All posts by Paul Merrill

About Paul Merrill

Observing the shiny bits of life since I can remember.

Burning hearts

(First published March 6, 2015.)

It was just three days after Jesus had been killed. Two of his followers went for a walk to be with other followers. They were passionately discussing all the earth-shaking events surrounding the loss of their friend and leader. (This story is in Luke 24.)

Suddenly, a guy started walking along with them. He didn’t seem to know what all the fuss was about. And they didn’t recognize him, so they explained the events surrounding Jesus’ death.

They talked together for a long time. It’s comforting to me that though they didn’t know the Scriptures about what was going to happen to Jesus, He was patient enough to explain it to them. He talked in a way they understood. Yet he did not use soft words to ease them into the truth – as usual, he talked without any candy coating: “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.”

I love that. They had a hard time believing the Scriptures! I don’t always believe. I need Jesus to explain things to me.

I’m not sure why God kept Jesus’ identity from them for a while. Maybe it’s a picture of how God sometimes reveals Himself to us slowly. We want to see all of God now, but God knows that’s not what we need.

I love how they finally recognized who Jesus is when He broke bread. Eating together was such an important part of their relationship that they knew how He broke bread. That’s a good reminder to me that I need to spend a lot more time with friends breaking bread together. And talking.

“Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” I love that burn.


Paul Merrill writes here every first Friday.


You are a library

shelves in Bemis Public Library, Littleton, ColoradoYou are a library – your life is a series of books.

Each season of your life is a book. Each day and each moment are written in those books. Some people enter your life and leave. So they are part of some chapters and some books. Some people stay and are part of a lot of your books.

We don’t know the words of every book. When we were born, we couldn’t read yet, so the words from that book were only known to our mothers and maybe our fathers. As we grow older, our reading ability diminishes and we may no longer be able to read the words.

God loves to tour our library and read those books out loud if we will let Him. He wrote them with us and for us.

Sometimes He helps us understand what a book means. Other times He might say that we’re not ready to understand what another book means.

I take great comfort in knowing that He knows every single word of every one of my books. Not only did He write my books alongside me, He also designed the cover and the look of each page. (Every one of my books has a different design.)

Psalm 139:13: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)

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.)