Monday, August 24, 2015

Pay Attention

By Andrea Merrell

We must pay more careful attention, 
therefore, to what we have heard,
so that we do not drift away.
Hebrews 2:1-2 NIV

Why is it that TV commercial and jingles wedge themselves into our memory banks and are easier to recall than Scripture? Sometimes they get stuck like an old record and replay over and over. One that comes to mind is “Life comes at you fast.”

The problem is I have found that one to be true on many occasions. One such reminder came as I was driving home from the hospital after the birth of my third grandchild. I was following my husband and we were stopped at an intersection. For whatever reason, I found myself watching him instead of the red light. When his brake lights went off and he started pulling forward, I immediately hit the gas.

Big mistake.

My husband stopped.

I plowed into him.

As it turned out, the light had not turned green—which I would have known had I been paying attention. He was simply moving up a little closer. Expecting a lecture about women drivers, I sat still and braced myself as he got out of his car to inspect the damage. What I got instead was a silly grin, a shake of the head, and a look that said, “What in the world were you doing?”

Thankfully, there was no need for police, insurance claims, or a tow truck. No one was seriously hurt (except my pride); however, I left a pretty good reminder on his bumper. What did I learn? Pay attention! What did he learn? Next time, let the wife go first. The worst part for me is his enjoyment in telling this story. Trust me . . . I will never live it down.

I wonder how many problems and situations in life could be avoided by learning to pay closer attention to God’s Word and heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit as He whispers, Go this way. Don’t say that. Forgive them. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we should pay more careful attention to what we have heard. Another version says to give more earnest heed. The Scriptures warn us repeatedly to be aware—to watch and pray. They are filled with direction, instruction, and wisdom for everyday, ordinary life.
                                                                                                          All we have to do is . . . pay attention.

(Photo courtesy of gettyimages and bbmarketing.)


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Monday, August 17, 2015

Are You Breaking the Law?

By Andrea Merrell

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
Psalm 19:7 NIV

What comes to your mind when you hear the word law? Most people probably think of cops, speed traps, and traffic court. Others might envision judges in long, black robes and prison bars. It’s all in your perspective.

 But what about God’s law? Some might imagine a hard taskmaster who throws out random, nearly-impossible-to-keep rules, while looking for ways to sidestep or duck under His radar. Not a good idea.

In Psalms we are told, The law of the Lord is perfect. That’s hard to comprehend if we’re looking at it from a negative point of view. Let’s compare God’s law to the laws of gravity and aerodynamics. These are two governing forces of nature—also set in place by a wise and loving Father for our benefit—and they are always in operation. You can ignore or deny their existence, or learn how to work with them.

Most of us understand what happens when we try to defy the laws of gravity. And pilots know how to correctly use the laws of aerodynamics. When we work with these laws, we succeed. Trying to work against them can end in disaster.

It’s the same with God’s law—His living, all-powerful Word. This is a force set in place from the foundation of the world … again, for our benefit. When we try to ignore or deny this powerful force, we lose. But when we recognize and embrace God’s law as His gift of love and protection, we win—every time.

(Photos courtesy of morguefile.)


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Monday, August 10, 2015

Roaring Lions and Yellow Jackets

By Andrea Merrell

Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV

The front porch of my log home, with a comfy swing and view of the mountains, has been my peaceful place for over thirty years … at least until last week when I had a run-in with some crazy yellow jackets.

My plan was to sit on the porch while one of my granddaughters rode her bike in the driveway. Seems the nasty varmints had a different plan. As I started to ease myself down onto the swing, they attacked—my foot, ankle, and all up the back of my left leg. It felt like a thousand needles being shot into my skin.

Talk about a way to ruin a nice afternoon …

After Benedryl and a host of home remedies, my foot and leg were so swollen the next morning, a visit to the doctor was the first thing on my agenda. That was followed by a round of prednisone, ice packs, ace bandage, ibuprofen, and a whole lot of pain.

So, why am I telling you this? As a friend pointed out to me, sometimes the enemy attacks us even in our “safe” place when we least expect it. The Bible tells us to be self-controlled and alert because he prowls around like a roaring lion (or in my case, a nest full of yellow jackets) looking for someone to devour.

I love the way the Message translation puts it: Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.  Keep your guard up.

Even though my husband sprayed the porch and knocked down fifteen nests (yes, FIFTEEN … three of them underneath the swing), my safe place doesn’t feel so safe anymore. Going outside has given me a slight case of paranoia, which I will get over eventually. The situation could have been much, much worse. 

In the meantime, I will be reminded to stay alert, keep my guard up, and trust in the Lord to keep me from harm.

(Lion photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos and Maggie Smith.)

What do roaring lions and yellow jackets have in common? via @AndreaMerrell (Click to Tweet.)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Rotten Apples and Dead Leaves

By Andrea Merrell

Therefore if any man be in Christ, 
he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; 
behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

Last week—while sitting on my front porch in 100 degree temps trimming my once-beautiful ferns—the Lord taught me a lesson about rot and decay.

These two ferns, once lush and full, were suddenly more brown than green. Rather than leaving the dead leaves to choke out the healthy ones, I tried to cut off as many of them as I could, but found it increasingly more difficult. It was hard not to damage the new as I worked to get rid of the old.

When things decay, it’s anything but pleasant. As the saying goes, it only takes one rotten apple to spoil the whole barrel. Once something begins to decay, it affects everything it touches.

The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians that when we are in Christ, we become new creatures, or creations. But we are further instructed in Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV) that we should  put off … the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and … put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

When we read through verse 32, we are told exactly what to put off:
  • Lying
  • Anger
  • Giving place to the devil
  • Stealing
  • Corrupt communication
  • Bitterness
  • Wrath
  • Clamor (loud continuous noise)
  • Malice (ill will)
  • Evil speaking
That’s a pretty big laundry list and it puts the ball squarely back in our court. 

Here are the things we are to put on:
  • Truth
  • Edifying words
  • Grace
  • Kindness
  • Forgiveness
  • Love

I think from now on, whenever I see leaves turning brown and something starting to deteriorate, it will be a reminder to check my own heart to make sure it’s free from spiritual rot and decay.

How about you?

(Photos courtesy of morguefile and FreeDigitalPhotos.)


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Monday, July 27, 2015

The Age of Technology

By Andrea Merrell

I feel like I’ve become part of the space age. Maybe I should change my name to Jetson.

We have a new robot as part of our household, and her name is Rosie. She’s a round disk about the size of a large cake pan and she vacuums my floor with the touch of a button. She and I get along very well.

There are so many gadgets that make our life simpler. It’s hard to imagine how people used to function without all this modern technology.  We even have newly designed cars that can park without human assistance.

There was a time when no one owned a cell phone, laptop, or GPS. There was no iPad, iPod, or even a Kindle. Looking back further, people survived without electricity and indoor plumbing. Going back even further, think about the Israelites wandering around for forty years in the desert. There was no such thing as tissues, paper towels, or toilet paper. What did the women do without diapers, baby wipes, and all the necessary feminine products? There were no microwaves or drive-thru restaurants. No phones to order take-out.

It’s hard to imagine life that way, but it makes me wonder if our generation has become so soft we’ve forgotten what it means to work hard. The trend today is to “work smarter, not harder.” Great concept, but maybe we’ve taken it to an extreme. We’ve gotten so smart we never want to work hard at anything. We want our coffee in thirty seconds, a great meal in less than thirty minutes, and instant access to everything technology has to offer. And heaven forbid if we should ever have to wait in line—for anything.

Am I saying I want to go backward and get rid of all my modern conveniences? Absolutely not. I’ll keep utilizing Rosie andlike everyone elsekeep looking for ways to simplify my life.

Maybe what I am saying is that we should appreciate all the things we have to make our life  better, yet not be afraid to dig our heels in, use a little elbow grease, and do some manual labor when it needs to be done. The Bible says a man has joy by the answers of his mouth. I also believe a man (or woman) feels intense pleasure and satisfaction with a job well done.

(Photo courtesy of Stockpic.)


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