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

 

 

Monday, October 01, 2007

Alan Jackson's Wife

Alan Jackson is a country music star.

His wife Denise has a new book out entitled “It’s All About Him:  Finding the Love of My Life.”

Denise and Alan grew up in the little town of Newnan, Georgia.  They fell in love and were married long before Alan began a career in country music.  They both worked hard and pinched pennies while he struggled to make it in the music business.

Alan finally hit the big time in 1990, and their money problems were over.  They began to live the life of the rich and famous.  Just about anything they wanted they could buy. 

But Alan was gone a lot, and various things took their toll on the marriage.  In late 1997 Alan told Denise that he was moving out.  She describes that time in her life as “relentless pain.”

She said, “The only anchor in my life was Alan.  Tethered to him, I had a sense of who I was.  By his side, I was a woman to be envied.  Life revolved around Alan…”

“Over the years, he had become my foundation,” she said.  “So when he left, there was nothing left for me to depend on.  My house had been built on shifting sands, and now in the storm…I felt like everything was going to collapse.”

Fortunately, Denise was involved in a women’s Bible study group, and they supported her, prayed for her, and pointed her in the right direction – toward the Lord Himself.

Denise said, “It’s odd.  I would never have chosen to go through the pain of those awful days.  But through it, God got my attention.  I had been skimming along on the surface of my fairy-tale life, ignoring the fact that Jesus was softly and tenderly calling me to come home to Him.  I’d closed my eyes to any warnings that a storm was coming in my marriage.” 

“Once that storm broke my heart wide open,” she said, “I finally cried out to God.  I heard His voice.  I felt His love.  And I realized that Alan was never designed to be the center of my life.  No human being could fill that place.  Christ alone could truly be my all-in-all.”

“Anger came quite naturally,” she said, “But as time went by, a miracle happened.  I found myself drawn by God’s Spirit into a different response altogether.  I found that the more I pursued my new relationship with Jesus and the more I explored the Bible, the more my attitudes were changing.  It was incredible.  I saw the words in Psalm 1 beginning to come true in me, of all people.  I was finding my ‘delight’ in God’s Word.”

The good news is, eventually Alan moved back, they renewed their vows, and God began healing their marriage.  And you can read all about it in Denise’s new book, “It’s All About Him.”

Now let’s go back to the crux of their problem.  It took Denise a long time to figure it out, but it was this.  She said, “I realized that Alan was never designed to be the center of my life.  No human being could fill that place.  Christ alone could truly be my all-in-all.”

You see, God is the Creator, and everything else is just part of His creation. 

In his “Confessions” St. Augustine wrote, “‘What is the object of my love?’ I asked the earth, and it said, ‘It is not I.’ … I asked the sea, the deeps, the living creatures that move about, and they responded, ‘We are not your God; look beyond us.’ … I asked heaven, sun, moon, and stars, and they said, ‘Nor are we the God whom you seek.’ ‘Then tell me of my God who you are not - tell me something about Him.’ And with a great voice they cried out, ‘He made us.’”

 In the September edition of Christianity Today, Daniel Williams wrote that “it is an abuse” to love anything God has made as if it were God.  He said we will never find fulfillment in anything God created.  We will always expect more from it than it can deliver.

Of course, it’s a trite phrase that “money can’t buy happiness.”  Denise Jackson said, “I already knew that no amount of material stuff could bring contentment.”  But what she realized through her marital problems was that “no human relationship – even if it seems ‘perfect’ – can really satisfy the deepest longings of a person’s soul.”

See, everything but God is just part of His creation.  And nothing He created was meant to take His place.  Not stuff, and not people – not even your spouse. 

Augustine learned it.  Denise Jackson learned it.  We all must learn it, and hopefully not the hard way. 

Learn what?  Learn this.  The focus and the foundation of our life, the center point of our affections must be, and only be, the Lord.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

dougapple@wave94.com

www.wave94.com