Category: Holy Spirit empowered

I’m Supposed to Love People … But How?

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Sometimes, loving people is a tough thing to do. (Flickr)

Note: This is a guest post from my friend and brother in Christ, Doug Apple, the general manager of WAVE 94-FM Christian radio in Tallahassee, Florida. He’s got some gems in here.

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

Yes, yes, yes, I know I’m supposed to love people…but how?

I think we all know that if we are on our way to Jericho and we come across a beaten man, we’re supposed to load him on our donkey and take him to the inn, right?  Like the good Samaritan.

But life is full of people and their drama, full of neighbors and friends and strangers and people we like and people we don’t like so now what?

We’re supposed to love them…but how?

First let me note that love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22)  So the more we let the living water of the Holy Spirit flow in our lives, the more we will love people, automatically.

And the more we quench and grieve the Holy Spirit by our own sin and selfishness and disobedience and laziness, the less we will love people…automatically.

But I’m getting to a prayer we can pray, and this has really set my heart on fire.

Philippians 1:9 says, “And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”

So that’s my prayer.  “God, please give me that depth of insight into how to love people, each and every one of them.”

I’m a father of four adult children, all married.  I need to love them in different ways than when they were 5, 7, 9 and 11.  What do I say?  What do I give?  When do I act?  When do I offer my insanely wise advice, and when do I keep my big mouth shut?

To love them well I need depth of insight!

The homeless man on the corner, or at least he says he’s homeless.  See how I am?  I need depth of insight!

And so I pray, “Lord, please, I love You so much, and to love all these people You bring into my life, I need to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”

Amen.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Angry No More

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The peace that surpasses all understanding. Praise God! (Darryl Showers)

For those of you who think God has forgotten all about you, please read this testimony of mine. He NEVER forgets or disregards the prayers of His faithful. You may not want to hear it, but indeed, it IS all in HIS timing.


It has been a while since I’ve written anything formally, and I’m not going to consider this to be a formal writing. This one is simply going to come from the heart, so please excuse me if it doesn’t sound like a regular column.

I’m throwing all the formal writing rules out the window (I just used a cliché). And, I will use the word “I” a lot because this is simply how I feel. I’m going to be pretty transparent here. Consider it more of a journal entry than a blog, if you will.

This is me being real–as real as I can get.

For a great deal of my teen years and all of my adult life, I’ve had a problem with anger. I’m not sure why because I don’t believe that I have been angry with anybody in particular; I simply get irritated and annoyed very easily.

During my teen years, I remember how I used to get almost violently upset with my mother. It was so bad that I used to get in her face, and I would curse something awful. Looking back on it, I can’t believe anybody could be so hard-hearted. This is not only the woman who gave birth to me, but the woman who continually prayed for me and spoke God’s Word over me, doing the best she possibly could to raise three kids after my father divorced her. How could I be so cruel? I could never figure it out. I grew up in the Catholic church and I knew about Jesus, but He certainly was never part of the picture. I know that had a lot to do with it.

I have since apologized to my mom, Florence, 100 times over. She, like Jesus, has forgotten all about it as I have repented.

I suppose I could dump a lot of that anger on my dad and blame him for leaving us when I was 10, but that would be the coward’s way out. I like to blame my dad for a lot of things, but we’re all responsible for our own lives. We can choose to overcome a tough childhood, but many never do.

Even when I supposedly did get saved (and I say supposedly because I have to question a believer’s character who continually acts like that) in 1989, the anger continued. I professed Jesus, but I didn’t seek Him in any area of my life, especially my emotions. So, I continued along my not-so-merry way, hopping from job to job and trying to find peace and happiness.

At 25, marriage was supposed to calm me down and it did for a while. But then, for reasons I still cannot fathom because my wife never communicated them with me, my marriage became a shambles and by 30, I was single again. The anger became worse.

I suppose I could dump a lot of that anger on my dad and blame him for leaving us when I was 10, but that would be the coward’s way out. I like to blame my dad for a lot of things, but we’re all responsible for our own lives. We can choose to overcome a tough childhood, but many never do.

The bad part about it is that I masked a lot of that when I met Patty, and I continued to hide it through our engagement and our wedding nearly 20 years ago. I’m not sure she was prepared what eventually would come. For most of the duration of our marriage, she has seen the absolute worst of me at times, yelling, screaming and, yes, even cursing–not only at her, but at our two children, Rachel and Joshua. And, most of the time, it has been for frivolous things–things that carried no weight of importance in life.

I have confessed this anger to many people–friends, family and those in the ministry. Masking my anger when around them, they would always say, “you’re probably beating yourself up too much over this.” Not so. Just ask Patty and the kids. I’ve never been physically violent, but I have been verbally abusive. I never knew my heart was so hard.

Through it all I have prayed (not diligently) for God to change me and change my heart. I would always pray, “Jesus, let people see You in me.” That’s all I want is to have your character.

God has ways of doing things the way you wouldn’t expect.

Patty has always looked out for my well-being. She suggested that I ask the doctor to see if there was something I needed to calm me down. I did, and I was put on a medication called Sertraline. At first, my doctor put me on a low dosage and it seemed to work, but only for a while. He did that for side-effects reasons.

When I informed the doctor that it wasn’t working well anymore, he understood. He said “at that dosage, it’s like trying to stop a bull with a pea shooter.” So, he upped the dosage, and it has put me on more of an even keel emotionally ever since–unless I decide to go a few days without taking it (which I have done on a few occasions). It’s difficult to hide the results when I do that.

I’m not by any stretch of the imagination giving credit to the medicine for a change in behavior. I’m giving all the glory to God for an answer to my prayers. I believe that medicine like Sertraline is a way for God to fix the situation.

When my prayers for my behavior became more diligent–my prayers to take on the character of Christ–God slowly began to answer them.  It didn’t happen as quickly as I wanted. I knew God would have to take me through a lot of valleys and that I would have to surrender to His will.

The valleys certainly came, and not only did I still have bouts with anger, but fear came into the picture as well. My only defense was to continue to pray and seek the counsel of the godly people around me. I don’t know how I could have made it through some days without the encouragement of Dr. Steve Greene, my publisher at Charisma (and my good friend), as well as my great friend, Sean Roberts. Sean allowed me to vent to him, and for that I am truly grateful. Not only did he listen, but Preacher gave me great advice on how to handle certain situations.

I am also grateful to Chris Johnson. She has a patient ear, too, and has been a great friend. And then there is Jessilyn Justice and Jenny Rose Curtis. Both are millennials of vastly different personalities, but both have wisdom beyond their years. And I thank Marti Pieper, our newest edition, for her diligent prayers for me. I know I’ve got a strong prayer covering with these incredible people.

Not only has God calmed me down, but he has brought my smile back to me–something I have not seen for a long, long time. God saw fit to help me change positions within the company–something I balked at in the beginning–but now I feel like I am thriving through the grace and glory of God. I’ve discovered peace again. I’m no longer angry at home or at work. My kids and my wife no longer bear the brunt of my “verbal intensity.” Praise you, Lord, for answering my prayers. It’s been a long journey.

I know there are a lot of you out there that have been praying for things in your life, and God has not moved–yet. I want you to know that if you continue diligently to pray for these things, He will answer you, once He has done the work in you that is necessary. Don’t give up. He wants to bless you. Surrender to Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Ask anyone around me. I’m a vastly different person than I was two years ago, or even a year ago. I didn’t give up and my prayers were answered. I’m not angry anymore, praise God! Hebrews 6:11 says, “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized” (NIV).

It’s easy to get discouraged, thinking that God has forgotten us. But God is never unjust. Remember, Abraham waited 25 years for the son God promised him. He WILL move on your behalf, I promise you. Surrender to Him fully today and see your prayer requests come to fruition.

Shawn A. Akers is the aquisitions editor for Creation House Publishing at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. To sign up for his newsletter, “Step Out of the Boat,” and other Charisma newsletters, click here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scripture of the Day – Ecclesiastes 9:10

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Whatever you put your hands to, do it with all your might. (Flickr)

“Whatever your hands find to do, do with your strength.” (MEV)

The world is finite, and sin has twisted life, making it what God did not intend. In this passage, Solomon is trying to reduce our expectations. Don’t let the inequities of life keep you from earnest, dedicated work. We serve God, not people.

Prayer: Lord, show me how to be diligent in everything I do. Whatever I put my hands to, let me do it with enthusiasm, strength and care. Thank you, Lord, for this day. We love you.

 

 

 

 

Scripture of the Day – Proverbs 4:12-13

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“When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life” (Proverbs 4:12-13, NIV)

Those that make God’s word their rule shall walk at liberty, and be at ease in themselves. If wise and good men be put upon sudden resolves, the certain rule of God’s word which they go by will keep them even then from stumbling upon any thing that may be pernicious. Integrity and uprightness will preserve us.

Prayer: “Lord, let my steps today not be hampered and don’t let me stumble when I run. I embrace your instruction and I guard it with my life because it is my life. I love you, dear Lord, and thank you for today’s tender mercies.”

Scripture of the Day – Philippians 2:5

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Serve God, and others, with humility today. (Flickr)

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5, NKJV)

Jesus Christ was humble, willing to give up his rights in order to obey God and serve people. Like Christ, we should have a servant’s attitude, serving out of love for God and for others, not out of guilt or fear. Remember, you can choose your attitude. you can approach life expecting to be serve or you can look for opportunities to serve others.

Prayer: “Lord, whatever You ask, I want to obey You. Let my life beat with a servant’s heart. Help me to put away self, walk in humility and think always of others instead of how to gratify my own desires. Thank you, Jesus, for your lovingkindness and tender mercies today.”