Tuesday, December 28, 2021

What Will I Wish I Had Done?

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

“Should I take this sandwich home?”

That’s what my co-worker asked when I walked in the kitchen and saw the ponderous look on his face.

“Should I take this sandwich home, or leave it here for tomorrow?”

Instead of answering outright, I gave him a priceless tool for decision-making.

I said, “What will you WISH you had done?”

He said, “Well, if I get home and decide that I would like to eat the sandwich, I will WISH that I had brought it home.”

I said, “There’s your answer.  And if you don’t eat it tonight, you can always bring it back tomorrow.”

Last week a friend of mine in his mid-forties had quadruple bypass heart surgery.  He was a smoker and if you asked him, “What do you WISH you had done 20 years ago?” the answer would be, “Stop smoking, immediately.”

This is a powerful tool for decision-making.  Ask yourself this simple question, “What will I wish I had done?”

As you make plans for another year in your life, how do you know what to do? 

When you come to a fork in the road, how do you make the decision?

One way is to ask, “What will I wish I had done?”

Time always goes by.  The future always arrives.  Reaping always follows sowing.

When that time comes, what will you wish you had done?

In Matthew 25, Jesus told The Parable of the Talents.  Verse 19 says that after a long time, the master came to settle accounts.

Accounts will be settled.  What will you wish you had done?

Second Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…”

What will you wish you had done?

As we raised our four kids, I would look ahead and think, “What will I wish I had done as their father?”  And then I did it, instead of only wishing that I had done it.

I’m working now to build a relationship with our grandchildren, and you know, little kids can be troublesome!  But I’m looking ahead to when they are teenagers, and twenty-somethings, and they start giving birth to our great-grandchildren.  What will I wish I had done?  I will wish I had taken time to build a relationship with them when they were little, and so I am.

I think you will find this question helpful in nearly every area of life.  It helps you set your eyes on the big picture, on the long run, instead of looking only at what might satisfy your lazy, no good carnal flesh right this minute.

Another year of life is coming up.  Another trip around the sun.  And when that time comes, and it always does…what will you wish you had done?

“It was a great decision,” my co-worker said, smiling.

“What decision?” I said.

“The decision to take my sandwich home last night,” he beamed.  “Great decision!”

And there it is.  Another wise decision made after asking the simple but life-changing question, “What will I wish I had done?”

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Prayer of George

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

You’ve heard of the Prayer of Jabez?

Well, this is the prayer of George.

George Bailey, that is, and I pray it all the time.

George Bailey is the guy in the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

His life was going down the drain, and he found himself in a bar one snowy night trying to drink the edge off.

Everyone else was preparing for Christmas and enjoying some holiday cheer, but not George.  

He was on the verge of being arrested, even though it wasn’t his fault, and the pressure was unbearable.  

So he sat at the bar, and under the weight of it all he finally asked God for help.

Now if you’ve seen the movie, you know that it actually starts in heaven, BEFORE George prays his prayer.

The preparations in heaven are being made LEADING UP TO George’s prayer.

Other people are already praying for George.  Heaven is well aware of George’s troubles, and heaven is ready to respond…WHEN he prays.

And finally, he does pray.  And it’s very simple.

He says, “God.  Oh God.  Dear Father in Heaven.  I’m not a praying man, but if You’re up there, and You can hear me, show me the way.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Show me the way, God.”

Nothing seems to happen.  In fact, things only seem to get worse.  But behind the scenes we know that George’s answer is on the way.

So what is the “prayer of George Bailey”?

It’s just this simple, and I pray it all the time.

“Lord, please show me the way.”

Do you find yourself in situations where you don’t know what to do?  You don’t know where to go?

Then pray The Prayer of George.  “God, please, show me the way.”

You could also call it The Prayer of David.  King David that is.  He wrote in Psalm 25:4, “Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths.”

It’s a type of prayer we see often in the Psalms, “Show me the way.”

You know what…I don’t know what to do each day.  What is the best thing to do?  What does God want me to do?  What will be the best in the long run?  What is best for eternity?  What is best for my loved ones?  What is best for the generations to come?

I don’t know.  How could I know?  But God knows.

And that’s way I’m constantly praying the prayer of the Psalms, the prayer of King David…The Prayer of George Bailey.

“Oh God, please…show me the way.”

May God show you the way today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Adventures in Fasting

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

I was never good at fasting.

I tried it off and on for years and never had what I thought were good results.

I’d make the commitment, “I’m not eating anything from this time to this time.  I’m really going to seek God and dedicate myself.”

I gave it the old college try, and then would just feel cranky and hungry and scattered.  My work suffered.  Probably my family suffered, and for what?  

I saw other Christians fasting, seemingly successfully, but I felt no fire in it, no visitation, no moving of God.  That’s not required of course, but to me, fasting felt like a wasteland, without value or fruit.

Then we moved to Tallahassee at the end of 2005 and went to a church that declared a fast to start the year 2006 – but it was a different kind of fast, a “Daniel fast.”

Surely I had heard of that before, but I don’t recall it.  I thought there was just one way to fast, and that was to eat no food, none.  

So this Daniel fast was a new idea to me, where your eating was limited, but not eliminated.

So the church announced this Daniel Fast, but we had just moved to a new city and I had my hands full.  I didn’t want to mess with a new fast right then, but I said, “If they do it next year, I’ll do it.”

Then I had the idea for a different kind of fast, so I went on a shopping fast.  What does that mean?  It means I bought nothing for myself, no clothes or shoes or toys or electronics or whatever.  Yes, I bought necessities like food and deodorant, but nothing extra.  And I did that for two years.

It was humbling, and brought discipline and strength of mind, and turned my heart even more to God saying, “You are my provider.” 

And I learned one big thing about myself:  it’s hard for me to pass up a good deal!  For example, I would see a shirt I liked, and hey, it’s 50 percent off!  It’s 75 percent off!  IT’S 90 PERCENT OFF!  But no, I couldn’t buy it because I was on a shopping fast.

Like all fasting, it was hard at first, but then I learned and grew and became a better, stronger person.  And it was the first fast in my life that truly felt satisfying, like it mattered, it worked, it had value, and God was in it.

Then January, 2007 rolled around, and the church once again called for a 3 week Daniel fast, and I was in.  Then I found out that there really isn’t one set way to do a Daniel fast, but the overall goal is to deny yourself certain pleasant foods and drinks.

I wanted my Daniel fast to be easy to figure out, where I wasn’t getting nitpicky about ingredients, so I came up with these 5 guidelines:

--drink only water

--eat no meat

--eat no bread

--eat no sweets

--eat nothing fried.

I don’t know what I had been doing to my body before this, but I was quickly plunged into a dull, yucky headache.  I wasn’t particularly prone to headaches, but I did get them sometimes, and this one was constant.  It didn’t even go away after I slept.

Now listen to this.  While I was in the middle of that headache, probably a sugar and caffeine withdrawal, I felt God rise up in me and say, “Do it all year.”  And in my foggy-headed headache I said, “Yes, I will do this all year.”

Eventually the headache went away, and listen to this.  It was YEARS before I had another headache of any kind, and to this day I never get headaches like I got them before I went on the Daniel fast.

The Daniel fast was hard at first, because I cut out those certain foods, but I didn’t have good replacement foods.  I lost weight to the point where my wife was like, “You’re clothes aren’t fitting right.”

But it was an exciting journey!  I spent a lot of time hungry, but unlike a no-food-at-all fast, I was free to eat and get nourishment, just from a limited number of sources.

One thing I really learned about myself was that, even though I didn’t have one big monster sin or problem that had its hook in me, it was like I had a thousand little hooks in me, jerking me this way and that, meaning I didn’t really have full control over myself.

It was like, “Oh, M and M’s, yes!  I need some.”  “Oh, a Big Mac and fries.  I need that.”  “You know what I really need right now?  A Coke!  Better go get one.”  “You know what sounds good right now?  A HOT FUDGE SUNDAE!”

I realized that I had spent most of the days of my entire life being jerked this way and that by every appetite, every whim and desire.  And this Daniel fast was slowly cutting all those fishing lines and setting me free from their hooks.

Now I’m thinking of Philippians 3:19 where it says, “…their god is their stomach…”  The New Living Translation says, “…their god is their appetite…”

I was there, man, with every little appetite acting like my god and telling me what to do, and I was doing it!  “I need some chips and dip, right now!”

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus says that when we fast, our Father will reward us.

I did that Daniel fast for 3 years, and the Father truly rewarded me.  

In the middle of that 3 years I felt His Spirit rising up within me and calling me to get locked back in to Bible memorization, so I started memorizing one verse per weekday, and you know what?  I’m never going to stop.  And that is just one amazing product of that Daniel fast.

Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

The question is, what are we denying ourselves?  So often the answer is, “Nothing.”  It almost seems un-American to deny ourselves anything!

But to follow Jesus there must be self-denial, and one obvious form of self-denial is fasting.  “God, I’m giving this up because I’m so hungry for more of You.”

I’m fasting secular music.  I’m denying myself whatever pleasures that might bring in order to set my mind on things above.

I’m currently on what I call a “frontline soldier beverage fast.”  Yes, now I’m making up my own fasts.  But I’m praying, “God, I’m denying myself all beverages except water and black coffee because I’m so thirsty for You.  As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after Thee.”

A while back our church once again called for a 3 week fast to start the year, but it was open-ended.  You pick what you want to fast.  So I prayed, “God, what should I fast?”

And I left it there.  I didn’t want to conjure up something to fast.  I wanted God to tell me what to fast, if anything.  I was willing, but I wanted Him to tell me.

It didn’t happen right away, but at some point it suddenly popped into my mind, “Fast breakfast.”

So I started fasting breakfast on normal workdays, and within the first few days I really felt like God had given me a gift.  Yes, I was hungry, but I was going to eat after noon anyway, so it was very doable.

And I did something different.  I did not pick an end date for the breakfast fast.  I just renew it day by day.  No promises.  No commitments.  Just, “Today, I’m doing it.  I’m fasting breakfast today.”  

And I’ve been doing it for years now, with no plans to stop.  Like I said, it really feels like God has given me a gift, a blessing!

And that’s how I now feel about fasting.  It’s a gift.  A blessing!  

What I formerly would have called “The Tortures of Fasting” I now call “Adventures in Fasting.”  My early years felt unprofitable, even negative.  But these later years have been a true joy, an exciting adventure in denying myself in order to follow Jesus every day as closely as I can.  And I pray that you will, too.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Hallway Discipleship

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

Maybe don’t be in such a hurry to flee the church building after service.

Maybe your interactions with people in the hallway are as important as the service itself.

I call it Hallway Discipleship.

You can also call it “loving people.”

It’s interacting with people in the hallway, your brothers and sisters in Christ, your family members in the family of God.

It’s informal.  It’s casual.  It’s not structured.  But it’s just as valuable as formal discipleship.

It’s Hallway Discipleship.

It’s taking time to look people in the eye, say hello, ask how they’re doing, and being in no hurry.  It’s listening to them, hearing about their day, their life, their family, their work.

It’s not looking past them to rush off to the next thing.

When we do this, when we actually listen and care, here’s what it does.  It earns us the opportunity to plant a seed.

This is where Hallway Discipleship happens.

Discipleship is helping someone follow Jesus more closely.

In Hallway Discipleship, we help someone follow Jesus more closely one seed at a time.

And God’s Holy Spirit is deeply involved in Hallway Discipleship.  Don’t take these hallway encounters for granted.  Take them as God moments, divine appointments, meetings arranged by God Himself.  God is in it!  And God cares about how we handle these opportunities.  Do we take advantage of them, like the first two guys in the parable of the talents?  Or do we bury them like the last guy, the one Jesus referred to as “wicked and lazy”?  Eek.  I don’t want to be that guy!

Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

The household of faith…that’s the people in the hallway!

More than once the Bible says, “especially the household of faith.”

It’s hard to love and care for the household of faith when we are in such a hurry to get away from them.

So slow down.  Take it easy.  Take some time.  Talk to some people.  Have some casual conversations.  Let God lead, and you’ll be amazed!

It’s not a waste of time.

It’s Hallway Discipleship.

And you’ll find God Himself right in the middle of it.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Build a Bigger Shield

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

If you’re being bombarded today, you need a bigger shield.

If the flaming arrows are pounding your life, you need a bigger shield.

If you are feeling vulnerable and weak, and you’re running low on resistance, you need a bigger shield.

What is this shield I’m talking about?

I’m talking about the shield of faith.  

Ephesians 6:16 says the shield of faith will “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”

Do you want to be more protected?  Then use the shield of faith.

Now we know how a physical shield works.  If you’re shooting actual arrows at me, I’m completely defenseless just standing there.  Pretty soon I’m going to be riddled with arrows.  But if I have a shield, I can protect myself.  The shield comes between me and the arrows.

And the bigger the shield, the more protected I am.

That’s how a physical shield works, but how does the shield of faith work?

First of all, we’re talking about faith in God, not just some random faith.  

When we put our faith in God, that is the shield of faith:  our faith in God.

Now here’s an example of the shield of faith in action.

One day you have the temptation to steal.  The opportunity is there, and you can get away with it.  It’s a fiery dart of temptation.

But instead of letting it hit you, you throw up the shield of faith.  You say, “I’m putting my faith in God who said, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’  Yes, maybe I need the money, but I’m putting my faith in God that He will provide what I need.  Not stealing is a good thing, it’s obeying the Golden Rule.  Ephesians 6:8 says that whatever good I do, I will receive good back from the Lord, so instead of giving in to this temptation, by faith I am trusting in God.  He will provide what I need, and He will reward my obedience.”

And the fiery dart of temptation is quenched by the shield of faith.

Another example.  You’re flipping through your social media feed, and here comes the fiery dart of the temptation to covet.  So you throw up the shield of faith.  You say, “God, I’m putting my faith in You as my provider.  Good Shepherd, I am trusting that You will lead me to the green pastures and the still waters, that You will provide all my needs according to Your riches in glory, and I need not covet or be envious or jealous of anyone else, because You are my God and my King, and You’ve got me.”

And the fiery dart of temptation is quenched by the shield of faith.

I could go on and on, showing how the shield of faith will save us from the flaming arrows of the evil one.

But right now I want to talk about how to build a bigger shield of faith.

The more we put our faith in God, the bigger the shield will be.

The more we act on our faith in God, the bigger the shield will be.

One sure fire way to build your faith is to spend time with God.  

Hebrews 12:2 talks about “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”

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.

Matthew 6:6 says that when we pray, our Father will reward us.

And now here’s a very practical tip for building a bigger shield:  have a time and a place.

I encourage you, I beg you, to nail down a time and a place to spend time with God.

If you told me that you exercise, and I asked you the time and place where you exercise, you could tell me…if you are actually faithfully exercising.

The same is true about prayer.  Over and over the Bible talks about being faithful and consistent and persistent and diligent in prayer.  That is really hard to do without setting a time and a place to pray.

So I beg you, nail down a set time and a specific place to draw near to God in prayer and praise and thanksgiving and intercession and Bible study.

When you do this faithfully, your faith will grow, your shield of faith will be bigger, and you will be far more protected from all those fiery darts of the enemy.

So if you’re being bombarded today, build a bigger shield.

If the flaming arrows are pounding your life, build a bigger shield.

If you are feeling vulnerable and weak, and you’re running low on resistance, build a bigger shield.

Your shield of faith.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

What Does It Mean To Worship in Spirit and Truth?

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

What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?

Jesus said to worship in spirit and truth, but it’s so mysterious.  What did He mean?

I don’t have all the answers, but let’s look at the context.

In John chapter four Jesus was talking to the woman at the well.  At one point she tried to pull a fast one and told Jesus, “I have no husband.”

This is important.  When we come to God, we must come to Him in truth.  This woman did not.

She was quibbling.  She was being deceptive while not outright speaking lies.

But Jesus called her out on it:  “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

Boom.  You don’t come to Jesus quibbling, being evasive, being deceptive.

Then she took another strategy.  Change the subject.  

She said, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Then Jesus said, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.”

So we are looking at the question, what did Jesus mean when He said we must worship in spirit and truth.

I said look at the context, and the context is that the woman at the well was asking about the proper physical location on earth where we should go to worship God.

But Jesus didn’t give her a physical location.  Instead, He gave this mysterious answer, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…”

I take that to mean that we don’t have to go to some specific physical location to worship God, because worship is our spirit rising up in worship and adoration to God, and that can be done anytime, anywhere.

That seems simple enough, right?  Sometimes we think of worship as singing in a congregation at a church service in a church building, and that certainly can be worship.

But worship can also be at home, at midnight, lying in bed, in silence, not uttering a single word out loud, but worshiping “in spirit.”

Now what about “in truth”?  He said to worship “in spirit and truth.”  What does it mean to worship “in truth”?

It probably has layers of meaning, but back to the context.  The woman did not initially come to Jesus “in truth.”  She was quibbling.  She was evasive, and for a lot of good reasons. 

But we are told to worship God “in truth.”  I think that means we come to God with no guile, no falseness, no ego, no pride, no hidden motives.  

I think of the old Billy Graham altar call song, “Just as I am…oh Lamb of God, I come.”

So what does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth?  I think it means we don’t have to go to some certain place to worship God.  We can worship Him anytime, anywhere, in spirit, from our hearts.  And we come to Him in truth, wide open, in honesty and humility, because He knows it all anyway, and that’s just another reason to worship Him.  He knows us, and He loves us.

Praise God.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, August 27, 2021

There's a Whole Body for That

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

You can’t do everything.

You aren’t even supposed to.  You weren’t designed to.

There’s a whole body for that.

I’m talking about the church, which is the body of Christ.

Jesus is the head, and all of His followers make up the body.

Yes, Jesus has humongous plans for His body, such as reaching the whole world and loving every person and teaching them everything He taught.

But that doesn’t mean that YOU have to do all that.  You are just ONE PART, one cell in this body of Christ.

You know, there’s a difference in your physical body between brain cells and white blood cells.  They are different organisms with different purposes.

If you watch white blood cells under a microscope, they might not appear to be doing much, until some attack takes place and they rush into action.

Now imagine the brain cells coming along and trying to talk the white blood cells into abandoning their jobs and helping out the brain cells for a while.

It would be a disaster.  White blood cells have a design and a purpose, and the body works best when they stick to their job and do it to the best of their ability.

The same is true with the individual parts of the body of Christ.  We have callings and giftings.  We are each unique parts.  

Now suddenly the call goes forth that such and so needs to be done.  The trumpet is sounding!  Will you answer the call?

Wait a minute.  There’s a whole body for that.  

The lesson here is, every single body part doesn’t respond to every single call to action.  

This is where guilt comes in, and burnout.  It’s why some people leave the local church altogether, because they can’t do it all.

Of course they can’t do it all.  There’s a whole body for that.

Pastors can’t do it all.  Deacons can’t do it all.  No one can do it all, and they aren’t supposed to.

I love what it says in First Corinthians 12:11.  It is the Spirit of God who distributes all the gifts in the body of Christ, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines.

Ephesians 4:16 talks about the body of Christ and uses this phrase, “…as every part does its share.”

What is your share and my share in the body of Christ?  We each need to do our share with all of our might.  No laziness.  No excuses.

But what about all the duties and callings and missions that aren’t our part in the body?  Who’s going to do them?  Things will be left undone!

You can’t worry about that.  Don’t be guilted into leaving your post to go do something else.  Don’t shirk your own part in the body to go elsewhere.

I have some good news today!  You don’t have to take on the whole burden of the worldwide work of the church, and here’s why.  

There’s a whole body for that.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Gas on the Grass

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

Not keeping your word is like pouring gas on the grass.

Have you ever accidentally spilled gas on your lawn?  You’ll know if you did because the grass will die a terrible death.

Right now I have a big dead circle in my backyard, and I’m blaming the grandkids.

When we moved into our current home, the previous owner left a lot of random stuff in and around an old shed in the backyard.

One day the grandkids were exploring and dragged an old metal gas can out from under the shed, and proceeded to empty its contents…where?  Not in the dirt, of course, but right on the beautiful grass, and now it’s dead, dead, dead.

That’s the way of gas on grass.  It’s a killer.

I remember the first time I learned this lesson.  We were renting a house and the owner was proud of the lawn.  He fertilized it and gave me just two instructions, “Keep it mowed, and pull any weeds that come up.”  What he forgot to say was, “And whatever you do, don’t try to gas up the mower while the mower is sitting on the grass.”

I mean, it was only like a drop or two of gas, right?  But it still left a distinct dead spot in the middle of his luxurious lawn.

Now imagine this.  The lawn is your reputation, and the gas is when you don’t keep your word.

Not keeping your word is like spilling gas on the grass.  It puts a dead spot in your reputation.

Now imagine what happens if you break your word multiple times.  The lawn of your reputation starts to look spotty.

Now you have to start saying things like, “I PROMISE I’ll be there,” “I SWEAR I’ll do it,” “You can count on me.”

You know what?  People who keep their word don’t have to promise and swear because their word IS their promise.

Let me say that again.  Your word IS your promise.  You should never have to say, “I promise,” because your word IS your promise.

And the bigger the promise, the bigger the dead spot if you break it.

When someone breaks their wedding vows, for example, it’s like pouring gas on the whole lawn.  And then you wonder why it takes so long for people to trust you?  The more gas you pour, the longer it takes for the grass to return, if it ever does.

And remember, gas doesn’t just kill the grass.  It also contaminates the soil underneath.  

When you break your word to someone, it sinks in.  They counted on you, and you let them down, and it sinks in.  And if you do this repeatedly, you aren’t just killing the grass of your reputation.  You are contaminating the soil underneath your reputation, and that’s really bad.

In Matthew 5:37 Jesus said let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no,” “no.”  “For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

Proverbs 10:19 says that the more we talk, the more likely we are to sin.

If you find yourself having to talk a lot to convince people to trust you, it’s probably because you have killed your reputation by not keeping your word.

The old timers used to say it this way:  your word is your bond.

And the thing is, you don’t have to say it.  You don’t have to make a commitment.  You don’t have to announce, “I’ll be there at 7 p.m. sharp,” or whatever.

You don’t have to say it, but once you do, you better move heaven and earth to keep your word, because not keeping your word is like pouring gas on the grass.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, July 23, 2021

So Close to You I'm See-Through

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

Sometimes God uses little scraps of words to speak mountains of truth.

I think that’s what’s happening in the song “In Awe” by Hollyn.

If my sources are correct, this song wasn’t written in the usual way.  The singer Hollyn was literally put into a vocal booth in a sound studio and told to just sing.

She said, “I didn’t have any words at first, so I took my time, closed my eyes, and for a solid hour thanked God for what He’d been doing in my life.”

And out came the song “In Awe.”

James 4:8 says that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.  It sounds like that’s what Hollyn did in creating this song, and that is definitely what I feel whenever I hear it, like I’m drawing near to God and He is drawing near to me.

And the lyrics say that.  The song opens with these words:

Can’t speak,

So close I can feel You breathe,

You’re so holy and worthy,

You know where I’ve been.

Can’t move,

So close to You I’m see-through,

No, not innocent like You,

Oh God, I’m sorry.

It reminds me of Isaiah chapter 6 where the prophet Isaiah sees the Lord, high and exalted, and Isaiah’s reaction is to realize his own sinfulness in the light of the holy God.

In the song “In Awe,” the singer is drawing into the presence of God and begins to feel the weight of His holiness, and listen to that line again:  

You’re so holy and worthy,

You know where I’ve been.

God knows where you’ve been, my friend.  He knows where I’ve been.  He knows EVERYWHERE we’ve been.  He knows any shame, any sin, any hurt, any anger and bitterness.  He knows where we’ve been, and it’s an awesome and terrible thought.

The song continues:

So close to You I’m see-through.

God sees it all, including any dark places.  There is no hiding before the living God, and listen to the singer’s response to the presence of God:

I’m not innocent like You.

Oh, my friend, we are not innocent, and we stand in stark contrast to the high and exalted, holy and worthy almighty God.  No wonder Isaiah, the mighty prophet of God, cried out in agony, “Woe unto me.  I am ruined.”

We are see-through in His presence.  He knows where we’ve been.  He knows it all.

The singer almost whimpers in God’s presence, and the song goes on:

No, not innocent like You,

Oh God, I’m sorry.

What else can be said?  What else can we say but, “Oh God, I am so, so sorry.”

But oh my friend, listen to this Bible verse.  Psalm 34:18.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.

Yes, our hearts break for our sin in the presence of God, but as soon as they break, He rushes in.

The song continues:

I’m living in awe,

You don’t need me at all,

But You couldn’t love me more.

Oh man, let that sink in.  God, You don’t need me at all…but You couldn’t love me more.”

First John 3:1.  What great love the Father has LAVISHED on us, that we should be called His children.

The song continues:

Your love is overwhelming, Your love is overwhelming,

It’s only You and me here.

Your love is overwhelming, Your love is overwhelming,

I can hardly breathe here.

I’m living in awe,

‘Cause You don’t need me at all,

But You couldn’t love me more,

You couldn’t love me more,

You couldn’t love me more.

Hallelujah.  Praise God.  Thank You, Father, for the love You have lavished on us, in spite of ourselves, in spite of our sin, in spite of where we’ve been, but You couldn’t love us more, and we bow in Your holy presence and we love you back.  We love You back.  We love You back.


May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Oddities in the Story of Zacchaeus

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

There’s Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree.  How did he get there?

He climbed, which must have been a funny sight.  I have 13 grandkids.  We see them in trees all the time, but we never see older people in trees.  And we NEVER see older rich people in robes up in trees.

But that was Zacchaeus, an older, rich, short man in robes, climbing up a sycamore tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus who was coming that way in what basically must have been like a parade.

Why was Zacchaeus so interested in Jesus?

Why is ANYONE so interested in Jesus?

In fact, why on earth are millions of people on earth still to this day so interested in Jesus?

It can’t be because he was a local phenomenon, flash in the pan, 15 minutes of fame guy.  Nobody is that interested in someone like that.

Rich guys in robes don’t climb trees for that.

So why was Zacchaeus there?  That’s one of the oddities in this story of Zacchaeus.  Why was he there?

Luke 19:3 says he “…sought to see who Jesus was…”

So it sounds like Zacchaeus was doing the seeking, desiring to know more about Jesus.

Then comes another oddity in the story.  Luke 19:5 says that when Jesus came to the place where Zacchaeus was, “He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’”

As a child, I remember standing outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis and watching the players arrive.  There they were, in the flesh, all those stars I had seen on TV and on my baseball cards.  

None of them ever turned to me and called me by name and said they were coming to my house.  It would have blown my mind!  “How did they know my name?  Why are they coming to my house?”

But that’s what happened to Zacchaeus.  Jesus looked up into the tree, called him by name, and said, “I’m coming to your house.”

The life of Zacchaeus is transformed in the presence of Jesus.  He gives half of his possessions to the poor, and he pays back fourfold everyone he has taken advantage of.

Then Jesus says something so joyful and jubilant, “Today salvation has come to this house!”

Man, that’s just like Jesus, just going in and revolutionizing someone’s life, turning them around in just moments in His presence.

And He’s still doing it today!  He did it for me and He’s done it for millions.

And here’s the final and grandest oddity in the story of Zacchaeus.  It’s right at the end, almost an afterthought, and yet it puts the entire story of Zacchaeus into a different light.

In Luke 19:10 Jesus said, “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Wait a minute.  The story starts with Zacchaeus seeking Jesus.  But at the end we find that Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus!

Wow.  That explains Jesus stopping right at the tree and looking up and calling him by name.  It explains Jesus’ offer to go to his house.  It wasn’t that Zacchaeus was seeking Jesus.  It was that Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus!

One more Scripture before I close.

In John 6:44, Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…”

Why did Zacchaeus run ahead and climb up into the sycamore tree to see Jesus?  Maybe he thought he was just curious.

And maybe you think you are just curious.  You want to know more about Jesus.

But you know what?  You aren’t just curious.  Zacchaeus wasn’t just curious.  God the Father was drawing him, and if your heart and mind are wanting to know more about Jesus, God is drawing you.

He stands at the door and knocks, and if you will answer, He will come in, and just like Zacchaeus, a little time in the presence of Jesus and your life will be changed forever.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, May 14, 2021

How to Handle Opportunities

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

It’s one of the most exciting times in life.

It’s when opportunity presents itself.

It’s exciting because you have to make a choice, and you know that your choice will affect your future, and maybe the future of many others.

It’s exciting, and nerve wracking.

In fact, some people are scared of opportunities precisely because of the possible huge ramifications.  They think, “Well, if I don’t choose at all, at least I won’t make the wrong choice.”

Tell that to the man in Jesus’ parable who hid his talent in the ground instead of using the opportunity wisely.

Ah, now that’s the key:  using opportunities wisely!

So how do we do that?

First of all, the Bible tells us not to “give opportunity” to the flesh, or to the devil.  So when we are looking at an opportunity and deciding what to do about it, we clearly want to avoid things that are sinful.

We don’t become unequally yoked.  We don’t cheat people.  We don’t take advantage of people.  We don’t enter into win-lose situations where I win and you lose.  That may be taking advantage of an opportunity, but it’s wrong and sinful.

Galatians 6:10 says, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all…”

So how do we handle opportunities?  One thing we are looking for is how we can use this opportunity to do good for all, not just me.  We’re looking for opportunities to create win-win situations, where everyone’s situation is improved and no one comes up a big loser.

One question to ask is, “How can I use this opportunity to solve problems, both my problems and other people’s problems?”

Proverbs tells us that lazy people ignore opportunities, and ignorant people don’t even notice them.  

I think God often brings opportunities into our life.  

Back to the parable of the talents, in Matthew 25 Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like…”  Like what?  It’s like a rich man who gave opportunities to his servants, and he wanted to see how they would handle them.

Maybe you never thought of it that way.

I think God brings opportunities into our life, and then He watches, like a patient Father, to see what we will do with them.

What He wants is for us to take advantage of the opportunity in order to do good.

Next comes the question of which opportunities to work on, because in this day and age the world is crawling with opportunities and you can’t possibly take on all of them.

Back to the book of Galatians.  

Galatians 5:16 tells us to “walk in the Spirit,” which means to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:18 tells us to be “led by the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:25 tells us to “live in the Spirit.”

As Christian believers, we have to learn to discern the leading and speaking of God’s Holy Spirit inside of us.

And then when opportunity presents itself, we can watch for God’s Spirit in us to rise up and put a fire in us that says, “Yes, there it is.  Go for it.”

Yes, it can still be nerve wracking, because it’s important!

But don’t be like the lazy and ignorant and even wicked person who lets opportunities pass by, ignoring them while supposedly “playing it safe.”

It didn’t work for the man in the parable of the talents, and it won’t work for us!

So when you see the opportunity arise, take a good look, pray for wisdom, listen to the Holy Spirit, and be ready to strike while the iron’s hot, going forward in faith and trust that God is with you, and He will help you turn it into a winner for everyone involved.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Have Patience With Yourself

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

I’ve shared this parable with a bunch of people lately.

Jesus was often asked about the kingdom of heaven, and I can imagine Him looking up, hand on his bearded chin, pondering and saying, “What is the kingdom of heaven like, and to what shall I compare it?  Hmmm…”

“It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden, and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”

Question:  how long does it take a tree to grow from a seed?  A long time.

How long does it take the kingdom of heaven to grow inside of us?  A long time.

So my message is:  have patience with yourself.  Mighty trees take a long time to grow.

In Luke 17 the Pharisees were asking Jesus about the kingdom, and Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation, nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’  For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

How is the kingdom of God within you?  Here is a quick breakdown.

We’re all born in sin.  We are all sinners.  Jesus died for our sins.  When we turn to God and receive His forgiveness for our sins, that takes care of the sin problem that separates us from God, and then a glorious thing happens.

He puts His Holy Spirit inside of us.  

That is the kingdom of heaven “mustard seed” being planted in us.

This is God beginning His good work in us, and Philippians 1:6 says that He who began His good work in us will be faithful to complete it.

In other words, that kingdom of heaven “tree” is going to grow.

The kingdom of heaven tree is going to bear fruit, the fruit of the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22-23 says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

If you look at your life and say, “Wow, I am lacking in the fruit of the Spirit,” then I say, “Have patience with yourself.”  It takes a long time for a tree to grow.

Back in the day The Hemphills had a powerful little song called, “He’s Still Workin’ on Me.”  It said:

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart,

“Don't judge me yet, there's an unfinished part,”

But I'll be perfect just according to His plan,

Fashioned by the Master's loving hands.

He's still workin’ on me,

To make me what I ought to be,

It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,

The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars,

How loving and patient He must be,

He's still workin' on me.

Yes, God is still workin’ on me.  He’s growing that tree of the kingdom of heaven inside of me.  It’s going to bear the good fruit of the Spirit, but trees take time.  They have to grow roots.  They have to grow limbs and leaves.  They have to weather the seasons, but watch.  In time they will bear the good fruit the Creator has designed for them.

And so will you and I and all of God’s people, because His Spirit is inside of us, working on us, growing us, and raising us up to be full grown, fruit-bearing people.

So if you find yourself falling short of where you want to be in your walk with God, just remember that mighty trees take a lot of time to grow, so…

Have patience with yourself, because God’s still workin’ on you.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Let's Play Two

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

“Your boss is taking advantage of you.”

“What?  I’m just walking his dog.”

“Yeah.  That’s not part of your job.  You’re a radio station manager, not a dog walker.”

“Okay, well, call it my senior citizen ministry.  I’m helping the old guy out.”

“Call it what you want.  You’re being taken advantage of.”

“No. What I’m doing is loving my neighbor.  If someone shows you how you can love them, and you can easily do it, just do it.”

“But doing personal favors is not your business.”

“Mankind is my business!”

Okay, so now I’m quoting Marley talking to Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, but mankind is our business.  

Jesus said something oh so powerful in the Sermon on Mount.  In Matthew 5:41 He said, “…whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”

This is where we get that phrase, “Go the extra mile.”

How it worked back then was, a Roman soldier could legally tell you to carry his gear for a mile.  So Jesus said, “If that soldier makes you carry his gear for one mile, go ahead and carry it for two miles.”

Now that’s next level Christianity!

Serving others should come as naturally to a Christian as playing ball does for a ballplayer.

I’m thinking of Ernie Banks, the hall of fame baseball player for the Chicago Cubs.  In fact his nickname was Mr. Cub.  He also had another nickname, “Mr. Sunshine” because of his positive attitude.

Ernie Banks had a popular catchphrase he was known for.  He would say, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame…let’s play two!”

Now I imagine a lot of ballplayers probably hate doubleheaders.  It’s twice the work in the same day.  But Ernie, with his go-the-extra-mile positive attitude was like, “Let’s play two!”

Imagine Ernie back in Bible days.  A Roman solder barks at him, “Carry my gear for a mile,” and Ernie cheerfully responds, “Let’s go two!”

I know it seems to go against our rights, and a law like that wouldn’t fly for a hot minute in America today, but listen for a second.

Sometimes clinging so tightly to our rights is actually a burden that keeps us from freely loving and serving others.  

So watch for it.  Suddenly an opportunity to serve someone will appear.  The door will open, and what will we do?  We can ignore it.  We can go ahead and serve them but with a bad attitude.

Or we can cheerfully, with the joy of the Lord as our strength, choose to go the extra mile and say, “Why stop at one?  Let’s go two!”

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Set the Bar High...for the Most High

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

Do you see a man skilled in his work?  He will stand in the presence of kings!

That’s what it says in Proverbs 22:29.

Are you skilled in your work?

Are you improving your skills?

It’s a lifelong effort.  We never stop improving.

Jesus’ parable of the talents tells us the value of taking what we have and growing it.

Matthew 25:23 says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You were faithful over a few things.  I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.”

So the question is, are we being faithful with what we’ve been given?  

It’s a requirement.

First Corinthians 4:2 says it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Are we being faithful?  Are we growing what we’ve been given?  Are we improving our skills, taking them to the next level, moving towards mastery?

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

Colossians 3:23 says whatever we do, we should do it with all of our heart, as if we are doing it for the Lord.  

Here are some Bible verses I often apply to my work, taken from Luke chapter 3, “the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth.”

In your work, are there crooked places and rough ways?  It’s time to make them straight for the Lord!

Sometimes I say it this way, “Set the bar high…for the Most High!”

Philippians 4:8 says, “…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy…” 

That should apply to our work!

When people want to think about something excellent or praiseworthy, our work should come to mind.

Show me a man who is skilled in his work and I will show you a man who will stand before kings!

And the most important king is the King of Kings!

So, are we skilled in our work?  How can we become MORE skilled in our work? 

How can we meet the requirement of being a faithful steward of what God has given us?

One way is by locking this mindset into our brains.

Set the bar high…for the Most High!

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, April 02, 2021

If You Are the Son of God

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

“If You are the Son of God…”

That’s what they shouted at Jesus while He was on the cross.

They said, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

He could have.

He could have avoided the cross altogether.

When He was arrested, Peter pulled out a sword to fight, but Jesus told him to put it away.  Then He said, “Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?”

He could have avoided the cross, but, He said to Peter, “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

God had a plan, but Peter didn’t see it.

Even when God announces His plans, people often don’t see it.

In John chapter 2, while Jesus was at the huge temple in Jerusalem, some leaders asked Him for a sign, so He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  The leaders were like, “What?  It took 46 years to build this temple, and you’re going to raise it up in three days?”

But Jesus wasn’t talking about that building.  He was talking about His own body being raised up in three days after the crucifixion.

But they didn’t get it.  Even when Jesus did announce the plan, they didn’t get it.

But they did use His words against Him.

When He was on trial, Matthew 26 says, “…two false witnesses came forward and said, ‘This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”

They used these same words against Him while He was on the cross, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

But you know what?  I think we do the same thing today.

We lack understanding.  We don’t see God’s plan, so we say dumb things like, “If You are really God, You’ve got to do thus and so.”

And it doesn’t seem all that unreasonable.  To tell Jesus to come off the cross if He’s the Son of God is not all that unreasonable.  But it is ignorant of God’s plans.

Much of the time we are ignorant of God’s plans, and that’s where this word “trust” comes in.

When Jesus told Peter to put his sword away, He was saying “trust Me.”

When Jesus told Peter to go back in the water and let down the nets, even though Peter had fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus was saying “trust Me.”

And Peter did trust Him.  At one point, when a bunch of fair-weather followers left Jesus, He turned and said to His disciples, “Do you want to leave, too?”

Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Peter didn’t know what all was going on, but he did trust Jesus.  

So what about us?  We also don’t understand what all is going on, but will we trust Jesus?

God has plans, and He’s never been in the habit of revealing them in detail.

But there is something that God is very much in the habit of:  asking us to trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding…”

Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.”

I don’t want to be one who says, “IF You are the Son of God, here’s what You have to do…”

Instead, I want to be one who says, “You ARE the Son of God.  And even though I don’t understand what all is going on, I put my full faith and trust in You.”


May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Take Every Thought Captive

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

There are some things we shouldn’t think about.

That almost sounds un-American, like, “What about my freedom, man?”

But our thoughts, like most everything, if left to themselves, will just meander downward.

I love the imagery of “take every thought captive.”

It means you don’t let your thoughts go anywhere they please.  Captives don’t get that luxury.

The idea comes from Second Corinthians 10:5 where it talks about taking every thought captive and bringing it into the obedience of Christ.

So how do we take every thought captive?

The Bible has some guidelines.  Let’s start with Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”

That knocks out a bunch of the stuff we see online, and a bunch of stuff we hear in gossip.  We shouldn’t think about them because they aren’t excellent or praiseworthy.

It also knocks out a whole category of self-talk, because this also applies to our thoughts about ourselves.  

Some people are in a horrible rut of thinking awful things about themselves, yet Philippians 4:8 says to think on the good things, and Second Corinthians 10:5 wants us to bring all the negative self-talk into the obedience of Christ, who loves us and wants the best for us.

So I recommend memorizing Philippians 4:8 and bringing all of our thoughts captive into that wonderful, biblical, positive corral.

Here’s another biblical guideline for taking every thought captive:  Philippians 3:13.  It says to forget what is behind.  We are to forget the past and press on toward the future that God has for us.

That knocks out a whole category of thinking that some people never get beyond…those things in the past.  Some people can’t get past that wrong that was done to them, and some people can’t get past that victory way back when, so they end up stuck in the past.  But Philippians 3:13 says to forget what is in the past.  We don’t think about the things in the past.  Instead we press on toward what God is doing now and in the future.

Along this same line is our next guideline found in First Corinthians 13:5.  It says that love keeps no record of wrongs.  That’s another whole category of thinking that we need to take captive for Christ:  all the wrongs that were ever done to us.  We need to stop thinking about them.  And if they come to our mind, we don’t dwell on them.  We take them captive and submit them to Christ who wants us to love our enemies, which is nearly impossible to do as long as we are thinking about how they did us wrong.

Colossians 3:2 tells us to set our minds on things above, on heavenly things, Godly things, holy things.  We take our thoughts captive and train them to think on eternal things, like loving God and loving people, things like God’s Word and God’s plans.

I’ve been talking about my motto of living “Lean and Clean for the King,” and this is a subcategory of that:  keeping our thoughts lean and clean by taking every thought captive for Christ and by not thinking about a bunch of things that don’t do any good anyway.

So, if we’re ready to go to the next level, this is one thing we’re going to have to do:  take every thought captive.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Lean & Clean for the King

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

Lean and clean for the King.

That’s my personal motto.

What does it mean?

It means I want to cut the fat, the dirt, even the dust from my life so I can operate lean and clean for the King, by which I mean King Jesus, the King of Kings.

A serious athlete puts his body in peak condition.  It means cutting some things from his life.

Serious actors go to great lengths to prepare for certain roles.  It means cutting some things from their life.

And serious Christians will cut some things from their life to become all that God wants them to be.

I want to cut the fat from my body so it can be a fully functioning vessel.

I want to cut the fat from my schedule so that my time is used wisely.

I want to cut the fat from my thinking, taking every thought captive, and stopping my brain from running off in every direction.

“But Doug, that sounds like work.  I thought we were saved by grace, not by works.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 literally says that.  We are saved by grace…but then what?

But then keep reading.  It says we are saved BY grace…FOR good works.

What are we supposed to be doing, now that we are saved by grace?

Good works!

And if we want to be great at doing good works, we have to cut the fat, get in shape, and get prepared to run the race.

“But Doug, what about my liberty in Jesus?”

Yes, thank God, we have liberty in Jesus!  

Now look at Galatians 5:13, “…ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Yes, we have liberty, but we don’t sit back on our fat liberty and indulge the flesh.  That’s stupid.  It’s wasteful.  It’s selfish.  

We have been created for good works.  We have been called to love and serve one another.  

That is the race.  It’s the high calling.  It’s the most fulfilling.  It’s what we were made to do from the foundation of the world.

And to do it, we need to get in shape for it.  We need to cut the extraneous, the bloated, the unruly, the undisciplined parts of our life and bring it all under submission, in humility, through His grace, and for His glory.

And for me, I sum up the whole process in this one little phrase.

Lean and clean for the King.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Why Did Christians Threaten John Lennon?

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

Why did Christians threaten John Lennon?

He was a 20-something year old pop star for the Beatles in the 1960’s when he made an offhanded comment about Jesus.  

It stirred up the ire of many Christians, even to the point of John Lennon getting threats, even death threats.

Why would Christians threaten John Lennon?

Maybe they were thinking, “Who does he think he is, making cracks about our Lord and Savior?  We can’t let him get away with it.”

Interestingly, we find a similar story in the Bible.

In Luke chapter 9, Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, and they were going through various towns.

Verse 52 says, “…and as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans...”

So the disciples enter this Samaritan village and guess what happens.  They reject Him.  They don’t want Jesus coming to their town.

I can see why the disciples would be angry.  Jesus does nothing but good everywhere He goes, and you reject Him?  How dare you!

And that’s what some Christians were saying to John Lennon in the 60’s.  How dare you!

Back to Luke chapter 9, the disciples James and John are so angry that they go up to Jesus and say, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

Wow.  That’s not just a little threat on a single perpetrator.  That’s a threat to wipe out a whole town.

And Jesus responds accordingly.  He turns on them and rebukes them and says, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

That’s a lesson we all need to learn.  What do we do when someone speaks badly about Jesus, or about the faith, or the Bible, or the church?  

We love them.  We speak the truth in love to them.  We treat them honorably as humans made in God’s image.  We shine the light and hope and peace of Jesus.

And one thing we don’t do is threaten them, because Jesus did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.

Did all the threats on John Lennon lead anywhere close to saving him?  

Do any threats we might make today lead anyone anywhere close to salvation?

The goals of Jesus are redemption, salvation, freedom, hope, and a right relationship with God.

And these do not come from threats.

So how did the story in Luke chapter 9 end?  Verse 56 simply says, “And they went to another village.”

And that’s the lesson for us.  If someone is speaking ill of Jesus, we don’t threaten them.  We don’t get all worked up about it.  Jesus didn’t.  What He did get worked up about was His own followers making threats against those who reject Him.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

This is what should be shining through all of God’s people out to everyone, even to celebrities who make less than positive comments about Jesus.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

What Do You Do Best?

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

What do you do best?

Do it for God.

Those things you are good at, even if they don’t seem to be “churchy,” offer them up to God as an offering.  

“Lord, I offer this up to You.  I love You so much, and I’m so grateful for everything.”

I’m not talking about anything sinful, of course, but I am talking about the host of things that people are good at besides preaching or teaching or singing or whatever else is on the short list of obvious Christian ministries.

What if you are good at computer coding? 

What if you’re good at auto mechanics?

What if you’re good at sewing?

What are you good at?

Do it for God.

First Corinthians 10:31 says whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.

Colossians 3:17 says whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father.

Colossians 3:23 says whatever we do, we should do it with all of our heart, and do it for the Lord.

Romans 12:11 says never be lazy, never be lacking in zeal, work hard, keep your spiritual fervor, and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

So what do you do best?

Do it for God.

Are you gifted in certain ways?  You’re better at some things than others, right?  Where did those aptitudes come from?

James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in heaven.

If you have a good gift, God gave it to you, and the best thing to do is to offer it back to Him as an offering, as a sacrifice of praise, using it for His glory, growing it for His glory, blessing other people with it, for His glory.

That seems obvious with the more churchy gifts, but it’s less obvious with the rest.

When my kids were in a Christian elementary school, the parents all pitched in, and one job I took was cleaning the bathrooms every Tuesday and Thursday night.  I figured it was a disgusting job (it was) and that one gift God had given me was that I don’t mind doing disgusting jobs.  

So I did it, I did it well, and I offered it up to God as an offering.  I prayed for the kids and the school while I cleaned.  And I especially remember one night when God’s presence just overwhelmed me.  I was cleaning a toilet, and tears of joy rolled down my face.  I felt so full in my soul.  God did it, and I think He did it because I was offering my best to Him, even in a humble, non-church situation.

What do you do best?

Do it for God.

Offer it up to Him as a sacrifice of praise.

Busy with small children, changing diapers, cleaning up messes, doing laundry?  Do your best.  Do it as unto the Lord.  Do it for Him and watch Him fill your soul.

If you don’t know what you do best, ask around.  Ask your family, your friends, anyone who knows you, and soon enough you’ll get the picture.  

Then take that and grow it, work it, expand it, make it great, and all the while offer it up to Him, back to Him, with thanksgiving and praise.

So I’ll leave you with this question to ponder, one more time.  

What do you do best?

Then do it…for God.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Christians Should Stop Saying This

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

Cringey statements.

We’ve all made them.  We’ve all heard them.

Cringey statements are those things we say that make other people cringe, and they often make US cringe when we think about them later.

Here is a statement I hear Christians say sometimes.

“I love them…but I don’t like them.”

I get the point.  You’re talking about a person who says or does things you don’t like, but as a Christian, we’re supposed to love them, so what do we say?  “I love them, but I don’t like them.”

But you know what?  No one is feeling the love here.  “You love me, but you don’t like me?”  I’m not feeling it.

“Well Doug, how can I like someone who is so unlikeable?”

Look.  As Christians we don’t divide the world into the likeable and the unlikeable.  That would be terrible.

God wants us to love people, all people, every single person.  We can walk down the street and in our mind say, “I love that guy and that guy and that guy.  I love her and her and her…all of them…likeable and unlikeable…agreeable and disagreeable…every single person.”

That is God’s calling and His desire for us…to love one another, to love our neighbor, to even love our enemy.

Love is the natural state for God’s people, but we pile on so much baggage that it almost becomes unrecognizable.

Like when we talk about “liking” someone.  This isn’t the first grade playground.  “I don’t like Joey because he’s mean.”

As grown up Christians, we’re supposed to love people, even mean people, and God has put inside of us all the love in the universe in the form of His Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love.  

So do we just ignore all the mean things people do?

No, but we need to separate their actions from their being.  We can dislike, even hate their actions.  And yes, there comes a time when we can’t be around someone, when they are so corrupt that they will suck us into their vortex if we get too close.

So we abhor those actions, but the person is someone made in the image of God, whom God loves, whom Jesus died for, and the Holy Spirit inside of us wants to love them through us.

So we stop making the cringey statement, “I love them, but I don’t like them.”  No one’s feeling it.  If there’s any love there at all, it is nearly unrecognizable.

But here is something we can say instead, and it really is a powerful, biblical, positive and loving statement.  

Instead of saying, “I love you, but I don’t like you,” we can say this.

“I love you, and I want God’s best for you.”

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.