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.