All posts by Paul Merrill

About Paul Merrill

Observing the shiny bits of life since I can remember.

I’m not God

hand writing the phrase, "I'm not God."“Forget” is a word that seems to come up in my thinking over and over.

One of the things I keep forgetting is that I’m not God.

Yes, I know that I do not have the power to create the universe from nothing. I know that I do not know the answers to problems that are vexing our world and my neighbor.

But I forget when it comes to the day-to-day ins and outs of life.

“If they would just do it differently, things would be better.” I see an unresolved situation that I think I know a fix for and spend a lot of negative mental energy wishing I could influence a change.

Sometimes it’s a good thing to push back. Most of the time, it’s not.

I would do better to bring my situation to God and ask Him to work. Then I’ll learn patience. My trust muscles will get stronger.

Psalm 46:10-11…

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

God’s plan will happen.

(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)


More about loving your enemies

Jesus said, “love your enemies.”

Jon has been giving us some really helpful ideas on how to do this. If you missed those posts, go back and read them: parts one and two.

I keep forgetting the command Jesus gave. It wasn’t just a request – it was a command. If you look at the whole speech Jesus gave to a large group of people sitting on a hillside (Matthew 5), He hits on that idea more than once and in several ways. Working from the end of the chapter backward to the beginning, here are just a few ways Jesus tells us to love our enemies:

  • Go above and beyond what’s expected of you by people you don’t like: verse 41.
  • Stick with your wife even when it’s hard: verse 31.
  • Treat beautiful people like people and not objects: verse 28.
  • Be reconciled with those you’re not getting along with: verses 23-24.
  • Be careful what you call those who you think are doing crazy things: verse 22.
  • Don’t get angry with those around you: verse 22.

Think about this climate we live in today. We’re being pulled by every side to hate our enemies and not to love.


Think about ways you are doing that today and turn around.

I remembered how I messed up after I said some harsh things. Last night, I pointed out to my wife how someone had a dark past and how that was being covered up. It just wasn’t right how that person’s bad actions were getting swept under the carpet.

My wife didn’t agree with me, so my words got stronger and louder. We ended in an “agree to disagree” state.

Then, this morning, I remembered, “Love your enemies.”

Aaaugh! It’s hard!

(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)

We can’t see

I recently met a man who suffers from PTSD, as a result of experiences in the Vietnam War.

I can’t begin to understand the depth of pain he knows and feels on an ongoing basis. The aches and pains in my life must be child’s play to him.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:11: “No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit…”

For me to try to speak to his pain or put forward a solution would be foolish. There are trained professionals to counsel those who suffer pain. But in many cases, their effectiveness is limited, either due to the lack of adherence to solutions put forward or to the depth of the injury that caused the pain.

(If someone gets an arm cut off, there is only so much a doctor can do.)

And I can’t see the “why” for that trauma.

Solomon, the man God described as the wisest man to have breathed this air, said in Ecclesiastes 3:11: “…people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

I take comfort in the two words in the middle of that truth, “God’s work.” God is working. He is working in ways I can’t see. He is working toward goals I can’t understand. He is working in a timeline that is way longer than my little lifetime.

(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)

coffee cup

Things to help us remember

Two coffee mugs are part of my daily life.

Those mugs remind me of my two sisters. Each sister gave me a mug as a gift. (They know I love coffee.) Many times when I lift one of those mugs to my lips, I remember that sister and pray for her and her family.

God knew that we would forget. He told Joshua to ask His people to put a large pile of 12 stones on the banks of the Jordan River so that Israelites could remember how God gave them the new land on that side of the river (Joshua 4).

It’s easy to forget that there were two piles of stones that Joshua had his priests build in that same chapter of the Bible. Jon wrote about that other pile of stones. But I’m writing about the more obvious set of stones – the pile on the banks of the Jordan. It was for the children of the people who saw God part the waters of that river.

I’m too often like a child. I forget all the good things that God has done for me, like giving me sisters (and a brother) that I love. And I forget to pray for them.

So the simple act of using those special mugs reminds me of the ones who gave me the mugs.

As we start this new year, think of one simple thing you can add to your life that will remind you to spend a few extra moments talking with God during your day.

(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)

Black Friday

How much is...Yes, today is Black Friday – the day Americans are urged through a massive push of advertising from every source imaginable to buy stuff we don’t need at amazing prices.

True, there’s the idea that we need to buy Christmas gifts for those on our list, and buying those gifts on Black Friday would save us a bit of money.

And then we see deals on stuff we have been looking at but not really considering. “I mean, it’s less than half the regular price! For that, I can afford it.”

You might think I’d head in the direction of asking you to give to a charity instead – or to think of the way-below-minimum-wage workers who make all that stuff. (And ministries like World Vision help people who fall into the latter category – at least a little. China is hostile to most Christian missions, so you’d have to settle for India or Cambodia, both of whom make some of that “stuff.”)

But no.

All I ask is that you – and I – take a few minutes to thank God that we live in a place where we have so many freedoms that we have the luxury of buying things we don’t need. And then take a few more minutes to think about how we can share that excess.

So yes.

I guess I’m looping back to the idea of giving instead of taking.

Compassion is another ministry focused on kids – some of the most vulnerable people in the world. My wife and I have sponsored two kids for several years. One even graduated from the program. For very little money each month,we sponsored him long enough to see him enter his society (in Tanzania) with the tools to support himself and eventually, maybe, a family too.

Black Friday? No. Give Friday.

(Paul Merrill normally writes here every First Friday, but instead of writing in December, he’s writing on the last Friday of November.)