave their seats.  I remember a friend asking to see some pictures I had brought from our California vacation.  I remember taking the pictures over to his desk, knowing it was wrong, but hoping I could get back to my seat.  I remember Mrs. Prather returning in a very untimely fashion, and I distinctly remember the trip to the hallway, the paddle, the tears, and the trip back into the classroom.

I’ve called my wife thousands of times, so why do I remember the first one so well?  Certainly not because it was so intellectually stimulating.  I probably sounded like a nitwit. 

No, I remember it so well because it was charged with emotion.  It’s the emotional days that get the big red X on our calendar of memories.

Here is one of my favorite quotes.  A lady named Merle Shain wrote, “We tend to think of the rational as a higher order, but it is the emotional that marks our lives.”

I only remember one spelling word from all my grade school years:  reign, as in r-e-i-g-n. 

See, I loved spelling bees, and I especially loved winning spelling bees.  I loved dividing the class into two teams, and the competition and the thrill of victory.

And I’ll never forget the day I got “reign” as a spelling word, and I spelled it r-a-i-n, even though the teacher clearly said, “used to control a horse.”  The blood drained from my face.  I remember going to recess, completely deflated.  I remember standing in line for the slide, climbing the steps and sliding down, still kicking myself for misspelling reign.

Out of all the spelling words I’ve had in my life, why on earth do I remember that one so well?  Because of the emotions.  See how it works?  Emotion marks our lives.

Now…we tend to think of emotions as capricious.  They flit about and we have little control over them.

What I’m not getting ready to say is that we need to put the clamps on our emotions.  But I do think we can control our emotions, and here’s how.

I think we get emotional over what we invest in.  The deeper we invest ourselves into something, the deeper our emotions run.

I heard Dr. James Dobson talking about his mother on the radio, and he basically said she died of grief after his father passed away.  She had invested herself so deeply into that one man, that when he died, it broke her emotional bank. 

Why do some parents take it so hard when their children move out and they have an empty nest?  It’s because they have invested so much in those children. 

Why did some men kill themselves after the stock market crash in 1929?  Because they had not only invested their money, but even their life in the stock market, and when it crashed, they crashed.

So how can we make our emotions more stable?  By investing ourselves in things that are stable.  And the most stable thing of all is God.  When we invest in our relationship with God, we are investing in someone who will never leave us or forsake us.* 

When an investment goes well, it brings joy and peace.  And listen brothers and sisters, our investment in the Lord always goes well!

Some people’s emotions ride on the fortunes of their favorite team.  Not a good investment, since everyone loses more championships than they win. 

I told my daughter last night, “In the end, it’s just you and God.  So anything you can do to build that relationship is a good thing.”

So here’s my three point summary:

1.  Emotion marks our lives.

2.  Emotions follow what we invest in.

3.  The best investment is in the Lord.

* Hebrews 13:5

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Play the Man

I got an e-mail from Terrence Wilson, who lives near Detroit, Michigan.  Like me, he is concerned about the absence of fathers in the lives of their children. 

Terrence knows first hand the damage absentee fathers do to their children.  His own father walked out on him when he was 5 years old.  He writes, “That’s when my mother told me that I was now ‘the man of the house.’  I couldn’t wait to grow up just to prove that I would be a man that my mother was proud of.” 

Skip ahead 20 years, and we find Terrence as a maturing young man, taking on more and more responsibility.  He says he was sitting in his apartment one day, thinking of the various burdens in his life, and…. “I began to cry.  I found myself alone without any guidance, not knowing if I was making the right decisions.  I had already made some bad mistakes and there was no one there to balance me as a developing man.  At that point in time, the importance of a father became very real to me.  From whose wisdom would I draw?  To whose hand would I reach for?  In whose ear would I cry out for help?” 

So there he is, a man in his 20’s, and yet still suffering from that terrible decision his father made to walk out of his life when he was only five. 

Terrence adds, “All over the world, the effects of missing fathers are evident.  When we take a look at our neighborhoods and communities, the violence, gangs, drugs and sexual activity is a direct result of fathers not being at their post.  There are statistics that show a great correlation between persons who are incarcerated, those who have behavioral problems, and the absence of fathers.”

Terrence is right on the money.  It doesn’t matter if you’re in Detroit or Tallahassee or Beijing, you can see clearly the negative effects on society when fathers don’t step up and fulfill their responsibilities. 

Now let me talk to the good dads.  Gentlemen…how is your purity?  If you are a good dad, it is unlikely you will ever leave your children.  So your personal temptation will not be to leave your family, it will be to taint your family.  Are you doing right with all your heart, or are you leaving yourself little loopholes, little grey areas? 

Back in the early 90’s author Kent Hughes wrote these powerful words…challenging words:  “Men, if we are Christians, it is imperative that we live pure, godly lives in the midst of our Corinthian, pornotopian culture.  We must live above the horrifying statistics or the Church will become increasingly irrelevant and powerless and our children will leave it.  The Church can have no power apart from purity.”

Dads, of course we must stay with our families.  But there is more.  We must be leading pure lives.  We must be righteous men men. 

Now, have you ever heard of this guy?  Weird name…. “Polycarp.”  Polycarp lived about two thousand years ago and was martyred for his faith.  He was in the arena, preparing to die for his allegiance to Christ, and the story goes that a voice came from heaven saying, “Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.” 

I love that line and the phrasing, and according to the story it was spoken by God Himself:  Be strong and play the man.”

This is a foundation stone for our society – men rising up and being the men they were designed to be.  And that means strength and purity.

So let that line run through your head one more time:  Be strong, and play the man!

(Check out Terrence’s website:  http://www.wilstonian.com/)

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

www.wave94.com

dougapple@wave94.com

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

For Dads on the Edge of an Affair

(You really need to hear the audio version of this one.
It includes movie highlights and song clips.
Go to www.wave94.com.
At the top of the home page it says “Click here to listen.”)

To flirt with adultery is to steal from your children.

To commit adultery is to plunder your own offspring.

You bring a hellish hammer down on your kids when you take time meant for them and squander it on some woman not your wife.

Would you strike your children a vicious blow?  Would you take your strong hand and smack their ears ‘til they bled?  No, you love your children too much to hurt them like that.

Yet to toy with adultery is to hurt them.

One of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever seen is in the movie “Hope Floats.”  Not that I recommend the movie, but there is one scene that every father even flirting with another woman needs to see.

The dad is leaving home to go be with his “lover.”  All of a sudden he sees his little girl, Bernice, following him with a bag in her hand.

He says, “Bernice, what do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m going with you.”

“Honey, that’s impossible.”

“But I’m going with you.”

“No, you’ve got to stay with your mama.

“You told me you wanted me with you, remember?”

“Listen, honey, I’ve got to go.  Now don’t do this to yourself, okay?  Don’t make a scene.  Now go back inside.”

But Bernice carries her little luggage out anyway and throws it in the trunk with Daddy’s – who takes it out and hands it to her.

“Stop it, Daddy!”

“Bernice, you know I’d take you with me if I could.”

“You can!”

“Try to understand, baby. Connie and I, we need this time to ourselves to try and make a go of it.  Then I’ll come back for you, I promise.”

“You want me!  You wrote it in your letter!”

Dad gets in the car, and now Bernice is standing outside the locked door, crying.

“Please, let me in!  You want me!”

“I’ll always want you, Bernice.  You’re my little princess.”

And he drives away, abandoning the heart and soul of his own little girl.

Like I said, it’s one of the most powerful movie scenes I’ve ever scene, and a must see for any dad toying with the idea of even looking twice at another woman.

But let me tell you, that dad started hurting his little girl long before that tragic scene.  He started hurting her the minute he diverted some of his precious time away from her in order to cultivate a relationship with Connie.

That scene of little Bernice reminds me of a song by John Mayer entitled “Daughters.”  The singer tells of a girl he’s in love with, but who is driving him crazy.  He can’t figure out what her deal is, and finally he decides that maybe her problem is not with him, but maybe it goes back to the fact that her father left her.

The second verse goes like this:

“Oh, see that skin?
It’s the same she’s been standing in
Since the day
She saw him walking away
Now she’s left
Cleaning up the mess he made.”

Dad, do not betray your children.  And do not mistake the truth.  When you spend time cultivating a relationship with another woman, you are betraying your children.  You are robbing them of Daddy time, the time you are supposed to be loving them and teaching them and cheering them and listening to them.  Yes, you have a relationship to cultivate, but it’s with your child, not some other woman.

King David learned that lesson the hard way.  Instead of a tidy little family with one wife and kids, he took advantage of his leadership position and ended up with children by several women.  But oh, the heartache that rained down on him because of it.  He had to witness the brutal death of some of his kids, and it all came back to his own unfaithfulness.  He would have saved himself many daggers to the heart if he would have just been a faithful husband and father.

After David’s affair with Bathsheba, Second Samuel 11:27 says, “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”

That is the fork in the road.  You can decide to please the Lord, or not.  David decided not to, and he paid for it the rest of his life. 

If you are a dad today, make a vow to please the Lord.  Make a vow to be a faithful husband and father.  And whatever you do, don’t do anything to hurt the blessed little offspring God has placed in your care.

Comments?

E-mail me:  dougapple@wave94.com.

May God bless you today!  With Apples of Gold…I’m Doug Apple.

(Fade out with “Daughters” by John Mayer.)

 

 

For Dads on the Edge of an Affair

You really need to hear the audio version of this one.
It includes movie highlights and song clips.
Go to www.wave94.com.
At the top of the home page it says “Click here to listen.”

Radio Script for October 17, 2007
“For Dads on the Edge of an Affair”

Hello, I’m Doug Apple…with Apples of Gold.

To flirt with adultery is to steal from your children.

To commit adultery is to plunder your own offspring.

You bring a hellish hammer down on your kids when you take time meant for them and squander it on some woman not your wife.

Would you strike your children a vicious blow?  Would you take your strong hand and smack their ears ‘til they bled?  No, you love your children too much to hurt them like that.

Yet to toy with adultery is to hurt them.

One of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever seen is in the movie “Hope Floats.”  Not that I recommend the movie, but there is one scene that every father even flirting with another woman needs to see.

The dad is leaving home to go be with his “lover.”  All of a sudden he sees his little girl, Bernice, following him with a bag in her hand.

He says, “Bernice, what do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m going with you.”

“Honey, that’s impossible.”

“But I’m going with you.”

“No, you’ve got to stay with your mama.

“You told me you wanted me with you, remember?”

“Listen, honey, I’ve got to go.  Now don’t do this to yourself, okay?  Don’t make a scene.  Now go back inside.”

But Bernice carries her little luggage out anyway and throws it in the trunk with Daddy’s – who takes it out and hands it to her.

“Stop it, Daddy!”

“Bernice, you know I’d take you with me if I could.”

“You can!”

“Try to understand, baby. Connie and I, we need this time to ourselves to try and make a go of it.  Then I’ll come back for you, I promise.”

“You want me!  You wrote it in your letter!”

Dad gets in the car, and now Bernice is standing outside the locked door, crying.

“Please, let me in!  You want me!”

“I’ll always want you, Bernice.  You’re my little princess.”

And he drives away, abandoning the heart and soul of his own little girl.

Like I said, it’s one of the most powerful movie scenes I’ve ever scene, and a must see for any dad toying with the idea of even looking twice at another woman.

But let me tell you, that dad started hurting his little girl long before that tragic scene.  He started hurting her the minute he diverted some of his precious time away from her in order to cultivate a relationship with Connie.

That scene of little Bernice reminds me of a song by John Mayer entitled “Daughters.”  The singer tells of a girl he’s in love with, but who is driving him crazy.  He can’t figure out what her deal is, and finally he decides that maybe her problem is not with him, but maybe it goes back to the fact that her father left her.

The second verse goes like this:

“Oh, see that skin?
It’s the same she’s been standing in
Since the day
She saw him walking away
Now she’s left
Cleaning up the mess he made.”

Dad, do not betray your children.  And do not mistake the truth.  When you spend time cultivating a relationship with another woman, you are betraying your children.  You are robbing them of Daddy time, the time you are supposed to be loving them and teaching them and cheering them and listening to them.  Yes, you have a relationship to cultivate, but it’s with your child, not some other woman.

King David learned that lesson the hard way.  Instead of a tidy little family with one wife and kids, he took advantage of his leadership position and ended up with children by several women.  But oh, the heartache that rained down on him because of it.  He had to witness the brutal death of some of his kids, and it all came back to his own unfaithfulness.  He would have saved himself many daggers to the heart if he would have just been a faithful husband and father.

After David’s affair with Bathsheba, Second Samuel 11:27 says, “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”

That is the fork in the road.  You can decide to please the Lord, or not.  David decided not to, and he paid for it the rest of his life. 

If you are a dad today, make a vow to please the Lord.  Make a vow to be a faithful husband and father.  And whatever you do, don’t do anything to hurt the blessed little offspring God has placed in your care.

Comments?

E-mail me:  dougapple@wave94.com.

May God bless you today!  With Apples of Gold…I’m Doug Apple.

(Fade out with “Daughters” by John Mayer.)

 

 

Monday, October 15, 2007

There You Are!

It was a forgettable moment that I’ll never forget. 

I was talking to a woman at a basketball game, a young mother.  Suddenly her little girl was standing there in front of us, and this young mother sparkled with delight as she turned toward her daughter and said, “There you are!”

I thought, “What a greeting!  I would love to be greeted like that.  Why, I would feel special all the time – as if people had been looking for me, couldn’t wait to see me, and were overjoyed when suddenly, there I was!”

I have heard people talk about their dogs, that when they arrive at home, no one else may care, but their dog is always excited to see them. 

My kids are all old and boring now, but I remember when they were little, and I would come home from work, they would all run to the door and it was like a party every day.  “Daddy’s home!  Daddy’s home!”

One of my favorite memories is the night I came home and my youngest daughter jumped out from behind the door and doused me with a bucket of confetti! 

What if we always greeted each other with such joy?  It changes the color of the room. 

“There you are!”

I remember years ago visiting a little country church.  I had become friends with the old pastor, and he invited me to a concert there with his all-time favorite group:  “Heaven Bound.”  That night I met the leader of the group, Jeff Gibson.  He was very nice and friendly and genuine. 

Fast forward a year, when the pastor had another concert with, who else, Heaven Bound.  And I’ll never forget Jeff Gibson, still smiling as if he had been smiling all year, approaching me, shaking my hand, calling me by name, and seemed genuinely glad to see me again.  He said with a smile and a handshake what the young mother had said with words:  “There you are!”

I think of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son.  That son was trouble.  Kind of a jerk.  Good riddance.  And yet his father loved him and watched and waited for him to come home.  When the boy ran out of money and his life was a wreck, he decided to go back. 

Luke 15:21 picks up the story, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.  He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  The father said to his servants, “Quick!  Bring the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Let’s have a feast and celebrate!”

Did the son deserve such a greeting?  Not at all.  But the father poured it on anyway, out of the love that flowed through his heart for his son.

That story illustrates God’s love for us, even when we don’t deserve it.  And God wants us to love each other like He loves us.  And one way we can show love to each other is to simply be glad to see each other…and show it. 

And for me it all goes back to that forgettable moment I’ll never forget, when that young mother sparkled with delight and said to her little girl, “There you are!”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

www.wave94.com

dougapple@wave94.com

 

Friday, October 05, 2007

Tallahassee Woman Attacked While Praying

Tuesday morning a Tallahassee woman did her usual thing.  She went to church to pray.

As this woman, four months pregnant, was kneeling in prayer, she was brutally assaulted by a man who was apparently robbing the church.  She was viciously beaten and stabbed.  The attacker only fled when she convinced him that other church members would soon arrive.

Then he stole her purse and her car, and the stolen car led to his quick arrest.

Now you’d think if God was going to protect anyone from violence it would be a pregnant woman kneeling in prayer inside a church.  Right?

And now if there was anyone with the right to doubt God it would be this woman, right?

And yet her faith is strong.  The Tallahassee Democrat reported that she is “ready to forgive her assailant.”

So the question is, how can her faith in God be strong when God didn’t protect her?

I think it’s because God gives special grace in such situations.  Yes, He allows them to happen, for reasons I don’t know.  But then He pours in a special grace.

It’s hard to understand unless you’ve been there.

Many years ago my habit was to drive to a neighboring town to pick up a little old lady for church.  One dark Wednesday night I did this, with my little daughter in the back seat.  If there was ever a moment blessed by God, it should be this one.  Here I was, a devout Christian, taking my daughter to church on a Wednesday night, and to top it off we picked up a widow who couldn’t drive herself.  God must have been smiling.

Then out of nowhere a large deer slammed into the side of my car, its head smashing into my driver’s side window.  Witnesses said the deer was running full steam across the highway when it hit me.

It was like a shotgun of glass to my face.  They took us to the emergency room, and everyone was okay except me.  I had shards of glass in my eyes.

They flushed out my eyes for a long time with jets of blue liquid.  They spoke about my vision is sober tones, and scheduled an emergency appointment with an eye specialist first thing in the morning.

As my wife drove me home from the hospital that night, I just sat there, slumped down in the passenger seat with my head against the window.  What a night.  What about my eyes?  Would there be permanent damage?  Would I ever see clearly again? 

Now you’d think I might get bitter with God, or at least question Him.  But I didn’t.  For some reason, I didn’t.  Something welled up inside me that said, “Lord, even if my eyes are permanently damaged, I will serve You.”

I don’t know where that reaction came from.  All I can say is that it was a special grace.

And by the way, my eyes did heal, thank you God!

From the outside looking in, you can only imagine what it’s like, and we usually imagine the worst.

I once knew a man who was a street fighter.  He was a little guy, and I think he made up for it by picking a fight every chance he got.

Well he became a Christian, and he was in my Bible study group.  One day he said, “I have a question.  I know a guy who used to witness to people out on the street.  One night he was out there talking to people about Jesus and a couple of drunks came along and beat him up.  Why would God let that happen?  It makes me mad just to think about it.”

I answered with a question.  “Do you think it made that Christian mad?  Do you think he was bitter about getting beat up?”

This new Christian thought for a second and said, “No, I don’t think so.”

I said, “I don’t think so either.”

Why not?  Because of that special grace.

I had a guy from church call me one time when he found out his wife was cheating on him.  He was totally devastated.  But as the situation unfolded I saw God work such a special grace in that man – a grace far beyond his normal character.  Many times I just shook my head and said, “Lord, you are doing something amazing in the heart of that man.”

I love this phrase found in Hebrews 4:16, “…grace to help in time of need.”

God allows us to go through times of great need.  Devastating things happen.  I don’t know why, and I wish they didn’t, but they do. 

But something wonderful happens as we call out to God in these times.  He gives us a special grace.  A “grace to help in time of need.”

 

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

The reaction to this woman’s attack has been interesting.  Christians understand her willingness to forgive.  Others are aghast at anything short of extreme punishment for her attacker.

 

This special grace that God gives His people reminds me of something Adrian Rogers said once.  Ponder this:

“We have no right to be believed so long as we can be explained.”

 

This special grace is simply unexplainable.

 

Read more about the woman’s story here:

http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007710030319

http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200771003023