Friday, August 19, 2022

The Night the Jesus Girl Called Her Drug Dealer

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

Cindy’s fiancĂ© died in a workplace accident.

She was a dedicated Christian, but the loss was immense.

Her family was worried about her and how she would cope.

In her B.C. life, Before Christ, she relied on cocaine.

Now that life was in the past.

Or was it?

One night the pain was so great, she picked up the phone and called her former drug dealer.

He said, “Wait a minute.  I thought you were some kind of ‘Jesus Girl’ now.  I’m not selling to you.”

She said, “Look, I’ve got cash.  You’ve got drugs.  This is how it works.”

He said, “Did you know that your dad threatened anyone who ever sold you drugs again?”

She did not know that.

Then he said, “Cindy, what you need to do right now is get down on your knees and ask God to help you.”

She said, “You’re a drug dealer.  What are you doing, telling me to pray?”

She hung up the phone, more determined than ever, and walked out the door to go find some drugs wherever she could.

What she didn’t know was that God was working behind the scenes.

Earlier that evening, Cindy’s friend was across town, praying.

Then her friend felt like God was telling her to do something kind of weird.

In her prayer time, God told her that she needed to go spend the night with Cindy.

So she packed up her pajamas, her sleeping bag and a pillow and headed over there.

Right when Cindy was walking out the door, determined to hit the street and find some drugs, there was her friend, walking up the sidewalk, ready to spend the night, not even knowing that Cindy was right on the verge of a great fall.

God sent a friend to help Cindy right at her time of great need.


Who is God sending you to today?


May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

*This testimony is included in a GriefShare video, and you can find out more about GriefShare here:  https://www.griefshare.org/


Friday, July 29, 2022

How I Memorize Scripture

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

“I can’t memorize!”

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

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

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

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

By memorizing.

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

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

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

One new verse per weekday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then I did the book of Colossians the same way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Monday, July 25, 2022

Jim Dandy Billy Goat

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

“Don’t say holy cow.”

“No, not holy mackerel, either.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Wednesday, July 06, 2022

My Bucket List

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

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

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

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

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

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

And behind him is a sheep, one solitary sheep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God bless you today.


I’m Doug Apple.

 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

How to Make Yourself Good Soil

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

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

But how?

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

I want to be one who gets it!

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

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

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

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

But how?

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

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

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

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

Humility will make you good soil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tink, tink, tink.  

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

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

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

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

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

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Four Keys for Living Close to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number one:  repentance.

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

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

Number two:  draw near to God.

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

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

Number three is:  listen for Him to communicate.

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

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

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

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

Here are three catalysts for hearing from God:

--His scripture

--His people

--His creation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--repent of sin

--draw near to God

--listen for Him to communicate

--do what He says.

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

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Friday, June 17, 2022

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

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

I remember going out on Friday nights with high expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Friday, June 10, 2022

The Matthew 6:6 Principle

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

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

I call it The Matthew 6:6 Principle.

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

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

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

I want that, don’t you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeking God is more like planting a seed.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Father in heaven will reward us. 

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Monday, May 30, 2022

You Don't Know What's In It

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

“Someone passed me a joint at Lollapalooza.”

That’s what the young man said.  He had gone to the big festival in Chicago to check out the scene. 

“Did you smoke it?”

“No,” he said.  “I don’t know whose mouth had been on that thing.”

Good point.  But I was thinking about a bigger point.  

You don’t know what’s in it.

A stranger hands you something to put in your body.  What’s a good reason not to?

You don’t know what’s in it.

And this is true for so many things in life.  We make decisions based on assumptions and limited knowledge, but so much of the time, we don’t know what’s in it.

Should I go to this school?

Should I take this new job?

Should I move to that other place?

Should I date this other person?

We can do our research.   We can list the pros and cons, but in end, we just don’t know what all is in it.

Think of the young woman sitting in the bar, talking to the cute guy who just handed her a drink.  She doesn’t know what’s in it…what’s in the drink…or what’s in the guy.

This is why we seek to be led by the Holy Spirit in every area of life, because we don’t know what’s in it.  We don’t know what’s around the corner.  We don’t know what the future holds.  We don’t know how our decisions will impact our own life, let alone generations to come.

Jesus told a story, The Parable of the Rich Fool.  His farm was producing tremendous crops, far more than he needed.  What should he do?  He decided to build more barns to store up his crops.  He said to himself, “You have many goods laid up for many years…eat, drink, and be merry!”  

But he didn’t know what was in it.  He didn’t know what was right around the corner.

Luke 12:20 says, “But God said to him, ‘Fool!  This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be…?’”

The future:  we don’t know what’s in it, but God does.  He can lead us through the mine field of life.  He can give us the wisdom we need.  

Romans 8:14 talks about being led by the Spirit of God.  Galatians 5 talks about being led by the Spirit and walking in the Spirit.  

In John 14:26, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things.

Colossians 2:3 says that in God are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

So when the grass looks greener on the other side, be careful.  You don’t know what’s in it. 

When you envy someone else’s life, be careful. You don’t know what’s in it. 

When you wish you could win the lottery, be careful. You don’t know what’s in it. 

So we pray.  We seek God diligently.  We study what Jesus said.  We find wisdom in many counselors.  We walk circumspectly.

Because like that peaceful-looking jungle you drive by on vacation…

Like the serene water around your boat in the ocean…

Like the joint you get handed at Lollapalooza. 

You don’t know what’s in it. 

But God does.  

And He will lead us as we surrender to Him.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Friday, May 13, 2022

You're Gonna Need a Bigger Pot

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

Take an apple seed from the next apple you eat.

Plant it in a little pot on your desk.

How long until you are eating apples?

Just guess.  You don’t have to be a botanist.  A year?  Five years?  Ten years?

Well here’s your answer.  Never.

You will never be eating apples from the seed planted in the little pot on your desk.

Why not?

Because it doesn’t matter how great the seed is.  It doesn’t matter if it gets the perfect amount of water and the perfect amount of sunlight and it’s in the perfect soil.  You will never be eating apples from it.

Why not?

Because the pot is too little.  It can’t grow a proper root base so the growth is stunted.

And that’s where your Christian walk might be right now.

Stunted.

Stuck in a tiny pot.

Unable to bear much fruit.

So what can you do?

You’re gonna need a bigger pot.

What does that mean?

It means you’re going to have to spend more time with God.

In John 15 Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

What does it mean to “abide” in Jesus?  It means to live with Him, to stay with Him, to spend time with Him, to walk with Him.

Are you spending time with God?  Do you have a prayer time, a devotional time, a Bible study time?  Or let me call it this:  abiding time.

The root system of our spiritual life is our relationship with God.  When that root system is strong “below ground” so to speak, then we will quite naturally bear the fruit of the Spirit above ground.

But if your pot is too small, in other words, if you aren’t spending much time with God, then the root system of your spiritual life becomes “root bound,” and your growth is stunted.

So how to unstunt your growth?

Spend more time with God.

I teach what I call The Matthew 6:6 Principle.  Follow this principle and your spiritual life will grow.

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

This means get alone with God, shut out the distractions, and commune with Him.  Talk to Him.  Pray for things.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving.  Open up the Bible and ask Him to teach you.

All of these things while committing time alone with God are going to build your root base.  You are doing the root work, and your tree is going to grow and bear much fruit over time.

So if you find your walk with God stunted or stuck or even going backwards, well, you’re gonna need a bigger pot.  You’re going to have to increase your time with God.

You need to nail down a time and a place to regularly, consistently draw near to God, knowing that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Your next level of growth is right here, ready for you!

But to get it, you’re gonna need a bigger pot.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Friday, April 29, 2022

A Case for Christian Bumper Stickers

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

“What do you think about those little Christian fishes people put on their cars?”

I like ‘em.

“Why?  Who cares?”

Well, here’s why, and I can sum it all up in one word:  acknowledge.

Acknowledge basically means to accept something and to announce it.

I can accept that my wife is a better ping pong player, but if I never announce it, then I’ve never acknowledged it.

So this is why I like Christian fishes, and Christian bumper stickers and Christian t-shirts and a host of other Christian things that some people mock and scorn and disdain.

I like them because they are a simple way to acknowledge God.  

When a Christian athlete points upwards in a reverent “thank You,” he is acknowledging God.

When a Christian press secretary stands on the podium very purposefully wearing a gold cross necklace, she is acknowledging God.

When I go to the gym wearing my “Lean and Clean for the King” t-shirt, I am acknowledging God.

Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him…”

I’ve been studying through Hosea in the NIV and the word acknowledge shows up in some powerful ways, mostly prophetic proclamations that God’s people are refusing to acknowledge Him.

Hosea 2:8 says that they did not acknowledge that God is the one who gave them their grain and new wine and oil, and in fact they used those very items to worship the false god Baal instead.

Hosea 5:4 says, “A spirit of prostitution is in their heart: they do not acknowledge the Lord.”

In Luke 12:8 Jesus said, “Whoever publicly acknowledges Me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.”

In both John 9 and John 14 we are told about people who actually believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but because they didn’t want to be persecuted, they refused to acknowledge Jesus.

The Bible says that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, or acknowledge, that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Why wait until then?  I want to acknowledge it now. 

I want to acknowledge God in all my ways, and then He will direct my paths.

I’ll do it in big ways, like right now, on the radio.

And I’ll do it in small ways, like making my own phone case with something about God on it.

So yes, I’m all about these little Christian items, no matter what anyone else thinks of them, because I’m thinking of them from this one angle.

It’s one very simple way for us to acknowledge God.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Just Give Me One Thing to Do

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

“Just give me one thing to do,” she said.

We were talking about Christianity and faith in God and salvation, you know, all the basics of the Gospel.

She wasn’t sure if she believed it, but she wanted to.

I said, “God created the universe, and He created people in His image.”

She said, “Okay, I don’t have any problems with that.”

I said, “So He created Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden of Eden and they had great freedom, but they had one rule, and they broke it.”

She was familiar with the story.

I said, “So sin came into the world, and it became a barrier between us and God, because God is holy.  So Jesus came and shed His blood and died and rose again, paying the price for our sin, and now through Jesus we can remove the barrier of sin that separates us from God.”

We talked about belief and repentance and forgiveness, and she said, “Okay, let’s say I’ve done that.  What does God really want from me?”

I said, “God wants to have a relationship with you,” and I brought up Micah 6:8 where it says, “What does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”

I said, “God wants to walk with us, to be with us, to have a relationship with us.  Because He is Spirit, that makes it different, but that’s what Micah 6:8 says He wants, for us to walk with Him, which basically means to live in fellowship with Him.”

She said, “Okay, the Bible has like a thousand things for me to do.  Can you give me just one that I can focus on?  Just give me one thing to do.”

I said, “Okay, here is one thing, just one simple thing you can do, every day.  Just thank God.  And I don’t mean just have a thankful attitude.  I mean talk to Him and literally say, “God, I thank You for…whatever.  Thank Him you can walk and talk.  Thank Him you can breathe.  Thank Him you can eat.  Thank Him for your shoes.  You can thank Him for anything.”

Psalm 100 verse 4 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving…”

First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God…”

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed today, or you don’t know what God wants from you, and you just wish there was one thing you could focus on, here’s a good one.

If, like this woman, you would say to me, “Just give me one thing to do,” here it is.

Talk directly to God and tell Him “Thank You” for all the things you are thankful for.

This is our personal relationship with God, and one of the most important things to be said in every personal relationship is this, and it’s so simple.

Just say, “Thank You.”

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Adventures in Loving People

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

We know we are supposed to love people, but how?

Love one another.  Love your neighbor.  Even love your enemy, but how?

Do we just work harder at it?  

Do we need a new book, “Five Fantastic Strategies for Loving People More in Just Five Days!”

I want to propose a new way, a better way, and it starts with this:  I don’t know how to love people.

Oh, I can think of ways to love people more, but is that really what they need?  Are my ideas the best ideas?  No.

So the question remains.  We are supposed to love people, but how?

Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of the Spirit is love.

The Holy Spirit will quite naturally bear the fruit of love as we do what it says in verse 16, “walk in the Spirit.”  And verse 18 talks about being “led by the Spirit.”  

So we will love people more when we are led by the Holy Spirit.

So how can we “walk in the Spirit” and be “led by the Spirit” in order to bear the “fruit of the Spirit”?

Imagine a large, healthy tree with beautiful green leaves.  Now imagine looking underground and seeing the humongous root system supporting that tree.

That root system is like our relationship with God.  As we tend to the root system of our relationship with God, then the tree of our lives will quite naturally be healthy and fruitful.

This means that if we spend time with God, what I’m calling “doing the root work,” then we will quite naturally begin to love people more, because that is the fruit of the Spirit.

What would happen if you planted an apple seed in a small pot?  It would start to grow, but the growth would be stunted because the roots would have no room.

For many of us, our personal time alone with God is the tiny pot.  If we want our relationship with God to grow, we need to make room by spending more time with Him.

In Matthew 6 Jesus said that when you pray, go into your room, shut your door, and pray to your Father.  This means get alone with God.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving.  Pray.  Talk.  Worship.  Sing.  Read the Bible.  Intercede.  Even just sit before Him in silence.

You can call it your devotional time, your prayer time, your abiding time, your extravagant daily time with Jesus.  Call it whatever you want.  These days I’m calling it “doing the root work.”

The point is to expand your time alone with God as a way of expanding your root base.  When you do this, your root system will grow stronger, and out of this, quite naturally and even effortlessly, you will bear more fruit of the Spirit, and that includes loving people.

So how to love people more?  Don’t worry about working harder at it or developing new strategies for it.

Instead, begin to spend more time alone with God, and as your relationship with God grows, so will your love for all people, because He will do it.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would teach us all things, and that includes how to love people.

So do the root work!  Get alone with God and let the adventures in loving people begin!

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.

 

Thursday, April 07, 2022

It's Better Than Fun. It's Rewarding.

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

Fun was my gold standard growing up.

Everything was measured by how fun it was.

“How was school today?”

“Boring.”

“How was the birthday party?”

“Fun!”

“Would you like to go visit Grandma?”

“Does she have any new toys?”

Yes, it was the old days when we were kicked outside all summer, but I can tell you we weren’t looking for work.  We were looking for ways to have fun.

That’s not so bad when you’re a kid, but when you hit the teenage years it starts to get a little thorny.

I was not a great athlete, but I loved playing sports.  PLAYING sports, not WORKING sports.

“Okay, you wanna play on the basketball team?  Time to run around the gym 500 times.”

“What???  Where’s the fun in that?”

“You need to get a job.”

“Where’s the fun in that?”

“You know, you should try to be friends with that guy over there.  He’s new in town.”

“Yeah, but he’s not very fun.”

Good Lord in heaven, if I could only go back in time and take out some of the stupid, I might have been a halfway decent person.

But thank the good Lord in heaven that He reached down and saved me from myself.

And one thing He radically changed is my value system.  I moved away from valuing everything (and everyone) by how much fun it was.

I began to grow into God’s value system, and wow, it was so much better.

Now on the surface, living according to God’s values can seem un-fun, or boring, or even like a lot of work, and for what?

So I want to share with you this one catchy little line that you can use on yourself, or on anyone else who says living for God doesn’t sound very fun.

You can say this:  Fun?  It’s better than fun.  It’s rewarding!

Yes, there is something better than fun.  It’s when something is rewarding.

Man, I sure missed that point in all my growing up years.  I really didn’t work hard at anything except having fun.  I didn’t work hard at school or sports.  I was in the band and was even halfway decent, but since I didn’t think it was all that fun I hardly worked at it, and that’s a shame.

I didn’t even work hard at work, and that got me fired from a couple of jobs, and I probably deserved to be fired from the others.

But thank God when He grabbed me He also instilled in me a work ethic that just wasn’t there before.

And immediately my life began to bloom and bear good fruit.  My relationships improved across the board.  My grades improved.  My satisfaction level grew.  

I was no longer measuring everything by how fun it was.  I wasn’t even thinking about that anymore.  I had a whole new set of measurements to live by, and they were astoundingly better.  

I could go on and on about this, but I’ll just leave you with this one catchy little phrase.

If you ever hear that little voice that says, “Living by God’s values?  That sure doesn’t sound very fun,” you can have this trusty answer at the ready.

It’s better than fun.  It’s rewarding.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

You Are Not Your Body

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

You are not your body.

You have been given a body to steward.

You are not your body.

You have been placed by God into a body, and one day soon you will leave that body.

You are not your body, and that means your worth, your value, your self-esteem, your identity are not wrapped up in your body.  Your worth, your value, your identity all come from our Creator God, our Father in heaven, and He values you highly.

Listen to this.  America’s founding fathers talked about our inalienable rights.  Well, you have inalienable value.  Your value is solid, unmovable, eternal as a creation of God, and it doesn’t matter what has happened to your body.

You are not your body.

You have been given a body to steward.

Maybe you don’t think it’s the best body.  You should be taller, prettier, stronger, faster, better.

Well, guess what.  The most beautiful people in the world all wake up one day and look in the mirror and say, “Oh my God, what happened?”  And they probably aren’t praying to God when they say it, but they should be, because He has a message for them.

You are not your body.

You have been given a body to steward.

Yes, I keep saying this steward thing.  What am I talking about?

Our body is like any other gift from God.  He gave it, like raw materials, and He expects us to use it for His glory and for the good of His creation.

In radio I work with voices, all kinds of voices.  I wish I had a dollar for every person who said, “I don’t have a good voice.”  I tell them, “You have the perfect voice.  You have the voice God gave you, and now you are the steward of that voice, called to improve it and grow it and use it for His glory and for the blessing of others.”

Are you getting older and not liking what you’re seeing?  Don’t worry or stress about that for one more minute.  Take what you have and steward it the best you can.

A steward is not the owner.  A steward is a manager, responsible for handling something well on behalf of the owner.

We are to be good stewards of our body.  Yes, eat right and exercise.  Yes, take care of your teeth.  Yes, stop smoking or taking drugs or whatever thing that’s bad for your body.  That’s bad stewardship.

Yes, try to look good, but not for ego’s sake.  You try to look good because God has called us to beauty and order and function.

“Well, Doug, I guess my body was built more for function than beauty.”

Well praise God for it!  But keep in mind that you are not your body.  Your identity and self-esteem should not ride one minute on how your shell looks on the outside compared to all the other shells walking around on the planet.  That is a losing proposition for every single one of us.

Another thought:  if you were to tragically lose a limb in an accident, how much of you would be left?  All of you would be left because you are not your body.  You are still 100% you, even if your body loses some of its abilities.  And your value to God is still 100%, never forget that.

Second Corinthians chapter 5 talks a lot about our body, this “tent,” this “tabernacle” in which we dwell for a while.  Then verse 8 talks about the day when Christians will be “absent from the body” and “present with the Lord.”

First Corinthians chapter 6 talks a lot about our body, and the last verse concludes, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body…and in your spirit…”

Your spirit is you, the real you.  Or you might call it your soul.  Different people define these words in different ways, but my main point is this.

You are not your body, so whatever there is about your body that you don’t like, don’t fret about it.  Don’t think less of yourself.  You are of the most extreme value to God your creator.

He gave you this body and He wants you to use it, to make the most of it, being the best steward of this wonderful gift.

“But Doug, I was born in the wrong body gender.”

No, God put you in the exactly the right body gender.

“But Doug, I have feelings of attraction that go against what the Bible says is right.”

Well, maybe your feelings are lying to you.

God has given us the framework for living in this body and for interacting with the rest of His creation.  

Then First Corinthians 5 talks about what will happen when we leave this body.  Verses 9 and 10 say that we should try to please God while we are living in this body, because one day we will leave this body and appear before the judgment seat of Christ where there will be an accounting for the things done in the body, “whether good or bad.”

So your body is of great value to God, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.  And He is watching us closely to see what we will do with this incredible gift.

Another great thing would be if we would stop valuing other people based on their appearance.  But that’s another lesson for another day.

For now, just soak up the powerful truth of these two statements.

You are not your body.

You have been given a body to steward.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.


Thursday, February 24, 2022

What Does It Mean to Put Off the Old Man?

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

“I want you to do a self-test over the next week.”

That was the assignment from our Sunday school teacher Rodney Rowland.

“I want you to observe your thoughts and see how much of the time you are spiritually-minded compared to how much of the time you are carnally-minded.”

So I did it, and the results surprised me.

Here is what I discovered about myself, that many times my first thought on a matter was carnally-minded.  In other words, it came from the sin nature, the selfish nature, the flesh, the old man.  It was unredeemed thinking.  

But then the carnal mind was overcome by the spiritual mind.  It was redeemed thinking.  I would say it was the Holy Spirit rising up within me and giving me truth and light and understanding.

That brings me to this Bible verse, Ephesians 4:22, which says, “…put off…the old man…”

What does that mean, to put off the old man?

“Wait a minute, Doug.  I’m a saved, born again Christian.  Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.  Why should I have to put off the old man?  I thought he was already gone.”

Ephesians was written to “…the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus.”  They were certainly redeemed, born again children of God, and yet Ephesians 4:22 tells them to put off the old man.

Other versions of Ephesians 4:22 say it like this:

“…throw off your old sinful nature…” (NLT)

“…put off your old self…” (NIV)

“…lay aside the old self…” (NASB)

So the old self is still there, trying to sneak in with his stupid thoughts, but thank God the Holy Spirit is also there, speaking truth and life!

The question is, which nature are we going to let govern?

I like that word “govern.”  It shows up in Romans 8:6 where it says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (NIV)

So what does it mean to put off the old man?  It means don’t listen to him.  It means ignore his input.  It means don’t let him govern, because the old man is going to take you downward.

Instead, we listen to the voice of the Holy One!  His sheep hear His voice!  He redeems our thinking and brings us to the place of wisdom. 

One final thought:  I’ve noticed that putting off the old man is not a one-time job, like taking off an old shirt and throwing it in a fire.  

I guess the old man will still be with us as long as we are in these bodies of flesh, but the good news is that, through Jesus, we are no longer slaves to sin!  We have been set free from sin so that we can follow God and walk in His ways that lead to life and peace and holiness, bearing all the good fruit of the Spirit we read about in Galatians 5:22-23.

So we put off the old man.  We do it daily, even moment by moment, as we see him raise his ugly head and tell us some great idea he has, only to be obliterated by the Holy One who rises up within us and says, “That’s a terrible idea, don’t do it.”  

And when we don’t do the terrible idea, but instead follow God and His ways….THAT is how we put off the old man.

May God bless you today.

I’m Doug Apple.