Thursday, December 03, 2020

Wicked and Lazy or Holy and Hard Working

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

Are you wicked and lazy, or holy and hard working?

I’m getting this from Jesus’ parable of the talents.

Two guys worked hard and increased what they had been given, but that one guy, he hid the master’s money in the back yard.  He didn’t lose it.  He just didn’t grow it.  He didn’t increase what he had been given.

Then the master returns and what’s he looking for?  


He wants to see improvement.  He wants to see growth.

And what does he say when he doesn’t find improvement and growth?

He turns on that man and in very strong language he says, “You wicked and lazy servant.”

Wow.  He didn’t soft pedal it.  He didn’t let him down gently.  He tore him up.


Because time had been wasted.  Opportunity…wasted.

God is not into waste.  He is into growth.

He has given us gifts.  We have time.  We have talents.  We have opportunities.  

And we have an assignment.  We have a requirement.

Our requirement is to grow what we have been given.

I highly recommend that you take this to the Lord in prayer.

“God, what have I been given?  How should I grow it?”

This is a sobering time.  This needs to be taken seriously.  

In the parable of the talents, two men took it seriously, and things turned out well for them.  One of them, and I’m not going to say he didn’t take it seriously.  He wasn’t a total clown.  The master didn’t call him a clown.  He called him “wicked and lazy.”

Why was he wicked and lazy? 

Because he was entrusted with something and he didn’t grow it.  He didn’t improve it.

That is the requirement.  

Are you wondering what you are supposed to be doing with your life?

You are supposed to take what you have and grow it, improve it, make it better.

It’s time to get to work.  You sure don’t want to receive the wrath of the master.

And you certainly don’t want to hear the words, “You wicked and lazy servant.”

Instead of being wicked and lazy, I want to be holy and hard working.

“Father God, please help each and every one of us become the holy and hard working people You want us to be, not wasting any of the time or talents or opportunities You’ve blessed us with, but investing, improving and growing, from this day forward, for the glory of God, for the blessing of Your people, and for the growth of Your kingdom.  In Jesus’ name we pray…”


May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

(Matthew 25:14-30)


Monday, November 09, 2020

My Analysis of Baby Shark

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

Do you know what is the all time most played video on YouTube?  

It’s been played over 7 billion times.  It’s called Baby Shark Dance.

That’s right.  It’s a very simple and very catchy song for little kids, and it is now the most played video in YouTube history.

I have a granddaughter who talks about it, but I had never seen it.  I was curious, in this day and age, what kind of weirdness they might be pushing into the impressionable minds of the youth.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised, skipping over the fact that it’s about man-eating sharks.

It starts out simple enough, singing “Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”

I like that because kids and people in general have a soft spot in their heart for babies.  People can become jaded over time, but this song has planted the seed seven billion times about the cuteness and happiness of babies.  It’s new life!  

Then it says, “Mommy Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”

I like that because a child should be close to its mother, with all those loving bonds, and all the cuddly time and sweet words.  Babies need to be with their mommy.

Next it says, “Daddy Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”

I’m so glad that daddy made it into the most popular video of all time on YouTube.  I’m glad daddy is in the picture.  Daddy is with the family, with Mommy and with Baby, the way it’s supposed to be, the way God designed it to be.  And Daddy has a big strong voice, a commanding presence.  Daddy is here and it’s time to pay attention.

Next it says...what do you think it says?  It says, “Grandma Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”

I love that!  I’m married to a grandma and we have 13 grandchildren.  My wife is so in love with her grandchildren.  She has such a mighty bond with them, and they love her completely.  It is a wonder to behold.  Grandmas are so important, and I was excited to see them make the list on the world’s most popular YouTube video.

Next up is “Grandpa Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”

Man, that says so much.  Grandma and Grandpa, still together, still involved in the family, still an important part of the close-knit family structure.  It is the extended family providing a powerful foundation for the following generations to build on.  

It all sounds traditional, doesn’t it?  In a world today that wants to throw out tradition like some old stale tuna, it’s refreshing to see something so popular that in the most simple way is promoting a solid family structure into the minds of the young.  The world will be a vastly better place if they can just hold onto that ideal.

Next the song takes a turn with the lyrics, “Let’s go hunt, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”

Soooooooooo many videos for kids talk about play and fantasy and fun, and that’s fine, but I’m so glad this most popular song talks about work.  There’s work to be done.  It’s time to hunt.  You want to eat?  We’ve got to work.  And we’ll all work together as a team to provide for and support one another as a family.  It’s time to hunt.

The song then takes another turn saying, “Run away, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”

Why would I like that?  Because you know what?  There is a time to run away.  There are things in life we should run away from.  There are dangerous people, dangerous places, dangerous situations and even dangerous thoughts.  A big part of life is knowing when to run away. 

And finally the song says, “Safe at last, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”

What an adventure!  Life is an adventure!  And there is a safe place to run to.  There’s Mommy and Daddy.  There’s Grandma and Grandpa.  There’s home and safety and security, inside the fold of the family.  You may venture outside to go on the hunt, but you always end up back home, safe and sound, surrounded by your loved ones.

Okay, yes, it’s a silly song for kids, and it has sharks, and I’m reading a lot into it, but like I said, in this day and age with so many strange notions being force fed into the minds of the young, I know the power of a seed, the power of a tiny thought repeated hundreds of times.  And the seeds of this most popular video in YouTube history are solid:










If you get those things right, you’re gonna have a pretty good life.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Stay in Your Gap

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

As I write this in October 2020, Florida State football fans are licking their wounds once again, this time after being thrashed by Louisville.  Five times in the first half alone, Louisville busted open huge plays against Florida State’s defense.

After the game senior linebacker Emmett Rice was talking about the Florida State defense.  He said, “We just weren’t doing our jobs.  Like eight of the eleven would do their jobs and the big play would happen.  If all eleven did their jobs, those big plays would not happen.”  He said, “You’ve got to do what the defense is assigned to do.  If you’ve got to stay in your gap, stay in your gap.  You can’t be out there freestyling.”

That’s true for the FSU defense, and wow, it is so true for the body of Christ.

I have said it a hundred times and I’ll keep saying it.  Each of us must fulfill our part in the body of Christ.  God has gifted us and called us, each one of us, to particular things.  We need to diligently seek Him, spend time with Him and learn from Him so that we can each fulfill our Kingdom assignment.

As Emmett Rice said, we can’t be out there freestyling.  When we do, we leave gaps, and that’s a huge problem.

If you make your life’s decisions based on worldly values rather than your Kingdom assignment, you are freestyling and you are leaving gaps.

Think of God as the Coach.  He sees the big picture.  He is drawing up the perfect game plan, and He assigns each player their part.

And then some players start freestyling, leaving their assignment to do something else, and leaving gaps where they were supposed to be.

Have you ever looked at the church and felt like the game plan wasn’t working?  Well, here is a huge reason:  too many players not fulfilling their assignments.

My friend Rodney has a great story.  His church was going through some difficulties, and some people were leaving.  He thought about leaving that church, too, and he prayed about it.  And God laid it on him in very clear language, “Do not abandon your post.”

Rodney’s response was the correct response.  He simply said, “Yes, Sir.”

So Rodney stayed at his post, filling the assigned gap instead of freestyling.

I’m not saying everyone has to stay where they are forever.  I’m saying we all need to take our assignments from the Coach, the real living God who is building His church.

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, so what should we do?  How can we discern our assignment?  Seek Him.  Diligently seek Him.  Listen and He will let us know, with authority and peace and conviction, what we need to do to fulfill our part in the body of Christ.

And once we have our assignment, we stay in that gap until the Coach gives us another assignment.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Wisdom Is Justified by All Her Children

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

Jesus made many profound statements, and here’s one He just kind of tosses out there, like a free bonus.

In Luke 7:35, Jesus said, “...wisdom is justified by all her children.”

What does that mean?

It means wisdom proves itself by the long term results.  

People can SAY anything, but how do we know if it’s wise?

Jesus gives us the litmus test.  Wisdom is justified by all her children.  In other words, what are the long term results?  If the long term results are good, it was wise.

In the moment it sounds like fun when someone says, “Eat, drink and be merry!”  Let’s do it all day.  Every day!

Why work?  Why go to school?  Why do anything hard at all? 

But wisdom is justified by all her children.  Look at the long term results for people who never go to work, never go to school, never do anything hard.  

Years ago I met a young man who was gloriously saved by Jesus Christ.  He was a new creation, full of joy.  He really wanted to grow in his faith, and that’s what led him to me.

Part of his plan for getting his life on track included going to college.  There he ran into a professor who was a vocal opponent of Christianity.  I know, it sounds like one of those Christian movies, but it was real.  

And it really attacked the faith of this young man.  He thought a college professor must really know what he’s talking about.

One day he came to me and shared how his faith was slipping because of what he was hearing from the professor.

I said, “You know, by your own words, your life was not good before.  Then you came to Jesus and suddenly you had hope and peace and joy.  Your life was radically changed for the better.  And now I’ve noticed lately that that seems to be slipping away.  So let me ask you, the professor, what is his life like?”

The young man said, “Not good.  I think he’s an alcoholic and divorced.”

I said, “Well, why do you want to take life advice from someone whose life isn’t going the way you want your life to go?”

Wisdom is justified by all her children.  So when people begin babbling on and on about all kinds of ideas, look at the actual long term results.

If someone is telling you how to live, how is that working out for them over the long haul?

If they are telling you how to parent, or handle marriage, or your money or your business or your career, how did that work out for others who did it?

Did it bring joy or sorrow?  Success or failure?  Stability or instability?

We don’t have to wonder.  We have a litmus test for knowing if something is actually wise or not, and Jesus summed it up perfectly and deeply.

Wisdom is justified by all her children.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Preemptive Forgiveness

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

“...and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

“Lord, right now I forgive everyone for everything, past, present...and future.  God, I forgive everyone in advance for anything they might do or say today, so that I am free to love them with the power of Your Holy Spirit flowing through me.”

That’s how I do it.  That is how I practice what I call “preemptive forgiveness.”

Preemptive forgiveness means forgiving in advance.

Look, you know something dumb is going to happen, right?  You don’t know who.  You don’t know when.  You don’t know what.  You don’t know why, but sure enough, there it is.  Someone is going to say something, they’re going to do something, it might be on accident, it might be on purpose, it might even be with criminal intent, but I say we forgive them IN ADVANCE and get that part out of the way, so then we can be completely free to love them in the way that God wants us to love them.

Jesus told us to love another.  He told us to love our neighbor.  He told us to love our enemies.  

But listen.  You can’t love someone you hate.  You can’t love someone properly while at the same time harboring unforgiveness.  A house divided against itself cannot stand.

In Mark 11:25, Jesus told us that if we have anything against anyone, we must forgive them.

Let it go.

And we do that with a very specific purpose in mind.  We forgive them so that we can be completely free to love them just as God wants us to love them.

The fruit of the Spirit is…love, among other things, but the first on the list is love.  God wants us to love people, He empowers us to love people, and to properly do that, we must walk in forgiveness.  

And what I’m promoting is something a bit unusual.  It is advance.  It is preemptive forgiveness.  

In Luke 17:1, Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come…”  Offenses are coming.  Knowing that, what should we do?

I say we forgive them in advance, preemptively.  We bomb the enemy’s base before he even gets the offense rocket off the ground.  

That eliminates the offense altogether.  I’m not offended because hey, I forgave that already.  Now I’m free to love them in whatever way God wants me to love them, in whatever way they need to be loved, in whatever way is best for them, for their life and their future and their own walk with God, and their eternity.  

That doesn’t make us doormats.  That doesn’t mean people can walk all over us.  Listen.  Love is the power position.  Perfect love casts out fear.  Love causes you to lay down your life for others, and a person who is so sold out that they are willing to lay down their life like I said, love is the power position, the very opposite of a doormat.

When you love someone, you want what is best for them.  Sometimes accountability is exactly what they need.  Sometimes being arrested is what they need.  Yes, you can call the police on someone you dearly love, because sometimes that is exactly what they need.  But you don’t do it because you are offended and hurt and bitter and harboring unforgiveness.  Listen, you can forgive...and press charges.  It can be done in love.

The point is, remove offenses from the equation.  I’m saying, never get offended again by practicing preemptive forgiveness, which sets us free from all offense, which sets us free to love people which is what we must do anyway.

And the way I do that is very practical.  Each morning I pray through the Lord’s prayer, and when I come to that part about trespasses I pray “Lord, right now I forgive everyone for everything, past, present...and future.  God, I forgive everyone in advance for anything they might do or say, so that I am free to love them with the power of Your Holy Spirit flowing through me.”


May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Is That God Speaking to Me?

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

In John chapter 10, Jesus said that He is the good shepherd, that He speaks to His sheep, and that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him, for they know His voice.

So the question is, do I know the voice of the Good Shepherd?  How do I know if God is speaking to me?  

First of all, in John 4:24, Jesus said, “God is Spirit.”  In John 6:63, Jesus said that the words He speaks are “spirit.”  

So when we talk about hearing the voice of God, we’re usually not talking about hearing a physical voice.

Romans 8:16 says that His Spirit bears witness with our spirit.

That’s spirit to spirit communication.  I know, it’s getting deep, but I would expect nothing less.

So God is Spirit, His words are spirit, and His Spirit bears witness with our spirit.

As born again, blood-bought believers, we each have God’s Holy Spirit inside of us, teaching us and guiding us.

Now listen to this.  I’m leading up to a key that will help us answer the question, “Is that God speaking to me?”

In John 16:13, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit “will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak.”

In the next verse Jesus said, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

So when the Holy Spirit speaks to us, He speaks the words of Jesus.  It’s Jesus talking to us, through the Holy Spirit inside of us.  Back to Romans 8:16, it is His Spirit communicating with our spirit.

But the question is, when you hear that little voice, how do you know it is God speaking and not just some random thought, or worse, some random devil?

Now here is the main key of this lesson.  Luke chapter 4 verse 32 says that people were astonished at the teaching of Jesus.  Why?  Because His word was “with authority.”

And that’s the key.  That is one way we might discern the voice of God.  We answer this question.  Did it come with authority?

Some translations say, “His word was with power.”

So when we are seeking God, trying to hear from Him, and suddenly we hear a voice speaking inside of us, here’s a question to ask, “Did this message come with authority?  Did it come with the power and authority of Jesus?”

His sheep know His voice.  How?  Because our Shepherd speaks with authority.  He speaks with power.  His words come with conviction.

Yes, there are other considerations.  We should consult Scripture.  We should consult the body, by which I mean our fellow believers.  And another key is what Jesus said in John 16:14, that the Holy Spirit would glorify Jesus, so another question is, “Does this glorify Jesus?”

But here’s the main point we’re focusing on today.  When we are asking, “Is that God speaking?” we can remember the example of Luke 4:32.  His word comes with authority.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Soul Issues and Goal Issues

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

God can solve our soul issues and our goal issues.

Think about it.  Many of our problems are either soul issues, or goal issues.

Our soul issues include our identity, “Who am I?” and our value, “Am I worth anything?”

And our goal issues include our purpose, “What am I here for?  What am I supposed to be doing with my life?”

Fortunately, God can solve all of our soul issues and goal issues, and they are actually summed up very tidily in Ephesians chapter two.

The foundation of all of our soul issues is that we start out dead in our sins.  We are sons of disobedience.  We conduct ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and are by nature children of wrath, separated from God.

The good news is that there is actually a quick solution to our soul issues, and I’m still in Ephesians chapter two.  It says that God, who is rich in mercy, loves us with His great love!  He loves us so much that, through Jesus, even though we start out dead in our sins, He makes us alive through Christ!

And it’s not because we start doing good, or because we finally get our act together.  He does it by His grace and kindness toward us, not by our own good deeds.  

This solves our soul issues.  Who am I?  Through Christ, I am a very much loved, born again child of God!  Am I worth anything?  I’m worth so much that the creator of the world, God Himself, loved me and saved me and calls me His child!

Now what about the goal issues, what am I here for?  What am I supposed to be doing with my life?

We are still in Ephesians chapter two.  Verse ten says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

What am I here for?  What am I supposed to be doing with my life?  Good works!

Just look around and say, “What good works can I be doing today?”  Then do them!

Ephesians 2:10 says we were “created in Christ Jesus for good works,” and it says that “God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

God CREATED us to do good works, and He PREPARED BEFOREHAND that we should live this way...doing good works.

One more soul issue:  the idea of loneliness.  We find the solution again in Ephesians chapter two.  We are not in this alone.  Verse 19 says we are “...fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”  

All the Christian believers all over the world?  We are all in this together!  

And as God’s children, we have His Holy Spirit inside of us.  Ephesians 2 concludes with verse 22 which says we are “being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Yes, we are all born with many soul issues and goal issues, but the good news is that God can solve them all as we turn to Him!  

And we can find them all summed up rather tidily right here in Ephesians chapter two.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Skip Regret Go Directly to Repentance

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

I don’t have regrets.  

I do have a lot of repentances.

Regrets are like weights.  They can drag you down, even long after the fact.

You did something you regret.  It was bad.  It was wrong.  It was dumb.  It was embarrassing.  

You hurt someone.  You committed a crime.  You failed.  You stumbled.  You fell.

Regrets can come in unlimited ways.  Every story is different, but they end up in the same stinking valley called Regret.

Fortunately God has given us a mechanism to deal with regret.  It’s called repentance.

Whatever you did.  Whatever sin you committed.  Whatever way you went off the rails and into the weeds, here is the solution.  Repent.

What does repent mean?  It means you admit it, you confess it, you own up to it, you’re sorry for it, you don’t ever want to do it again, you give it up to God, and you receive His forgiveness for it.

And then it is done.  You have repented and it is done.

And then that old snake Regret comes calling.  Old memories come back.  It’s vivid in your mind.  Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I did that, said that, went there, it’s so awful.

But wait a minute.  What are you supposed to do about it?  

You can’t go back in time and make it not happen.  

Sometimes the people involved aren’t even alive anymore.  Now what?  You can’t even tell them you’re sorry.

 It doesn’t matter.  You can’t change the past and it doesn’t matter because God has given us the solution.  Repentance.

Don’t wallow in regret.  It does no good.  It helps no one.  It changes nothing.  It makes no difference.  It only drags you down, wastes time, drains your energy, saps your emotions, and for no good reason.

So when Regret comes knocking, don’t answer.  Don’t listen.  Don’t waste a minute thinking about it.

Skip regret and go directly to repentance.  That is God’s gift to us for handling all the stains.

In Isaiah 1:18, God says, “...though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow...”

Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west,” that’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us.


So how to handle regrets?  Don’t handle them at all.  Skip it.

Skip regret, go directly to repentance, and be done with it once and for all.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

How to Overlook an Offense

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

The Bible talks about overlooking offenses.

Why would you ever overlook an offense?

Because it is wise to overlook an offense.  It is prudent.  It is honorable.  It is virtuous.  It is to your glory.  It is to your credit.  The Message version of Proverbs 19:11 says it is to your grandeur.

And when you refuse to overlook offenses you basically waste your life in drama, burning every bridge, cutting every tie and destroying every relationship.  

But God has a better plan!

Proverbs 19:11 says, “ is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

Proverbs 12:16 says, “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”

And I love the use of this word “overlook.”  When you overlook something, you do it because it is small, because your eyes are trained on something bigger.  

You overlook an offense because your eyes are trained on something bigger.

And what would that be?

Loving people.  

We are called to love people.  God told us to love our neighbor, and even our enemy.

So we overlook the smaller thing of the offense because our eyes are on the bigger thing of loving this person.  How can I love them?  Lord, show me, how can I love this person with Your love flowing through me?

First Corinthians 13:5, the love chapter, seems to say something crazy.  It says that love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not keep an account of all the offenses.  Why not?

Because love is overlooking them, looking to the bigger picture which is:  what is best for this person?

They were made in the image of God.  They have been gifted by God and called by God.  Jesus died for them.  He died for these very offenses.

And Jesus told us to love them.  He wants what is best for them, and so should we.

That is the big picture.  What is best for them?  How can we love them?  How can we let God love them through us?  

Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives

God puts His Spirit inside of His people, and His Spirit is going to bear the good fruit of love through us as long as we don’t block Him up.

And what is one key to not blocking up the Holy Spirit?

It is this.  Overlook the offense.  We can overlook offenses because our eyes are fixed on the bigger picture of loving people.

And that is how you overlook an offense.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Neither Boredom Nor Burnout

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

I’m about to say something crazy, but it’s true.

It’s not the usual way of thinking, but it’s God’s way, so listen up.

If your church has a total of a hundred people including one pastor, then your pastor should be doing one percent of the work of that church.


Think about it.

Let me say it again. If your church has a total of a hundred people including one pastor, then your pastor should be doing one percent of the work of that church.

Did you just spit up a little?

I’m telling you, this is the way the body of Christ is designed to work. We each have a vital part in the body, and we each need to fulfill our part.

Now you might be thinking, “That’s the pastor’s full time job. I have to go to work everyday. I can’t be doing the same amount of church work as the pastor. That’s ridiculous!”

That’s true...IF you have pigeon-holed the work of the church into, like, 5 duties that a pastor does. Forget about that.

The question is, are you fulfilling your part in the body of Christ? You have a unique part, with unique giftings and callings from God Himself. And your part in the body is your part in the body, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The pastor has HIS part in the body, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. EVERY BELIEVER has their part in the body, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Are you fulfilling your part in the body? If everyone in your local congregation of one hundred people is fulfilling their part in the body, then each person is doing one percent of the work of that local congregation.

Don’t pigeon-hole God’s work into the, like, 10 jobs that you think of as “church work.” God’s work is the work of His entire body, which is explosively loaded with gifts and callings, the vast majority of which never see the light of day.

But Doug, I can’t be doing all that church work. I have to go to work, and look after my kids, and take a little time just to enjoy life, you know.”

Yes, I know. And more importantly, God knows. He created you. He knows EXACTLY, PRECISELY WHAT YOU NEED. He put inside of every believer just what you need in the form of His Holy Spirit. He has gifted you and called you; and your most fulfilling, abundant life will come when you fulfill your part in the body of Christ.

Now the title of this lesson is, “Neither Boredom Nor Burnout.” Many Christians go sailing off in one of those two directions.

First, boredom. My daughter told me the other day, “I think so many Christians are drinking alcohol today because they are bored.” What? If you tap into the Holy Spirit and all that God has for you, boredom will go flying out the window. Fulfilling your part in the body of Christ will be the most exciting adventure you have ever been on, if you will just take the time to diligently seek God and let His Spirit lead you.

Second, burnout. Many Christians will hear a message like this, get fired up, and dive head first into church work, doing everything that comes their way.

Listen. I’m telling you to seek God and fulfill YOUR PART in the body of Christ – and that’s not anyone else’s part. You can’t do anyone else’s part. When you try to do your part and other people’s parts in the body, you will burn out. Then you can drop out altogether and say, “I got burned out in church.” Don’t fall for it.

But when you truly follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to understand and follow and fulfill YOUR part in the body, then you will not burn out.

Pastors who are overwhelmed? You are likely trying to fulfill several parts in the body that aren’t yours, which you cannot do.

Deacons or elders or teachers or whatever who are getting burned out in church – you are probably doing more than you are called and gifted to do. You need to fulfill your part in the body, no more (that leads to burnout) and no less (that leads to boredom).

So I close with the shocking line I opened with, and I’ll leave you to pray about it and seek God.

If your church has a total of a hundred people including one pastor, then your pastor should be doing one percent of the work of that church.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Comparison Competition Provision Pleasure

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

How are you doing in life?

How do you know?

Is it by comparing yourself to others?

“I’m doing cruddy because I’m not on a plane to Hawaii like my friends on Facebook.”

Comparing ourselves to others is a terrible trap and a waste of time.  Either we feel bad because others are doing better, or we can feel proud because we are doing better.

But how can you know how you are doing in life if you don’t compare yourself to others?

“I guess I’m doing okay.  At least I’m not as bad as those people, wow, look at them.”

That’s comparison.

And then there is comparison’s evil twin:  competition.

Competition is basically organized comparison.  It’s adding standings and prizes and gold medals.  

“How am I doing in life?  Why, I’m the XYZ trophy winner.  I’m doing great!”

But again, that’s just comparing ourselves to others.  Is there a way to know how we are doing in life without comparison?

Well, there is provision.  How am I providing for myself?  

Leave out comparing yourself to others, because someone else will always be providing more.  The question is, are you providing enough to meet your needs, and then the needs of your family? 

Provision is an important measurement for how you are doing in life, but it probably takes less than you think.  Providing all the latest whizmos for your kids is not the measurement.

“But then they won’t be happy!”

And that brings us to our final measurement for how we are doing in life:  our pleasure.  Are we happy?

We can measure that, minute by minute, but is pleasure a good measure for how we are doing in life?

So much of life isn’t what you would call pleasure.  Even the addict whose only goal is seeking pleasure doesn’t feel that much pleasure.

If you lived on a yacht on a beautiful island full of beautiful people and music and non-stop good times, before long it would just be boring.

So how are we doing in life?  We often answer that question by comparison (I’m winning!), or provision (I’m rich!), or pleasure (I’m so happy!)

But I want to suggest a different measurement for how we are doing in life.

God created us.  God put inside each of us fantastic raw materials.  We have gifts.  We have callings.  We have a purpose.  We have a part to play, assigned by God. 

So the question is, are we doing it?  Are we doing what God has gifted us to do and called us to do?  Are we running in the lane that God has assigned to us, and running for all we’re worth?

That is a measurement worth measuring.

That is a standard worth rising to.

That will bring us the best answer to that pesky, age-old question, “How am I doing in life?”

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, May 25, 2020

A World Full of Raw Materials

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

God hides things.

Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing...”

When God created the world He concealed literally tons of things.

Picture Adam and Eve in the garden.  And even if you don’t believe in the garden, we all agree that when you go back just a few thousand years the world was a pretty primitive place.  It was beautiful but rough, and you certainly wouldn’t have looked around and even fathomed all the discoveries that were yet to come.

At that time the world was packed full of raw materials, but they were hidden.  We didn’t know about electricity, for example.  We didn’t even know about metal.  We didn’t know about seeds.  I mean, if nobody told you, you’d probably eat an apple and think, “What are these stupid black things in the middle?”  So you’d throw them out in the dirt, and one day you’d see a plant growing where you tossed the seeds, but you didn’t know, so you were like, “Pull that stupid weed.  We don’t need weeds around here.  We’re hungry.”

We didn’t know it at first, but seeds are some of the mightiest raw materials in the world!  But were they obvious?  No.  They were hidden.

Now think of all the things under ground:  silver, gold, coal, oil, but Adam and Eve didn’t see a single one of them.  The world was full of raw materials, but they were hidden.

God hides things.

And the same is true when it comes to people.  God has packed each one of us with raw materials, but they are hidden and need to be discovered!

I was watching my twin grandchildren when they were quite young.  They both had pulled the straw out of their little cups and I said, “Put it back in.”  They were probably too little to do this, and my granddaughter did what was natural.  She tried and tried but didn’t yet have the ability to do it.  But my grandson surprised me when he put the straw straight into the hole.  I thought, “Hmm, that was interesting.”

And since then I’ve noticed that he has a great eye for mechanics and the size and shape of things and how they work.  Meanwhile, his twin sister is already reading like a much older child and is very good with words and speaking.

These are raw materials.  We didn’t know they were there, but we are discovering them.

Every one of us, every single human, including you, is full of raw materials.  Your creator, God the Father, put them in you, and they just need to be discovered.

And they are so different.  Look at this planet and there are tons of raw materials and they are so wildly and wonderfully different.  

And the raw materials that God has put inside you are different.  Maybe you want to be more like other people, but your skill set is different.  Your giftings are different.  And God’s calling on your life is different.  

First Corinthians 12:11 tells us that God distributes gifts to each person according to His will. 

God has plans for you!  And He has given you the giftings that line up with His plans.

Every person has gifts.  Every person is packed with raw materials, and it is our job to discover them and maximize them.  We are to discover our own, and we are to help other people discover theirs.

THEN the body of Christ will be humming along on all cylinders.  THEN the church will be living up to her potential...once we realize that every single person is packed with raw materials from God and it is our job to discover them and help them grow.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Is Your Ladder Leaning Against the Wrong Building?

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

This is one of my all-time favorite illustrations.

A man spends his life climbing the career ladder.  He finally gets to the top, only to realize that it wasn’t what he really wanted after all.  He made it to the top of the ladder, but the ladder was leaning against the wrong building.

I heard that illustration as a young man and thought, “Wow, I don’t want that to be me.  I don’t want to spend my life climbing the wrong ladder.”

So how can you know?  How can you make sure that the ladder you are climbing is going the right way?

Well here’s one thing I’m smart enough to know.  I don’t know!  

I don’t know the future.  I don’t know where the world is headed.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here.  I don’t know what the coming generations look like, so how can I possibly know if I’m climbing the right ladder, if I’m spending my time on all the right things?

Thankfully, I have found a simple formula.  

“Wow, Doug, so you’re actually saying that you found a simple formula for living a successful life?”

Yes, and I’m about to share it with you, free of charge.  Here it is, ten simple words.  Get ready to memorize it and immediately put it into practice.  Are you ready?  Here it is.

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

I’ll say it again, and this is your key to life, the key to living a successful life, to climbing the right ladder every time.

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

That’s from Hebrews 11:6.

One thing I love about this formula is that it is very measurable.

Some things about the Kingdom of God are hard to measure, like how much do you love God?  That’s hard to measure.  How are you doing at loving your neighbor as yourself?  It’s hard to know for sure.

But are you diligently seeking God?  That’s measurable.

James 4:8 says that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us, so the question is, are we spending time drawing near to God?

Jesus said, “Go into your room, shut your door, and pray to Your Father.”  Are we doing that?  How often are we doing it?  How consistently are we doing it?

That is how well we are diligently seeking God.

How often are we entering into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise, like it says in Psalm 100?

Are we spending “extravagant daily time with Jesus,” like they say in the book “Live Dead”?

This is a winning formula.  It will keep us from wasting our days, climbing the wrong ladder.  This will keep our priorities straight, and give is the wisdom and knowledge we need to do it right, day after day...good for now and good for eternity.

And it’s so measurable.  We can easily know if we are doing it well or not, and if not, we can make the change immediately, starting right now, and here’s that formula one more time, from Hebrews 11:6.

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

We Gave Away Our Dinner Table

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

We gave away our dinner table.

My wife and I raised our four children around that table.  We had thousands of meals and conversations at that table.  I think our close family dynamic today has a foundation in all those family dinners.

But it didn’t start that way.  There was a time when we were not having family dinners.  I was working each evening until 6, and when I came home, the kids had already eaten.  The family was a bit more scattered and I don’t think we even thought about it.

Then I went to a big Promise Keepers conference in Indianapolis.  Yes, there were great speakers, but the most dynamic thing for me happened during the singing.  

There I was, singing along with thousands of men who filled the stadium, praising the Lord, and all of a sudden a phrase popped into my head, out of the blue.  It just said, “Start having family dinners.”

I actually kind of shook it off and kept singing, but then it came on stronger, so I stopped singing, sat down and wrote it down, “Start having family dinners.”

One thing about this is that it would actually put a greater burden on my wife than me, so I brought it up to her with a little humility.  “I think God wants us to start having family dinners.”

“No problem,” she said.  “I’ll just start giving the kids a snack after school, then we can all eat together when you get home from work.”

And what a blessing it was!  It became a great, daily gathering time, our family coming together to talk and share and interact, and to build and grow our relationships with one another, relationships that are still strong today.

Relationships that were forged around the family dinner table.

I believe that God leads us in three main ways.  We have the Bible, of course, and I believe we should all be prolific hearers and doers of the Word.

And we have the body of Christ, our fellow believers, our teachers and preachers and brothers and sisters, and God can speak to us through them.

And we have the Spirit of God inside all believers, who gives us the more specific directions we need, sometimes very specific directions like, “Start having family dinners.”

And now we’ve given away our family dinner table.  We gave it to our daughter and her husband, and I just hope and pray that they and their four children will be as blessed as we were, as God binds their family together in love and joy and commitment to one another for decades to come.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Why Do Christians Lock Their Doors?

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

Why do Christians lock their doors?

That’s what someone emailed me, and it’s a great question.

Why do Christians lock their doors?  If you say you trust God, and you believe He will protect you and keep you safe, and His angels are watching over you, you surely don’t need to lock your doors, right?

Well, that’s the exact attitude I had as a young believer many years ago.  I was like, “Wow, God’s got me!  I don’t need to lock my apartment or my car.  I don’t even need to lock up this bicycle...which I just leave out here in the open, under the apartment stairs.”

I didn’t have a care in the world, trusting fully that God would take care of those things for me.

Then one day I came home and noticed that my bike was gone.  Now fortunately I had spent some time playing football with the boys in the apartment complex so I just went out and started asking around, “Have you seen my bike?”  Sure enough, they had.  One of them had taken it for a joy ride and dumped it in the weeds out back, and he fearfully went and retrieved it for me.

Thank God I had my bike back, and I had learned a good lesson:  lock my doors!

God has given people free will, and some of them will take your things if they get a chance, and God will let them.  Not always, I suppose, but often enough to know that we should be wise and take precautions.

I put this in the category of testing God.  For example, we don't sit here like baby birds with our mouth open for food, even though we trust God as our provider.  No, we go and earn our food, just like the Bible tells us to do.  "Those who don't work shouldn't eat."  It would be testing the Lord to ask Him to provide while we do nothing.

The same holds true when trusting Him for protection.  In this pandemic, I'm praying and trusting God for protection (which frees me from worry and anxiety), while I also practice social distancing and hand washing.  

When you read the Bible you will see over and over again, God has His part, and we have our part.  Even in the famous Psalm 91 about protection that so many people are quoting today, you can read God’s part and our part.

I think it would be testing God to ignore what I know to be wise practices, like hand washing, like working hard, like locking my doors.

In Matthew chapter 4, Jesus was tempted by the devil.  The New Living Translation says, “Then the devil took Him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, 'If you are the Son of God, jump off!  For the Scriptures say, 'He will order his angels to protect you.  And they will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone.'"

Then came Jesus' powerful reply in verse 7.  The Scriptures say, “You must not test the Lord your God.”

So that is why I lock my doors.  I believe that to do otherwise is to test the Lord which we are told not to do (except in the case of tithing in Malachi 3:10).

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Go Fishing in the Word

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

Go fishing in the Word.

What can we do in these days of social distancing and flattening the curve?

Go fishing in the Word.

Are you feeling anxious and concerned about what this coronavirus is doing to the world?

Go fishing in the Word.

Are you asking, “What can I do?  What should I do?”

Go fishing in the Word.

God told the prophet Isaiah, “This plan of Mine is not what you would work out, neither are My thoughts the same as yours!  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than yours, and My thoughts than yours.”*

I’m in.  I’m all in!  I mean, I totally believe and accept that God’s ways are higher than my ways, and that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts.  But how can I know His ways and His thoughts?

Go fishing in the Word.

What do I mean, “go fishing in the Word”?

When you go fishing, actual fishing, for fish, you cast out a line and slowly reel it in, feeling for nibbles until eventually, oh wow, fish on!

You can do the same in the Word.  You get out your Bible and you start reading, and what you’re doing is fishing.  As you read across the verses, it’s like slowly reeling in that fishing line.

Maybe this verse doesn’t strike you, and that verse doesn’t strike you.  That’s fine.  Keep reading.  Yes, every verse is important, but keep reading.  What you’re feeling for is that nibble on the line, and by that, I mean the Holy Spirit of God inside of you grabbing your attention on some verse.

See, the Holy Spirit of God lives inside every born again Christian.  God puts His Spirit inside of us to teach us and to lead us.

In this time of coronavirus, are you ready to be taught, and to be led?  I am!

How can we be taught directly by the Spirit of God?

One way is to go fishing in the Word.

Open up your Bible and start reading, and watch for it.  All of a sudden one of those verses, one of those Bible passages is going to jump off the page.  Something you read is going to make your heart burn within you.  It’s going to make your spirit leap inside of you.

When that happens, stop right there.  Dig in and feast on what the Spirit of God might be trying to say to you through that portion of Scripture.  Study it.  Learn it.  Memorize it.  Ingest it and let it do what God means for it to do in your life today, right now.

God’s ways are higher than our ways.  His plans are not our plans, and our plans are rubbish anyway compared to His, so let’s get His plans and His thoughts.  Let’s find out and do exactly what God wants us to do in these challenging days, and how can we do that?

Go fishing in the Word.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

*Isaiah 55:8-9 TLB