Monday, September 18, 2017

Dare to Be Different

By Andrea Merrell

Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 NKJV

The colors were vibrant, and I was captivated by the beauty as I drove down the winding country road. Then an unusual image caught my eye. In the midst of all the incredible red, yellow, orange, and gold, was something that seemed strangely out of place. 

The little evergreen stood in stark contrast to the color all around it. Never changing, always the same, ever … green.

 I thought about this world and how life is always moving, always evolving, ever … changing. That’s when I realized that the little evergreen represents us as Christians in a society where nothing is constant, and there is no stability.

Jesus said, Let your light so shine before men. The truth is our life should stand in stark contrast to everything around us. We should never be hard to spot, blending in with our surroundings. The Bible calls us a “peculiar people,” so we shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t fit in with the crowd.

Dare to be different.

(Photo courtesy of    


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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Back-Up Plan

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 NKJV

If I don’t get well soon, I’ll go to the doctor.

If the money doesn’t come in, I can borrow from the bank.

If my friend lets me down, I can call on another one.

All these ifs make me realize that even when I’m praying and believing God for something, there’s generally a back-up plan. It’s like saying, “God, I trust you. But if You don’t come through—when and how I think You should—there’s another alternative.

The Scriptures tell us we’re not to depend on our own understanding or ability. Rather, we are to acknowledge Him in everything that concerns us, trusting Him to do what He’s promised to do.

Looking back over my life, I remember times when there was no alternative—no back-up plan. It was just me and God. If He failed me, I was going down.

But I didn’t.

In those times of sheer dependence on God, I experienced His love, peace, strength, deliverance, and faithfulness. I learned that His methods, motives, and timing are far different from my own. He always has the bigger picture in mind.

If you’re going through a rough time, don’t let go of God’s hand. Believe Him, trust Him, and praise Him while you’re waiting on the answer.

(Photo courtesy of Miles.)


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Monday, August 21, 2017

Not My First Rodeo

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 NKJV

I’ve already been there/done that. This is not my first rodeo.

Over thirty years ago, I was diagnosed with Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy and told a corneal transplant would be on my schedule in the near future.

Fast forward twenty-something years. In 2010, I received a transplant in my right eye along with cataract removal. Now, seven years later, I face the same surgery in my left eye—this week, in fact.

The good thing about having gone down this road before is knowing what to expect.

The bad thing about having gone down this road before is knowing what to expect.

As with all aspects of life, we learn to accept both the good and the bad, knowing God will always be with us, no matter what.  Looking back over the years, it’s easy to rejoice and be thankful for God’s faithfulness. Just as He promises in His Word, He has never left me and never let me down.

The Book of Proverbs is filled with practical wisdom and advice. In chapter 37 (1-8) we’re told to trust in the Lord, delight in Him, commit our ways to Him, and then rest. It’s a natural progression. We can’t delight in or commit our way to someone we don’t trust. But when we trust first, the other elements fall into place.

My life verse has become Proverbs 3:5-6. I’ve learned that when I seek the Lord and trust in Him with all my heart (every fiber of my being), He will direct, lead, and guide as only He can. When I refuse to be sidetracked by my own understanding—trying to analyze every situation and figure things out—He comes through every time in wonderful and unexpected ways.

No matter what you’re going through—even if it’s not your first rodeo—trust in the Lord, and He will lead you to that place of rest.

(Photo courtesy of Miles.)


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Monday, August 14, 2017

Are You Growing in Grace?

By Andrea Merrell

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge 
of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ. To him be glory 
both now and forever. Amen.
2 Peter 3:18 KJV

Except for the grace of God, that could be you.

I’ve heard that statement all my life, especially from my grandparents—whether it was making fun of people who were different or looking down on folks who had less.

But what does grace really mean?

We sing about God’s amazing grace. We offer it up as a prayer before meals. Paul called it sufficient despite his problems. We are expected to extend it to others.

Most people define grace as God’s unmerited favor. We are saved by grace. But as I’ve gotten older, studied God’s Word, and had numerous opportunities to experience His goodness, I’ve realized it means so much more.

My former pastor once said that grace is “the power of God working within us.” I’ve also heard it said that grace causes growth. When we become new creations in Christ, grace is a catalyst that equips us to live a godly life of discipline, commitment, and obedience. The more we grow in grace, the more like Christ we become—loving, caring, compassionate, giving, and more considerate of others. As the “old man” fades away, we become less negative, critical, judgmental, angry, and self-centered.

As I look back over the years, I see how much time I wasted by not allowing God full reign in my heart and life. Today, my prayer is that I will continue to grow in grace and never take it for granted. Grace is a gift from God that I need each and every day of my life. It is also a gift that I need to freely extend to others.

What about you? Are you growing in grace?

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Jumping Through Hoops

By Andrea Merrell

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and
work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms
of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

My husband and I have always had excellent credit and never an issue with getting a loan. Not so with this particular refinance. With all the new government regulations and requirements, we found ourselves jumping through one hoop after another, only to get tangled up in all the bureaucratic red tape. I received enough paperwork to wallpaper a small mansion, and I gave the bank everything except a blood sample and my firstborn child.

Life itself can be messy and confusing. Sometimes we might wonder why everything can’t be simpler. I have a feeling each generation has struggled with those same thoughts. But even when things are easy, we tend to complicate them, just like salvation.

When I was growing up, all I heard preached were the don’ts—don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t curse, don’t, don’t, don’t. Then when I got a little older, I heard a lot of dos—get up two hours early and spend time with the Lord, read your Bible from cover to cover every year, pray 24/7, give until it hurts, and be ready for the Lord to send you to Africa.

Between all the dos and don’ts, having a relationship with the Lord seemed pretty difficult. There I was, trying to jump through all those hoops in order earn my place in the kingdom. What I finally realized was that God has made the way easy and the path straight. The Bible tells me that to receive from Him, I simply need to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth. And I don’t mean a mentality of “name it and claim it.” It’s a matter of knowing what His Word says, believing it, and making His Words my confession.

Thankfully, God has no hoops for us to jump through, no bureaucratic red tape, and no restrictions when it comes to being part of His family. He simple says “Come.”  When we do, He promises to teach us the unforced rhythms of grace.

Take God at His Word and you will live freely and lightly.

(Photo courtesy of Miles/iosphere)


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