Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Be Careful Where You Get Your Information

Have you ever heard this one?

Have you heard that, on average, while we are sleeping, we will unknowingly swallow, like, 100 spiders in our lifetime? 

Of course that’s ridiculous, just another urban myth.  Yet I’ll bet there are kids all over the country who heard the story one time and believe it for all they’re worth.  Can’t you see those poor kids, lying in bed, afraid to go to sleep because a spider might crawl in their mouth?

Trust me.  Spiders are trying to avoid mouths, not crawl into them.

The point is, you have to be careful where you get your information.

Now listen to this.  We let some of the stupidest people influence us. 

They write books and produce TV shows.  They create websites and make movies.  They print magazines and sell millions of them at the grocery store.

They have the capability of producing “information tonnage,” yet they are stupid.  But when we hear something often enough, we believe it.  And the next thing you know, we can’t sleep at night for fear of swallowing spiders.

So let me ask you, where are you getting your information?  Do you know what kind of people they are?  What are their motives?

I try to make my primary source of information that great Book of Books, the Bible.

And one thing I like about the Bible is that it is full of stories we can learn from.

Here’s one I like found in Second Chronicles 22 and 23.

King Jehoram was dead.  The Bible says, “He passed away…to no one’s regret.* 

He had a wife named Athaliah who was wicked, too.  Their son Ahaziah became king when his dad Jehoram died. 

Now remember my point here – be careful where you get your information.

The new king Ahaziah got a lot of his information from his mother.  Second Chronicles 22:3 says this, “His mother encouraged him in doing wrong.”

Now let me ask you, do you think Ahaziah thought that through?  Do you think he said to himself, “Gee, Mom’s telling me to do wrong?” 

I doubt it.  These are descendants of the wicked Ahab and Jezebel.  When Ahaziah became king, he inherited a lousy administration going all the way back to Ahab.  The Bible says, “They became his advisers, to his undoing.”

Now here is the big question.  Who is advising us?  Are they advising us to our undoing?

Do you think Ahaziah said to himself, “Gee, these people are advising me to my undoing?”

No.  If he thought that he would have done something different.

Now get this.  Ahaziah was getting advice.  It was to his undoing, but he thought it was okay. 

So what about us?  Could we be getting bad advice…but think it’s okay?

How can we know?

I say, measure it against the great standards of the Bible.  If it doesn’t measure up, it’s bad advice. 

You know, there is so much bad advice floating around.  Sometimes I read these advice columns and the stupidity stuns me. 

But you know what?  To them, it’s not stupid.  Why?  Because they have nothing to compare it to.  It’s only by contrast that stupidity is revealed. 

Poor Ahaziah had no contrast.  All around him were bad advisors, including his own crazy mother.  He had nothing to compare it to.  With no contrast, stupidity seems…normal.

So get some contrast today.  Pick up your Bible and get into the Holy Word of God.  Then make all your other advice measure up to the Lord’s high standards.

And remember to be careful…be careful where you get your information.

*  Second Chronicles 21:20

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

 

Friday, May 25, 2007

What Are You Waiting For?

Do you ever feel like you are just waiting for something?

I remember one summer in my late teens working at a factory.  It was good money, and a friend and I worked together, so it was fun.  But it was the second shift.  Have you ever worked a second shift?  Some people love it, but for me, it just sort of put the rest of my day in limbo.  I felt like I was always just waiting to go to work. 

I hated that feeling.  It was like, because I knew I had to go to work, I couldn’t go do something else.  It was a mental thing, I know.

And you know what?  I see a lot of people living their lives that way.  They can’t go do something because they are waiting

Right now I am thinking of single people.  Many single people are waiting.  They put their lives on hold in a way, waiting for someone special to come along.

This is especially true of single women, I think.  They are waiting for prince charming to come along and sweep them off their feet. 

I am also thinking of workers.  Many people are doing jobs they dislike.  They dream of something bigger and better, but right now, they are waiting – waiting for their ship to come in.  Waiting for someone to “discover” them and sweep them off to fame and fortune.

Some of you spend all week long just waiting for the weekend.

I went to a class reunion a few years ago, and an old schoolmate told me his life’s plans.  He was going to work in this plant, enjoying their good wages and benefits, until he could retire.  He didn’t really like the job, but he was going to put up with it, and wait to pursue a more satisfying life until he retired. 

There are many just like him.  You are waiting….waiting to retire. 

Now this is a terrible thing to say, but some of you are just waiting for someone to die.

Now I am thinking of prisoners.  I know some of our listeners to Wave 94 are imprisoned.  You are just waiting…waiting to get out so you can get on with your life.

I remember meeting Jeff Komendat of Care Tallahassee.  Jeff is a listener who came by the studio to pick up a CD that he won.  Jeff has lived a rough life, and was in and out of prison several times.  The last time was in 2001, and he told me how at that point God truly saved him.  He could have said, “God, now I will wait until I get out so you can use me.”  But instead he said, “God, please use me right now here in this prison.”  And God did work through Jeff, right there in prison.

See, you don’t have to wait until someday.  In fact you shouldn’t wait until someday.  You have precious few breaths in this lifetime, so you need to get on with it, with whatever you are called to do.    

Some of you are waiting to hear from God.  You are waiting for God to come through in some miraculous way. 

Stop the waiting!  Waiting is passive, but God is active.  Waiting is reactive, but God is proactive. 

I like what I heard one time, that in the military, the rules are to keep obeying your last command until you get a new one.  So what is the last thing you felt like you were supposed to do?  Then be actively doing that until, if and when, a new door opens for you. 

Think about this:  There is a reason that waiting and wasting sound so much alike.  It’s like me back in my second shift days.  Each morning I wasted all that time, waiting to go to work. 

I think this message is specifically for one of you today, so my question for you is this:   

What are you waiting for?

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

 

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Don't Know What I'm Doing!

I am the kind of person that doesn’t just dive into things.  Before I start, I want to do research.  I want to learn all I can learn.  I love the internet because now you can research anything, anytime of the day.  I do this so I can make sure I do it right!

For example, we bought this home here in Tallahassee, and, of course, it needs some work.  So I just put in a new kitchen sink.  Of course it’s never just a sink, it’s also faucets and water pipes and drain pipes and, you know, I don’t really have a passion for any of it. 

But anyway, I bought this new strainer that connects the sink to the drain pipe.  I did everything they said.  I did everything I found on the fix-it-yourself website.  Everything seemed simple enough and logical enough.  But I’d never done it before. 

I had no experience.

I needed someone who had done this a few times to be there to help me. 

My daughter and I were talking last night about a certain family we know.  They are all in the construction business…this generation, the last generation, and the generation before that.  They all live in the same location and are in the same business.  The experience of one generation is passed on to the next generation.  They have been successful, and it’s no wonder.  One generation builds upon the experience of the previous.

I had a conversation recently with someone about education.  They asked me what I considered the best form of education.  I said I thought the old fashioned apprentice system was the best.  There is really no substitute for an older person with experience taking a younger person under their wing and teaching them, day in and day out.

I had an old boss that was fond of saying, “Experience is the teacher of fools.”  What he meant was, “Don’t learn something by your own mistakes, if you can learn from someone else’s experience.”

Like I said, I am a researcher.  I am a reader.  I am also a question-asker.  I have an inquisitive mind, and I don’t mind going to people for information. 

But I have found that you can pack all the knowledge you want into your brain, and it still doesn’t take the place of experience.  And there are only two ways to have the advantages of experience.  Either learn from your own experiences, your own school of hard knocks.  Or you can learn by spending time with someone else that has more experience – and that is the best way.

So where do you want to go in the next few months and years of your life?  My advice is to find someone who has already been there, then ask them to “apprentice” you for a while.  There is simply no replacement for experience.

Take my sink, for example.  An experienced sink-putter-inner would have noticed immediately what I didn’t….that the strainer I bought was faulty.  All of my research and all of my knowledge didn’t prepare me for something like that.  And just think, I could have avoided that “look” from my wife, if I would have only had the help of someone with experience.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

 

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pray For Your Children's Future Spouse

“Pray for your children’s future spouse.” 

That’s what her e-mail said.  Her long e-mail, about the trials of a grandmother who was being rejected by her son and his wife. 

This lady was a friend of mine, and I knew her son.  I watched him grow up.  Everything seemed normal enough.  He got married, and then, for some reason, they didn’t want to have anything to do with his family.  Still don’t, and no one seems to know why. 

She said, “You know, I had never really thought much about the importance of who your children marry.  I just assumed they would get married and I would have little grandchildren around to spoil.  But now I never see my son’s children.  I wish I would have done this when they were growing up, but now I’m telling you…pray for your children’s future spouse.”

I told her that I have been, even since my kids were born.  For me it goes back to a song by Wayne Watson, where he was praying for his son’s future bride.  The lyrics go something like this:

“And I don’t even know her name, but I’m praying for her just the same.”

And then the end of the chorus says, “ ‘Cause somewhere in the course of this life, my little boy’s gonna need a godly wife.  So hold onto Jesus, baby, where ever you are.”

This weekend I read “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley.  It describes a future civilization where children are brainwashed into thinking unfaithfulness is normal.  They are never taught about a faithful marriage partnership.  Then one day an outsider enters their futuristic world, and they call him a savage.  Well, the savage believes that one man and one woman should be married, and “until death do they part.”  He falls in love with one of the futuristic women, and then is shattered when he discovers her unfaithfulness. 

But how could it have been any different?  They were raised in two different worlds. 

Now think about your children, and the importance of who they marry.  This decision is more important than their education or their career.  What are you doing to prepare them for this decision? 

I had a women tell me one time about her younger, dating years.  She said that one young man asked her out, but then asked her a strange question.  He asked if her parents were divorced.  He said that he didn’t even want to begin dating anyone whose parents were divorced because he didn’t want to marry someone who thought that divorce might be an option.

What kind of family will your children marry into?  It will affect your grandchildren and great-grandchildren for generations to come. 

One thing is for certain.  We can take the advice of my friend who offered this personal admonition:

“Pray for your children’s future spouse.”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

 

Friday, May 11, 2007

Decay Underneath the Filling

It was a shot of pain my mouth.

I was eating frozen strawberries and, wow, you might as well have hit me with a hammer.

That had never happened before.  I’ve heard of people whose teeth were sensitive, but this was crazy.  It was like a brain-freeze with a side of punch-in-the-mouth.

Then it was gone.  But over the next couple of days it got worse.  By Wednesday night I couldn’t even drink lukewarm water without a shot of pain.  So Thursday morning there I stood at the dentist’s counter, trying to look pathetic so they would squeeze me in.

Finally I was in the chair of doom.  “Ah,” he said, looking at fresh X-rays, “There is decay underneath the filling.  What do you want us to do?”

“What do I want you to do?  Well, I’m in pain, so FIX IT!”

Of course you know they can’t really “fix it.”  There’s no fixing decay, there’s only getting rid of it.

So he fired up his tools, ground off my tooth, ground out the filling, and drilled off every bit of decay.  The decay was gone, but so was my tooth!

See, there’s no fixing it.  It has to be made new.  And soon I will be wearing a shiny new crown.

Now let’s go back to what the dentist said.  “Ah,” he said, “there is decay underneath the filling.”

I think that is a great description of what happens in our lives.  We grow up and behave like responsible adults.  We get our act together and become (at least reasonably) socially acceptable.  We work and have a nice home and everything looks good.

“Looks” good. 

About like my tooth.  My tooth looked fine.  What I didn’t know is that down under a perfectly good looking filling, was decay. 

And this is what happens in our lives.  The outside looks good, but inside there is decay.  Usually we don’t do anything about it.  We don’t even realize it’s there, until one of two things happens.

First, you can wait like I did, wait until the decay finally causes you pain.  If you allow decay in your life, even if no one sees it, eventually it will rot your soul to the point of excruciating pain.  Trust me, waiting until it hurts is not the best way.

The best way is to have an X-ray find the decay before it causes pain. 

The decay I’m talking about is moral decay.  If you allow moral decay in your life, it’s going to hurt.

So what is the X-ray for moral decay?  How can we see deep down inside ourselves?

Start with this self exam found in Psalm 4:4.  When you are on your bed, search your heart and be silent.

God has created each one of us with a conscience.  That little voice is easily drowned out in the hustle and bustle of the day.  But at night, when all is dark and quiet, listen to that little voice.  It will point out any moral decay.

As a side note, let me say this.  Please don’t go to sleep with the television on.  I think that is a bad habit, and it drowns out that still small voice even to the very last second of your waking day. 

“Maybe I want to drown it out,” you say.  Fine, but the decay will keep decaying to the point of pain.  Is that what you want?

In addition to your self exam for moral decay, pray this little prayer found in Psalm 139:23 – “Search me, O God, and know my heart...”

This is like going to the dentist for an X-ray.  When you open up your soul to be tested by God, He will show you any moral decay.

Now here’s the thing.  He shows you, you realize it’s true, you see the moral decay, but then what?  How can it be fixed? 

You know, I definitely didn’t want to go the dentist.  I don’t like the dentist.  I don’t like giving him money.  I don’t like anything about it…except I do want good teeth.  So all I could do was tell the dentist, “Fix it!” then surrender to his expertise.

The same when God shows you any moral decay in your life.  All you can do is say, “Please fix it,” then surrender His expertise. 

My dental assistant told me I would get a “permanent crown.”  I said, “Permanent?”  She said, “Well, as long as you do what you’re supposed to.”

It’s the same with God.  He will point out our moral decay, and He will fix it.  But we can’t sit back and do nothing.  We need to follow His instructions, and do what we are supposed to do.

So don’t wait for the pain to kick in.  Open yourself up to God, and let Him show you any areas of moral decay.  And when He does, make the decision now, “I will do whatever He tells me to do.”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

 

Monday, May 07, 2007

*Prickly*

My daughter told me this story.  She said she was in heavy traffic, stuck behind a great big pickup truck, “…from Georgia…” she said, like it meant something. 
She said the traffic was bumper to bumper and barely moving, and the pickup kept swerving back and forth, and the driver appeared to be angrily trying to see “what in the world is going on up there?!”
Ah, yes.  There’s nothing like city traffic to bring out the best in all of us.  And pretty soon we’re even categorizing people by the state they’re from.
Think about it.  Why did she say what state they were from?  And it really didn’t matter if it was a pickup from Georgia or a Jaguar from New York
Now let’s practice thinking deeply about why we do what we do.
First of all, if she had been in a smooth flow of traffic, she wouldn’t have cared.  But because she was in this tense traffic situation herself, she was probably a little on edge, a little *prickly* to begin with. 
And as soon as we get even the least bit *prickly* - we start looking for someone to blame or criticize. 
Now stay with me.  Can you see the connection?  This is at the core of why we do what we do.  It sets off a chain reaction, and it all starts with *prickly.*
It’s a funny word, I know, but let’s keep going.
She’s in heavy traffic, and starts to feel *prickly* because of it.  Then the - now this is my word, not hers - then the “idiot” in front of her starts swerving. 
Now think - this guy had absolutely nothing to do with the heavy traffic, which was the cause of her *prickliness.*  But now he has caught her attention.  He will now become her target. 
She is *prickly,* and this condition leads you to find someone to *prickle.*  And it’s usually the first person that grabs your attention that is different from you!
Here is another scenario:  You come to work, and something has made you *prickly.*  Now it is human nature, in this condition you must find someone to *prickle.*  And it’s probably going to be the first person that grabs your attention that is different from you.  Let’s say you are a woman, and there is this other woman at work that dresses in a way that, “Why on earth does she dress like that?!  Good heavens, she looks like a fruit basket!”
Now come on, you know it happens.  And you may never mention it, and probably don’t even really care what she wears.  But today you’re feeling *prickly* and so out it comes….boom…you say something snotty.  She says something snotty back, and now you’ve started a cat fight.
How did you end up there? 
In the Bible, James 1:19 says, “Take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” 
I think one key to avoiding angry situations like this is to listen, to listen for the little scratchings in our soul that indicate the presence of little *prickles.*  As soon you notice, say a little prayer.  Surrender your irritation to God and ask for peace in its place. 
Just think how much better the world will be as we all become a little less *prickly.*

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I Am Watching You

I am watching you.  I notice how you take care of your home.  I see how you treat people there.  I even saw you that day you had a little talk with the garbage man.

I am your neighbor, and I am watching you.

I am watching you, but you don’t know me.  I visited your church a couple times, and your face stood out to me, so now I recognize you.  At the church I saw you worshipping God.  Now how will you behave when you come here?  I wonder. 

I am a nameless store worker, and I am watching you.

I am watching you, though I mostly just hear things through the family grape vine.  And let me tell you, I am listening closely.  No, I don’t believe everything I hear, but I am paying attention.  Will you turn out to be the kind of person you say you are?

I am a distant family member, and I am watching you.

I am watching you, and I’m sure you know it.  I see you on your best days and your worst days.  I see you when you feel good and when you don’t.  And let me tell you one particular thing.  I always pay special attention to how you handle certain dreaded phone calls.  We all get those calls, but when you get them, you probably don’t realize it, but I am always tuned in to what you say and how you treat them.

I am your coworker, and I am watching you.

I am watching you, and you have no idea, because I don’t even live near you, but I used to.  You might say I’m following you from afar.  You know what I’m checking on?  Your career moves.  How do you make your decisions?  Why do you do what you do?  I am very curious, because we are the same age and I am making similar decisions.  I am looking for someone to sort of follow, to pattern myself after.  You are helping to set a pace for me.

I am your former classmate, and I am watching you.

I am watching you, and I’ve seen you change over time, though I don’t think you’ve even noticed.  You probably aren’t really keeping track, and I’m sure you don’t think I am, but you’re wrong.  I never talk about it, but I am tracking you and the changes I’ve seen in your life over time.  Someday I might talk to you about it, but right now I’m just curiously watching the direction your life is taking.

I am your close friend, and I am watching you.

I am watching you, and I’ve seen you come a long way.  There have been a lot of childish mistakes and you’ve matured up to a certain level.  But here you are, and I wonder what you are going to do now with your life.  I am older, and you probably don’t think your decisions affect me, but they do.  Though I am your elder, I must say when I see you take a stand and do the right thing, it inspires me to do the same.  Don’t doubt it for a second, what you decide to do has a big impact on me.

I helped raise you, and I am watching you.

I am watching you, even though I was only part of your life for a few months.  I tried to instill knowledge and yes, even some values during our time together.  To be honest, you missed a lot of what I tried to send your way.  But I know that over time these lessons have a funny way of coming back.  What kind of person will you become?  Will all my hard work pay off?

I was your teacher, and I am watching you.

First Timothy 4:12 says, “…set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

We must set a good example in every way, because whether we realize it or not, people are watching.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

You Cannot Break the Law of God

“You cannot break the law of God; you can only break yourself upon it.”

I love that quote, which I just read this week in a book by D. James Kennedy called, “Why the Ten Commandments Matter.” 

“What do you mean, Doug?  Of course I can break the law of God!”

Yes, but the point is that the law of God stands firm.  You can’t break it apart or dissolve it or change it.  And if you attempt to, what ends up broken…is you.

Why is it that we think we can break God’s laws…for the better?  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because we are only thinking in the short run.

It’s like the little boy standing in the kitchen, the cookie jar standing wide open, crumbs all over his face, chocolate chips melted on his hands…and when his mother asks if he’s been sneaking cookies what does he say?   “No!”  Why does he lie?  Because he is only thinking about five seconds ahead…that if he says “no” his mother will believe him and he will be out of trouble.  Does that ever work?  Of course not. 

In a much larger sense, it’s the same with God and us.  We attempt to break God’s laws, looking for a short term advantage.  But it never works.  We only end up breaking ourselves in the process. 

I recently had a juicy temptation plopped in front of me.  I was making an insurance claim, but my policy was apparently written in such a way that to actually get the money, I would need to lie.  My agent even recommended that I lie!  Well, the moment of truth came, the man from headquarters had me on the phone, and the big question was asked.  I knew that by telling the truth, I would probably lose thousands of dollars. 

But God said – and I’ll use the old King James for its authoritative sound – “Thou shalt not bear false witness…”  Sure, in the short run I might have gotten away with it.  My claim might have gone through, and I might have gotten the money, a few thousand dollars maybe.  But at what price?  Would I sacrifice my soul for money?  Would I trade my integrity for cash?  Would I shame my Lord and my faith and my fellow believers?

So I told the truth, and that was that.  And actually, I can’t say I felt real good about it.  It hurt to know I was purposely wrecking my chance for the much-needed money.  But on the other hand, I know you never get away with anything.  First of all, God sees it all, even our thoughts and intentions.  And God has a way of making sure what goes around comes around.  He makes sure that we reap what we sow.  And He would have made sure that if I tried to break His law, that in the end it would stand firm, and I would have been broken upon it.

There’s an old saying, “If you don’t want people to read about it in the newspaper, then don’t do it.” 

In my old office back in Illinois I made myself a little plaque that read, “I will be careful to lead a blameless life.”  As I wrote it I thought that our normal tendency would be to have a plaque that reads “I will be careful not to get caught.”

But with God, we are caught from the moment we even think of breaking one of his laws.  With our Heavenly Father, we are like the little boy with his mother…we get away with nothing.

So today, if the tempter comes around with a special offer, remember, it won’t do you any good. 

You cannot break the law of God; you can only break yourself upon it.”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com