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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Watch for the Symbolism

My Children's Literature class has just finished reading "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis. At the close of our study, we had a long discussion about the symbolism contained within the story. It's truly amazing and easily missed the first time one reads through it. If you have not yet read the Narnia series, I urge you to please read it. The symbolism throughout each of the books is eye-opening.

One of the most powerful scenes to me, however, is not in one of the books, but in one of the movies. In the movie, "Prince Caspian," there is a scene that gives me chills each time I see it. The scene goes something like this:

When things don't go well for Caspian and his army, some of his men try to talk him into tapping into a greater power. Aslan (the symbol of Christ) has not yet made his appearance, so the army (all but Lucy) has pretty much given up hope of his return. Caspian decides to call forth this greater power, not realizing that the power is in the form of the White Witch (the symbol of Satan). She comes forth encased in a great wall of ice that extends from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. To be freed, she must have one drop of human blood. She extends her hand and calls for Caspian to come close. At first, he resists, but soon her charm and magic overwhelm him, and he begins to move toward her. The High King Peter comes rushing in and pushes Caspian out of the witch's reach. Before he realizes what is happening, Peter, too, is under the witch's spell and is reaching out to her. Just before they touch, the blade of a sword appears in the middle of the ice, causing it to crack and then shatter. Edmund (the initial traitor) is standing there with sword in hand. He was not to be bewitched again. As Peter and Caspian stare at the place where the ice and White Witch had been, they are shocked to see the stone drawing/carving of Aslan on the wall. He had been blocked from their view by the White Witch. All is quiet. The moment is sobering.

Isn't that how Satan works in our lives. When God isn't working as fast as we think He should, we go looking for other options. Satan will certainly provide those options. Not only that, but he will get us so focused on those other ideas that we lose all sight of God and His will for our lives. We become distracted and sidetracked. In the end, we're so far away from where God wants us to be, and we probably missed out on the blessing we could have had if we had only waited for Him to work.

Each time I see that scene in the movie, I bow my head and ask God to forgive me for all the times I go my own way. I don't want to be distracted. I want to follow Him and to wait for Him.

Again, I urge you to read through the Narnia series and also watch the movies. While they don't completely follow the books, they are quite close and still contain a great deal of symbolism.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stroke of Faith

I would like to share with you a story I read the other day that really touched me. It is a good reminder to all of us that all things are possible if we'll just have faith. I hope you enjoy this story and that it will bless you as much as it did me.

My family spent one summer vacation enjoying the beaches of beautiful Gulfshores, Alabama. My oldest daughter was about 6 years old and the youngest was 3. We bought a two-man inflatable boat thinking this would make for a really fun day at the beach for the two girls. And so it did, they played all day the two of them in that boat. But the little one got tired and was beginning to look pretty pink with too much sun. So, I took her to our spot on the sand and placed an umbrella over her as my older girl continued to play in the boat. I probably became a little too involved with my younger daughter and spent a little too much time not noticing what was going on the small distance to the water. But as I looked I became concerned as I saw the little boat with my oldest daughter in it had moved far out from the shore and was moving even further. I called to her to come in closer to shore, and she seemed to be frightened and doing all she could to accomplish just that. But the thing we hadn't thought to buy for the boat were any oars. Her little arms were too short to reach across the boat and into the water. All she could do was paddle hard to one side and was just making small circles. About this time, others on the beach are noticing this little girl so far out but no one seems to be doing anything but watching. I'm standing as far out in the water as I can - shouting instructions to her with no success. There's a sailboat of teenagers not far from her, who start her way and then flip their boat. I stood watching her go farther out - then looked to Heaven and confessed to God "Lord I don't believe you gave me this beautiful child for me to watch her float out to sea. Lord, you know I am a pitiful swimmer but somehow Lord I'm trusting You to get me out there". And so went my prayer. The first stroke of my arm seemed to be in slow motion, I couldn't believe I was doing this. I swam until I no longer knew or could feel that I had legs. But I just kept praying and keeping my eyes on her. I saw my arm somehow operating on its own hook over the edge of that small boat and began making my way back pulling her and calming her, when everything inside me was screaming. We made it back to shore and even got some applause but my life was forever changed by that experience. I learned we don't always have to operate on our own strength. But, if we can trust enough and take that first stroke we have all the strength we need. I must say it changed my daughter's life too. She hates boats! But I hope she has gained more than that in the retelling of the story. She's 22 years old now and graduates from college this May. I see her horizons as limitless and I know with her faith she can go wherever God leads.

A very special thank you to our friend Nita for sharing this powerful story with us in our Real-Life Story Forum.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Through or Around?

On Saturday, Jason, the dogs, and I hiked to the top of Little Pinnacle Mountain. I have news for you: Little Pinnacle Mountain is NOT so little. Wow, it was a tough climb, but the views (especially with the fall foliage) were well worth it. It was a gorgeous day, and the colors were simply indescribable!

As we began, we knew that Mitch would have no trouble with the hike. In fact, we were pretty sure he would leave us in his dust (which is precisely what happened). We were, however, a little concerned about Tippy making the trek. After all, she is going on ten years old and has some arthritis in her back legs. But we decided to give it a try, and if it looked like she was struggling, we would just turn back.

She did surprisingly well. She was tired and couldn't even come close to keeping up with Mitch (who could?), but she seemed to have something to prove. She was determined to do the hike and to do it with as little help as possible.

There were several places where she just had to have help (me too). There were steps that were waist high on me, so obviously, these were beyond her ability. Jason would give her a boost, and she would continue on her way. The funny thing was watching her try to work her way around some of the obstacles. She would go so far off to get around something that she would be completely off the trail and usually headed in the wrong direction. Eventually, we'd have to get her back on the trail and help her around the initial obstacle. So while she thought she was finding a better way around, she was actually just making more work for herself.

After several times of this, Jason laughed and commented, "She would never be able to stay on a trail if she were by herself. She goes so far off track to avoid the obstacles that she ends up going the wrong direction. She'd find herself lost within a matter of minutes."

His comment hit home with me. How often do I do the same thing? Instead of allowing God to help me through or over the obstacles of life, I seek my own way around them. As a result, I find myself lost, confused, and heading in the wrong direction. The really bad part is that, like Tippy, I'm just making extra work for myself because in the end, I have to face the obstacle again. I didn't avoid it. I just prolonged my agony.

There are some obstacles in life that we just can't avoid, so we have two options. We can allow God to strengthen us and "give us a boost" to overcome those obstacles, or we can wander around in the darkness searching for a way around the obstacle. By the midpoint of the hike, Tippy had figured out which way is better. When will we?

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Greatest Writer of All Time

In our day and age, we have the distinct privilege of reading the works of some of the finest authors of all time. We work our way through the work of Edgar Allen Poe, and the hair on the back of our necks takes on a life of its own. We allow C.S. Lewis to pull us into a magical land of mystery and the battle against good and evil. We travel along with Frodo as J.R.R. Tolkien paints the picture of a dangerous quest where the hopes of the entire world rest on the shoulders of one young hobbit. And on and on the list goes. Writers who have such a way with words that they literally pull us into other worlds, leaving all reality behind. Yes, we are indeed blessed.

But when I think of the world's greatest writer, my mind goes beyond the books on my bookshelf. In fact, my mind goes beyond the limits of this Earth, for my favorite writer is truly out of this world. If there were an award for the greatest writer of all time, the award would go to God. The Bible alone would win Him this title, but His written works go beyond even that.

Words of Command

In Exodus 20, God gave Moses the rules by which He desired His people to live. Not only would these rules ensure order, but they would keep the people safe if they were obeyed. God did not take these rules lightly, so they were engraved on a stone tablet which symbolizes stability and longevity.

Words of Condemnation

In Daniel 5, God wrote on the wall in the midst of King Belshazzar's party. The message of warning was "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN." The meaning was as follows: MENE-God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL-Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting; PERES-Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. King Belshazzar was a wicked man and made some very bad choices. Through the writing on the wall, God was reminding everyone present (as well as all who would read it in the future) that sin will be dealt with.

Words of Compassion

In John 8, a group of men brought an adulterous woman to Jesus. They threw the woman before Jesus and questioned Him whether or not she should be stoned. "After all," they said, "Moses' law says that's what we should do." They were using God's own words to try to trick Jesus. How foolish! Without a word, Jesus stooped down and wrote something in the sand. The men continued to complain, so Jesus stood up and said, "Fine. Whichever of you is sinless may cast the first stone." Then He stooped down and wrote in the sand again. Silence filled the air. The only sound to be heard wass the woman's heavy breathing and the thud, thud, thud of rocks as the men dropped them to ground and walked away. The Bible doesn't tell us what Jesus wrote that day. It could have been the Ten Commandments. It could have been a list of the accusers' sins. It could have been anything. But I believe with all my heart, whatever the message was, compassion was the central theme.

Words of Conversion

Several places in the Bible, God speaks of a book of life. In fact, the Bible speaks of two different books. While the Bible isn't specific on the description of these two books, from comparing Scripture with Scripture, this is my take on it. One book was written before the foundation of the world, and it contains the name of every person ever to be born. When people ultimately reject Christ as their Savior, their names are blotted out of that book. The other book, I believe, is in a constant state of being written. Each time a soul is saved, that person's name is written in the book. In the end, the books will be identical. You may have your own opinion about the two books, and that's fine. What cannot be denied, however, is that both books are books detailing a conversion or a change. In essence, when we are saved, God writes our pardon, and we become new creatures.

So, you see, while there are many great authors to choose from, in the end, there is really no contest. God is the greatest writer of all time, and the best part is that His words are true and will remain true until the end of time. . . and beyond.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Lord Is . . .

I receive daily e-mails from a man named Doug Apple. Doug has a radio program entitled "Apples of Gold." He sends out his radio scripts (which are devotions) to all those who are signed up on his e-mail list. Today's devotion was such a blessing to me, I just wanted to share it with all of you. I've posted the entire e-mail including Doug's contact information. If you would like to sign up to receive his e-mails, simply send an e-mail to the address below. Enjoy!

Apples of Gold

Radio Script for November 10, 2010

“The Lord Is”

Hello, I’m Doug Apple…with Apples of Gold.

A lot of people say a lot of things about the Lord.

We cast all sorts of attributes onto Him, and if we aren’t careful, we will fashion Him into our own image.

So just who is the Lord, really?

I decided to search the scriptures for this one phrase, “The Lord is.”

So…just sit back and listen as I share with you what I found. According to the Bible, this is what the Lord is.

The Lord is God. (Joshua 22:34)

He is the true God, the living God. (Jeremiah 10:10)

The Lord is God, and there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:35)

The Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below. (Deuteronomy 4:39)

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 40:28)

The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

The Lord is the Spirit. (Second Corinthians 3:17)

The Lord is exalted. (Psalm 138:6)

The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens. (Psalm 113:4)

The Lord is great and greatly to be praised. (First Chronicles 16:25)

The Lord is great in power. (Nahum 1:3)

The Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 34:8)

The Lord is trustworthy. (Psalm 145:13)

The Lord is peace. (Judges 6:24)

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed. (Psalm 9:9)

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. (Psalm 103:8, Psalm 111:4)

The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in mercy. (Numbers 14:18)

The Lord is a God of knowledge. (First Samuel 2:3)

The Lord is upright. (Psalm 92:15)

The Lord is against those who do evil. (First Peter 3:12)

He is a warrior, a God of recompense. (Exodus 15:3, Jeremiah 51:56)

He is a jealous and avenging God. (Nahum 1:2, First Thessalonians 4:6)

The Lord is righteous and just, faithful in all He does and holy in all His works. (Second Chronicles 12:6, Psalm 11:7, Psalm 145:17)

The Lord is my shepherd. (Psalm 23:1)

He is my helper. (Hebrews 13:6)

He is my banner and my portion. (Exodus 17:15, Lamentations 3:24)

The Lord is my defense. (Psalm 94:22)

The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. (Exodus 15:2)

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my strength, my shield and my high tower. (Second Samuel 22:2, Psalm 18:2)

The Lord is my light and my salvation, the strength of life. (Psalm 27:1)

The Lord is our judge, our lawgiver and our king. (Isaiah 33:22)

The Lord is our righteousness. (Jeremiah 33:16)

The Lord is our God. (Second Chronicles 13:10)

He is King for ever and ever. (Psalm 10:16)

The Lord is His name. (Jeremiah 33:2, Amos 5:8)


E-mail me:

May God bless you today! With Apples of Gold…I’m Doug Apple.

© 2010 The Arrow’s Tip
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(Proverbs 25:11 – “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”)

Why “The Arrow’s Tip”? Each morning, after diligently seeking the Lord, I write Apples of Gold. Then before I release it to the public I pray one final prayer, “Lord, send forth your arrows.” I envision Apples of Gold as arrows, tips dipped in the river of the water of life that flows from the throne of God (Rev. 22:1), sailing toward the hearts and minds of men and women around the world.

Doug Apple
General Manager - Wave 94
Christian Radio for Tallahassee
PO Box 4105
Tallahassee, FL 32315
(850) 926-8000

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wait It Out

Yesterday I had the great privilege of stepping in a nice, juicy pile of dog poop. One of the many joys of owning two dogs, I guess. Anyway, I knew the drill. I scraped off what I could in the grass, limped back into the house, and took my shoes off, leaving them just inside the back door. Why didn't I clean them immediately? Because after so many times of stepping in dog poop, I've learned a few things.

One of the most important things I've learned is that poop is much easier to get off the bottom of your shoe after it has dried. If you try to get squishy poop off the bottom of your shoe, you will only succeed in making a bigger mess (and probably making yourself nauseous from the smell). But if you wait until it's dry, it will usually flake right off, and then you can simply rinse off any remaining residue. Now, aren't you glad I gave you that helpful tip?

Often, in life, we face a similar situation. We find ourselves in a mess, and instead of waiting for direction from the Lord, we try to fix the problem immediately. The problem is that we only succeed in making a bigger mess. Our impatience costs us much more trouble. Many times it's better to just wait it out. Pray about the problem. Turn it over to God. And wait for Him to either fix the problem or direct you to the next step. Either way, it will work out better.

Facing a problem today? Ready to start scraping the poop off your shoe? Be patient. Wait on the Lord. I assure you it will be worth the wait!

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. - Psalm 27:14

Friday, November 5, 2010

What Ship Are You Waiting For?

A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with a missionary after the church service. She mentioned that she had seen my book on the table in the foyer and was inquiring about it. Always thrilled to talk about my books, I told her a little about it and about my desire to reach more people through my work. She shared with me that she had written a state history curriculum for her school and that when home-school groups heard about it, they were chomping at the bit to purchase it from her. She now has a steady part-time income coming in from the sale of her curriculum.

As she was telling me this, I was torn in two different directions. Part of me was thrilled for her that she had been able to profit from her efforts while helping others in return. But honestly, the other part of me was jealous. She had people beating down her door to buy her work. I have to beat down other people's doors and still end up empty-handed. As I stood there struggling with my mixed emotions, I couldn't help but wonder, "Lord, when will my ship finally come in?"

A few days later, I was discussing these feelings with Jason. I told him that the only ship that ever seems to come in for me is the RMS Titanic. I've sunk more hopes and dreams than I care to recall. Why does it seem like opportunities fall into the laps of some people while others struggle day to day and have little to show for it besides good intentions? Why do some people reside cozily on top-of-the-line cruise ships while others seem to linger in dinghies sailing through an ocean of icebergs? How come some people are always in the right place at the right time while others of us can't even find the right place? Why? Why? Why?

I wish I had an answer for you, but the truth is that I just don't know. I don't understand God's ways any more than you do. But one thing I do know is that wishing and whining will get me nowhere. No, if I really want to succeed in my life, I need to follow God's will and leave the results up to Him. Maybe "my ship" will never come in, but that's not the point. The point is for me to obey in faith and leave the rest in God's hands. He knows what's best. He knows the end result. And more than that, He knows the best ship to be on. He'll send the right one along in His time. In the meantime, let's be busy about our Father's business. He'll take care of the rest.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Someone Worth Talking To

Have you ever wondered what our lives would be like if we treated our friends and families the way we often treat God? What would happen if we only approached them when we had a need or a problem? How would they react if we didn't speak to them on days when things were going well for us? Would they be offended by our one-sided relationship?

As I look at my prayer life, I find that when I'm in the midst of a crisis, I spend a lot of time on my knees. I cry to the Lord. I seek His face. I read His Word. I bask in His presence. But when things are going well, I treat God as if I have no need of Him. It's almost as if I've taken on the attitude of "Things are going well today, Lord, so I don't have anything to talk to you about." What a shame! I've reduced my precious time with the Lord down to a mere complaint session. I shudder to think what God thinks of my prayer life (or lack thereof). Lord, forgive me!

God wants us to come to Him in our hour of need, but that's not the ONLY time He wants to have fellowship with us. He wants to be a part of our lives when things are going well, too. He wants to hear praises instead of complaints, thankfulness instead of discontentment. He wants us to want to spend time with Him just for the sake of being in His company. Sure, He's with us all the time, but His presence can become so much more if we truly seek Him out.

God -- He's so much more than a genie in a bottle or a spiritual Santa Claus. He's Someone worth talking to, Someone worth spending time with. And He deserves more than our complaints and wish lists.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

Monday, November 1, 2010

Which Way Do I Go?

Do you ever feel like a rat in a maze, twisting and turning, searching frantically for any indication of which direction you should go? I admit that I felt like that all week last week. While suffering from a sinus infection, I found myself unable to go about my regular tasks. My housework went undone. My writing jobs went uncompleted. My prayer time and Bible reading suffered. By the end of the week, I found myself in a deep state of depression and confusion. Not only did I feel that the entire week had been unproductive, but I found myself perplexed in knowing where to begin to get things caught up.

To be honest, last week was not the only time I've been confused. In fact, I often find myself going in circles trying to determine what project the Lord would have for me to do next. Start on a new book? Do more marketing? Write an e-book? Create some devotional videos? Social networking? Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. There's plenty to do, but I can't do it all at one time, so where do I begin?

I pray for direction, but often it seems like God is silent. In the silence, I determine for myself which option I think would be best (which usually means that I try to determine which task would be the most profitable). The result? More depression and confusion. Crushed dreams. Demolished hopes. Feelings of complete inadequacy. And of course, guilt for taking things into my own hands.

When voices are calling to me from all directions, and I can't make heads or tails of what I'm supposed to do next, I go to my Bible and read Jeremiah 29:11-13: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

God has a plan for me. Instead of searching so hard for the next step, I would be better off to simply seek Him. At that point, He will make His wishes known and will guide me in the right way.

Confused and weary today? Stop seeking answers, and start seeking God!