Monday, December 12, 2011

Moving Over To DemGoldenApples dot Com

I am excited to announce that I have a new domain.  You can now find Dem Golden Apples at  I will still have this blog up for a while during the transition.  I still have some kinks to work out, but for the most part we will be up and running now. 

If you have not yet followed us on Facebook and Twitter please do so. 

Also in the coming weeks Dem Golden Apples will have some giveaways, so make sure you stay tuned for that on the new site.

See you there!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A 365 Thanksgiving Part 3 {Guest Post}

Click here for Part 1 of this post.

Click here for Part 2.

A Gift in the Present—

The third gift of God that should not be forgotten is here in the present. It is the Body of Christ. The other followers of Jesus around us and elsewhere are chosen to be a part of the same body as you.

1 Corinthians 12:20 says, "As it is, there are many parts, but one body…" and in verses 24b-27 "But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

"From [Jesus] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:16)

Christians are intertwined in the Body of Christ. We may think of ourselves as independent of others, but the truth is that we are more interdependent than we think. Perhaps it is our individualized and isolating culture that gives us the impression that Christian relationships should be the same. The opposite is true. We grow together. We work together for the strengthening of everyone’s faith. We rejoice and mourn together. We are an inseparable body of Believers who work together, share together, live out our lives together.
Each of us also has a responsibility to pursue unity with one another by avoiding certain behaviors that would break the cohesive bond we share:
"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (So instead of those behaviors that break others down, what should we do for other Believers in Christ?) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:25-31)
We have a responsibility to other Christians.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24, 25)

Have you considered lately what you could do or say to encourage a fellow Christian to be more loving and to act more holy before God and men? I ask the Lord before I arrive at church to guide me in my conversations to point others toward Him. Since we are members of one another, we owe it to our neighbors to caringly point them to Christ. Have you shared with someone how God has been faithful? Or asked someone what the Lord is teaching them lately? Invited them to a small group, men’s or women’s events?

Another distinguishing characteristic of Christians is described in 1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” As our Spanish pastor explained to some of the men on our monthly Saturday breakfast, “Love is not blah, blah, blah, but Boom, Boom, Boom.” Love acts!

I periodically ask myself, “What would a Christian do that no one else would do?” Serve someone? Go the extra mile in our work? Pray for someone who hurts you? Turn your cheek with forgiveness when mistreated?

We are also called to goodness, one of the fruits of yielding to the Spirit of God—a nature that exudes good deeds from a heart of love. Galatians 6:10 says, “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."  When we see a need, we try to meet it. When we see a need among fellow followers of Christ Jesus, we really need to try to meet it. The way Jesus said that “all men will know” who His disciples are is by “loving one another” (John 13:35).

Boom, Boom, Boom. Not blah, blah, blah.

How have you faired at learning of the needs of Christians (and your neighbors) and meeting them? Would you be known as one who does good, one who acts with love? I pray that we are a body of many parts that acts with love, here and abroad.

As God pours into us, we must pour out, lest we become stagnate. Oswald Chambers, who spoke the words in the famous, My Utmost for His Highest devotional, once shared, “God’s goal is to make us exactly like Himself, not to make us plump grapes, but ones He may squeeze.” Of all the goodness, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and friendship that our Father has poured into you for many years, are you in turn offering the same kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and friendship to those in your world?

Without you, our church is not as strong. You play a part in my growth and your neighbor’s growth and in caring for our needs (as we for yours). I am here for your strengthening. You are here for ours. Are you using your gifts: your hands to serve, your ears to listen, your mouth to teach, your lips to encourage, your pen to write words of gratitude?

Just a few ways for you to consider serving those who lead you within your church: write a note of encouragement to the pastors and staff and your children’s teachers. Give a card or a balloon with a kind message. Send an email. Offer to help. Commit to praying for your leaders here. Share that with them. Let’s be a people who love with action!!

Boom, boom, boom, not blah, blah, blah.

{This next paragraph was an example of how my husband - author of this guest post - lead us in action at our church the Sunday morning he shared this message.  He left it in here as a way to spur those of you reading this to consider the same.  It was a great time of prayer, and in fact there was applause at the end.  I suspect there was also an applause in Heaven...  Then the conclusion, so keep reading.}

Are you ready to do your part for those around you? Now is your opportunity. We are going to do an activity together, which I have never done on a Sunday morning, so we’ll see how it goes. In your seats, we are going to spend some time serving one another by praying for each other. We are going to turn one way or another (to the front, back, left, or right) and look around to ensure everyone has a group to join. In that small group, we are going to pray for one another’s needs—however big or small. We invite you to pray for others’ needs. If you do not feel comfortable praying, just ask God to bless and care for them. He hears your prayer—the short ones are just as important as the long ones. Be sure to share your name since we sometimes sit next to people whose names we don’t know. Then, when you have made a group of three to seven people (no more), ask what needs they have. Take a few minutes praying. I’ll let you know when we are starting to wrap up, and I’ll close our small group prayer time. While this may feel a little uncomfortable, it is your sacrifice of service for others. So let’s serve one another in prayer now and make a little group around you.


When the speed of life blinds us to God’s goodness like whipping past a sign on the highway, remember. When events in life seem bigger than the Almighty, remember. When we feel the ease of His blessing, remember. When we feel the stress of finances, remember. When we begin to doubt Him, remember: Jesus’ blood shed to redeem your once-dead spirit, His promise of a home with Him in Heaven, and for the Body of Christ around you. May worship spring forth noticeably from your lips, attitude, and actions toward God and toward others!

To close, let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."

Rarely do we see the words in Scripture, at least in the New Testament:“This is God’s will for you…” But we see it here. What is His will? Offer God your thanks, your worship…all the time, in every situation—ones you understand and ones you don’t. And like Mary who broke the jar of expensive perfume to anoint Jesus, and the one leper who was made whole and returned to thank Jesus, He is pleased and glorified as we come to Him with a heart overflowing with gratitude for what He has done for us. Let’s remember His continual goodness each day, throughout the day.

What do you have to thank God for today?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A 365 Thanksgiving Part 2 {Guest Post}

If you have not read Part 1 of A 365 Thanksgiving, you can find it here.  The third and final part will be posted in a couple of days.  And now for Part 2...

A Gift in the Future—

The second gift worth remembering is a gift God will give us in the future. It is a home. A real place. A reality called Heaven. When some people scoff that there is nothing beyond our own graves, Scripture gives us a clear picture of what indeed awaits us after our final breath.
To help us remember some magnificent qualities of Heaven, I’ve begun each of the 9 characteristics with the letter “P.”
1. Heaven is a Prepared place. Jesus shared with His disciples, In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2). The joy about this assurance is that, although we may not know what type of mansion awaits us, our Savior personally readied a dwelling place for you, Followers of Christ. Your name is on the mailbox. It is yours. It is prepared just for you. He made it so.

2. Paradise (to the criminal on the cross): “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” So what is paradise like…?
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” (Revelation 21:1-5)
What makes this Paradise overwhelmingly awesome beyond human comprehension?:

3. Presence! (The dwelling of God is with man. He will be in the midst of us. By far, this is the greatest aspect of Heaven. No physical separation anymore. We are in the throne room)

4. Peace! (No death, crying, sorrow, pain—His presence overwhelms any past care or stress. We are enthralled with the Almighty and nothing there distracts us from Him.

5. Provision! Our Husband, Christ, cares for His bride. If David here on earth said “My cup overflows…” imagine how much more our cups will be unable to contain the whole presence of the Almighty Creator who breathed the universe in existence when these physical bodies are replaced with a new glorified body that can be in God’s very presence! Our Shepherd provides for our every need and our eternity’s longing will be for our Divine Husband, who fills all with Himself.

6. Praise:

"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!'” (Revelation 7:9-12)

7. Packed! (A great multitude no one could count—those are just the believers who are martyred during the coming 7-year Tribulation. There are still more worshippers that will join this enormous group). For those who don’t like to be in a big group, you won’t mind in this Place. Our personal dislikes, annoyances, and fears will not be allowed through the door of Heaven.

8. Powerful! (The King fills His kingdom, receiving all our worship, praise, thanks. It is loud, filled with glory of God. Lightning. Thunderings. Shaking. The power of God is on display right now and will continue.

9. Purity! (No sin. No desire for lust. No temptation will draw us from our devotion to Him. It will not be possible. We are consumed with God Father and Lamb. He is holy and all creation is consumed with Him.

“Heaven is for Real,” a recent NY Times Best Seller, is a book written by a father of a then-4-year-old boy who was given a glimpse of Heaven as he was in surgery due to a burst appendix. While not canonized Scripture, there were numerous details in the book that lined up with the Bible’s description of God’s future home for His sons and daughters. I found such joy and awe in reading about the reality of this Home on the other side of our final breath on earth. I can understand more fully when Paul wrote in Phil.3:20: “Our citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” What utter fulfillment of all our expectation on the Day He escorts us Home! In fact, the boy who was given the vision of Heaven, after his return, told how no pictures of Jesus that he saw really looked like Jesus, until he saw this one painted by an 8-year-old name Akiane. She also had been given visions of Jesus. How amazing if this indeed is the face that will greet us after our final breath here on earth.

"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians.15:19)

Praise God that every Christian right now holds the promise, “Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27) We, too, have the assurance of Heaven because of Christ in us. He is our hope. He is in us until we arrive there in person.

I love verse three from the hymn, It Is Well With My Soul:

“And Lord, haste the Day when the faith shall be sight. The clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul!”
Thank You, All-Loving Father for the assurance of Heaven for your sons and daughters!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A 365 Thanksgiving Part 1 {Guest Post}

And now for my first ever Guest Post...  It's from my husband.  I've raved about him many times here, and he was blessed to be able to deliver the sermon this past Sunday while our beloved pastor and his wife were out of town.  I loved his sermon and thought it would be a great followup to my Thanksgiving 2011 Series here at Dem Golden Apples.  I will post it in three parts to help you have time to read it all over a few days - it's sermon-length after all. 

"A 365 Thanksgiving" by Jeremy:

1Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 
2Worship the Lord with gladness;  come before Him with joyful songs.                 
3Know that the Lord is God.  It is He who made us, and not we ourselves;         
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
4Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.         
5For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

There are times in our lives that we do not feel like worshipping or saying “Thank you, God” for what He has brought to us…By a show of hands, has anyone here come on a Sunday morning to worship, but your heart was not “in the mood” to give God praise...? I’m glad that I’m not the only one…

Over the years of walking with the Lord, I’ve learned how essential thanksgiving is in my relationship with Him. I learned that worship and thanksgiving do not start at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. It is a 365 experience, a daily choice (and even moment-by-moment choice) to look upon God for who He is, what He has done for me, and what He has promised. As we come together today after Thanksgiving a few days ago, we seek to live before God a life of thanksgiving, a life of praise to the God who created us.

What I wonder, though, is probably what happened today among some of us--what hinders us from shouting for joy, worshipping with a glad heart, and singing joyfully? Let’s look at Psalm 100 again. Do you see any reasons to thank God?  In verses 3 and 5, the writer remembers God’s providence/control, His protection, His goodness, love, and faithfulness to him. As a result of truly understanding the impact of these truths, out springs worship! Noticeable worship—joyful songs, shouting, praise! If we find our souls dragging spiritually, give God thanks. If we feel blasé, worship Him for His love, whether you see Him or not. Thank Him for His promise to always lead you and forgive you. Sometimes we worship God in faith, not feeling anything, but giving Him a sacrifice of praise—sacrifice because it doesn’t come easy; it’s hard to do at that moment. Worship Him anyway. And remember a few things…perhaps we should remember three beautiful gifts He has given to us.

In the way of Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol, there are three gifts from God that elicit from our hearts overflowing thanksgiving and worship—a gift in the past, in the future, and in the present. This is by no means an exhaustive list--just three that God impressed on me to share with you today out of millions of visible and invisible gifts. As we touch on each, feel free to use the notes page in your worship folder to jot down what the Lord has done for you and is speaking to you. When something is written, we’re less likely to forget it. And we must never forget one gift from God in the past.

A Gift in the Past—
(The Bad News and The Good News)

One gift from God that should never be forgotten begins with who we once were. We may look pretty good on the outside now, seemingly good at heart, giving to the church, somewhat involved, with a smile on our face, but this is not where we came from. At some point in our lives, each of us was hopelessly separated from a pure God because of our sins.
Romans 3:10-12 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Wait, “no one who does good”? Certainly not! I have a good heart. Some of my co-workers and neighbors have good hearts—kind, friendly, generous, good people. Yet, this measuring stick of goodness falls against other people who are comparatively worse than us. More importantly, how does God view our goodness??
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

All our good deeds equate to a bloody rag that, according to Old Testament Jewish law, makes a person unclean, unable to approach God. No good act of ours ever measures up to God’s perfect standard of goodness. We are not good enough. He demands a perfect life to be acceptable to Him.
Therefore, as Romans 3:23 says, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
We were dead in sins, says Colossians 2:13, unable to respond to God due to separating sins. In fact, according to 2 Corinthians 4:4, "the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."  Here lies our debilitative state: dead, blind, unrighteous, sinful, and separated from God. We were hopelessly lost.
So what is God’s gift in the past? The (Good News) is that God has not left us in that state. Because of God’s kindness, He made us alive in Jesus Christ. He forgave us of all our sins.
Just when we thought we could reach God with our own goodness, Romans 2:4 tells us that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.
In Isaiah 43:25, God speaking: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.  For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness." (Isaiah 61:10)
Colossians 1:12-13 says, "...joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" - our past sins, today’s sins, and future sins - FORGIVEN by the cleansing blood of Jesus. The King stepped off His great throne, laid hold of our sins and cast them from us as far as the east is from the west.

 What we were powerless to do, God did for our unsaved souls.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ…" (2 Corinthians 2:14-15) 

"For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Let’s listen again to what God has given to us as a gift if we would receive it: He shone His light in us to give us light, we smell like Jesus before Father God, we are part of Jesus’ victory march over sin, we are qualified to be sons/daughters of God, rescued!, clothed in righteousness, sins removed, made alive, forgiven!

The blood that Jesus Christ shed for us grants us these gifts. We were darkness. If we have believed and trusted in Jesus for our salvation vs. hoping our own goodness will get us to Him, we are accepted by God entirely. No more striving to be accepted by Him with good works. The good work was done on the cross. When once we were foreigners and not able to cross into God’s perfect presence, Jesus became our Passport, our Visa, our Green Card, our Bridge to salvation. Praise God we are totally accepted by Him in our sinfulness! Jesus was the perfect sacrifice when we could not be. What a reason to give God thanks.

The hymn written by Horatio Spafford, It Is Well With My Soul, tells it well.

“My sin, O the bliss, of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!"

Thank You, God, for Your saving kindness!