Monday, February 12, 2018

Good Idea or Old Wives' Tale?

By Andrea Merrell

When I was growing up—and living with my grandparents—they had a lot of funny notions that had been passed down for generations.


During a bad storm, my grandmother would unplug every cord in the house except for one lamp. We would sit quietly in the room with the lamp, staring at each other while we waited out the storm.

I couldn’t go to a movie theater on Sunday because it was a “sin,” and there was no make-up allowed, even in high school. My grandmother would not eat brown eggs, believed that once the sun went down you were not supposed to leave the house, and she would never say anything bad about the Devil because “it might make him mad.”

My grandfather believed in driving twenty miles under the speed limit, would never talk to anyone about the Lord because salvation was a “private matter,” and gave his tithe to the church in cash because the amount was no one’s business. 

As I got older, I had many wrong ideas to work through and a lot of prejudice to overcome. I had to decide whether to adopt the beliefs of my ancestors or find my own way. Everyone has their own way of doing things, whether it’s from tradition or personal choice. As they say, to each his own.

The most troubling part of my upbringing was the way God’s Word was handled. My family loved the Lord. They were good, upstanding people, but they had been misled by the habits and beliefs of others. There were many principles they adhered to and some they didn’t. Some they believed and some they didn’t.

I found out later in life that listening to the advice and opinions of others is fine, but it’s ultimately up to me to decide whether something is a good idea or an old wives’ tale. When it comes to God’s Word, I can’t just blindly accept someone’s perspective. I need to read it, meditate on it, pray about it, and know for myself.

How about you?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/David Castillo Dominici/ohmega1982.)

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

What's in Your Toolbox?

By Andrea Merrell

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17 NIV

I’ve never considered myself as a handy person, but I still have a toolbox filled with a hammer, various screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, a measuring tape, and a host of other items I’m not really familiar with. All the items have purple handles, so it’s completely frou-frou. It makes using them seem so much better.

In reality, we all have a toolbox of some sort. It might contain a stethoscope, a keyboard, a microphone, a bulldozer, or an electric skillet. The key is in how we use the tools God has gifted us with. Using them as God intended is an act of obedience and honors Him.

Sometimes, we might be tempted to think we’re not important … that someone else’s gift is greater and much more needed than ours. The wonderful part about God’s plan is that when we use the tools God has given us and combine them with the tools that others are proficient with, we can accomplish greater things for the kingdom.

When constructing a new home, a contractor will hire a variety of workers to do specific tasks like plumbing, electrical, drywall, painting, roofing, and even landscaping. Each one is part of the whole, and it takes each one doing his or her part to complete the project with excellence.

Are you doing your part to advance God’s kingdom? What’s in your toolbox?

(Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net and Tanya3597.) 

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Build Your Life Upon the Rock

By Andrea Merrell

For who is God except the Lord?

    Who but our God is a solid rock?

Psalm 18:31 NLT


From jackets and snow boots to tee-shirts and flip flops … all in a matter of hours.

It’s amazing how quickly things change. In fact, I’ve heard it said that the only constant we have in this life is change.

I drive down the street looking for my childhood home—the place where so many memories were born—and it’s no longer there. Leveled to the ground. The old “swimming hole,” as we used to refer to it, now filled in and replaced by a fancy subdivision. Friends and family who have passed through my life … now gone.

Even though in this world nothing remains the same, there is a constant that—or rather who—keeps us safe, secure, and filled with hope. The same yesterday, today, and forever, God’s love never fails. He never gives up on us or leaves us. His promises are yes and amen, because His Word never returns void. And His plans and purpose can never be dismissed or derailed. If He said it, we can count on it. When we belong to Him, He even engraves our name in the palm of His hand.

We all experience different seasons. Friends and family may come and go. Situations and circumstances can change as quickly as the weather. But God never changes. He is the Rock upon which we build our lives.

Have you built your life upon the Rock?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and mrpuen.)

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Monday, January 22, 2018

When in Doubt ... Don't

By Andrea Merrell

But don’t begin until you count the cost.
Luke 14:28 NLT

It’s been my motto for years: when in doubt … don’t.

But we did.

My husband and I made a hasty, spur-of-the-moment decision—something we typically never do—and it has, as they say, come back to haunt us.

Snap decisions are rarely a good idea unless you’re in a life or death situation. In our home, we talk, think, and pray about things, especially large purchases.

The Bible instructs us to “count the cost.” In other words, it’s foolish to begin a construction project without knowing if you have enough money to complete it. Or for that matter, to begin anything else without knowing all the details.

In our case, we judged the proverbial book—a used car—by its cover. This vehicle had a beautiful exterior, a low price, and included all the bells and whistles. What we found between the pages—under the hood and front bumper—was a nightmare.

We’re instructed throughout Scripture to pray about everything. God wants us to consult Him about whatever we do so He can give us input (godly wisdom, knowledge, and understanding). He cares about what we care about and wants to be involved in our decision-making. Even though every answer we receive may not be clear-cut, we can make it a habit to “pursue the things which make for peace” (Romans 14:19 NKJV).

Fortunately, God redeemed our mistake, helped us make necessary repairs, and has given us direction about how to move forward. Hopefully, we’ll listen a little more carefully the next time around.

If you have a big decision facing you, ask God to show you the way. Then pursue peace.

And remember. When in doubt … don’t.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles. )

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Harmful Effects of Anger and Resentment

By Andrea Merrell

Anger. It’s something we’re all familiar with to some degree. For me, it was a problem I dealt with on a daily basis for years—not understanding why, and not realizing how it was affecting me and those around me.

Everything seemed to make me angry. I was a volcano looking for place to erupt. There were skeletons in my emotional closet that continually rattled, reminding me of past hurts, betrayals, and failures. Those dry bones caused resentment and sent me into a tirade. This went on so long that anger and resentment became my default, causing me to respond in a negative way, no matter how hard I tried not to.

Even when trying to overcome this hateful, harmful behavior by stuffing it deep inside, it was doing more harm than I could imagine.

This is what pastor and author Bob Gass says about the subject:

Doctors say resentment eats at your stomach lining, attacks your immune system, and predisposes you to heart problems, cancers, and other physical, social, and emotional disorders. And that’s not all. It preoccupies your mind, drains your energy, and cripples your creativity. It strains your fellowship with God, your family and friends, as well as denying your offender an opportunity to clear their conscience and make things right with God and with you. Until you deal with the issue, you’ll drag it around like a ball and chain.

No matter how you slice and dice it, anger and resentment are born from selfishness. Just like a child, this is how we respond when we don’t get  our way. These emotions are also, as God showed me, a choice. We can make a conscious decision to react in anger or respond in love. Love acts; it does not react. When I finally took responsibility for my actions and made the choice to put away anger and walk in love, God set me free.

If you’re battling with anger issues, take them to the Lord and ask for His help. Make the decision to put away resentment and walk in God’s peace. Don’t allow these harmful emotions to wreck your mind, your body, or your relationships.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)

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