Monday, March 29, 2021

Take Every Thought Captive

(Click to listen)

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

(Click to listen)

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?

(Click to listen)

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?

(Click to listen)

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.