Category Archives: pmerrill

The second greatest

Copyright 2017, Paul MerrillIt’s as vital as breathing to be loved. That’s a common line of thinking in popular psychology,* but Jesus also underlined the importance of loving others. It’s the second greatest commandment! Think of that – Jesus totally knew the ten commandments, but He said loving others is more important than not killing someone.

And love happens where we are known. When we can let down our “everything’s alright” facade from work or school and let people in, we share our hurts and fears, then healing can happen. Our vulnerability has to happen in a warm safe place where we know we won’t be attacked for a different way or thinking or for our failures.

Heather and I are starting a small group from people who are part of our church. It’s a new season, just like the start of school, so it’s a natural time to begin something new.

We desire for our group to be a place where we can get to know each other, learn from each other and learn from God together.

One way we want to go deeper in learning is to discuss the sermon from Sunday. It’s great to hear our pastor’s reflections on truths from God’s Word, but we can internalize those truths if we chew more deeply on those ideas among our peers.

Sharing our needs and praying for each other will be a vital part. We’ll do that over a meal, so we all have a chance to feed our bodies at the same time.

How are you finding community? Are you going it alone? Don’t. Find a group to open up with. Be watered and fed.

* Why We All Need to Belong to Someone appeared in Psychology Today. There is some truth there, but I don’t agree with the whole article.

Paul Merrill writes here every first Friday.


Waiting again

Heather and I are at a place of waiting again. We are trusting God for what’s next in several areas of our lives.

It’s not easy, nor is there lots of fun in that aspect of our journey.

I’m reminded of family car journeys, when the kids ask, “Are we there yet?”

The kids are wanting the destination to be here and now, but the parents know it’s physically impossible to get to the Pennsylvania border any faster than traveling at the speed limit will allow.

So the parents try to distract the kids in every way they can think of. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not.

When all else fails, they stop for ice cream.

This analogy breaks down in places. God doesn’t distract us from thinking about how we want to get to our destination now. And we don’t know which border our car is heading toward.

But ice cream fits. God has given us some tasty moments to savor along our way. We’ve been able to enjoy many beautiful sights.

And our car is working fine.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

Because we don’t know what’s next, that’s our opportunity to depend on God. We would appreciate your prayers as we wait to get to the border.

Paul Merrill writes here every first Friday.

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.)

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.)