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A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 14 Jul 2015, 6:15 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 28 July 13, 2015

You Know Me

We often hear people expressing that they have found their soul mate. In romantic conversations we hear people talk of searching for the person of their dreams. It is not uncommon in wedding ceremonies to hear references to the first couple (Genesis 1-3) being naked, thus hiding nothing from one another. They knew each other completely and held nothing back from one another. With their disobedience things changed. Since that time there has been a void in our nature that longs to be filled. 
In this single line from the 139th Psalm David reminds us that filling that void is possible because of our relationship with our Creator that, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” (Psalm 139:1, NIV84)
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” He created us. As He created us He searched us to make sure everything was just as He intended. He knows all about us. He knows what makes us happy and what makes us sad. He knows how we think and what we think and how we try not to think about things we think He would not want us to think. He knows what hurts us. He knows what amazes and loves to amaze us. 
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” He created us so He understands us. He understands when we are weak and how we try to act like we are strong. He understands how we pretend we have life figured out when we really have no clue. He understands how we work so hard to prove we are worthy of His love, while all the time trying to help us understand that He requires no such proving of our value. He understands how frightened we are when it appears our life is neat the end, yet longs for us to replace that fear with the peace of knowing He is waiting for us on the other side. 
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” He created us so as He searches us He may be searching for the qualities of His nature that He placed in us. Qualities that we tend to be reluctant to release. Qualities that will remain dormant until we set them free. Qualities that He placed within us so the world experience them and recognize Him as our Creator. 
 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” He created us. Of course He knows us. Just as a sculptor knows his statue. Just as an artist knows her painting. Just as an instructor knows his material. Just as a mother knows her child.
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” It is a scary thought. 
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” It is a sobering thought.
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” It is a comforting thought. 
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” Thank You for searching me and knowing me.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Wed 08 Jul 2015, 9:54 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 27 July 5, 2015

What Is That Aroma?

There sure are a lot of different smells! Odd way to begin an article, right? Seriously, have you ever noticed all the different smells and aromas you encounter every day?
As I leave home in the morning and walk from the bathroom, through the bedroom, through the kitchen through the laundry room, through garage, outside and into my car. Each room has a different aroma. From the fresh smell of soap and shampoo and cologne in the bathroom, I pass through the bedroom where the new quilted Coverlet has a unique scent. The kitchen smells of brewed coffee and toasted English Muffin. The laundry room smells detergent and hot water. The garage reminds me that it has been raining during the night and the humidity is high. Outside the wet grass and pavement gives off a special and somewhat unpleasant smell. Inside the car I remember that we brought home leftovers from the restaurant last night.
Driving to work the aroma of Starbucks drifts through window at the drive through. The fragrance of freshly mowed grass seeps through the air vents from the fields on both sides of the road to replace the stifling exhaust from a semi. An occasional stop at the local Donut Palace offers the tempting aroma of freshly baked pastries. 
Walking from my car to the office building I notice a neighbor across the street has downed a tree and the scent of cut wood floats across the parking lot. Inside the door is the familiar smell of the workplace that has no real identifiable source. Passing through the offices one may notice the fragrance of fresh flowers or candles are not uncommon. 
Further down the hall one detects that meals are being prepared in the kitchen one floor below. Opening the door to my office it is obvious that the door has been closed and the air has not circulated since Friday afternoon. Turning on the fan and lighting a beach-scented candle restores a freshness to the office.   
The variety of odors, aromas, fragrances, and smells on any given day seems to have no limit. The hospital. The grocery store. A restaurant. Coffee shops. Office buildings. People. Each one has its own unique aroma and fragrances. Each uniquely suited for the place or the person. Each one seems to carry a specific image or memory from another place and another time.   
It is that imagery that Paul uses to describe what we are to be as followers of Jesus. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16, NIV)
Just as walking through a house, or by driving down the street one can experience a variety of pleasant and unpleasant aromas, how we conduct ourselves as we move through the world will produce either a pleasant or unpleasant aroma to those with whom we interact. To our God we are “the pleasing aroma of Christ.” What are we to those around us?

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 29 Jun 2015, 11:08 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 26 June 29, 2015

What A World We Live In!

  One day last week I was not feeling well. Had been having some things that did not feel just right and finally decided to go get checked out. Call the doctor, got an appointment, went to see him, checked me out, made a diagnosis, prescribed meds, started taking them, all within a twenty-four hour period. What a world we live in!
While I was in the doctor’s office, after we had discussed my situation he said, “I’m going to talk to my computer for a moment.” He did. I left the office. Within a few minutes my pharmacy called and an email arrived in my box saying, “Your prescription is ready for pick-up.” What a world we live in!
Driving home one day my daughter and granddaughter called wanting to FaceTime with me. I pulled over into a shaded spot in a parking lot and for the next thirty minutes or so, I could see and hear them, they could see and hear me. We shared things that are going on in our respective worlds and I could see and hear my granddaughter as she told me all kinds of things that she understood completely. Twenty minutes later I received a call from my son on my cell phone as he walked through the streets of his city and I drove through the streets of mine. Less than half of an hour later after I had gotten my daughter-in-law and other granddaughter called to FaceTime with me. For thirty minutes or so I watched and listened to them, and they to me as we again shared the details of our day and week. What a world we live in!
My wife came home the other night with a little disc in a red plastic container. I took the disc put it in a machine, changed a few settings on out television and we watched a movie right there in living room while we were eating dinner. If we wanted to pause it, we did. If we missed a line we hit rewind and listened again. What a world we live in!
While I was sitting in a waiting room instead of picking up one of the outdated magazines on the table next to me I opened up this device I had in my hands and began to read news stories, messages, jot down a few thoughts in my sermon notes, and read part of a chapter of a book. What a world we live in! 
When last week’s big news stories broke, within seconds the social media sites were exploding (so I am told) with the opinions of anyone and everyone who chose to share one. The opinion could be a popular one or it could be one that produced annoyance, irritation, and anger. The posts could be intelligent, respectful, and thoughtful comments, or they could be worded so as to express the ignorance and hate of the individual expressing them. I am sure there were, and are, plenty of both. Discussions began. Arguments erupted. Battle lines were drawn. All were free to speak their mind, voice their opinion, and declare their convictions. What a world we live in!
On Sunday morning I drove to our church building, gathered with believers in the God who created us all, we sang songs of praise, we offered prayers to the Living God, we opened His Word and studied from it, and encouraged one another to go out into the world and share His message. There were no barriers. There were no restrictions (other than what we placed on ourselves). We worshipped freely and openly. What a world we live in!

Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 22 Jun 2015, 11:06 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 25 June 22, 2015

A One-Legged Duck and Three Robins

Disclaimer: I do not speak Duck or Robin. I have not studied the Duck culture (please do not report me to the Duck Dynasty), and I have never gone undercover (perhaps under-feather would be more appropriate) to watch and learn the ways of Robins. Nor have consulted an Ornithologist to check the accuracy of what I am about to present. I am just an ordinary guy who recently saw a one-legged duck and later that same day took notice of three Robins in a rose garden. 
The one-legged duck (actually it was a one-and-a-half-legged duck) was on the fringe. It did not appear that the other ducks were being unkind or keeping their distance, it simply appeared that this duck felt more comfortable on the fringes. When on the ground the one-and-a-half-legged duck kept some distance between him (not sure if it was him or a her) and the other birds. When he wobbled into the water again he seemed to keep a safe distance as he paddled with his one leg. 
Now shifting got the rose garden with the three robins, the atmosphere was quite different. These three robins came together — one from the fence, the other two from other locations in the garden — and shared a worm. They all took a nibble or two then returned to their place. One enjoyed the rest of the worm while perched atop the fence, the other two went back to search for more. After a search they came together again to share their findings, chat a bit then flew away. 
I noticed that the three robins seems happy. The three robins seemed concerned about each other. The three robins seemed to be helping one another.  The three robins seemed to enjoy being one another. 
As I pondered these interesting creatures I was reminded of interactions I have observed within our spiritual communities. 
Is there a one-and-a-half-legged duck in your church? You know them. Or, at least you have seen them. They come in late. That find a seat in an area where few people sit. During time of fellowship they leave early, or they keep to themselves. The only interactions are those initiated by someone else. He is not opposed to the connections, he probably would not be resistance to more in depth conversation, and even developing a relationship. He will not resist it but he will never be able to make the first move because he has been injured. You cannot see his injury because it is on the inside. 
The robins are a different kind of church. They are friendly, loving, caring, and devoted to one another. If one has a need, all others rally to provide that need. If one struggles then all struggle. If one rejoices they all rejoices. Joy abounds within the community 
The challenge here is for you, and your church, to look beyond the injury that has crippled the one-and-a-half-legged duck. The challenge is love him as he is, injured, broken, and weak. It will be up to you to approach him, welcome him, show him you can trust him, and become a safe place for him, when he is ready and willing, to reveal his injury to you. The reward for you, and for the body, will be when the one-and-a-half-legged duck is restored to become a vibrant and resourceful member of his new found family. 
Whether yours is a community of robins or you are a one-and-a-half-legged duck, there is a place for you to use your gifts and abilities to serve others and bring glory to God. The challenge here is for you to be who God has created you to be, and to become.    

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 15 Jun 2015, 11:03 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 24 June 15, 2015

Tired of Saying, “I’m Tired.” 

Have you ever going through one of those times when your pat answer when anyone asks, “How are you?” you say, “I’m tired.” 
When I find myself in that frame of mind taking a simple inventory of current life events usually reveals the reason: Too much life happening in too short or a time. Work is requiring significantly more energy. Family responsibilities have increased. Relationships that normally are mutually encouraging are not. Instead of enjoying life as it comes, life is managing me. Instead of enjoying life one day at a time, yesterday’s victories are replaced with tomorrow’s problems. Instead of relaxing and taking time for reflection and mediation, the next thing commands me to move toward it at lightening speed. 
It seems as though Jesus’ statement in John 10:10, “I have come so that you may have life and life to the full” has been rewritten to say, “I have come so that your life may be full…fuller than you will be able to handle.”
So, it is no surprise that when asked, “How are you?” The response is, “I’m tired. Really tired.” 
I’m tired of saying, “I’m tired.” So, what should I do?
For starters, take inventory of life. What things or events or situations that are creating the most pressure? What or who are the joy-stealers currently in my world? In what areas have I surrendered my legitimate responsibility of control to external forces? What commitments or areas of my life have been put on hold but continue to haunt me as tasks that need to be completed? Any one or a combination of more than one of these can contribute a cluttered and distracted mindset that will create an “I’m tired” disposition. 
After taking an honest inventory of life it is essential to decide what must be eliminated. Be careful here. The task of deciding what to eliminate can itself become so difficult and time consuming that it becomes yet another burden to be lifted. Once the unnecessary items are deleted from your list, start knocking out the others one by one. As much as possible concentrate on one at a time, complete it, feel good about, celebrate it, and take a break before you start on the next one. 
As you work though the process of elimination and completion set aside some time for Scripture. Here’s a couple that might prove helpful. 
Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Taking a thought from last passage: rest. Get some rest. Sleep late. Take an afternoon off from work. Let the Lord run the world while you rest. A friend attributed this quote Dr. Carol Ellis: “The most religious thing a tired man can do is take a nap.” So, take a nap.  
I hope these suggestions are helpful, if so good. There are other suggestions from experts more qualified than me. Consider then. Consider them Use what works. Ignore the others. After a while who knows, when you are asked, “How are you?” you just might say something like, “I’m blessed. I’m refreshed.”

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 08 Jun 2015, 8:46 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 23 June 8, 2015

Nana
Norma Lee Taylor (November 18, 1926 - June 2, 2015)

Every now and then something happens that as it is happening you realize that because of it your life will never be the same. That was the case at a few minutes before 11:00 last Tuesday night when we got the call that Nana (my wife’s mother) had taken her last breath. Prayers were answered as she peacefully and quietly took a couple of breaths and went home to be with the Lord. 
In those moments your mind our minds filled with memories and swirled with details. We knew it was coming. We had prepared for it. She knew it was coming so she had made preparations that would lessen our burden. There Were people to call. We would need to finalize the arrangements. We would need to discuss schedules and travel plans. We knew it was coming, but still we were frozen in disbelief. 
Grief is often described as a wave in the ocean. It comes out of nowhere when you least expect it and knocks you for a loops. You recover the best you can, get your bearings, steady yourself, then suddenly another wave hits you from behind and takes you down. That certainly describes the experience of the last ten months as our family and friends walked with Nana, and with each other, through declining health and eventual death. As we hold on tho the memories to encourage and comfort us we will periodically be swept away by other waves of sadness and loss. We will also be refreshed and restored by memories of joy and laughter and a life lived long and well.
In the sprays that followed we shared memories of Nana’s strength and determination. We recalled occasions when because of her sheer determination to make life better she worked hard, she provided food, she offered financial assistance, she made phone calls, she served on boards, she offered advice, she asked questions. She could really ask questions. And, if she did not hear the answer she wanted, she would often ask it again, and again, and again. Even if you repeatedly gave the same "I don't know" answer she assumed you would surely know the answer if she would still ask it one more time.. 
We remembered times when she helped her husband achieve his career goals.  We reminded each other of how when he was sick she stepped up and did whatever she needed to do to get him help, get him where he needed to be, and stayed with him until the issue was resolved. We recounted how she stayed with him to very end, relentless in her efforts to make sure he was cared for and provided for as he should be. 
Her children shared how Nana had provided for them through her love, her words, her written notes, her financial assistance, her direct eye-to-eye confrontations. They shared stories of how she stepped in when there was no one else to step in. We heard stories of how she cared for her own mother, making sure the received the best care available to her, and again how she was with her to the very end. 
We read hand-written notes where she stated the guidelines for her long-term care: how she wanted to spend her last days, where she wanted to spend them, and how they were to be paid for. Nana was a woman who knew what she wanted and was not afraid to let it be known. She was a woman who had definite feelings of what she expected from you. If you failed to fulfill those expectations, she was not afraid to let you know. 
Grandchildren told of conversations on growing up, marriage, politics, trips they had taken together, and times when she had reminded them that there is a right way to live and that the right way was what assumed you would want as we. We remembered how she had encouraged all of us to do our best, to carry our own weight, and exert whatever effort necessary to make sure we reached or exceeded our potential.
Nana supported causes and people she believed in. When a need seemed insurmountable or too big to handle, she found a way, or manufactured one. She was a faithful wife and a devoted mother. She was loving grandmother, great-grandmother, church member, neighbor, and friend. 
As the wife,of a university professors wife for almost fifty years, Nana displayed her extensive wisdom and strength with dignity, and grace. She finished her life in the same manner. Lingering longer than anyone expected or could predict, she spend her last days in the place she wanted,  in the manner she wanted, and with the people she wanted.
For almost forty-two years I have been the recipient of her unconditional and unreserved love. I could not have ever imagined a better mother-in-law. Through the years we talked about the trivial things of life, and we talked about some of the most serious things. She encouraged me as a preacher, as husband, as a father, as a grandfather, as a writer, as a christian man, and she always considered me to be a much better person than I could ever possibly be. She loved me, and I loved her. I will miss her. All who knew her will miss her. 
Paul's words describe Nana's current status very well. "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV) 
Thank you, Nana for loving us and letting us know and love you. I hope than in your new dwelling place you have finally had that conversation with my mother that you’ve always wanted to have.   

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 01 Jun 2015, 5:00 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 22 June 1, 2015

Holding On and Letting Go

One of the recurring tasks of life seems to be finding the balance in holding on and letting go. 
When you drop off your child for their first day of school parents struggle with finding the balance between letting go and holding on. You experience the same struggle when they transition from elementary school to middle school, and from middle school to high school. 
When a parent watches their son walk across a stage to receive their diploma they are smiling on the outside, but on the inside they are trying to find the balance between holding on and letting go. So is their son. 
When a mother gets her child settled into their first dorm room or apartment she struggles with the finding the balance between letting go and holding on. 
When a father walks his daughter down the aisle he rehearses his response to the question: “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” Even when he manages to verbalize the words in his heart he is struggling to find the balance between letting go and holding on. So is she. 
When a couple reaches a mutual decision that it is time for their relationship to end a major part of their struggle is to find the balance between letting go and holding on. They believe it is the right decision, but what if it is not. 
It is not long after the birth of a child that parents are forced to come to terms with the struggle to find the balance between letting go and holding on. We call the parents who struggle to let go “helicopter” parents. We call the parents who let go too much neglectful. 
As we experience the aging process where we are forced to accept that we cannot do all the things we once did we struggle with finding the balance between letting go and holding on. As we watch life slowly drain from the body of a loved one we struggle with finding the balance between letting go and holding on. 
Although he spoke with confidence and determination, one has to wonder if Paul did not also struggle a bit with finding the balance between letting go and holding on, when he wrote: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV)
There is a balance. Holding on seems natural. Holding on often seems to the right thing to do. At the same time letting go may feel cold and indifferent and wrong. There is a balance between letting go and holding on. May you have wisdom, patience, and peace as you search for that balance. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 25 May 2015, 10:57 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 21 May 25, 2015

It Does Not Seem Like a Big Deal

It did not seem like a big deal. We were invited to an event, so we went. We enjoyed the gathered and well received. The people who invited us could not stop thanking us. As we left the event they thanked us. Later that night we received a text thanking us again. The next morning we received another text thanking us again. It did not seem like a big deal, but to these people it was a really big deal. 
It is what I do. I am a counselor. I listen to people, I try to show compassion and offer godly wisdom when possible. It does not seem like a big deal. To person who is hurting it apparently is a big deal. I have received letters, notes, emails, texts, phone calls, handshakes, hugs and face to face conversations thanking me for doing what I do. 
He probably has no idea what an impact he had on me. He was a basketball coach I was a very average junior high kid who wanted to play. I later came to know him better as a godly man with a family, successful in his business, active in the community and his church. His example has stayed with me all these years. He probably has no idea what a big deal it was for him to be kind and encourage that average junior high kid.
He probably did not think it was a big deal. He was my seventh grade math teacher. That was the year my mother died. I was having a difficult time. He knew it. He showed a sad scared and confused seventh grader considerable kindness and grace as he helped me finish the school year with decent grades. I still remember is fifty-one years later. To him it probably did not seem like a big deal. 
They may have never realized what a big deal it was for them to be so kind to me. I was just the high school boy dating their daughter. They showed that high school boy an incredible amount of graciousness by feeding me more times than I could recall, taking me to places I would have never gone, introducing me to pizza, and being there when I had questions about faith and church and life. They were just being who they were…wonderful Christian people. Little did they know that the high school boy who was dated their daughter was watching them, listening to them, learning lessons from them that he tries to practice all these years later. To them it probably did not seem like a big deal. 
I do not know if he realized what a big deal it was for him to take notice of me. He was the preacher and I was just a high school senior who decided to make a commitment to Jesus. He encouraged me. He always noticed me and acknowledged my presence. When there were major things going on in my world he managed to be there with a kind word, a gentle spirit, and usually some amount of money to help me get through college. To him it probably did not seem to be a big deal. To me it was a big deal and his shepherding ministry lives on. 
She may not have considered it to be a big deal when she welcomed me into their home as a young man who would eventually marry her daughter. She saw more potential in me that was actually there. She gave me credit for being a better man than I could possibly be. She praised me a husband and as a father and as a minister and as an important member of the family. To her it was probably not a big deal. To me it has been appreciated for nearly forty years and will be appreciated for the rest of my life.
One time Jesus said these words, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”  (Matthew 10:42, NIV)
As we go through life we will have many opportunities to give “a cup of cold water to one of these little ones.” Let’s do everything in our power not to miss those opportunities. Let’s notice and acknowledge when someone gives us a cup of cold water. It may not seem like a big deal at the time, but with God’s involvement for some little one it may be a huge deal. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 18 May 2015, 8:38 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 20 May 18, 2015

Graduation Thoughts

As many celebrate high school and college graduations I’ve become reflective on my own graduation with the class of 1970. Yes, I can remember that far back. So, today I want to share a couple of those reflections and make a couple of request of those of the class of 2015.
The reflections 
1970 in Hope, Arkansas was a tense time. Racial tensions were high. Riots were taking place all over the country. We did not experience riots, but the threat seemed to be bubbling just under the surface. I could not imagine the level of tension being any higher than it was in 1970. In the last couple of years I have seen tension that equals or surpasses that of 1970. The difference? In 1970 most recognized and admitted there was a racial problem in our country, and in 2015 many cannot or will not admit there is a racial problem in our country. 
1970 in Hope, Arkansas most of us were ready to get on with the rest of our lives. Most of us were ready to go to college, get a job, or is some other way get away from home. Some hoped to change the world. Some hoped to become fame and accumulate wealth. Some hoped to find themselves. Some hoped to move to a place where they could be themselves.  From what I can tell there are some who made significant changes in the world, if not the entire world at least their immediate world. Some have achieved some level of fame and other have accumulated significant wealth. Some are still searching for themselves. Some moved to places where they could truly be who they really are. The difference? In 1970 most of us were full of idealism, hope, completely convinced the world will be a better place because we will be in it, and in 2015 many of us have departed, a few have lost some of our hope, others have settled for a life somewhat less than we had planned, and probably all of us live with the disappointment of a few dreams that have never come true.  
With admitted bias I have always considered the Hope High School class of 1970 to be an exceptional class that handled a difficult time and less than ideal circumstances with as much dignity and grace as possible. My reflections on our graduating class prompts me to offer these thoughts 
Always remember that no matter where you go, what you do, or what you become you have people who will always love you. Sometimes remembering those people will help you find your way home when you have lost your way. The Prodigal Son is the story of a boy who left home to live life the way he wanted to live it. He failed. He lost everything. He was alone. He began to think about his home and Father. He could not imagine that his Father would still love him or let him back in the house, he decided to go home, apologize, and beg to be considered a hired hand. To his surprise as he approached the home of his childhood his father, ran to him, embraced him, welcomed him home with a party, new clothes, and a ring on his finger. (Luke 15) Always remember that you are loved. 
Never stop reaching for your dreams. Your dreams may not be realized as soon as quickly as you hope. You may find it more difficult that you imagined to accomplish your dreams. You may have to alter some of your dreams. But never stop reaching for your dreams. After a complete transformation of life and direction Paul described who he had been and that he was striving forward and forgetting the past. (Philippians 2) Never stop reaching for your dreams.
This is a time of reflection, a time of dreaming, this is a time of letting go, and this is ceasing the opportunity to pursue your dreams. Stay connected and know you are loved. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 11 May 2015, 9:27 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 19 May 11, 2015

Life Between the Interruptions

It seems that a major part of what is required to get through life involves learning how to live as much life as possible between the interruptions and distractions. 
For example, you have a day set aside to work in your office complete a project, research and set deadlines for new projects, and get through the paperwork that has piled up over the last few weeks. You are making head way and feeling good about the day, when a customer calls with a problem that must be handled immediately. 
On another day you start out on a routine trip to visit a family member. You leave ahead of schedule. Traffic is moving along smoothly. You are making great time, then suddenly your car stops. You use all your mechanical by raising the hood and looking intently at the engine. Two-and-a-half-hours later you are back on the road.
You are cruising through life. Your career is going well. Your family is healthy. You have money in the bank. You live in a great neighborhood. You have good neighbors and are well respected in the community. One day it all changes. Your wife goes in for a routine checkup. The results are far from routine. It’s cancer. Your whole world is turned upside down. 
You have your future planned out exactly how you want to go. Your retirement portfolio is looking great. You are moving up the corporate ladder by leaps and bounds. You are rocking and rolling! Then, your company is purchased and your department is downsized. You were blindsided and devastated. 
Your own story would sound very similar. You know the disappointment. You understand the feeling of devastation. You have had your confidence replaced with fear. So, what do you do? How do you recover? Every situation is different so I will not attempt tell how to live your life, but I will offer a few suggestions on how to make the most of life between the interruptions. 
Accept that interruptions and distractions will come. Interruptions and distractions will come. Expect them. Accept them. If possible, as best as you can, plan for them. They happen. Accept that they happen. 
Realize that some of life’s greatest blessings show up disguised as interruptions and distractions. God loves to surprise us by taking what initially looks like the worst thing that could possibly happen and turning it into an amazing blessing. I do not know how He does it. I do not have an explanation for why He does things like He does them. But, I know He does them. When the interruptions and distractions come look for the good that may be hiding behind the bad. If you find it, enjoy being surprised.
Understand that being interrupted and distracted does not necessarily have to ruin your day. If you allow it to the interruption can send you into a foul mood and wreck your entire day. If you allow it the distractions can mess up any chance of finding any joy in your day. That can happen but it does not necessarily have to happen. You can control your attitude. You can determine if your day is ruined or if it is salvageable. 
There is no doubt that there will be days when you are interrupted from what you have determined the important stuff of your day. It is just as certain that there will be times when you set your sites on a plan and direction for your day, your week, or your life and something will get you off track. It is in those moments between the interruptions and distractions that determine the end result of a day or a life. Consider well what you do and how you respond and do your best to make the most of your life between the interruptions. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 04 May 2015, 9:47 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 18 May 4, 2015

If I Could See What You See

When I am sitting at my desk in my office, if I turn my chair to face the window, because the window is above my eye level, I can the tops of several trees, the top of a utility pole, part of the sky, and part of a roof line of one of the homes in our neighborhood. If I stand I can see not only the roof of the house, but the backyard as well. If I stand not only can I see the top of the trees, but I can see the entire shape of the trees, the pavilion and the playground as well. If I stand not only can I see part of the sky, if I stand I can see the whole expanse of the sky. 
When I am sitting in my living room in our home and I look out the two glass doors and the glass above the door I can see a piece of the sky, part of a patio chair, one small tree in the courtyard, and the back of some of the other condos in our complex. When I move from my chair, walk to the door, open it and step out on the patio, plants on our patio, and two chairs, a patio umbrella, and I can see the entire courtyard, and the entire eastern sky.
When I look at the world from my normal perspective my vision is limited. When I see natural disasters my limited perspective causes me shake my head in disbelief and ask, “Why Lord?” When I see the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, my limited perspective leads me to question the fairness of the Lord. When I see injustice and abuse of power my limited understanding tempts me to assume that the Lord loves some more than others. When I see pain and suffering my limited imagination does not allow me to comprehend how anything good can come from what I see. 
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:9-12, NIV)
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. (2 Kings 6:16-18, NIV)
Father, I long for the day when I will see things more clearly than I see now. I long for a level of maturity that will allow me to understand things that are too grand for me to understand today. I long for a degree of compassion that will allow me to feel more love and concern that I now possess. I long for eyes to see what You see. Until I can see more clearly, understand things that are too grand for me, and find greater compassion, Father, I trust You to see what I cannot see, know what I cannot know, and do what I cannot do. 
 
Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 27 Apr 2015, 11:41 am

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 17 April 27, 2015

You Were Missed

You were sick and could not make it to gathering of your Christian community this morning. You had a legitimate reason; you were sick. You were not just skipping church. You were not there. You were missed. 
The ladies had a meeting to study the Word, encourage one another, and pray together. You could not attend this month’s meeting. You had out of town guests. You wanted and needed to spend the time with them. You were not there. You were missed. 
You have a group of guys you meet with on a weekly basis for fellowship and a time to check in with each other. Your week was full of travel, meetings and a couple of surprise schedule shifts. You decided to sleep in. No hard feelings, but you were not there and you were missed.
There was a meeting at your church. You thought about going, but were not sure your presence would be needed. So, you decided not to attend. You were not there. You were missed.
Your family had planned a special celebration event. You a decided not to go. Your work schedule had been heavy, money for travel was limited, and you really just did not want to be away from home, so you did not go. After the event you received a flood of calls, emails, texts, and social media messages all saying the same thing: You were not there. You were missed.
There was an important meeting at work that you relay needed to attend but you were also scheduled to be working an important deal in another city so you could not attend. You later talked with several of your colleagues. The message was the same from all of them: We are sorry you were not there. You were missed.
You had a rough weekend. Instead of resting and relaxing you tried to do all the household chores that had piled up from a long cold winter. You were up early, worked all day, and stayed up late with the family. Now it is Monday morning and you are more fatigued than when you came home on Friday. So when the alarm sounds on Monday morning you shut it off, roll over and decide to sleep-in. You assumed no one would care and your absence would go mostly unnoticed. The next day when you return to work your co-workers are concern. “We missed you. It is not the same around her when you are not here. You were missed.” 
Meetings sometimes get boring. Church attendance sometimes seems to hold little value. It is easy to take family gatherings for granted. The monotony of work and the routine of workday activities can make you feel unimportant, dispensable, and at times completely useless. It is easy in those times of discouragement and frustration we must find a way to remind yourself that you are invisible, insignificant, nor invaluable. No, the world does not revolve you and your opinion is not likely sway the decisions of the world’s greatest minds. 
This may not change way the world treats you or the way you feel at the end of the long difficult week of disappointment, frustrations and discouragement, but maybe when you consider the opinion of you held by the creator of the universe you will feel a little better about the role you play in the lives of your church, your work place, your family and your friends. 
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:18) 
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27) 
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)
If you were not in your home, you would be missed. If you were not a friend to your friends, you would be missed. If you stopped doing your job, you would be missed. If you were not you, you would be missed. So, this week, wherever you are, whoever you are with, whatever you are doing be who you are and know that if you were not there you would be missed.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 20 Apr 2015, 10:57 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 16 April 20, 2015

You Knew the Day Would Come

You knew the day would come. You did not know when, but you knew it would come. 
You knew the day would come when you would hold your newborn in your arms as you wept with gratitude for the blessing and prayed for wisdom to handle the responsibility. 
You knew the day would come he looked at you and you knew he recognized you and that the smile was real and not just gas. 
You knew the day would come when your little one would let go of your hand and start walking on her own. 
You knew the day would come you would drive away from the school after releasing your first child to strangers and wondered what you would do the rest of the day, and then the day you left your last child you really wondered what you would do for the rest of the day…and the day after that. 
You knew the day would come when your little girl would dress up like a princess and you would watch her and her friends pile into a limousine with a group of her friends as you prayed for her safe return. 
You knew the day would come when you would see your son walk across the stage in his graduation regalia and you would realize his life and yours will never be the same. 
You knew the day would come when after all the preparations had been completed the wedding music would begin and you would take your place in the processional and prepare to hear her say, “I do.” 
You knew the day would come when you received a call from your son saying, “We’re headed to the hospital!” and you would rush to make new travel plans so you could be there to hold your grandchild and weep for the blessing of sharing the moment with your children and pray for the wisdom for them to be the parents, and you to be the grandparent this baby will need you all to be. 
You knew the day would come when they all came for a visit and filled the house with conversation and laughter, then you would drop them off at the airport and go home to the quiet. 
You knew the day would come you and your wife would look at each other and know without a word that she knows the joy and pain you have in your heart because it is the same joy and pain she has in hers. 
You knew the day would come when you walk into one room for a specific purpose, but by the time you got there you had forgotten why you came. 
You knew the day would come when you wake up in the morning and try to get out of bed only to discover that you have more aches and pains in places than you knew you places.
You knew the day would come when you get more updates on the health of friends than you do about their vacation adventures. 
You knew the day would come when that chair at the end of the table and that chair in the living room would be forever empty. 
You knew the day would come when the doctor would say that he has done all that he can do. 
You did not know when, but you knew it would come. You knew the day would come when you would say the final goodbye. 
For three years the followers of Jesus watched and listened and learned from their Master and He occasionally reminded them that the day would could when He would leave them. They did not know when. In their hearts the wanted to deny the reality of His words, but deeper in their hearts they knew that day would come. That day came. 
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30, NIV)
Then they remembered that He promised another day would come when He would leave the tomb. That day came: Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:18, NIV)
Because of that day we know that a day will come when we will be welcomed into the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We will hear Him say, “Welcome home.” 
You knew the day would come. What a day that will be! 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 14 Apr 2015, 4:37 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 15 April 13, 2015

No Turning Back

I have decided to follow Jesus. 
I have decided to follow Jesus. 
I have decided to follow Jesus. 
No turning back.
No turning back.*

Simple words to a simple song. I first sang those words as a freshman in college. As the years passed I would sing them those words hundreds of times in devotionals, on retreats, during camp sessions, occasionally during a church assembly, and many times all alone in a car, in my study, or walking along a wooded path. These days when the song is mentioned it is usually in the context of “We used to sing this song.” 
Repeating the words serves as a reminder of the inestimable importance of this decision. In times of temptation and struggle we remind ourselves: “I have decided to follow Jesus.” “I have decided to follow Jesus.” “I have decided to follow Jesus.” I can hear myself reminding myself: “I have decided to follow Jesus.” “I have decided to follow Jesus.” “I have decided to follow Jesus.” 
Then, after being reminded of the decision made comes the reminder of the decision to be made: “No turning back. No turning back. I won’t turn back. I won’t turn back. I have decided to follow Jesus and I will not turn back.“
Jesus once told a story that emphasized how important the decision to follow Him is:
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62, NIV)
I suspect most of you reading these words have made the decision, to one degree or another, to follow Jesus. Congratulations on that decision! My prayer is that you are living the life to the fullest. 
If you find yourself in difficult circumstances of temptation and struggles, take a moment and sing this simple little song as a reminder of your decision. “You have decided to follow Jesus. You have decided to follow Jesus. You have decided to follow Jesus.” Remind yourself of that decision. Remember the moment when you made that decision. Then, tell yourself: “No turning back. No turning back. I will not turn back!” 
Say it one more time with meaning: “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.” 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 07 Apr 2015, 11:00 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 14 April 6, 2015

The Wondrous Stories We Live

As I wait for the light to change I was the man selling papers. I see him in the same location on a regular basis. He always smiles a friendly smile. He always waves a friendly wave. He walks along the line of cars then turns around and comes back to his original station. What was his life like before he came to sell papers on the street? Where is his family? Do they know he is on the street? Do they care? I wonder about his story.
She comes into the sanctuary just as we are beginning each week. She sits in the very back, near an exit. She seems to know most of the songs we sing and appears to enjoy the time in the assembly. But as we are singing the invitation song she quietly slips out unnoticed. I wonder about her story. 
If I were describe him I would use words like rugged, strong, hard, and calloused. None of those would refer to his physical appearance, but his demeanor. My impression is that if I were to asked him about his life he would say something like, “Oh, I’ve been around.” That would be it. His answer would be saying, “I doubt you really want to know my story?” But, I do. I wonder about his story. 
He comes to church with his parents. He sits with them and stays pretty close to them before and after. Occasionally one of the other children will approach him and invite him to play with them. He always declines and stays close to his mother. He does not really appear to be afraid, but he is not confident enough to venture away. I later learn that he is adopted. I was already wondering about his story, now I wonder about it even more. 
Her parents marriage crumbled with she was very young. Most of her life has been spent going from one parent to the other. Two sets of grandparents. Two different homes. Juggling the holidays and summer vacations. Always trying to be the good girl that never caused trouble. Now, in her late teens, she tries to find her way through the world and tries to discover who she is. When we have talked she has a look in her eyes that says she wonders where this life she has lived is going to lead and she wonders who she will be when her story comes to an end. I too wonder about her story and where her life will take her. 
She is just a child. She is sweet. She is innocent. She is loved and nurtured and protected and nourished by the best parents anyone one could ever ask for. She has a vivid imagination and an abundance of energy. I watch her and I marvel at the story God is weaving with her, for her, and through her. 
He was in his early twenties when I met him. He was troubled. He was angry. He acted tough and wanted everyone to think he was tough. Getting beyond the walls of his heart required something I did not have. We spent some time together and I did what I could, then he disappeared. I often wonder about where he is, how he is, and if he is. I wonder if he has ever been able to make sense of his story. 
As I wonder about these people, I am in awe that God has allowed me to have a glimpse into their lives. For some I have played a minor role in their story. For others I have had a greater influence, just as they have influence me. They have all touched me, and challenged me, and blessed me, and opened the eyes of my heart to remind me there is more — much more — to this life than I can see. They have all reminded me that there is more — much more — to this life than me. 
We all have a story. Although we may sometimes wonder about where our story is leading, or how it is being written, and why it has not taken on a different theme, we do not need to wonder about one thing: He has always been involved graciously shaping us into the image of His Son. 
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29, NIV)
 
Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 12:51 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 13 March 30, 2015

What To Say

Sometimes I do not know what to say. I marvel at these words from the man of wisdom: “Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.” (Ecclesiastes 12:9-10, NIV)
He is considered the wisest man who ever lived, so I would not attempt to compete or compare because sometimes I just do not know what to say.
Sometimes when I sit down to write these Notes I don’t down what to say. Words seem far away. Ideas seem unreachable. If you are a regular reader you can probably detect those articles. This is one of those times. The Teacher “also imparted knowledge to the people.” Sometimes I don’t feel like I have much knowledge to impart.
Sometimes I do not know what to say when a Mother and Father come to me with stories of a son or a daughter who has chosen a life apart for God. I listen to the words of the broken hearts. They ask for guidance. They ask for prayer. I show them as much compassion and kindness as possible, but I do not always know what to say.
Sometimes a couple shares their concerns for their relationship. The once were close; now they are distant. Once they could not be apart; now they have difficulty being in the same room. They once loved were deeply in love; now they have trouble saying the word. I may share a book. I may offer to schedule a few sessions with them to work through their issues. Sometimes I do not know what to say. 
Sometimes a man will tell me how miserable he is with his job. He works long hours to provide for his family, but he hates where he works and he hates some of the things he has to do to keep his job. He never dreamed he would be end up is this kind of a situation. He asks me for direction. He pleads with me for help. I pray with him. When he is gone I pray for him again. But I do not have many words for him. 
I hear of churches that seem to have lost their way. I hear the distress and sadness in the voices of some of the members. I see the concern and pain in their faces. They ask for prayers. So I pray. They ask for advice. I have none. They ask for direction. I pray for them. They ask for answers. I do not have answers. Sometimes I do not know what to say. 
I hear fellow preachers who have grown weary, even more weary than me, and are considering leaving the ministry for something else. I hear men who have left the ministry describe how they wish they could find a way to continue. They ask for ideas. I have none. They ask for suggestions of where they might preach. I have none. Sometimes I do not know what to say. 
Sometimes I do not know what to say. Sometimes I do not have words, but tonight I do. Better yet, the Holy Spirit knows what needs to be said. 
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28-31, NIV)
 
Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 23 Mar 2015, 10:55 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 12 March 23, 2015

A Clean Heart

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalm 51:10, NIV)

Create in me a pure heart, O God. You must do it. I cannot do it on my own. I have tried, O God. Perfect church attendance has not accomplished it. Reading and memorizing Scripture has not accomplished it. Recounting all my years of preaching and teaching has not accomplished it. Keeping a record of all the good things I have done to help other people has not accomplished it. Living with guilt and shame over all the bad things I have done has not accomplished it. I have done all I know to do to create a pure heart and my heart is not yet pure. Father, will You please create in me a pure heart. 
Create in me a pure heart, O God. I have tried to clean my heart and make it pure. I do okay for a while, then I find I am right back where I started. It seems as if I never really did much cleaning or purifying. A pure heart? That sounds almost too good to be true. Or, as someone has said about Your grace and mercy, “Maybe it’s too good not to be true.” Lord, I want a pure heart. I want a clean heart. I want a heart that is filled with things that are pure, not the impurities of the day. 
And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Lord, my spirit is weary. It needs renewing. I need a new start. A clean start. Again, I have tried to renew my spirit by doing all the right things. That helps some. I see the value in praying, reading Your Word, fasting, and spending time in with Christian people, but my spirit still seems dry. 
And renew a steadfast spirit within me. My spirit is not very strong. My spirit is not very solid. My spirit is not very steady. Flimsy would be a better description. I tend to drift along with the wind. If I am not very, very careful I can be swayed and persuaded and distracted from where and who I should be pretty easily. Father, steady my spirit.
And renew a steadfast spirit within me. I know that it is within me to live as You would have me to live. It is within me because You are in me. You live in me. Because You are within me, know I can be strong, I can be steady, and I will experience renewal. So, Father, please renew my spirit from deep within me.  
I am with You, Father. I belong to You. I am weak and weary and I am a wanderer. But, if You create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me, I will praise You and tell of Your wonderful ways. 
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 16 Mar 2015, 7:19 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 11 March 16, 2015

I Want To Help You, Lord

I have altered this illustration from, The Grace of God by William MacDonald, just a bit to fit a little easier in our current economic situation. MacDonald wrote: 
Imagine you have been invited to the White House by the President of the United States. You are seated at a table filled with the choicest foods. Every effort has been made to give you the most enjoyable evening. At the end of a lovely visit, the president stands at the front door to bid you good-bye.
What do you do? As you leave, do you press a $20 dollar bill in his hand and say, “Thank you very much for your kindness. I have enjoyed the evening very much. I realize it has cost you a lot of money, and I want to help you pay for the meal”?
Is that the proper response to his kindness? On the contrary, it is a rude and insulting gesture. So it would be with God’s grace and how He has demonstrated His love for us.
Here is the application. 
You have come to the end of your life and as you reach the gate into Heaven you are greeted there by God. As He is greeting you with “Well done good and faithful…” You interrupt him and hand him a list showing all the good things you have done in your life. As you show Him your list you say, “I know this has cost You a lot. I want to show You that I have done my part to help pay for it.”
It is as if, after considering all that God has done for you in demonstrating His love for you, you hand Him $20 worth of your own efforts and say, “I know this cost You a lot. I want to do my part to help pay for it.”
“I want to do my part to help pay for it.” 
Question: How much is your part? 
I chose a $20 dollar bill for the illustration because for most of us twenty dollars is a lot of money. If it is not now, it once was a lot of money. We hand God our $20 list of good deeds and expect Him to be impressed. We expect Him to say, “Why thank you. I could not have done it without you.” 
That may not be what He says. He may instead say something like this. “Thank you very much for the good life you have lived. That shows me that you appreciated what I did for you by sending my one and only Son into the world. You know, when I allowed Him to die for you on that horrible day on that horrible cross, I did that for you. I let Him die for you. When His blood was spilt on that cross, your sins were covered. You were set free. Your entire debt was paid. I really do not need your list. I know what you have done. And, although I wish you could have relaxed a little while you were living in the world and not worried so much about doing all the right things and not doing all the wrong things, I am still glad you are here. Although I wish you could have trusted my love for you enough to enjoy the abundant life I provided for you more fully, I do love you and I really am glad you are finally here with me. Welcome home.” 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 10 Mar 2015, 12:52 am

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 10 March 9, 2015

Do We Really Not Know? 

We have been going to church all our lives. We have listened to hundreds, maybe thousands of sermons. We have attended conferences, workshops, seminars, and small group studies all designed to help us share our story of faith with other people. We have accumulated all that information and still we act like we do not know what they need. 
We have resources at our fingertips that can help us understand our neighbors and give us insight into what life is like outside of the walls of our church buildings. We read books on understanding our times and we pride ourselves in knowing our communities and yet we still act like we do not know what the people in our communities need.
We read our Bibles and pray our prayers and sing our songs and offer to help by saying, “If there is anything we can do for you please let us know.” We have our times of fellowship, we pat one another on the back, we shake hands and ask, “How are you doing?” and sometimes they tell us. We know people are hurting and we know they are in need and yet we act like we do not know what they need. 
Obviously these scenarios are not always true. Not all churches and not all Christians act like we do not know what people need, but many do. Do we really not know? 
Do we really not know that marriages that are in trouble need help learning better and more effective ways to communicate and become better at managing their money, or us solid Biblical teaching about being married? 
Do we really not know that parents who are having trouble with their teenage son or daughter need help understanding what life is like for a teenager, need help knowing how to communicate with their teen, and learning what it means to be a parent? 
Do we really not know that the family of a fifteen year old boy who was shot in his own driveway needs help dealing with the shock, anger, and pure sadness that comes with such a loss?
Do we really not know that the family of the eleven year old boy responsible for the shooting need help as they deal with the confusion, the guilt, and the loss of their son being taken from them? 
Do we really not know that the woman who lost her husband after fifty years of marriage needs help to move through the grieving progress? 
Do we really not know that a teen age girl dealing with all the pressures of being a teenage girl needs a mother, or a grand mother, or another godly woman to invite her into life where a relationship of trust and understanding can grow? 
Do we really not know? As followers of Jesus, after reading of His life, after knowing how He lived and loved and served and touched people, do we really not know? Maybe if we remember what He came to do it might help us remember.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:14-23, NIV).
Do we really not know?

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 02 Mar 2015, 11:55 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 09 March 2, 2015

Hamburgers, Pizza and Churches

I can remember the first “store bought” hamburger I ever ate. It was from Dad’s in Hope, Arkansas. I think we could get 5 for $1. The burger consisted of a bun, a thin hamburger patty, onions (lots of onions), mustard. You could eat in (if you were a white person) by going to the window ordering your burger and sitting at a picnic table on a sawdust floor under the tin roof attached to the main building. If your skin was black you had to order from a window in the back of the building. I do not know if there was a picnic table. As I recall the  menu consisted of these items: Hamburgers. If they had other items, I never knew it. The burgers were thin, greasy covered with chopped onions. You usually smelled like onions after eating a burger. If you went to Dad’s you knew what you were getting: a hamburger. They did hamburgers well. (At least I thought they did.) It was a big deal for my family to “eat out” at Dad’s. 
Things have changed. There are not many Dad’s around. 
Restaurants that once specialized in certain items have changed. On burger place advertises more about gourmet coffee than burgers. It seems that a number of burger places are more interested in promoting their fish sandwiches, or their chicken sandwiches. One very popular pizza place highlights their brownies, not their pizza. When watching some perfume or cologne commercials you must watch very closely to understand what is being advertised. Some, even if you watch closely, you may still not understand. The same is true for some automobile commercials. I often find myself after some of these ads, “Whaaaaat?”
Things have changed. Is it too much ask for hamburger businesses to sell hamburgers? Before I get too carried away with my nostalgic lament, let me admit that folks in my profession may be equally guilty. I wonder if people looking for a church might ask the same question, “Whaaaaat?”
Type “Churches in my area” in your web browser and see what you get. Most likely you will have numerous options for additional searches. Churches of all names and sizes and brands. If you investigate further you are likely to fine even more puzzling information. This church focuses on this. This church focuses on that. This church has this kind of worship. That church has that kind of worship. This group emphasizes these things. That church emphasizes those things. This church boosts of being begin enough for everyone to find a place. That church boosts of being small enough for everyone to feel at home. This church has this kind of preacher. That church has another kind of preacher. “Whaaaaat?”
Don’t misunderstand. As much as I would enjoy a good old Dad’s hamburger (or 5 for $1), I am glad we have other choices. My tastes for burgers have changed.  The same is true for spiritual needs. Churches that met my needs as a teenager or young adult, would not have the same appeal today. Churches that offer me spiritual nourishment, might not offer anything worth while to someone decades younger than me. 
The diversity is good. We like options. We value choices. We are all different. We have different needs and tastes and preferences. 
There is one thing, however, that I believe is constant and necessary as we scan the globe for a spiritual community. What is it? Christ. 
Paul said it as he explained his situation in prison as he talked of different motives and different preaching that was going on. “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18, NIV)
That is what I look for in a church. Christ is preached. That is one thing I will not compromise. Christ is preached. That is one of my goals for where I preach and teach. Christ is preached. 
Styles change. Preferences differ. Opinions are cheap. The emphasis we place on different methods and approaches to sharing the message are going to vary according to the context of the community and the make-up of the church. But, please I beg you, let Christ be preached. 
This week I hope you find a good burger, a nice slice of pizza, and especially a church where Christ is preached.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 24 Feb 2015, 6:12 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 08 February 23, 2015

When the Ice Melts

Like many around the country the winter weather of the past week has either forced us to be confined to our home (Oh, don’t  you just hate it when that happens!), off the streets and roads, or at the very least to alter our regular schedule of activity. (That’s for you folks up to the north who cannot understand how an inch or two of ice and/or snow can create such chaos.) We have sat by the fire, watching movies, listening to music, worked (or played) on our computers and mobile devices, and been amazed at how many times the weather forecasters can remind you that we have a “Winter Weather Alert in effect for your area.” 
I have been reminded of stories of the good old days when “if we wanted entertainment we’d go downtown and watch the traffic light change.” This week part of our entertainment has been to look out our windows and doors marvel at the beauty of the sun’s reflection on the snow and ice, check the current temperature, comment on how long the ice cycles have gotten, and wonder when the ice will melt. Well, slowly but surely it is melting (although as I write there are predictions of more on the way for this afternoon and tonight). 
One of the things that happens when the ice melts is that we start moving again. We move slowly at first to make sure we have solid ground upon which to stand, walk, or drive. Once we convinced it is safe we begin to move more freely and with greater confidence. 
The same happens with relationships. 
A relationship begins with a simple, “Hello, my name is Tom.” The other person responds in like manner and the usual chit-chat begins that includes where you are from, where you work, you family status, and maybe a few other significant facts about yourself. The ice has been broken. Then, there’s that long awkward space in time where you and/or the person is deciding if the relationship will go any further, or if it will end having shared those few basic facts. 
Sometimes, not always, the broken ice begins to melt and conversation continues. You are interested in this person. You feel comfortable with the person and see potential in pursuing a relationship, so you continue the conversation. The ice melts and a relationship is born. 
Once the relationship is born, assuming that the relationship is nurtured and given space to develop, it will grow and mature as one would expect. This is a wonderful season for relationships. Rich times of enjoyment are common. Memories are made as the life-long relationship continues to thrive. The relationship, though solid and enjoyable, is still fragile. 
One day something happens. The ice that had melted refreezes. You experience hurt feelings, betrayal, struggles with life, or distractions. The closeness begins to separate the relationship becomes distant and disconnected. The ice hardens. 
“I want the ice to melt again!” you cry. 
Start with an acknowledgement that something has happened, something has changed, the warmth has been replaced with coldness. Sometimes simply the honesty of acknowledgement can begin the melting process. 
Deal with the problem. Try not to blame or criticize or judge or assume. Attack the problem; not the person. Do whatever it takes to thaw the ice. Long hours of conversation, prayer, listening and understanding. 
Apply forgiveness as needed. Request it. Offer it. All the power of forgiveness to do what nothing else can do: provide the atmosphere where healing can take place. Without forgiveness the ice will never melt. 
The temperatures have risen about the freezing mark today. Rain is falling. The ice and snow is slowly melting. Before long movement will take place and life will get back to normal. (Whatever that is.) There is hope that warmer weather and the flowers of spring are not far away. 
May your relationships this week be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control!

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 16 Feb 2015, 10:42 am

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 07 February 16, 2015

What Am I Waiting For?


Let’s review. A few weeks ago I wrote about not being in such a hurry in “What’s the Hurry?”. The next week I switched gears and wrote about “What Are You Waiting For?” And last week I wrote, “What Are You Waiting For Church?”  In each of those article I wanted to challenge to think about our motives, our actions, or in some cases our lack of action in answering Jesus’ call to be the salt and light. This week I want to bring the idea even closer to home by asking us to look even deeper into our souls by asking “What Am I Waiting For?”  
I know a young couple who have been married a couple of years, live far from any immediate family, and are both working hard and under a heavy load of stress. They have a good group of friends and are involved in a solid spiritual community. During the last few weeks I have noticed a change. Nothing major, but enough to signal that something is not right. I have a choice. I can ignore it and assume they are simply going through the adjustments of marriage. Or, I can invite them to our home for a meal, tell them how much we love them, and offer them listening ears, caring hearts, whatever help we can from our years of experience. What am I waiting for? 
I have know this couple for years. We have enjoyed dinners together. We have attended sporting events. We have watched movies together. We have talked about our marriages, our family histories, our children, our concerns for the world and the future, and had seriously challenging spiritual conversations. Busy schedules, distance, and lack of communication has taken a toll on our once extremely close relationship. I can write it up as just the way of relationships or I can contact them set a time to get together and once again enjoy the closeness of a truly lifelong friend. What am I waiting for? 
Every week I attend multiple church gatherings, read multiple passages of scripture, listen to multiple recordings of spiritual songs, sermons, devotional thoughts, and read multiple Christian-related articles, read portions Christian books, and when possible attend lectures by well known Christian speakers. Every week I teach classes, preach sermons, write articles, counsel people all with the intent of encouraging people to love God and live like Jesus. Every week I tell myself I am going to do better at practicing the things I encourage others to practice, and every week I wish I had done better. I can go through another week waiting to live more like Jesus or I can start today. What am I waiting for? 
I have an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life every day. It may be someone I know well, it may be someone I have recently met, it may be a church member, it may be a person who is waiting on me or providing a service that makes my life better. I can be creative and do something that is unexpected, say a kind encouraging word, or I let the opportunities pass and look back on the day and wish I had done better. What am I waiting for? 
Every day God gives us the opportunity to improve our life, lift the spirits of another, share the Good News, and just be Jesus. What am I waiting for? 
I want to try not to wait to do and be what God is calling me to be. If you do the same, and encourage someone else to do the same imagine what a difference we can make. 

Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 09 Feb 2015, 11:23 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 06 February 9, 2015

What Are You Waiting For Church?

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. What are you waiting for church?
The world is looking for good news. You have it. What are you waiting for church?
There are children in your neighbor who need food, clothing, someone to take care of them after school, someone to show them the love of Christ. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me." What are you waiting for church?
There are couples in your community who need help with their marriage. The need someone to help them learn what it means to love their spouse as Christ loved the church. They do not know how because they have never seen a living example. What are you waiting for church?
There are parents in your community who are struggling with the overwhelming responsibility of rearing their children. The need guidance on how to be good guides for their children. What are you waiting for, church?
There widows in your community who have no one to call when their pipes freeze, their car does not start, or when they are sick and need a ride to the doctor's office. When the sun goes down they have no one to talk to, to watch tv with, or to tell they are lonely. What are you waiting for church?
There are widowers in your community who spend day after day all alone because they have never had to ask for help so they don't know how. They are still healthy and enjoy having fun as much as they ever did, but no one ever invites the out to dinner, or to go with them to a movie, or to come for a home cooked meal. What are you waiting for church?
There are homeless people in your community need a little help getting back on their feet. They are not looking for a free ride. They are willing to work. They do not want to live on the street or in a shelter. They would enjoy having. A real conversation about life, family, politics, the economy, religion, maybe even your faith. What are you waiting for church?
There are young men in your community who need a father figure in their life. They have questions about girls, getting an education, being a good employee, and how to be a godly man. They are interested in goals you had at their age, and how you have achieved the them. What are you waiting for church?
There are likely people in your community who struggle with drug addictions, alcohol addictions, sexual additions, sexual identity issues, some may be involved in sexual exploitation of various forms, some struggle with eating disorders, some struggle due to sexual abuse, or have anger issues. Some of them want help, but the last place they would think of turning to for help is a church. We can do better. What are you waiting for church?  
There are neighborhoods in your community that need to cleaned up, play grounds that need to be repaired, and buildings that could use a little paint. There are businesses that need your support. There are public servants who need to know you support them. What are you waiting for, church?
There are young ladies in your community who are pregnant and have no idea what to do or where to go. They are scared. They feel terribly alone. They feel abandoned and overwhelmed by the thought of taking care of themselves, and cannot imagine taking care of another human being. They need support, they need guidance, and they need to be loved just as they are. What are you waiting for church?

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 03 Feb 2015, 9:55 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 05 February 2, 2015

What Are You Waiting On?

Here is another common traffic scenario (or it seems fairly common to me). You are at an intersection. There is a right turn lane. There is a left turn lane. The person in front of you is straddling the line (thus blocking both lanes) but turning left. They wait for traffic to clear. And they wait. And they wait. And they wait. From your perspective there has been many opportunities for them to turn, but they wait. At the height of your frustration you yell, “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” They do not hear your and you quickly look around to make sure your windows are closed and nobody heard you. “Finally!” you say once they move. 
Although there are legitimate reasons to stop hurrying as I wrote last week What’s the Hurry?, but there are also times to stop the waiting and get on with the life we are created to live; do the thing we are gifted to do. 
You have worked hard. You have received the necessary training. You have the credentials and the qualifications. A job is offered. You love the company. You love the location. You love the salary. Your spouse is thrilled that you have this opportunity. Everything about it screams that this is a great opportunity. What are you waiting for? 
You have been going to church your entire life. You have listened to more sermons than anyone you know. You know the Bible. You understand the message. You love the Lord and try to follow the teaching of Jesus. You are a good husband, and good father, and good employee, and a good neighbor. But you have never really made any firm commitment to give your life to God. What are you waiting for?
All your life you have prayed that the Lord would send you a Christian mate. You had your standards and you have stuck to them. You have waiting and continued to pray. Finally you meet him. He is more than you had asked or imagined. You are amazed. He asks you to marry him. You could not ask for more in man. What are you waiting for? 
You have prayed for an opportunity to share your faith with your friend. You have asked the Lord to give you the words and the courage and show you just the right time. The Lord answers your prayers. Not only is the perfect time in the conversation, but they ask you about your faith. They want to know. What are you waiting for?  
You have dreamed of the day you could be out on your own, away from home, away from your parents, doing what you want to do when you want. You are there. Your parents have taught you and prepared you for this day. You are ready. They are ready. What are you waiting for?
What causes us wait? What causes us to hesitate? What causes us to stand still when everything and everyone around us tells us to move? Fear. Fear of failure. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of making the wrong decision. Fear of being disappointed. Fear of change. Fear. Fear stops us. Fear paralyzes us. When we are afraid we freeze, we panic, we freak out, and we make poor choices. When we are afraid often do what we were afraid we were going to do. 
Do this. Go to your favorite Bible app or website or concordance and look up or type in “Do not be afraid.” Read through the passages. Here’s one of my favorites in the long list. 
“I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.” (Revelation 2:9-1, NIV)
It is not necessary to read all of them, but take time to read some of them. Hear the Lord reminding you of His presence, His care, His guidance, His courage, His Spirit, His protection, His power, and His nature. As you read let your fear and anxiety disappear. That is what He wants. That is what you want. 
What are you waiting for?

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 26 Jan 2015, 8:55 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 04 January 26, 2015

What’s the Hurry?

Maybe this has happened to you. You are driving down the freeway or multi-lane street when you notice the car behind you in right behind you. They are on your rear so close that if you had to apply your brakes there is no way they could stop before ramming you. My wife has been known to call them “Proctologist Drivers.” You wonder, “What’s the hurry?” 
As soon as there is a break in traffic they whirl into the other lane, gun the accelerator and blow by you, only to discover that there is no place to go. The vehicle now in front of them is moving slower than you are so they conduct their medical exam on the new car. That is until they see about half enough space to get back in front of you. Not really enough space, but enough that they give it a try. So, they swing over in front of you causing you to slam on your brakes to keep from hitting them. All this only to realize there is another car now in front of them and everyone must come to a stop at a red light. You again shake your head and wonder, “What’s the hurry?” 
Or maybe you have been standing in line to check out at the grocery store or a department store when a frazzled mother attempts to corral two small children as they reach and grab and pull things off the shelves. As she finishes her business and prepares to leave she notices one of her little ones has wondered back around the candy counter investigated the magazines and gadgets positioned there to attract just such curious eyes. At the peak of her frustration the mother uses his full name as she pleads, “Pleeeeeaaaaase hurry up!” Though you understand her frustration and fatigue you wonder, “What’s the hurry?”
Or maybe this scenario is more familiar and personal. You have an important appointment, not life changing, but important. Traffic is slow. Like the driver mentioned earlier you are edging closer and closer, too close, to the car in front of you. You reach the parking lot, quickly exit your car, and move quickly and deliberately toward the door. Out of the corner of your eye you notice an older couple, frail and weak, struggling to get out of their car. You move on. Sitting in the waiting room you reflect on the last half hour and ask yourself, “What’s the hurry?”  
“What’s the hurry?” 
I wonder if Jesus had our hurried pace in mind when He spoke, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV) Or, when He invited us to, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:2-30, NIV)
As I read those words it is as if He would add, “Tom, what’s your hurry? I have given you plenty of time to do everything I want you do on this day. If you will walk with me throughout the day, you will accomplish all the things I have planned for your to accomplish. Relax. Rest in me. Live in the moments of this day. Do not hurry beyond the moment. I have something special planned for you in each moment, each human encounter, and even in each irritating interruption.” 
Maybe Jesus is asking you the same question as you hurry through your day. Just in case you are too busy to hear Him let me ask, “What’s your hurry?”     

Tom
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2015. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

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