Thursday, September 27, 2018

Tiny Drops of Life

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

How does a tree get its water?

If you as a person want to get water, you take a drink.  You pour it into your mouth.

But how does a tree get water?

You might think, “Well, water falls on it, and it soaks it up, like a sponge.”

So if you take a bath, it’s a like taking a drink?

No.  People take in water through their mouth.  And trees take in water through their roots.

The life-giving water starts at the roots and it flows to the rest of the tree, one tiny little drop of life at a time.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” 

Life flows from the vine to the branch.

So what does that look like in real time?  How does that spiritual life, that living water, flow from Jesus to us?

I think we’re usually looking for big things, the thunderstorm, the flood, the spiritual tsunami that sweeps us into God’s plan.

But I think it’s more like how water flows from the vine to the branch:  one tiny drop of life at a time.

For example, here’s a tiny drop that I believe God dropped into my life.

At the time my wife and I had four small children, and I was working each day until about 6 p.m.  I would come home and the kids would have already eaten.  It was a bit scattered, but I don’t think we even thought about it. 

Then I went to a Promise Keepers event.  There were thousands of men, singing and praising God and it was powerful.  So there I was, standing and singing with the rest of them, my hands in the air, and all of a sudden a phrase popped into my mind, “Start having family dinners.”

It was so out of the blue, I stopped singing, sort of stunned.  I finally just sat down to let it sink in for a minute.  And while the rest of the men stood around me, singing, I wrote down this little note.  “Start having family dinners.”

And we did!  We started having family dinners.  There was bonding and conversation, and it really brought a good, new dynamic to our family.

It was a tiny drop of life that I believe flowed from Jesus, the vine, into me, the branch.

And I think that’s how our spiritual lives usually work.  Yes, sometimes God speaks to us in the thunder and the flood, but I think most of His work in our lives probably comes in these daily little ways, where His Spirit talks to our spirit, and He pours Himself into us...one tiny drop of life at a time.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Don't Water Down Your Will Do

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

Don’t water down your will do.

What does that mean?

It’s so easy to shoot someone this email or text, and it’s just two words:  Will do.

Just two words, and yet your reputation, your character, your core integrity hinges on those two words.

If I say, “Turn out all the lights before you leave,” and you say, “Will do,” then you had better do it.

If I say, “Stop and see me the next time you are in Tallahassee,” and you say, “Will do...”  Uh oh.

If I say, “Say hi to your mom for me,” are you going to say, “Will do?”

Don’t water down your will do.

If you say “will do,” then make sure you do it.

Of course it’s not about saying “will do.”  Don’t start legalistically avoiding the phrase “will do.”  It’s about keeping your word.  It’s about doing what you say.  It’s about being trustworthy.  It’s about letting your yes be yes and your no be no, like Jesus said in Matthew 5:37.

I love what the old timers used to say.  Your word is your bond.

If you tell someone, “I’ll pick you up at 8,” then be there at 8.

If your wife tells you to pick up something on your way home from work, and you say you will, how are you going to remember that?  Set an alarm, tape a note to your steering wheel, whatever, just keep your word.

I gave my grandkids a “papa lecture” the other day.  I heard one of them say to the other, “I promise.”

I said, “You should never have to say, ‘I promise.’  If you say it, it’s a promise already.”

You should never have to say, “I guarantee it.”  If you say it, it’s already a guarantee.

Don’t say, “I swear to God,” or “I swear on a stack of Bibles,” or “I swear on my mother’s grave.”

Why would you have to say something stupid like that?

Here’s why:  because you didn’t take this life-changing advice.

Don’t water down your will do.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Love It Anyway

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

“I wanted her to live her life.”

“What?”

“My mother.  She had some bad things happen in her life.”

“What did you want her to do?”

“I wanted her to love it anyway.”

That’s a quote from a movie that really stuck with me.  Although his mother’s life was riddled with hard things, he wanted his mother to love her life anyway.

Have you ever met someone who was just a downer?  Either life had given them a beating, or else their life wasn’t so bad, they just thought it was; and they became a downer, a crabby little Eeyore singing woe is me and raining on everyone’s parade.

Well, what can you do if life gives you a beating?

Love it anyway.  You can embrace it and run with it and milk it for all it’s worth.

I think of Jesus’ parable of the talents.  Some were given more than others, but all were expected to take the hand they were dealt and play it for good, for improvement, for growth and expansion and increase.

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!

This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Giving thanks always, for all things, to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Think on these things, whatever is true and noble and right, whatever is pure and lovely and admirable.  If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.

Yes, maybe life has dealt you a blow.  Maybe your life is in the dumps, but...love it anyway.

God has given you life.  Love it anyway.

Your children aren’t doing what you want?  Love them anyway.

Your husband isn’t St. Peter?  Love him anyway.

Your wife isn’t the virgin Mary?  Love her anyway.

Your church isn’t the best in the west?  Love it anyway.

Your job is unpleasant?  Love it anyway.

God our Father is lavishing His love on you!  He is giving you everything you need for life and godliness.  All His promises are yes and amen.  Every perfect gift comes from above, and how willing God is to give good things to those who ask Him!

So whatever your life looks like today, whatever trash got dumped on you, whatever blows you’ve taken...your life is still a precious gift from God, so...

Love it anyway.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.



Friday, May 25, 2018

Lord Let This Land Yield Her Increase

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

Here’s a prayer I’ve been praying lately, “Lord, let this land yield her increase.”

It’s based on Psalm 85:12 where it says, “The Lord shall give that which is good, and our land shall yield her increase.”

I think your “land” can be whatever God has given you, whatever opportunities you have.  I think your job is your land.  Your family is your land.  Your business is your land.  Your church is your land.

I think we can learn from Jesus’ Parable of the Talents that God gives us raw materials, or land if you will, and He is looking for an increase.

Of course we can work and work and work and work, but like it says in Psalm 127, unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.

Unless the Lord gives the increase, we labor in vain.

And so I pray, “Lord, let this land yield her increase.”

And then I got to thinking, “You know, that word ‘let,’ it’s kind of weak.  It seems passive.  “Lord ‘let’ this happen.”  I don’t want Him to let it happen.  I want Him to MAKE it happen! 

So I was searching the Scriptures, looking for a way to beef up this prayer, to replace the word “let.”

And then I stumbled across Genesis chapter one, and what an eye opener.  It really puts a new spin on this word “let.”  I mean, when God says “let,” it’s not weak or passive.

Let there be light!

Let the dry land appear!

Let the earth bring forth plants!

Let lights appear in the sky!

Let the waters abound with living creatures and the skies be filled with birds!

Let the earth bring forth every sort of animal!

Check out this Hebrew word, Hayah.  You find it in Genesis 1:3 translated “Let there be.”  Hayah.

So this word “let” is pretty powerful after all, and well fitting for this prayer, which I encourage you to pray over all the “land” the Lord has given you:  your business, your home, your marriage, your family, your career, your church, all your opportunities; over all of it you can pray this simple but powerful prayer.

“Lord, please let this land yield her increase.”

Amen.

May God bless you, today.

With Apples of Gold...I’m Doug Apple.



Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Three Levels of Forgiveness

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

Here is a teaching that will literally revolutionize your life.

It’s called The Three Levels of Forgiveness.

The first level is Rookie Forgiveness.  Rookie forgiveness is when you get hurt, you suffer for a while, and then you forgive. 

The question is, how long do you wait between the offense and the forgiveness?  How long do you suffer in anger, hatred and bitterness?  A week?  A month?  A year?  Half your life?

What if you do like the movies and just blast your offender and take your revenge.  Would that solve the problem?  No, and here’s why.  The offender will die, but the offense lives on!  It will live on inside of you until…

Until you forgive.

So how long do you wait to forgive?  Why wait at all?  And that brings us to the second level of forgiveness.

After Rookie Forgiveness, the second level is:  Instant Forgiveness.

This is where you forgive your offenders instantly.  As soon as you see the offense coming, you forgive before it even hits you.  You don’t take the hit because you forgive them instantly. 

You hear someone talking behind your back.  Forgive them.  Instantly.

“Well Doug, that means I’m letting them get away with it!”

Ah, and that’s the problem with all of this forgiveness, isn’t it?  We feel like we are letting the offender get away with it.

But you know, you can forgive...AND hold accountable.  The accountability just won’t be in anger, hatred, revenge and bitterness.

For example, when a toddler screams, “Mommy, I hate you!”

The mom doesn’t take offense.  She instantly forgives and goes straight to loving correction. 

So someone steals from you?  Instantly forgive, and hold them accountable...in love, though, not hatred.

So you don’t want to practice instant forgiveness?  Keep in mind the other option is rookie forgiveness, where you go ahead and take the hit, suffer for a while, and then eventually you are going to have to forgive them anyway. 

So that is level two:  Instant Forgiveness.  We should be tossing out forgivenesses like candy at a parade.  Forgive.  Forgive.  Forgive.  See an offense coming?  Forgive.

Like I said, it will revolutionize your life!  And your marriage and your family and your church and your workplace.

And then comes the third level:  Preemptive Forgiveness.

You know offenses are coming.  Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come...”  They are coming, so forgive them now, ahead of time!

“But Doug, that’s impossible.”

Think of it like an emergency bank account.  You know something is going to break, so you put money in the account ahead of time.

So go ahead and put some forgiveness in the account ahead of time, knowing the offenses will come.  You don’t know who.  You don’t know when.  You don’t know why.  Maybe it’s next Christmas when Aunt Mable will make a horrible crack about you.  Maybe it’s five years from now when your brother will swindle you out of your dad’s inheritance.  We’re not asking for trouble ahead of time.  We just know that someone is going to do something that hurts us, small or large or even criminal. 

So send out a preemptive strike of forgiveness!  I forgive you now, whoever you are.

And then, when the time comes, and the devil rears his ugly head and goes on the attack...too late. I already forgave that five years ago.

And that sets you free to go on the attack yourself!  Not the attack of anger or hatred or vengeance.  It’s the attack of love, loving everyone, including enemies, through the power of God in me, the Holy Spirit who empowers me to love and to love and to love and to love.

And it all starts with forgiveness.

So think about it.  What level do you want?

There’s Rookie Forgiveness, where you take the hit, suffer for a while, and then finally forgive.

There’s Instant Forgiveness, where you avoid the hit by forgiving instantly, as soon as you see the offense coming.

And there’s Preemptive Forgiveness, where you go ahead and forgive the offender now, before the offense even happens.

Set yourself free from offense and hatred and anger and bitterness and revenge!

Revolutionize your life with the power of forgiveness.

May God bless you, today.

With Apples of Gold...I’m Doug Apple.