Friday, July 29, 2022

How I Memorize Scripture

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

“I can’t memorize!”

I hear that all the time, and I get it.  Memorizing is work.

But memorizing is like anything else.  The more you do it, the better you get.

And memorizing Scripture is different than memorizing some random school assignment you despised.  Jesus said His Words are Spirit and Life.  God’s Word makes wise the simple.  It’s a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.  It’s food for your soul.

As the comedian said about Pop Tarts, so I say about God’s Word:  how do I get that goodness in me?

By memorizing.

And if you say you can’t memorize, remember that even tiny children with their teeny little brains can memorize.  You can do it!

As one old timer used to say, “Don’t ask me if I CAN.  Ask me if I WILL.”  It’s not a question of if you can.  It’s a question of if you will.

So how do I personally do it?  How do I memorize Scripture?

One new verse per weekday.

I memorize verses in a row, whole chapters, whole books, not cherry-picked, not random verses here and there.

I don’t memorize verse numbers.  Some people are amazing at that, but for me that would be an impediment.  My goal is not to be able to quote chapter and verse to you, but to get God’s Word inside me.

So I add one new verse per weekday, and I also review each weekday.

My friend Dr. Edith Davis wrote a book about The Micro-Spiral Method.  You start small, and then keep circling around in bigger and bigger review cycles, always reviewing to help establish the words deep into your memory.

You may think you can’t do it, but just start small and keep reviewing and adding a little more, reviewing and adding a little more, and you will be amazed at how much you can actually accomplish over time.

Back in 2008 I said to myself, “The years are going to go by, one way or another.  What will I wish I had done?  I will wish I had memorized more of God’s Word.”

I started with the book of Ephesians, adding one verse per weekday.  The days and months went by, as they would anyway, and pretty soon I had the whole book of Ephesians memorized.  Amazing!

Then I did the book of Colossians the same way.

Then I decided to bite off a bigger chunk of the Bible:  the book of John.

On December first, 2009 I started with John chapter one, verse one.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I kept the same plan, adding one new verse per weekday, taking off weekends and vacations, and maintained a review cycle to keep bringing it back to my brain.

On February 28, 2013 I finished memorizing the book of John.  It took me 3 years and 3 months, but guess what?  Those 3 years and 3 months would have gone by anyway, but in this case I had done something a normal person thinks they can’t, or won’t…memorized the entire book of John!

And I’m not that smart.  No, I can’t sit here and quote the entire book of John to you, but I bet some people can, and maybe you would be one of them, if you would just make the decision to start.

Thy Word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11)

I want to let God’s Word sink deep into my ears.  (Luke 9:44)

I want to abide in Jesus’s words.  (John 8:31)

I want to hear Jesus’s sayings and do them, like a man building his house on a rock. (Matthew 7:24)

I want to let the Word of Christ dwell in me richly! (Colossians 3:16)

My delight is in the law of the Lord! (Psalm 1:2)

I want to take heed according to His Word! (Psalm 119:9)

And one huge way I do that is by memorizing Scripture – one verse per weekday.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Jim Dandy Billy Goat

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

“Don’t say holy cow.”

“No, not holy mackerel, either.”

“And definitely not holy cra….you know what.”

“Look,” I told my grandsons, “Holy is a word.  It has a meaning.  A serious meaning.  To say it any other way is to say it in vain, which means to water it down.”

“What does it mean?  Well, I think of holy as being separated, like separated from sin.  God is separated from sin and He wants us to be separated from sin, to be holy, to be righteous, to not sin.”

“Plus, when you say, ‘holy…whatever,’ that’s not what you really mean anyway.  You mean something else, like, ‘I’m shocked,’ or ‘That’s amazing,’ or ‘What a surprise.’  So why not just say what you mean instead of using the word holy in vain?”

One grandson said, “Because it’s more fun!”

I said, “When you say it, does anyone laugh?  Does anyone even smile?  Do you even smile?  It must not be that fun.”

“And if you want to have fun, then make up your own exclamation.”

Then I told them about former Florida State Seminoles football coach Bobby Bowden and how he used to say, “Dadgummit.”

Then I told them about my dad, their great-grandfather.

I never heard my dad say a single bad word.  Ever.  

I remember one time when I was a young teenager, and Dad was at home, off work, and a call came in from work.  You could tell it was something stressful, some kind of problem he had to solve.  It was the kind of moment where a mom shushes all the kids or scuttles them out of the room.  Dad needs space to solve this problem

I was listening closely.  What was going on?  What would Dad say?

Here’s what he said.  This is the exclamation that came out of his mouth.  He said, “Jim dandy billy goat.”

Ha ha, okay, that’s about the extent of my dad’s blue language.  Jim dandy billy goat.

So if you must exclaim something, and you don’t want to say the words you actually mean, please don’t fall into the age-old traps of cursing or blue language or taking the Lord’s name in vain.  Don’t even take the word “holy” in vain because it’s a real word with a serious meaning and we don’t want to water it down.

Instead, come up with some fun words of your very own.

Or you could just say it like my dad said it, “Jim dandy billy goat.”

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

My Bucket List

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

“Doug, what’s on your bucket list?  What do you want to do before you kick the bucket?  Before you die?  Before your life is over, kaput, fini, muerto?”

All right, well, it’s a short list.  In fact, my bucket list can be summed up in one painting by Yongsung Kim, one of my favorites.

It’s a wintry scene in the country.  It’s a cold but sunny day and a man is out for a walk.

In the painting he has stopped walking and is looking up to the sky, as if he’s pondering the weather, or something greater.

The man is painted to look like Jesus, in His robe and sandals, with a walking stick.

And behind him is a sheep, one solitary sheep.

They aren’t moving.  They are just standing there, Jesus looking up to the sky, and the sheep looking up to Jesus.

The sheep isn’t running off on his own.  The sheep isn’t pushing the shepherd to hurry up.  The sheep is just watching the shepherd, waiting for him to move.

The shepherd has led him to this place, and the shepherd will lead him to the next place, wherever that might be.

And that, my friend, is my bucket list in its entirety.

I want to closely follow the Good Shepherd wherever He leads.

As the song says, “Where He leads me I will follow.”

“But Doug, don’t you want to travel?  Aren’t there things you want to see before you die?”

You know…Jesus never went to Rome.  Isn’t that interesting?  It was the greatest empire the world had ever seen, with the greatest sights and greatest achievements.  People still flock to Rome today!  And yet Jesus never went.  Rome offered many advantages, so why didn’t Jesus go?

Jesus answers that question in John 5:19.  Verily, verily, I say unto you.  The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever the Father does, the Son also does in like manner.

In John 12:49 Jesus said that He didn’t even speak on His own, “but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.”  Then He said in verse 50, “…whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

Back to this painting by Yongsung Kim.  He titled the painting Heavenward, and it looks like Jesus is looking heavenward, like He’s looking toward the Heavenly Father, watching, listening, tuning in.

And there is the sheep, looking at the shepherd, and waiting.  The sheep isn’t going anywhere without the shepherd’s leading.

And that’s my bucket list, to keep my eyes on the Good Shepherd and to follow Him wherever He leads.

“But Doug, then you’re going to die and that’s the end and you will have missed out.”

Well, I’m already looking way past the death of this mortal body.  I’m already looking heavenward, toward eternity with God, and I’m not waiting until then to walk with Him.  I’m walking with Him now, and when the day comes I will walk right out of this body and into eternity with Him where that relationship will continue in whatever new and exciting ways He has planned.

Walking with God.  Following the Good Shepherd.  Listening for His voice.  Watching for Him to move.  That’s my bucket list, and I’m already doing it.

And I can’t think of anything more exciting or fulfilling or everlasting.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

How to Make Yourself Good Soil

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

Three losers and one winner, and I want to be the winner!

But how?

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said four people heard the Word, but only one of them “got it.”

I want to be one who gets it!

He described the first three as being soil where the seed of the Word couldn’t really take root.  There were different excuses and reasons, but the end result was the same:  no fruit.  No growth.  No blessing.

Then in Mark 4:8 Jesus said, “But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

Then He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Man, I want to be one who hears, don’t you?

But how?

I want to be that good soil, the best soil I can be, but how?

So instead of wondering or thinking about it, I decided to pray about it.  

I just said, “Father, how can I make myself good soil?”

And immediately an answer came to me:  “humility.”

Humility will make you good soil.

In Luke 18 Jesus talked about two men who went up to the temple to pray.  One was proud.  Yes, he thanked God, but listen to how he did it.  He said, “God, I’m so thankful that I’m not like other people” ha ha ha.

With soil like that, it’s no wonder the seed just bounces off of it like glass.  

But the second man stood at a distance.  He wouldn’t even look up when he prayed.  And he cried, “Oh God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Now THAT is good soil.  God can bear good fruit in soil like that.

Humility is the key to making yourself good soil, and the only way to bear good fruit is to make yourself good soil.

In Matthew 19 we read of the rich young ruler, and wow, who wouldn’t want to be those three things, rich, young, and in charge!  It’s like the old country song, “Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.”

But…he was not good soil.  The very literal Jesus, standing right there, planted the good seed of the Word directly into the rich young ruler and what happened?  

Tink, tink, tink.  

Like a seed bouncing across glass, the Word of the Lord was of no effect, because why?  Because he was lacking humility.  He was lacking need and want and hunger and desire.

So when Jesus speaks to me, through the Bible, through the Holy Spirit, through other parts in the body of Christ, will I be ready?  Will I be good soil?

Yes, I will, I must, there’s no other way that works.

So I humble myself before God.  I say, “Lord, You are the only way.  You only know how this thing is gonna work.  You only know what I really need to be doing, what to think, what to say, how to behave.  Lord, I bow to You.  I submit to You.  I surrender to You.  You are the Potter, I am the clay.  You are the Shepherd, I am the sheep.  You are the King!  And I am your humble servant, just wanting to do what is my duty to do.  God I need You in every way.”

Humility.  It’s the key to making yourself good soil, and becoming good soil is the only way to bear an abundance of good fruit for this life, and for the next.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Four Keys for Living Close to God

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

Can you name even one person who lives close enough to God to hear what He is saying?

That’s a provocative question, and it comes from Jeremiah 23:18 in The Living Bible.

God was talking about the false prophets in Jerusalem, and He said, “Can you name even one of these prophets who lives close enough to God to hear what He is saying?  Has even one of them cared enough to listen?”

The answer was no, and the result was going to be judgment on Jerusalem.

Now the question comes down to us today.  Can you name even one person who lives close enough to God to hear what He is saying?

That got me thinking about this.  What does it even mean to “live close to God”?

What would be the keys to living close to God?  Here’s what I came up with.

Number one:  repentance.

God is holy and our sin keeps us away from Him, so we need to repent and be forgiven in order to live closer to God.

That means we are sorry for our sins, we ask God to forgive us, and we walk away from our sins and toward God.

Number two:  draw near to God.

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  It’s really quite simple.  I teach what I call The Matthew 6:6 Principle, which is “get alone, shut out distractions, and talk to God.”

So the first two keys for living close to God are repent and draw near to God.

Number three is:  listen for Him to communicate.

Romans 8:16 says His Spirit bears witness with our spirit.  John 14:26 says the Holy Spirit will teach us all things.

The problem is not God speaking.  The problem is what we read in Jeremiah 23:18, does anyone even care enough to listen?

I like the advice given to the prophet Samuel when he was boy.  Just say to God, “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening.”

Of course we can’t make God speak to us on command.  He is the Shepherd, we are the sheep.  He is the Potter, we are the clay.  WAITING on the Lord is a key to listening.

Here are three catalysts for hearing from God:

--His scripture

--His people

--His creation.

So what we do is read the Bible and listen for the Holy Spirit inside of us to speak to us through something we read.

We listen to God’s people, our fellow members in the body of Christ, and as we listen to them, we listen for the Holy Spirit inside of us to speak to us through something they say.

And we observe God’s creation, His wonderful world and universe, and we listen for the Holy Spirit inside of us to bring revelation to us as we marvel at God’s creation.

So far we have three keys for living close to God:  repent of sin, draw near to God, and listen for Him to communicate.

And the last key is this:  do what He says.

I have found that most leaders, including God, are not keen to communicate new things if we haven’t done the previous things.

So there you go, four keys to living close to God:

--repent of sin

--draw near to God

--listen for Him to communicate

--do what He says.

Then when someone says, “Can you name even one person who lives close enough to God to hear what He is saying?” you can answer with this, “I’m trying!”

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Are You Thinking to Yourself, “There’s Got to Be More”?

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

I remember going out on Friday nights with high expectations.

“It’s going to be the best time ever!”

There were high expectations of fun, of making memories, laughter, good times, great music, and stories to tell.

But at some point I started thinking thoughts like, “It’s never really all that.”  Even in the best-case scenario I began thinking thoughts like, “There’s got to be more.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but those thoughts were laying the foundation inside me for something huge.

What it did was finally put me in a place where I was willing to respond to God, willing to move in His direction and find out more.

So do you find yourself thinking thoughts like, “There’s got to be more”?

If so, what’s happening is that your heart and mind are getting ready for a change.  You are going seek out something new, and I want to recommend this to you:  seek God.

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Hebrews 11:6 says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Jesus said, “Come to Me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.  I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

He said, “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.”

Isaiah 42:3 indicates that even if your light is barely burning at all, He will not put it out.  Instead, He will come along and fan it into a flame, giving light and warmth and fire to your life!

Isaiah 1:18 says that though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.

This is what Jesus will do in your life…when you come to the place of dissatisfaction with this world and a place of hunger for something more.

Your motto used to be “eat, drink and be merry,” but Romans 14:17 says the Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking, but instead it’s about something vastly more substantial:  righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Have you been thinking these thoughts lately, thoughts like, “There’s got to be more”?

Well I’m telling you there IS more, WAY more, and you can begin finding it by simply saying, “Heavenly Father, please show me the way.”

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, June 10, 2022

The Matthew 6:6 Principle

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

Do this one thing and your life will be radically changed.

I call it The Matthew 6:6 Principle.

In short it says, “Go into your room.  Shut your door.  Pray to your Father.”

Or I word it this say, “Get alone.  Shut out the distractions.  Talk to God.”

When we do that, Jesus said the Father will reward us.

I want that, don’t you?

And the great thing is, it doesn’t say we have to be great at it.  It doesn’t say we even have to be good or decent at it.  It just says we have to do it.

Get alone.  Shut out the distractions.  Talk to God.

Matthew 6:6 says, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

“Okay, Doug, how does this reward thing work, because I did this the other day and nothing happened.”

Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like a seed.  Over and over Jesus compared Kingdom things to organic things.

God works in organic ways.  God works in seedtime and harvest, sowing and reaping, things happening out of sight, underground, over time.

This is where faith and trust come in.  Seeking God isn’t like searching Google, where you hit enter and you have your answer.

Seeking God is more like planting a seed.  

If you want to enjoy some delicious tomatoes later in the year, you plant a bunch of tomato seeds earlier in the year.

Hebrews 11:6 says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

It doesn’t say we have to seek Him perfectly, or even righteously.  We just have to seek Him diligently.  I can do that!

James 4:8 says draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Psalm 100 verse 4 says “…enter His gates with thanksgiving…”. I can do that!

Are you wanting a better life, a more fulfilling life, a new adventure?

Do you and your family have needs that just seem out of reach or even impossible to meet?

Are you trying to figure out what to do in this next season of your life?

Then here is my advice.  Take hold of The Matthew 6:6 Principle and put it into practice daily, and it’s so simple.

Go into your room.  Shut your door.  Pray to your Father.

Or as I say it, “Get alone.  Shut out the distractions.  Talk to God.”

And when we do that, Jesus has offered us this guarantee.  

Our Father in heaven will reward us. 

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.