About Pastor John Merritt

When not behind a pulpit you will find John lobster diving, helicopter skiing, hauling in yellow fin tuna, calling mallards from a duck blind, or rocketing over whitewater in the Grand Canyon. John loves to stretch people by taking them into untamed places like Cape Town, Cairo or Calcutta. Always scheming about how to get out of the office, John loves to find fellow conspirators to take the next plunge into the unknown. Currently John is the Interim Pastor for Fair Oaks Church in Concord, CA and is navigating a merger of Fair Oaks Church with CrossWinds Church (John is a pastor on staff at both churches). John has been a missionary, leader, pastor, church planter and speaker for the past 40 years. John is married to his wife Debbie, has 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

Writing and Publishing for a Purpose

John Merritt: Writing and Publishing for a PurposeYEAH!!! There were times when I never thought my book would actually be on bookstore shelves or available online as it is today! It’s been a long and sometimes arduous journey to get Don’t Blink in print. Now that it is, I hope and pray that God will use this book for the purpose intended—to inspire Christians to live life to the fullest, and as a gift to our non-Christian friends who could use a different perspective on what the Christian life looks like.

It’s been said that there’s a book inside each one of us. And while this is no doubt true, the big question is: Will anybody read it? I wondered that of my own book. And how do you know if people are reading it and benefiting from it? Ah, this is where social media provides some answers.

I’ve been transparent about my lack of passion for social media—especially my own! And yet, I am finding that this is not only where you get honest feedback but also transparent testimony of the effectiveness (or not) of what you are putting out there. In fact, reading some comments about Don’t Blink on the internet has provided confirmation that God is using this in ways that I had hoped and prayed for.

Here’s an example: After reading the first five chapters of your book, I have to say thank you for rekindling my sense of adventure! I have been dreading writing my company mission statement and personal bio, etc, for my website. You reminded me of my passion for life and to just go for it, with Jesus by my side! What could be better? I think I was getting a little stagnant or complacent. What an invigorating breath of Christ-filled air! After reading “Don’t Blink” poolside this hot afternoon, I dove in for a swim and it was GOOD TO BE ALIVE! I plan on purchasing copies for my father and my friends. Thank you!

I’ve been asked why I wrote a book, and responses like this provide the answer. I knew going into this project that 80% of men don’t read books. While my book has both a female and male audience in mind, I wanted men to find the book readable. So each of the 23 chapter starts with a captivating short story followed by a down-to-earth, real-life application. Seems like the book is keeping the short male attention span engaged—and I love that!

To all of you who have read or plan to read Don’t Blink: The Life You Won’t Want to Miss I thank you. And remember, I wrote it with your non-Christian friend in mind—so please share it. Would make a nice gift for someone you care about this holiday season that is almost upon us.

God’s best to you!

John

A Writing and Publishing Journey

So John, tell me about the writing of your book. How long did it take? What did you learn about publishing? What was the most enjoyable and most the difficult part of the process?

Pastor John Merritt, Discover. The Writing Journey

I’ve been asked questions like these numerous times in recent months. And since my first book, Don’t Blink, ready to be released in November (EBook is already available)—I thought I’d share what I loved and what I did not love about becoming an author (things you may consider if you have thoughts of becoming an author yourself).

What I loved: The actual writing of the book that took place during a six month sabbatical. I’ve always enjoyed writing, telling a story and making biblical application out of real life experiences. What I didn’t know was that writing the book was the easy part—let me tell you about the hard part.

Don’t Blink is for procrastinators, dreamers, and would-be adventurers who wish to grab hold of life this day, knowing there are no guarantees about someday. From Alaska to Argentina to the Amazon―in situations ranging from dangerous to humorous―John Merritt takes you on a daring pilgrimage revealing what living in the moment looks like. John demolishes the notion that once you become a Christian your freedoms are gone and your fun is done. Life is an extraordinary adventure elevated to audacious heights when God is leading the charge.

Don’t Blink is for procrastinators, dreamers, and would-be adventurers who wish to grab hold of life this day, knowing there are no guarantees about someday. From Alaska to Argentina to the Amazon―in situations ranging from dangerous to humorous―John Merritt takes you on a daring pilgrimage revealing what living in the moment looks like. John demolishes the notion that once you become a Christian your freedoms are gone and your fun is done. Life is an extraordinary adventure elevated to audacious heights when God is leading the charge.

What I didn’t love: The first thing I didn’t love was when I was advised to hire a professional editor who proceeded to get out her electronic red pen and essentially let me know how unaccomplished my writing was. In the end I was thankful for her coaching because the result was her finally telling me, “John, you’ve found your writers voice.” But that required many tedious rewrites that took longer than the initial draft.

A second thing I didn’t love was the realization that unless I was able to find an agent willing to represent my project I had no chance of getting a publishing house to even consider my work. Finding Alice Crider (then with WordServe, now with Cook) was a God-send and was not easy. (Note: Because of the difficulty in getting an agent to represent you, self-publishing is sometimes your best option.)

A third thing I didn’t love is the months it took for my agent to find a publisher who was interested in my book (took an entire year). There are many reasons why a publisher says no to a writer but the main one is market share. Publishers are in the business of selling books, and if you are not able to prove that you have a large audience who will buy lots of books, it really doesn’t matter how good your content is.

A final thing I don’t love is all the marketing of the book I must personally do because no one else is going to do it (not even most publishers these days). Because I’m not good at social media I’ve employed a person who I’m greatly indebted to (Leah Apineru with Impact Author Services, Colorado Springs) who built and maintains my website and posts my blogs. But I’ve always hated self-promotion and leaning on my friends to get the word out—sorry!

Why I wrote it: Given that being a published author is much more difficult than I ever imagined, why did I hang in there and spend lots of my own dollars in order to get my book out there? Simply because I think it will help Christians like yourself discover that God has an adventure designed just for you that will elevate your life each day. And what elevates the purpose of the book for me is if people like yourself find the book to be a good one to pass along to your non-Christian friends who could use a different perspective of the Christian life. If the publishing of “Don’t Blink” results in spiritual explorers becoming followers of Jesus then all that I didn’t love about publishing will be worth it!

John Merritt's Don't Blink TribeToward that end, I’m looking for friends who share that same passion and will help me by reading the book and then sharing it with your friends and family members. Currently Don’t Blink is available in EBook form through Amazon, Kindle, iBookstore and Barnes & Noble Nook. The paperback is due to be released November 10 and you can pre-order a book now. If you would like to learn more about joining the tribe, email: impactauthor@comcast.net.

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Thanks everyone!
John

 

Dig it Up

Dig it outThere is a verse in the Psalms that expresses this priceless bit of wisdom and truth. It says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14) If you study the Hebrew here in this verse, the word for wonderfully carries with it an undertone of “separated” or “distinct.” In other words, this can be read as, “I am wonderfully different, separated, distinct, set apart.” Or another way of saying this: “God, I praise you, because I was made to wonderfully not blend in – you made me to stand out.”

The word fearfully means your uniqueness was designed so well it could produce fear or reverence or awe. Think about this. Think about a time when you saw something so amazing that it scared you. I think of times when I’ve been on a wild ocean, or rafting in white water through the Grand Canyon, or on looking over the edge at the top of Half Dome, or being caught in a blinding snow storm…So what this word “fearfully” means is that you were made in such a way that it should inspire awe and wonder.

The point is, when you choose to blend in, you are robbing us from the wonder and awe we would get from seeing a unique you. Imagine the Mona Lisa being put in a closet forever because she didn’t have the same smile as everyone else. Or like a Beethoven Symphony being thrown away because there was too much passion in it. The truth is that when you to try to blend in, trying to be someone you’re not, that is far weirder than to be who God created you to be.

The bigger tragedy of losing who you truly are is that your heart starts to feel numb, and your life feels less and less alive because you’ve buried the uniqueness that God made you to be—and that is a soul-killer. So, if I may do a little digging around, even a little prying into your soul—what do you think you’ve buried in terms of the amazing person that you are? What talents, desires, dreams, passions, interests or pursuits have you given up on because someone discouraged you, or said you couldn’t do that, or be that? Or how have you decided that conforming and blending in is better than being true to your unique God-fashioned self?

For Reflection: In what way has your passion for life been reduced to a mundane routine of conformity that you hate more than you love? What needs to be dug up, woken from its slumber, and come alive in you again?

Previously published on John Merritt’s blog: this day

Enjoying Life

For the record, there is no eleventh merritt, john FINAL19commandment that says: “Thou shalt not enjoy life.” Nor does God ever say, “My plan for you is to be miserable on earth until you arrive in heaven.” What the Bible does say is that God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (I Timothy 6:17b) In other words, God has given us an amazing world to enjoy—so what’s holding us back from living a life that’s deeply satisfying?

 

A major misconception we must debunk is that when you become a Christian, you are required to give up much of what you find satisfying and your fun is over. Truth is, God maximizes our ability to enjoy life and gives us unlimited freedom to live the most fulfilling lives possible. If there is any sin in this, it is in our reluctance to consider how God can raise the quality of our lives to new levels of fulfillment and joy.

For Reflection: What false limitations have you imposed on your God-given freedom to enjoy life? How do you think living life with God could serve to elevate your satisfaction and joy?

Previously published on John Merritt’s blog.