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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 20 Jan 2015, 1:05 am

A Norvell Note


Vol. 17 No. 03  January 18, 2015


The Importance of Listening


Six times in the gospels Jesus is recorded saying, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8; 14:35) Whether giving specific instructions or telling a story His message was the same, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” This is good advice when listening to Jesus and good advice in every day living. 
If you had only listened to the warning signs you might not have taken that job that required so much of you that you neglected your family. 
If you had only listened to the doctor’s advice you would have taken better care of yourself and maybe you would not be so sick and experiencing poor health today. 
If you had only listened to your parents when they warned you about some of your friends, you might not have gotten pulled into some of the compromising situations.
If you had only listened to your friends when they warned you about that guy you were dating you might not have gotten into the mess you did with him. 
If you had only listened to everything the salesman was saying you would not have gotten suckered into that deal that sounded too good to be true. 
If you had only listened to your boss you would have known more about the customer and might have made the sale. 
If you had only listened to your mentor you could have avoided many of the mistakes you have made and would be further along in your career. 
If you had only listened to your coach you might have gotten that scholarship and played in college like you had dreamed of doing.
If you had only listened to your college advisor you would have graduated on time and might have gotten that job you really wanted instead of feeling stuck where you are. 
If you had only listened to Spirit when you sensed He was speaking to you would have followed His nudge and stopped and talked that lady you rode in the elevator with, and would have asked her, “Are you okay? Can I help?”
If you had only listened to the Word when you were reading you would have understood the point the other guy was making and not jumped to such an outlandish judgment. 
If you had only listened to the Lord when you felt He was calling your to follow the passion of your heart you might be living the dream in the mission field. 
If you had only listened to your heart instead of always doing what seemed to be the safest and most practical route you might not be hounded by so many regrets in your life today. 
If you had only listened instead of planning what you were going to say when they stopped talking you might have realized that you had much more in common than you thought you did. 
If you had only listened you might not be reading this and thinking about those times you wish you had listened. 
James said it like this, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20, NIV)
 If you had only listened… 
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 12 Jan 2015, 3:08 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 02 January 12, 2015

When?

On Sunday morning I preached from the judgement scene passage from Matthew 25:31-46. I admitted that every time I dwell for very long on this passage I become angry, sad, disappointed, and discouraged because we are so often fall short of ministering to the least of these as the sheep are rewarded for doing. 
During my sermon I included this piece of writing that I have periodically read and shared for forty years in various settings. 

You Seem So Holy
I was hungry, and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger.
I was imprisoned, and you crept off to your chapel and prayed for my released.
I was naked, and in your mind you debate the morality of my appearance.
I was sick, and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless, and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely, and you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy, so close to God
But I am still very hungry — and lonely — and cold.
[Anonymous] 
My challenge to the assembly and my challenge to this electronic congregation is when? 
When will we — God's people — realize that taking care of the least of these...the hungry, the lonely, the helpless, and those in bondage? 
When will we — God's people — realize that our work is not about bigger buildings, deeper pockets, more elaborate programming, or larger numbers in ur assemblies?
When will we — God's people — realize that our mission field is lost people, not people of faith who are attached to a community of faith that goes by a name different than ours?
When will we — God's people — acknowledge that we tend to be easily distracted from our purpose by trying to do too much, build a reputation, or gain political influence?
When will we — God's people — understand that turning on our lights, providing comfortable seating, and setting out coffee and donuts is not all there is to ministering to the least of these?
When will we — God's people — realize that demanding that the Ten Commandments be posted in public places, complaining about prayer being unlawful in public schools, protesting outside abortion clinics is not the same as feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and spending time with a lonely person?
When will we — God's people — realize that ministering to the least of these means that it doesn't how they are dressed, how the smell, the kind of language the may use, or the amount of ink on their body?
When will we — God's people — understand that ministering to the least of these is not limited exclusively to ministers, priests, clergy, elders, deacons, and credentialed professionals?
When will we — God's people — realize that ministering to the least of these may require us to interact with people of another color, another culture, or another political party.
When will we — God's people — realize that ministering to the least of these may involve sacrifice, inconvenience, and unpleasantness, not merely writing a check dropping some cash in a basket. 
When will we — God's people — realize that ministering to the least of these is not our legal legal obligation that insures our ticket into heaven, but the natural response to being counted as one of God's children. 
When will we — God's people — realize that ministering to the least of these is the same as ministering to Jesus and is the same thing that Jesus did and would do if He were here today. 
When? 
Soon I hope.

Tom

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Enjoy the day. 
Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 05 Jan 2015, 7:04 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 01 January 5, 2015

At Just The Right Time

Year end reflections invariably reveal the remarkable impact of God’s  providential care of His children. The evidence is impossible to ignore for the conscientious follower of Jesus. If you have not taken inventory of how God has worked in your life over the last twelve months, please reward yourself by acknowledging how God has stepped into your world at just the right time and in just the right way. 
Remember how your world seemed to have no meaning when the  relationship to end all relationships ended? You were devastated. You were heart broken. You wept. You grieved. You wondered if you would ever laugh again. Then, at just the right time a new special person came along, filled the void and opened new avenues of love and joy that you had never imagined. 
Remember that horrible day when your boss told you that he had to terminate your employment? You were stunned. You did not have a clue this was going to happen. Having to go home and tell our wife that you had lost your job was the worst day of your life. Then, at the just the right time when you were not sure how you were going to pay your mortgage and health insurance, you got a call from company offering you a new job, with a higher salary, and better working conditions. 
Remember that afternoon when your daughter received the rejection from the university she had dreamed of attending? She dropped the letter, burst into tears, went into her room, and did not come out for hours. She was embarrassed. She was angry. She was sad. She was confused. There was nothing you could do to make things better. You prayed for her. You listened to her when she wanted to talk. Then, one day when she was at her lowest, at just the right time, she received an acceptance letter and an offer for a full-scholarship at another university. She started in the fall, has a wonderful roommate,  and cannot imagine being at the other school. 
Remember that Sunday at church when the minister announced he had accepted a ministry position with another church in another state? The whole church was shocked. He had been here for years. He is the only minister your family has ever known. You wondered if the church would survive. Then, at just the right time when you were discouraged and many o the members were grumbling and complaining about how things were, the new man showed up. You loved him immediately. His fresh vision and loving ways has brought new life and vitality to the church. 
Remember that morning when your doctor told you he had seen something unusual on some of scans? You were terrified. You immediately started imagining the worst possible scenarios. They did more tests. Then, they did more tests. What they thought they were looking for turned out to be nothing, but while doing the tests they discovered a tumor. Surgery to remove the tumor was completely successful. At just the right time when you did know anything was wrong your life was saved. 
Remember when you committed that horrible sin? The worst sin anyone ever committed. A sin you could not have ever imagined you could commit. You felt awful. In your mind you could not conceive of anyone being able to forgive you or love you ever again. Then, at just the right time when you were absolutely powerless you read Romans 5:6-8: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)
When we take the time at the end of a year, or any other time, we are likely to discover that God has been working for our good in ways we never dreamed of. And at just the right time He steps in to do what only He can do to change the course of our lives. Acknowledge His involvement in your life. Give Him credit. Praise His activity in your life. Live the rest of your life as an expression of gratitude for what He did at just the right time. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 29 Dec 2014, 3:49 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 17 No. 52 December 28, 2014

Think On These Things 

Would you like to end your year on a high note? Here is a simple and easy suggestion. It is not original with me. The Holy Spirit put the words in Paul’s mind, Paul put them to paper, and I share them with my computer.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9, NIV)
Sometime over the next few days consider trying this. 
Think. Take some time, fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, an hour or two and think. Think about the last twelve months. Think about how God has blessed you, surprised you, amazed you, challenged you, corrected you, or changed you. Think. Stop and be quiet and think.
Think specifically about these things. 
As you reflect think about the things you have learned, observed, or experience d that are true. The Bible. The love of a spouse, a parent, a friend, and God’s love.
As you reflect think about noble things. Things that are of great value and of high character. Think about what is dignified. Think about what is awe-inspiring. Think about things that are above and beyond your imagination.
Think about things that are right. Think about what is right about your family. Think about what is right about the world. Think about what is right about your church. Think about what is right and avoid focusing on what is wrong. Think about what has been right about your year.  
Think about what is pure. There is so much impurity in the world. Focus on things are as they are supposed to be, not tarnished or watered down. Think about the purity of a new born baby. Think about the pure love of newly married couple. Think about the purity of clear mountain morning. Think about the purity of a singer’s voice when the hit the notes perfectly. 
And do not ignore the lovely. Think about lovely things. Think about that lady in your church when you were young — always dressed with in the most appropriate fashion and her personality and spirit matched her wardrobe. Think about that tree down the street that had the perfect shape and filled with the brilliant orange leaves. 
When I hear the word admirable I see faces. I see the face of men and women who have inspired me by words, their actions, their encouragement, their ethics, and their spirituality. Think about those people this week. If possible contact them and tell them you are thinking about them and admire them. 
Because you can see mediocrity running rampant why not choose to think about things that are excellent. Think about an event you attended this year and came away thinking and commenting, “That was excellent!” Maybe it was a concert. Perhaps it was a sporting event. It could have been service at a favorite restaurant. 
As you bring your reflection time to an end think about things that deserve your praise. Think about your co-worker who did a great job on a difficult project, then tell them. Think about the performance of the young lady during her recital, then praise her. Think about the view of the ocean waves, then thank the Creator of the land and the sea. Think about that sunset that took your breath, then thank the One who made the sun, the moon, the stars, the sky, and your eyes to see them, then praise Him. Think about the One who created everything you see, hear, feel, taste, smell, experience, in the past, in the present, and in the future, then lift holy hands to praise the Lord God Almighty. 
I hope you will spend some time this week thinking on these things, and I hope you welcome the new year with renewed faith, restored hope, and refreshed spiritual passion. 
 
Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 22 Dec 2014, 5:50 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 51 December 22, 2014

Give It All To God

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7, NIV)
 We fret and we worry and we stew and we fear and we have sleepless nights and tense days. Paul has a better idea. Give it to God.
Not just a few things. Not just the big things. Not just the small things. Not just the things we cannot fix. Not just the things we do not want to deal with. Not just the things we wish we did not have to handle. Paul says anything and in every situation. 
With thanksgiving and in prayer present all requests to God. Give it to Him. Leave it with Him. Lay it down. Give it a rest. Stop hanging on to it.  Tell it goodbye.
When you give it to God something amazing happens. You will receive a peace unlike anything you have ever experienced. How about that for a Christmas gift? How about that for a way to start a new year. 
Peace. That is what the angel of the Lord announced at the coming of the Lord. Peace on earth. 
Imagine being at peace. Imagine really being at peace. Imagine not carrying your anxieties with you through Christmas. Imagine beginning the new year without the burden of your cares and anxieties. 
You do not to have to imagine. It can be reality. You can have this peace. You do not need to worry about getting rid of your worries. Just give them to God. You do not need to be anxious about trying to deal with your anxieties. Give them to God. 
It is not complicated. It is not difficult. Present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The only thing you have too lose is your anxiety, your worries and some of your stress, so why not give it a try. Give it all to God. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 16 Dec 2014, 10:12 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 50 December 15, 2014

It Is Time For Gentleness

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5, NIV)
As I write these words we are consumed with the holidays and all that goes with it. Children are barely able to contain their excitement. Parents are scrambling to make sure the right presents are purchased, wrapped, and carefully placed under the tree for Christmas morning. Merchants are working overtime to makes sure shelves are stocked and employees are taking good care of the sometimes desperate customers. 
At the same time stress levels rise as couples wonder how they are going pay their medical bills. Department store clerks do their best to satisfy the overstressed and demanding customers impatiently waiting their turn in the never-ending lines at the cash registers. Production team supervisors demand more from their team members than they can possibly accomplish. 
 the are on the verge of eruption as they face the never-ending line of customers do their best to satisfyAt the same time protests continue throughout the country illustrating the racial tension that still exists. Political leaders argue over best plan to keep the government in operation for another year. Each party will boast of their cooperative spirit and how much quicker an agreement could have been reached had it not been for selfishness of the other party. Threats of foreign terrorist attacks, tortured and murdered prisoners, as well as reports of our own government using unsanctioned methods to receive secret information. 
It is time for gentleness to be evident. Remember the Lord is near. Remember this season is about the Lord coming to earth to be near to us. It is time for a little gentleness. 
I am not suggesting a sentimental gentleness that simply smiles to avoid a confrontation. I am not suggesting a gentleness that covers a broken heart with a sugary sweet insincere greeting. 
The gentleness I am suggesting flows from a heart that has been transformed by the presence of God. The gentleness I am suggesting comes as a result of being touched by the compassion of Jesus. The gentleness I am suggesting in not manufactured to make a good showing, but is a natural by-product of being filled with the Spirit of God. The gentleness I am suggesting is possible when one has been comforted by the gentleness of a spirit-filled loved one. 
It is time to let gentleness be evident among Christians when we disagree with other Christians on matters of minor important, and on matters of major importance. It is time to let gentleness be evident between members of the same church when things do not turn out the way we had hoped they would. It is time to let gentleness be evident when we hear something that surprises and disappoints us about another follower of Jesus — gentleness, not assumptions or accusations. 
When rebellion is evident it is time to let gentleness be equally evident. When disappointment is evident it is time to let gentleness be equally evident. When complete failure has occurred, discovered and confessed it is time to let gentleness be abundantly evident. When people are demanding, rude, disrespectful, selfish and generally unkind it is time to let gentleness be miraculously evident.  
The Lord is near. It is time to let gentleness be evident to all.  

Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 15 Dec 2014, 11:32 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 50 December 15, 2014

It Is Time For Gentleness

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5, NIV)
As I write these words we are consumed with the holidays and all that goes with it. Children are barely able to contain their excitement. Parents are scrambling to make sure the right presents are purchased, wrapped, and carefully placed under the tree for Christmas morning. Merchants are working overtime to makes sure shelves are stocked and employees are taking good care of the sometimes desperate customers. 
At the same time stress levels rise as couples wonder how they are going pay their medical bills. Department store clerks do their best to satisfy the overstressed and demanding customers impatiently waiting their turn in the never-ending lines at the cash registers. Production team supervisors demand more from their team members than they can possibly accomplish. 
 the are on the verge of eruption as they face the never-ending line of customers do their best to satisfyAt the same time protests continue throughout the country illustrating the racial tension that still exists. Political leaders argue over best plan to keep the government in operation for another year. Each party will boast of their cooperative spirit and how much quicker an agreement could have been reached had it not been for selfishness of the other party. Threats of foreign terrorist attacks, tortured and murdered prisoners, as well as reports of our own government using unsanctioned methods to receive secret information. 
It is time for gentleness to be evident. Remember the Lord is near. Remember this season is about the Lord coming to earth to be near to us. It is time for a little gentleness. 
I am not suggesting a sentimental gentleness that simply smiles to avoid a confrontation. I am not suggesting a gentleness that covers a broken heart with a sugary sweet insincere greeting. 
The gentleness I am suggesting flows from a heart that has been transformed by the presence of God. The gentleness I am suggesting comes as a result of being touched by the compassion of Jesus. The gentleness I am suggesting in not manufactured to make a good showing, but is a natural by-product of being filled with the Spirit of God. The gentleness I am suggesting is possible when one has been comforted by the gentleness of a spirit-filled loved one. 
It is time to let gentleness be evident among Christians when we disagree with other Christians on matters of minor important, and on matters of major importance. It is time to let gentleness be evident between members of the same church when things do not turn out the way we had hoped they would. It is time to let gentleness be evident when we hear something that surprises and disappoints us about another follower of Jesus — gentleness, not assumptions or accusations. 
When rebellion is evident it is time to let gentleness be equally evident. When disappointment is evident it is time to let gentleness be equally evident. When complete failure has occurred, discovered and confessed it is time to let gentleness be abundantly evident. When people are demanding, rude, disrespectful, selfish and generally unkind it is time to let gentleness be miraculously evident.  
The Lord is near. It is time to let gentleness be evident to all.  

Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 08 Dec 2014, 4:28 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 49 December 8, 2014

The Mature View

In Philippians 3 Paul is describing his past, present and future life. He has already expressed how he has let go of his past life, the good and the bad, because he has found something far more valuable — Jesus. He continues to share his station in life in the next section by admitting that this process of letting go of the garbage is an ongoing task. “Not that I have already obtained all this” (vs. 12) 
The fact that he is not there does not discourage him. (Of course, neither has being in prison or being away from the people he loves.) He keeps trying. He is honest with us when he says, “I’m not there yet. But I keep trying.” It is a constant battle to forget, leave behind, and press on toward the goal. 
Remember the goal is Jesus. He keeps reaching for Jesus. He keeps stretching forward toward Jesus. He keeps moving toward Jesus. He keeps longing to be more like Jesus. Not there yet; but still moving. He is not going to stop until he reached the goal. 
Then, Paul makes an interesting statement: “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.” (15) I presume the “view” refers to his not having yet arrived. 
Apparently Paul was often confronted with, bothered by, and criticized by groups who claimed to be mature and their proof of maturity came from their achievements in keeping the law. So, he is taking a jab at them here by saying somewhat sarcastically, that if they were really mature they would know this and would have this view. “Of course, anyone who is really mature would already know this.” 
Do not allow his jab at the opposition distract you from his point. The mature view: I’m not there yet, but still moving forward. 
I think Paul is teaching us that part of being mature is knowing we are not as mature as we think we are…even when we are mature. 
He goes as far to say, “Follow my example” and follow those who live like I do. There are those who would lead you off in another direction, do not follow them. We have a higher calling. We have a greater goal than following the rules. We have a more important role to play in the world than being right. 
Keep your eye on the goal. Keep reaching. Do not allow these other folks to discourage you. 
He would say the same thing to you. Especially if you have someone, some “mature” person telling you how you are supposed to life. Especially if that life involves getting it all right all the time. Especially if you are trying that life and finding that you are unable to do. You keep messing up. You keep coming up short. You want to quit. 
Please don’t quit. Please keep your eye on the goal — Jesus. Read Hebrews 12. Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5,6,7). Read Philippians again. 
You can do it. You can keep trying. You can keep pressing on toward the goal. You can. You can. You can. I believe in you. Paul believes in you. More importantly God believes in you and has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell with you and in you. It is the mature view.
You’ve got this!

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 01 Dec 2014, 11:46 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 48 December 1, 2014

What’s Important

When you know what it is really important life becomes easier. When you are clear of your purpose in life many decisions become easier. When you know what you are on the earth to do the possibility of accomplishing your mission becomes easier. Knowing your purpose, understanding why you are here, and accomplishing our mission is the desire of the human heart. 
Generally speaking this discovery is mind boggling, but maybe it does not need to be. 
Jesus told us this, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3, NIV)
Paul told us this, “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)
Paul also told us this, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11, NIV)
Knowing Jesus is the key. Knowing Jesus is the answer. Knowing Jesus is our purpose. Knowing Jesus is why we are here. 
Jesus said it is eternal life. Paul said being conformed to the likeness of Jesus is why we are here. Paul said knowing Jesus is worth sacrificing everything else. 
So the question becomes, how do we know Him? We know Him by reading about Him. Not just the facts but learning who He was and who He is and who He will always be. We know Him by understanding how He thinks, how He feels, and how He cares about people. We know Him when we see Him in the lives of other people. We know Him when we experience His presence within our own hearts as we grow in our knowledge of Him and conform into His likeness. 
We can know our purpose. Our purpose is to know Jesus. It is worth everything.  

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 24 Nov 2014, 11:43 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 47 November 24, 2014

No Second-Guessing Allowed 

(Philippians 2:14-16 MSG) Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You'll be living proof that I didn't go to all this work for nothing.

What would it be like to live in a world, in a church, in a workplace, or in a home where no second-guessing is allowed? 
You would never remind everyone who will halfway listen that if you were the president of the United States you would never make the decision he made.
When teachers when make an assignment there will be no chorus of “Are you serious?” coming from the class. 
When a referee makes a call no couch would yell from the bench, no player would stomp down the court, and no fan would scream at the top of his lungs, “Are you crazy? That is a horrible call!” 
When the boss makes an assignment employees would simply smile and get busy completing the task. 
When a parent asks a child to get busy cleaning their room without comment the room would get cleaned. 
When a life long friend informs you that she is leaving her job to mission work in a property stricken country on the other side of the world the only response you give is that of encouragement and complete support. 
When your daughter says she is in love and wants to get married the only thing you can say is that you love her cannot wait for the wedding. 
When the elders make difficult but prayer-bathed decision there would be threats of leaving or resistance to their authority. 
When a husband tells his wife he cannot continue to work under the stressful conditions of his job and needs to make a change she hung him and says she is supportive. 
Those might be some of things we would experience if we were to live in a world, in a church, in a workplace, or in a home where no second-guessing is allowed.
Am I dreaming? Is this foolish thinking? Am I naive? Are you second-guessing me? 
Apparently the Lord felt it is not an impossibility since He guided Paul to write those words. It does not matter what kind of Bible you read from the message is the same. 
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,” (NIV)
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing;” (NASV and ESV)
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” (KJV)
Can you imagine such a world? Can you imagine being a person that never second-guesses, or grumbles, or complains, or argues? This text is not written only to that annoying person who always second-guesses you; it is also written to you. Do not second-guess that. It is true. It is also written to me. 
What would it be like to live like that? You would “Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night.” (Message) “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” (NIV) 
I think it is possible. I think it is worth trying. I think a world like that would be absolutely wonderful. Even if you think differently please do not second-guess me.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 17 Nov 2014, 11:22 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 46 November 17, 2014

The Attitude

Relationships! Whew! To say relationships are difficult to cultivate and maintain is a major understatement. 
A significant portion of lives are consumed with trying to create, understand and improve our relationships. We read books. We attend lectures and seminars. We ask friends for advice. We seek the wisdom of experienced. We lose sleep over relationships. We stress over relationships. We cry over broken relationships and we shed tears of joy when relationships mature and last for years. 
Marriage relationships are difficult. Parent and child relationships stretch us to our limits. Friendships keep us perplexed. Spiritual relationships can be extremely disappointing due to our expectations that come from the fact that we are dealing with people of like faith and similar thinking. 
Relationship gurus offer a variety of suggestions for improving our relationships. Better communication. Spend more time together. Spend better time together. For men: talk more. For women: talk less. For both: listen more and better. For parents: ask the right questions, ask questions in the right way, watch your tone when asking questions, and don’t ask too many questions. 
In writing to a group of Christians who were dealing with some critical relationship matters that were threatening the spiritual harmony of the community, Paul offered simple but profound advice:  
 “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.” (Philippians 2:5, The Message)
That’s easy, isn’t it? Just think about yourself the way Christ thought about himself. No problem. 
Another version called it an attitude,“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5, NAS)
Another calls it a mindset: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 
The mindset, the attitude of thinking like Christ involves becoming a servant. The original language indicates it is the lowliest of the servants. To live like Jesus, to treat others like Jesus treated people, requires us to empty ourselves of our natural tendencies and replace them with the tendencies of God. 
To be like Jesus we must replace our arrogance with humility. To be like Jesus we must practice a level of obedience and submission beyond anything that would come to us naturally. It requires an obedience that would enable us to give our very life should it come to that. 
Here is how Paul described it. 
“Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself 
    by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11, NIV)
Relationships! Whew! What do you do? Start here: Have the attitude of Jesus. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 10 Nov 2014, 2:07 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 45 November 10, 2014

Value Others


 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)
“The preacher often reads from one of those new Bible versions that uses really modern and often casual language. I just don’t like it. I’ve asked him about it, but he says it is easier for some people to understand than the version I like. I wish he would stop using it.” Paul said, “Value others above yourselves.”
“Our church is changing. There are so many new people. I hardly know any of them. They dress differently. Some of those young men make me a little nervous. I’m not sure I like the way things are changing.” Paul said, “Value others above yourselves.”
“What’s the deal the songs we sang today? They were so slow. I don’t think any of them were written in the last one hundred years. I guess some of the older people like them but why do we have to sing them.” Paul said, “Value others above yourselves.”
“You would not believe what the elders are talking about doing at church. They are asking us to volunteer to work for one hour a week on some kind of service project in our community. I am too busy. I don't have time for that.” Paul said, “Value others above yourselves.”
“I know those people need help. But it’s not my fault than they are out of work. Why do I have to help them?” Paul said, “Value others above yourselves.”
“The church budget seems to be really out of balance. So much money goes to the young people. They area always taking but what do they give back.” Paul said, “Value others above yourselves.”
“I am sick and tired of the elders getting up and asking us to increase our giving. I work hard for my money. What I do with my money it is my business.” Paul said, “Value others above yourselves.”
“I don’t care how much they talk about being more involved at church, my time is my time.” Paul said, “Value others above yourselves.”
We spend a lot of time and in our churches and spiritual communities trying to make sure that things are done the we like. We spend a lot of time trying to control how things are done. We get angry when we do not get our way. We threaten to leave if our voice is not heard. We fuss and fight and gripe and complain. We do everything within our power to make sure church life goes according to our plans. In the process we create unrest, weaken the harmony of the church, and destroy the unity of Christ’s Body. 
It is not supposed to be this way. Church is not supposed to be this difficult. We can do better. The solution is really much simpler than we might think. It starts with what Paul said, “Value others above yourselves.”

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 03 Nov 2014, 4:02 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 44 November 3, 2014

Make My Joy Complete


“Make my joy complete.” Those are Paul’s words in Philippians 2:2. He follows it with an explanation on how to make it happen. “ By being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” His desire was unity. 
Jesus prayed for the same thing shortly before He wan to the cross, message, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23, NIV)
Complete joy comes from being united in love, spirit and purpose. 
You see it when a team wins a championship. We saw last week when the San Francisco Giants won their third World Series in the last five years. The pitching staff did their job. The fielders did their job. The batters did their job. The coaching staff did their job. The fans did their job. By working together, by being like-minded, by being united in spirit they win championships, and they experience complete joy. 
You see it during a wedding reception. The bride and the groom were united in their decision to be married. The very language in the ceremony describes the oneness and union of hearts and spirits of the couple. The cooperation of both sets of parents, brothers and sisters, members of the wedding party, caterers, and all involved make the event a celebration of complete joy. 
You see it when a life is transformed from the self-love to self-surrender. Everyone who has ever had a part in teaching, encouraging, nurturing, and praying for the new created one are rejoicing with complete joy because all involved have been like-minded, having the same love, and one in spirit and mind. 
Paul was writing to a church when he suggested that they make his joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. His desire, his dream, his hope was that the Philippian church would make his joy complete by experiencing and displaying true unity. 
What could we accomplish if we, God’s people, were like-minded, if we had the same love and were one in spirit and mind? How may lives could be transformed? How many marriages could be saved? How many children could grow up in homes filled with love? How many churches would be reaching more people and impacting and their communities? How often could we bring and experience complete joy if we would “be like-minded, have the same love, become one in spirit and of one mind.” 
Paul had confidence that unity in the Body was possible. Let’s try. Let there be unity and harmony in our lifetime. Let us experience complete joy.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 28 Oct 2014, 8:03 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 43 October 27, 2014

Torn Between the Two

Have you ever been at a crossroads in life where your choices were all good? If you go down this road you are confident that good things are going to happen. If you go down the other road you are equally confident that good, perhaps better, things will happen. You want this, and you want that. 
Your trust in God is strong. He has always been faithful to His people, He has never left you alone, and He has proven over and over that He is worthy of your trust. There is no doubt that regardless of your decision He will walk with you, He will carry you if necessary, and He will deliver you in His way and on His timetable. You know it. 
That is Paul’s conflict as he writes to his beloved friends in Philippi.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 
I am torn between the two. I want, I prefer, to leave this body and dwell with God. But, it seems that being here with and for you is best. I am torn between the two. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
I am torn between the two. On those days when decisions are difficult, questions outweigh answers, and rest seems beyond reach I want to leave this earth. On those same days I am reminded of relationships, old and new, where God has allowed and continues to allow me to have significant influence and I want to stay here a little longer.
I am torn between the two. There are situations that require so much of me that I want to escape, run away, find a hole and crawl in it. In the same instant I can see that these circumstances provide a challenge, a promise of growth, and the opportunity to develop my faith. 
When it comes time to leave my children or granddaughters, no matter how long the visit, and return home I am torn between the two. I love my family. I feel extremely blessed for any amount of time I get to spend with them. I love our conversations. I love the openness and honesty we have developed. I love watching our granddaughters as they develop new skills, expand their horizons, and make new discoveries. I also love the ministry God has blessed me with. I love the people with whom I share this ministry. I love seeing God open doors of opportunity to share His message of love and forgiveness. When it comes time to leave and go home, I am torn between the two. I want to stay and I want to go. I want to go, but I also want to stay. 
Like Paul I desire one thing, but it is necessary that I hear God’s voice and follow His leading so that those God has placed in my path may be blessed and encouraged, and so that I may receive blessings and encouragement from them. 
As we are in this world and endeavoring to be followers of Jesus we will be torn between the two (or more) options, situations, and opportunities that God places before us. It is where we are. It is who we are. I suppose as we come to the end of our time in this world we will be torn between staying here with loved one and going home to be with the Father. 
Like the Apostle, “For to us, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” May we walk in His Spirit and live courageously, boldly, and joyfully all the days of our lives!

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 27 Oct 2014, 5:58 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 43 October 27, 2014

Torn Between the Two

Have you ever been at a crossroads in life where your choices were all good? If you go down this road you are confident that good things are going to happen. If you go down the other road you are equally confident that good, perhaps better, things will happen. You want this, and you want that. 
Your trust in God is strong. He has always been faithful to His people, He has never left you alone, and He has proven over and over that He is worthy of your trust. There is no doubt that regardless of your decision He will walk with you, He will carry you if necessary, and He will deliver you in His way and on His timetable. You know it. 
That is Paul’s conflict as he writes to his beloved friends in Philippi.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 
I am torn between the two. I want, I prefer, to leave this body and dwell with God. But, it seems that being here with and for you is best. I am torn between the two. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
I am torn between the two. On those days when decisions are difficult, questions outweigh answers, and rest seems beyond reach I want to leave this earth. On those same days I am reminded of relationships, old and new, where God has allowed and continues to allow me to have significant influence and I want to stay here a little longer.
I am torn between the two. There are situations that require so much of me that I want to escape, run away, find a hole and crawl in it. In the same instant I can see that these circumstances provide a challenge, a promise of growth, and the opportunity to develop my faith. 
When it comes time to leave my children or granddaughters, no matter how long the visit, and return home I am torn between the two. I love my family. I feel extremely blessed for any amount of time I get to spend with them. I love our conversations. I love the openness and honesty we have developed. I love watching our granddaughters as they develop new skills, expand their horizons, and make new discoveries. I also love the ministry God has blessed me with. I love the people with whom I share this ministry. I love seeing God open doors of opportunity to share His message of love and forgiveness. When it comes time to leave and go home, I am torn between the two. I want to stay and I want to go. I want to go, but I also want to stay. 
Like Paul I desire one thing, but it is necessary that I hear God’s voice and follow His leading so that those God has placed in my path may be blessed and encouraged, and so that I may receive blessings and encouragement from them. 
As we are in this world and endeavoring to be followers of Jesus we will be torn between the two (or more) options, situations, and opportunities that God places before us. It is where we are. It is who we are. I suppose as we come to the end of our time in this world we will be torn between staying here with loved one and going home to be with the Father. 
Like the Apostle, “For to us, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” May we walk in His Spirit and live courageously, boldly, and joyfully all the days of our lives!

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 20 Oct 2014, 7:54 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 42 October 20, 2014

Christ Is Preached

In the second part of the opening chapter of his letter to the believers in Philippi after he expresses his love for them and the joy he finds in their partnership in sharing the gospel, he explains the joy he is experiencing as a result of his imprisonment. His joy exists, it seems, not in spite of the chains, but because of the chains. His confidence in God’s plan, though unclear at the time, reminds us that we too can find joy in our struggles and still carry out our mission for the Lord. 
In the middle of his description of his unpleasant circumstances he shares another reason for his joy.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 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 1:5-18, NIV)
Christ is preached. Paul rejoices. 
He knows that some use the name of Christ for their own benefit, or to create problems for him. He does not care. He rejoices. He knows that some have good intentions. He rejoices. Because he is in chains the message of Jesus is being preached. Even though he is in prison the message of Jesus is being preached. He may not get the credit, he may not get the recognition, and he may not see the results, but he rejoices because Jesus is preached. 
Can we do the same? 
Have you ever noticed how many churched wit have in our communities? There are churches of all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of teachings that are specific for a particular tribe. Each one carries out her ministries in ways that may differ from ours. We have one thing in common: Jesus is preached. The externals are different. The insider language may be different. The practices vary. The styles of worship may not be like ours. We have one thing in common: Jesus is preached. They are organized differently from us. The teaching materials they use are not like ours. The methods of sharing the messages are not like ours. We have one thing in common: Jesus is preached. 
Paul rejoiced because others were preaching Jesus regardless of their motives. With all the issues that divide us, all the walls that separate us, and all the arguments that alienate us it is good that we can rejoice when other preach Jesus. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Wed 15 Oct 2014, 8:14 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 41 October 13, 2014

Every Time

Paul begins his letter to the Philippian church (after a brief greeting) with these words, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3, NIV) He expresses his joy that comes as a result of his relationship with them and prays for them. What an encouraging moment that must have been when those lovers of God and lovers of Paul received his letter where he shared his love for them, and explained what was going on in his world. There surely was a sense of relief to learn that he was doing so well, even though he is in a difficult place. 
What an encouragement it must have been when they heard the words, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”
Are there people in your life to whom you could say the same thing? “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Not once in a while. Not occasionally. Not once in a blue moon if something happens to remind me of you. Every time you think of them you thank God for them. 
We may have a few people who prompt the opposite response. Every time we think of them we ask God why He put them in our life. We may question His wisdom for allowing them to be such a pain in the neck. We may even ask Him to remove them from our life. Paul probably had one or two of those people as well. He wrote other letters to other groups that have different comments at the beginning. But, not this group. This group was special. 
“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Who are those people in your life? Have you told them how you feel about them? What a blessing it would be for them to hear these words from you. 
Parents, if you can, take the time to look your children in the eyes and say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Tell them why. Tell them that you are praying for them and what you are praying. Do the same with your grandchildren if you can.
Children, if you can, take a moment and tell your parents, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Explain to them all the things they do and have done that make you so thankful. Remind them that you are praying for them. 
Husbands, shock your wife sometime by turning off the game and telling her, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” 
Wives, go out of your way to tell your husband, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”
Is there a teacher who inspired you? Is there a student who stands out from the crowd as one who has great potential? Is there a friend who has been there for you? Is there a co-worker who always seems to be willing to lend a hand and offer a kind word of encouragement? Be creative. Find a way to say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Tell them why. Tell them you are praying for them. 
When I arrived at my office this morning I found a basket of candy, snacks, and all kinds of goodies, golf tees, practice golf balls, and colorful paper creatively arranged to look like a basket of flowers. Attached to it was a handwritten note of encouragement to me expressing appreciation and support for me. Signed simply: “Your siblings in Christ.” What a blessing! What a way to start the week! Do I feel appreciate? Do I feel loved? Absolutely!
You can do that for someone you know and love and appreciate. Turn your good intentions into a blessing for them.
I thank my God every time I think about you reading these Norvell Notes. Thank you for being a blessing in my life and for being blessing in the lives of those around you. 
“I thank my God every time I remember you.”

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 06 Oct 2014, 8:09 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 40 October 6, 2014

Just the Right Words

Solomon’s words are speaking to me today: “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)
A thought enters the mind. The thought longs to be expressed. The thought needs to be expressed. For the writer, the teacher, and the communicator, for the thought to not be expressed would be disastrous. It is not an option. The thought must be expressed, but it must be expressed appropriately. Thus, the search for “just the right words.”
When you are writing a friend wanting to provide words of encouragement and words that offer hope you search for “just the right words.”
When you are teaching a child to share his toys you search for “just the right words.”
When you are explaining death to a child you search for “just the right words.”
When you are trying to apologize you search for “just the right words.”
When you are responding to an apology you search for “just the right words.”
When you are making a special request you search for “just the right words.”
When you are saying goodbye you search for “just the right words.”
When you are expressing your love you search for “just the right words.”
When you are expressing your disappointment you search for “just the right words.”
When you are you receive an extravagant gift you search for “just the right words” to express your appreciation.
When pain is deep and real you search for “just the right words.”
When the message is vitally important you search for “just the right words.”
When delivering bad news you search for “just the right words.”
When speaking truth you search for “just the right words.”
And I suppose when you are speaking lies you also search for “just the right words.”
When your heart is broken you search for “just the right words.”
When your heart is bursting with joy you search for “just the right words.”
When you are confused you search for “just the right words.”
When your confusion clears you search for “just the right words.”
When responding to criticism you search for “just the right words.”
When offering “constructive criticism” you search for “just the right words.”
When you are speaking to a counselor you search for “just the right words.”
When the counselor responds to your pain she searches for “just the right words.”
When you are speaking of a dear and departed loved one you search for “just the right words.”
The text from Ecclesiastes continues, “The words of the wise prod us to live well. They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.
They are given by God, the one Shepherd.” (12:11, The Message)
I never cease to be amazed when I ask the one Shepherd for “just the right words” how He provides them.
I never cease to be amazed when I need someone else to speak “just the right words” to me, for me, or over me, the one Shepherd provides them.
Maybe you are searching for “just the right words” to explain to someone what you are feeling, to express to the one Shepherd how you are hurting, or to sort things out in your own mind. He will provide if you will ask.
Maybe you are searching for “just the right words” as you confront a friend, deal with a problem, or offer advice. He will provide if you will ask.
Remember all the times someone was wise enough to “search for just the right words” before they confronted you, corrected you, encouraged you, or expressed their appreciation for you. He will help you do the same.
The wise man said, “What he wrote was upright and true.”
With the help of the one Shepherd the same might be said of you. Before you shoot off your mouth, send that email, or mail your love letter take a moment to search for “just the right words.” You will not regret it.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 29 Sep 2014, 10:06 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 39 September 29, 2014

Lessons Re-Learned From Granddaughters

These lessons are not new. I am pretty sure I, and all people, learned these as a child, or maybe they naturally came with us into the world. Like many other things as we grow older we think we learn better ways of living, or we forget the simple lessons Jesus said we must learn from those about whom He said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, NIV). So, with the most recent visit with my youngest granddaughter, previous visits with my oldest granddaughter, watching my son and daughter as they grew, and drawing from my own life, I have been reminded of these life lessons. 

Falling asleep is easier if you know someone is there to take care of you. 
My job (a real chore) was to stay with her while her mom and dad were out for the morning. My instructions were: “If she wakes up, comfort her, feed her a little, and she’ll go back to sleep.” She woke up. I comforted her. I fed her a little. And she began to fall back to sleep. She made a few noises…those special grunts and squeals that babies make when they are half awake and half asleep. As I lay beside her on the bed I put my hand on her chest to assure her that she was not alone and that I was near. She would occasionally half open her eyes look at me and rub or pat my hand. She did that a few times and settled back in to finish her sleep. 
My heart melted. My eyes watered. And I thought, “I’m the same way.” When I lay down to rest, for a nap or for the night, it is always good to someone is there. If not physically it is important to know that emotionally and spiritually someone is there. My Papa is there. He is always there. Close to me, assuring me, calming me, comforting me, feeding me, and reminding me that He loves me. 
He is my Father. I am His child. 

As we make our way through life there are a lot of distractions. 
She is on the floor in her space with her toys. She looks across the quilt and sees a toy that she wants. Bright colorful rings. Her eyes light up. Her arms wave with excitement. She starts across the quilt. Then, she sees the Fox. She loves the fox. She grabs him. Squeezes him. Chews on his ear. Then, she sees the rattle and heads for it. On the way she raises her head to make sure we are still there. She smiles and on she goes. But, then she sees that I have phone out to take her picture. “I love phones.” She makes an immediate left turn and heads for the phone which is the other side of my legs. Legs do not stop her. She pulls up, strains, grunts, and eventually tumbles off my legs. As she almost reaches my phone she notices my drink cup with a bright red straw. “Ooooh! I love bright red straws!” 
I do the same thing. I begin my day with a clear direction and detailed plan. I get a cup of coffee and prepare for a quiet time in the Word and prayer. Then, comes a phone call, a text, and email, a reminder of something I had forgotten. “Oh, I’ve got to do that first.” “Oh! Man! I forgot about that!” Somewhat like a pin ball I bounce from one thing to the next. When I reach the end of the day I think of one more thing that needs my attention. The time in the Word and in prayer was lost along the way. 

Take time to notice everything. 
She notices everything. She wants to investigate everything. Her hands. Her fingers. Her toes. Her toys. That piece of string on the carpet. The wedding ring on my finger. The blue band on my wrist. The strings on my shoes. My nose. My mustache. Her mom’s face. Her dads beard. The napkin on the table. The bird. The flowers. She wants to touch it, squeeze it, bite it, taste it, lick it. She notices everything. 
We outgrow this lesson faster than any of the others. Busy schedules. Obligations. Deadlines. Commitments. Wants. Needs. Busy-ness. Important things. Before you know it we miss a beautiful sunrise, we ignore a child playing in the park, and we miss a special moment with friends and family. As we rush through our day we fail to listen to our spouse, we gobble down a meal, and we walk past people without acknowledging their existence. As we reflect on our day we are reminded of all the things, moments and people that we passed up and passed over. 
Children can teach us so much, if we will let them…if we will take time to notice and watch them. So, here is an assignment for the next week. 
First, remind someone that you are there for them, and as you lay down to sleep remind yourself that God, you Father, is there to comfort you, feed you, and help you rest.
Second, guard against unhealthy distractions. Stay focused on what is important. 
Third, notice and enjoy all the people, things, and moments that the Lord puts in your path. Slow down. Relax. Rest. 
 
Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 22 Sep 2014, 7:51 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 38 September 22, 2014

The 5th Last Time

I mowed the lawn at the house recently moved from for 5th last time. We listed our house last fall and were confident it would sell. So as winter approached I mowed the lawn with confidence that it would be the last time. It was not. 
Spring came, the grass grew, the house had not sold, I started mowing. I mowed through the spring, then through the summer, and then early fall arrived and I was still mowing. We signed the papers on the sell and were expected to close within two weeks, so I mowed thinking that would be that last time. The closing was delayed, so I mowed again for the 3rd last time, then again, and finally last week I mowed for the 5th last time. I am optimistic (again) that that was the last time. We’ll see…
As I finished up and swept off the driveway, I thought of other things that are done multiple last times. 
There was the time in college when we thought, “This is the last of these lectures I will ever have to sit through.” A low grade (a really low grade) gave us the opportunity to repeat the class (American Literature  for me) the next semester. 
There is that habit of eating too much, or eating those late night snacks, or eating whether you are hungry or not. “I will never eat that much food again.” “I am not going to eat that late in the day ever again.” It worked…until the next time…and then the next. 
There are those sins you have asked forgiveness for over and over again. “That’s that last time I will click that site.” “That’s the last time I will talk like that.” “I am going to learn to control my temper.” It worked. Until the next time. 
In sports we make similar promises. “I’ll never hit a shot like that again.” “I’ll never swing at a pitch that far outside again.” “I’ll never let that guy drive around me toward the basket again.” Then, you did it again. Then, you did it again and again…then you did it again. 
Then there are all those times when we said we were going to change our conversation. “I am not going to gossip ever again.” “I am going to stop being so negative and cynical and criticize so much.” “That is the last time I am going to get caught up in ‘the sky is falling and the whole world is going to the dogs’ conversation.” Then there’s the next last time, and the next, and still another last time. 
Our friend Peter had some trouble with this. He told Jesus he would go where ever Jesus wanted him to go with Him. Jesus cautioned him on making such a bold claim, then told him he would deny him three times before the morning. I suspect when he denied Jesus the first time he promised he would never do it again. He did it again. And, he did it the third time. 
The exceptionally good news is that after those three denials, Jesus offered him a completely restored relationship.He did that because God is a God of second chances, third chances, fourth chances and as many as it takes. He does not give up on us. 
So if you find that you are on your first or second or third or fourth last time of doing something, or not doing something keep trying. Maybe, just maybe the next time will really be the last.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 15 Sep 2014, 11:03 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 37 September 15, 2014

Bad Connection


Father, our connection is bad. It is my fault. Naturally! I am always the one who pulls away. I am the one who chooses to disconnect. You are never far from me and you never disconnect from me.
You are always there waiting to hear from me. Waiting to offer me help. Waiting to fill me with Your Spirit. Waiting to listen to the concerns of my heart. Waiting to remove the stains on my heart that have been put there by sins that I have committed. You are waiting to wipe those stains away. Waiting to offer me a safe place to unload the burdens that I insist are mine to bear. You are always there waiting. Yet, from my perspective it seems as if I am the one waiting.
Waiting for You to do something. Waiting for You to show me the way. Waiting for You to give me the answer I am looking for. Waiting for Your direction on the path I should take or the decision I should make. Waiting to hear a clear message from You. Waiting to hear Your voice. Waiting for the other voices to grow quiet so I can hear Your voice. Waiting for things to work out the way I want them to work out. Waiting for You to change people that I cannot change. Waiting for You to make the wrong things right.
Father, our connection is bad. It is my fault. Naturally! I am always the one who chooses a different course. You are always walking nearby, or sitting nearby, or abiding nearby. I am the one who walks away.
You are always longing for me to come back to You. You are always looking for me to turn around. You are always inviting me to come to You. You are always the One asking me to be still. You are always reminding me that You are close by putting a sunset in the sky, a bird on my window sill, or a child in my arms. You are always telling me that You love me. You are always providing me opportunities to do good things, to help people in need, and to love people who need to be loved. You are always offering me the freedom to just be me. You are always waiting with open arms for me to come home. Yet, it seems like I am always searching.
I am always searching for affirmation that I am loved. I am always searching for the better way. I am always searching for a place to rest. I am always reaching for the more exciting adventure. I am always straining to achieve more. I am always wanting more. I am always dreaming bigger. I am always pushing harder. I am always wearing myself out. I am always preparing for the next thing. Trying harder to do life better.
Father, our connection is bad. I know it’s my fault. Thank You for not giving up on me and for wanting to stay connected with me. I am working on it. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 08 Sep 2014, 10:48 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 36 September 8, 2014

Unfulfilled Longings


“I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:3-5, NIV)
Paul gives a glimpse into his heart when he admits, “I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.” His words remind me of people who are in one place or a particular situation, doing the best they can with what they have to work with as they let go of hopes and dreams and are forced to live with unfulfilled longings.  
I think of the couple who have prayed for a baby for years to no avail. They long to see a new baby so that they may be filled with joy. 
I think of the young bride who longs to see her soldier husband come home from the overseas tour. 
I think of the husband how longs to be home from his business trip that has kept him away from home all week. 
I think of the college student who has worked hard for four years and is now ready to get out into the working world. 
I think of the high school senior (and his parents) who has made it to his last semester and thinks he ready to be on his own, but is not yet actually ready to be on his own. 
I think about business woman who has worked hard, prepared herself and knows she is qualified for the promotion, but is once again being overlooked because she is a woman. 
I think about the wife who is giving up on the idea being loved by her husband and experience the family she dreamed about when they married. 
I think about the preacher who has given his life to ministry and is now ready to leave the ministry due discouragement and frustration.
Living in a world of unfulfilled longings is not a position to envy. It is frustrating. It is disappointing. It is crushing. Surely Paul must have felt all those things as he penned the words, “I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.”
He knew joy was waiting for him if he could only be with the people he loved. He remembers the joyful sadness when he left them. 
So, how do you survive a life of unfulfilled longings? I offer these suggestions. 
First, as much as possible focus on where you are and what you are doing. In other words, stay in the moment. Do not wish your life away. Paul expressed it well when he was writing to another group of believers and longing for the support they were trying to send him, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12, NIV)
Second, rely on God’s strength not your own. To that same group Paul said, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NIV)
Third, remember God will proved for your all your needs. Paul concludes his message to the Philippians with these words, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NIV)
I suppose most all of us will find ourselves dealing with an unfulfilled longing at some point in our lives. That part may be beyond our control. How we handle it is not. These three suggestions will not change your situation, but they will help you endure it and get beyond it. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 02 Sep 2014, 10:54 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 35 September 1, 2014

Such Perfect Unity

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.  (John 17:20-23, NLV)

Was Jesus dreaming? Was the agony of the impending cross affecting His thinking? Was He, as some accused, a lunatic? Did He realize what He was saying when He prayed this prayer? Did John include this prayer in His telling of the story on purpose? Did Jesus not have an understanding of people well enough to know that can never happen? Was John so caught up in the Spirit and in the moment that he did not realize what he was writing? 
The way we, the ones He was praying for, act one could draw the conclusion that the answer to all those questions could be answered with a strong and confident, “Yes!” or “No!” Yes, He was dreaming. Yes, the cross was affecting His thinking. Yes, He was a lunatic. No, He didn’t realize what He was saying. No, John did not intend to include the story…it just slipped in somehow. No, Jesus did not understand people very well. Yes, John was so caught up in the emotion of the moment that He did not realize what he was saying. 
The goal, according to Jesus, is so that the world will know that He was sent from the Father and that they were united in the plan. The plan for accomplishing that goal is for His followers to be so united with the Father and the Son that the message of His love for them would be undeniably clear.
So, the question must be asked: How are we doing at accomplishing what Jesus prayed for? 
Have we achieved such perfect unity racially that people look at us and immediately think, “They are one with God?” 
Have we achieved such perfect unity theologically that people listen to our conversations and think, “They are one with God?”
Have we achieved such perfect unity doctrinally that people hear what we believe and think, “They are one with God?”
Have we achieved such perfect unity in any area that people would look at us and say, “They are one with God?”
Maybe approach to achieving the goal is off. Instead of trying to find such perfect unity on these matters (race, theology, doctrine, etc.), we should first strive to be one with the Father and the Son. Maybe then, we would find unity in these areas that tend to divide us.  
Call me naive, call me idealistic, or call me a dreamer. I do not care. I still believe His goal is achievable. I still hope for a day when people will look at us and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are His disciples because we experience such perfect unity. I long to see the prayer of Jesus become a reality. I am not willing to accept the we way that we are as the way we will always be. 
I want to continue to pray as Jesus prayed…that we will all be one, just as the Father and the Son are one—as the Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Father. And may we be in the Father and the Son so that the world will believe the Father sent the Son. May we experience such perfect unity that the world will know that the Father sent the Son and that the Father loves them as much as He loves His son.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 25 Aug 2014, 10:50 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 34 August 25, 2014

A Temporary Move

I suspect if you were to search the archives of A Norvell Note you would find a number of other articles on “moving.” Welcome to the 2014 edition. We sold our house in an effort to downsize and reduce our debt, so we are moving into an apartment until we find the next house. Even though we are calling this a short-term temporary move, I confess that moving is always semi-traumatic for me. 
I get attached. I get comfortable. I put down roots. I settle in. I make myself at home. When it time to move I must detach, get uncomfortable, pull up roots and remind myself that this is not my home. I get nostalgic. I get sentimental. This afternoon I walked through the house and stopped in different rooms thinking, “This is our last Sunday afternoon in this house.” I felt a little like George Banks in “Father of the Bride Part II.” I also thought, “I really do not like boxes!”
In many ways moving is a good thing. Moving forces me to let go and clean out. Moving reinforces the idea that nothing lasts forever. Moving reminds me that every move, in this life, is temporary. One day we find a house and move from the apartment, even though it will promise to provide a feeling of security and permanence, It will not, because it cannot. That move, like this one, will be temporary. 
Moving makes me restless. It is difficult to rest until the old place is empty and cleaned. It is even more difficult to rest in the new place until all the boxes are either empty or out of sight. Sometimes even being out of sight is not sufficient. I know they exist therefore they must be unpacked. 
Moving also alerts me to the fact I was not created to feel at home in this world. Neither were you. C. S. Lewis said, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." [C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Collier Books: New York, 1943, p. 120]
Paul said this, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3, NIV)
As we make this move, and anticipate the next, we hope that will be the last move. We have hoped that before. We have thought that before. Obviously we were wrong and do not know for certain that it will be true this time. In recent months I have had many reminders of the saying, “If you to make God laugh tell Him your plans.”  
I am constantly in need of what the Lord said: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.(Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)
So, it is moving week. This house we have inhabited for the last six years will soon be filled with the laughter of another family. Our memories will go with us and we will make new memories in anew place. Another house will become our new permanent home…until it is time to move again. This process will continue as long as we live and breath until that last move when we finally make it home. That will be a move I will enjoy. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 18 Aug 2014, 10:08 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 17 No. 33 August 18, 2014

Just Serve Me

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “Lord, we want you to do us a favor.” (Mark 10:35, New Living Translation)
I pray the same prayer, regularly, “Lord, I want you to do me a favor.”
My prayer is not usually about being the greatest, like James and John, but it is equally self-centered. I say the words then start my list.
I want You to make our church grow. 
I want You to make us more effective in reaching the community.
I want You to change the attitudes of some of our people. 
I want You to make people do what I want them to do. 
I want You to show people what a good guy I am.
I want You to make our marriage better. 
I want You to change my spouse, my children, my co-workers, my church members, my friends, people in our community, and people in general so that they think and act more like I want them to think and act. That would be really nice!
I want You to make me a better preacher, a better writer, a better teacher, and a better counselor.
I want You to bring peace to the world. 
I want You to do away with all the hunger and pain in the world, and make sure everyone has a home. 
I want You to cause our church to be bigger without losing the warm, personal, and friendly atmosphere that we now enjoy. 
         I want You to make me rich and not think I am anything special just because I am rich. 
I want You to make me appreciate what I have and while you are at it make me content with what I have. 
There is my list, Lord. Lord, I have a lot of favors that I want You to do for me. At least that’s all I can think of right now. Tomorrow I will probably add a few more things to the list of favors I want you to do for me.
Then, to my amazement, I had a rare unselfish moment and turned to the Lord said, “Lord, You do so much for me. Is there anything I can do for You? Can I do a favor for you?”
He smiled and said, “Thank You for asking. As a matter of fact I do have one request.”
“Name it, Lord. I am all about doing what You want me to do.”
He put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes said, “Just serve me.” 
He continued. “I look around and see so many of my children struggling for power and position. I just want you to serve me. Don’t worry about where you will sit or what role you will play in my Kingdom. Just serve me.”
“I see so many of my children doing without, struggling to get by, and searching for answers to the many questions that puzzle and perplex them. I wish you would help them. Just serve me by helping them.”
“I know that you have a lot of pressure on you from the people of the world to act big and strong and set policy and make important decisions. Maybe someday you will be called to a place where you will make important decisions that impact the world, but for now, just serve me.” 
“Don’t worry about being first. It’s okay to be last. When it is time for you to move to the front of the line, I’ll make sure it happens. You don’t need to worry about it. For now, just serve me.”
“What I really want you to do for me is do what I do. I came to serve, not to be served. So just serve me.”
“And when you serve me, do it with joy and do it cheerfully. Serve me because you love me. Serve me because my Spirit lives in you. Just serve me.”
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”  “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:35-45, NIV)

Tom

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