Monday, February 8, 2016

The Power Of Trust

By Andrea Merrell

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6


With tears in my eyes, I watched as my husband bent to rescue our little terrier. He was lying on the side of a busy highway after being hit by a car.

As my husband got closer and reached out his hand, the pup slowly opened one eye with a look that said he knew help had arrived. But as soon as the pup was touched, he reacted violently—snarling, growling, and baring his teeth. We had to use a heavy blanket to pick him up to keep from getting mauled.

The sad part of this story is that the victim didn’t understand we were only there to help him. Apparently, all he knew was pain and distress, and he attacked the ones who loved him most.

That event made me think back to times when I was wounded—emotionally and mentally. Times when I was hurting so much that I rejected and blasted the people who tried to help me—the ones who loved me most. And the ones who least deserved my response.

It’s easy to stop trusting when we’ve been hurt, rejected, or betrayed. We harden our hearts, build walls, and refuse to let anyone in—even God.

Reaching out to others and allowing them to come to our rescue starts with a decision. Is it risky? Yes. Is there a chance we might be hurt even more? Absolutely. But we’ll never know until we try.



One thing, however, is certain: When we take a leap of faith, open our hearts to God, and cry out to Him to help us, He will always come through. That is the power of trust.





(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles/Dynamite Imagery.)

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Compassion Trumps Criticism

By Andrea Merrell

Don't criticize and speak evil about each other, 
dear brothers. James 4:11 TLB


On a scale of one to ten, how critical are you? If you’re like me, some days you do well, while other days you fail miserably.

Being critical and finding fault is part of our carnal nature … the “old man.” If we don’t deal with it on a daily basis it stops up the love of God that has been “shed abroad” (poured out in abundance) in our heart, and stifles the compassion we need in dealing with others. It also causes us to lose our sense of God’s peace and presence.

Criticism comes easy; it’s a reaction, not an action. The action comes when we chose to walk in obedience to God’s Word. In this scenario, that means extending grace to others, accepting and embracing our differences, and realizing that everyone else does not always see, hear, feel, think, speak, or act exactly as we do.

When we fail to get a handle on criticism, it can lead to judging, gossiping, and backbiting. The Bible calls it speaking evil of another. The Message puts it this way: Don't bad-mouth each other, friends.

If a critical spirit is following you around, it’s time to take action. This is a good place to apply the Golden Rule and to be moved with compassion toward others. Ask God for help and make the decision to walk in love.

Remember … compassion trumps criticism.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalImages.net/Stuart Miles/Iamnee.)

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Monday, January 25, 2016

It's Over

By Andrea Merrell

It’s the last week of January and I’m finally doing it. Don’t laugh … I’m taking down and putting away my Christmas decorations. Okay, go ahead and laugh. I’m a diehard. Call me crazy.

 Actually, that would be a good word because I’m crazy for Christmas and all that it means. I decorate around the middle of November so my family can enjoy the beauty for as long as possible. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been known to leave my tree up until Valentine’s Day. Well, only once. I’m sure after the first week of January, my neighbors shake their heads and say, “Someone needs to tell those folks Christmas is over.”

Each year, the holiday season begins just a little earlier than the year before. Retailers stock their shelves and build elaborate displays in October, sometimes even in September. We see a barrage of commercials telling us to get a jump start on our shopping, and joyful music fills the airwaves. We enjoy parties, eggnog, baked goodies, and time with friends and family. Everywhere you look there are wonderful displays of twinkling lights in a vast array of colors. It’s a beautiful, wonderful, magical time and then—boom, it’s over.

I think that’s why I try to hold on for so long. It’s anticlimactic … and it’s sad.

December 26th seems like a funeral—the death of Christmas. The commercials stop. The music stops. The lights go out. The trees come down. (I’m getting depressed just thinking about it.) Everything goes back to “normal” and the magic—the spirit of Christmas—is neatly tucked away until the next year.

The birth of Jesus, the true reason for the season, was also a beautiful, wonderful, magical time. An angel appeared to lowly shepherds and a brilliant star led a trio of wise men to a stable where the savior of the world awaited them. But I wonder what happened after that holy night. Did the shepherds and wise men go back to business as usual with fond memories of the awe they experienced, or did the events change their hearts and lives forever?

We face the same dilemma each year. When Christmas is over, do we carry Jesus away in our hearts, allowing Him to fill our lives with His love, compassion, and power, or do we walk away and leave Him packed up in the manger?

The song says, “We need a little Christmas all year long.” The Bible says we need a lot of Christ every moment of every day.


So, let’s prepare a special place in our hearts for the Christ of Christmas. He is no longer the babe in the manger. He is our risen savior—King of kings and Lord of lords—and we can celebrate Him every single day throughout the year.


(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Supertrooper/Feelart/tiverylucky.)

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Blurred Vision

By Andrea Merrell

Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror,
but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
1 Corinthians 13:12


Vision is a gift and something to be very thankful for. It’s easy to take it for granted until you begin to have problems.

I’ve worn glasses for most of my life. About twenty-five years ago, I was diagnosed with a corneal disease and was told surgery would be in my future. Sure enough, five years ago I had a corneal transplant (along with cataract removal). At some point I will have to have the same surgery in my other eye. In the meantime—with one eye getting better and the other getting worse—it is an ongoing struggle trying to get just the right prescription for my glasses.

As a writer and editor, my eyes are critical to my job. In the past few months, my computer glasses have helped me tremendously in my work, along with avoiding eye strain. They are a great help when used for their intended purpose. The problem comes when I get up from the computer and walk away … forgetting to change glasses. It’s amazing how the whole world looks blurred.

It can be the same in our spiritual life. The Bible says, Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. When I forget to put on the right “glasses” (seeing through the filter of God’s Word), everything around me seems distorted. But when I look at people and situations through the mirror of His Word, things become clearer.

There will come a day when we will stop seeing through that cloudy mirror and truly see everything with perfect clarity. Until that day, let's make sure we have on the right glasses.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and photostock.) 

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Who's the Culprit?

By Andrea Merrell

I looked everywhere, searching for the one responsible. I tried desperately to find someone to blame for my problem, and finally found the culprit—in the mirror.

Staring back at me was a sad reflection of the one responsible for my situation—the one who had made unwise choices, hasty decisions, and reacted without knowing all the facts. I had placed myself in this awkward and uncomfortable situation and it was time to “man-up” and get myself out—or rather call on God to rescue me.

We tell our kids to be honest, to take responsibility for their own actions, yet we find ourselves doing the opposite of what we preach. We pass the proverbial buck whenever we can. The problem is that buck-passing is a lie that grows and picks up momentum until it plows someone under—usually, an unsuspecting, innocent bystander.

The Bible tells us there is nothing new under the sun. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. There was a lot of buck-passing with the Israelites and even with the disciples.

Getting to the root of any problem starts with an honest evaluation and ends with the courage to fess-up, then fix-up the problem. Sidestepping the issue, blaming others, or running away from confrontation will never make it right.

It took me a long time to learn that we all make mistakes, and it’s okay to be truthful and admit when we’re wrong. It’s much easier to confess our faults one to another, ask forgiveness, and turn the situation around than it is to point a finger at everyone around you, hoping to avoid the heat.

God expects integrity in all that we do and say. When we do the right thing—no matter what—He responds with love and restoration.

Are you in a bad situation, playing the blame game? Are you the culprit? If so, put down your pride, fess up, and let God fix it. You’ll be glad you did.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles/adamr.)

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