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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 Sun 19 Feb 2017, 8:41 pm


Vol. 19 No. 08 | February 19, 2017

Friday Afternoon

It is Friday afternoon.
Many people look forward to Friday afternoon. For many, it is the last work day of the week. The majority of folks are clock-watching, counting the seconds until it is time to go. We use “hump day” as a marker for how much closer we are to Friday afternoon. We even have a restaurant named T.G.I.F (Thank God it’s Friday). All week long we make plans for what we are going to do on Friday after we get off work. Some want to party. Some want to relax. Some exercise. Some just relish in the fact that they are not at work.
For some people, Friday afternoons have a different feel. For some, Friday afternoons are lonely. I am a part of that ‘some’. I find Friday afternoons to be lonely.
Maybe it is because for most of my formative years, Friday afternoon was a time to get ready for a ballgame, a date, or dinner out.
Maybe it is because for all these years, our children were home on Friday afternoon, and it was a time to help them get ready for or go with them to a ball game, dinner out, or a movie.
Maybe it is because for much of my adult life, Friday afternoon meant I was either playing golf, doing yard work, or preparing to join friends or family for a meal.
Maybe it is because for so many years, and even still, the bulk of my work has been finished by Friday afternoon and I am ready to do something different, something fun, something relaxing.
We often plan to go to a movie or have dinner out on Friday evenings simply because it seems like a good thing to do.
Maybe Friday afternoon is often a struggle for some because it marks an end to the week, and we have more time to reflect. I tend to think about all the things I accomplished during the week. I think about all the things I wanted to accomplish. Then, I think about all the things that I did not accomplish that will be waiting for me tomorrow or Sunday or Monday.
I reflect a lot on Friday afternoon. I am more likely to listen to “Pacing the Cage” by Jimmy Buffet, or John Denver’s “Poems, Prayers, and Promises” on Friday afternoon. And it is not unusual for me to play “I Built Myself a Life.”
I must admit taking time to reflect is one of my special pleasures in life. Some might call it daydreaming, but that is something different. There is a purpose to reflecting. There is a purpose to reflecting on the day, the week, the month, the year, on life. I think reflection is a much needed and much forgotten instrument for developing a healthy soul.
Obviously, you can drive yourself crazy in your reflection time if you focus only on those unfinished tasks. Instead, try your hardest to reflect on what you have accomplished. Reflect on how God has helped you accomplish those things. Reflect on all the moments of beauty and rest and peace that God provided for you. Reflect on the struggles that God has helped you through. Reflect on promises He has made to you that you have yet to see fulfilled.
I wonder about Jesus’ reflections on that Friday afternoon on the cross. (No, I do not want to argue whether it was Friday or Thursday.) The story tells us He often went away by himself to pray, and I suspect reflect. On this particular Friday afternoon, He was focused on what was waiting for Him. The pain. The humiliation. The angry crowds. The nails. The tears. The hours before He finished what He came to do.
As He pondered those things ahead of him, I wonder if, to help get through it all, He might have reflected on being with the Father when they, along with the Spirit, created the world. I wonder if He might have reflected on the twelve who He had chosen and the times of teaching, sharing meals, laughing with them, and watching them struggle to understand His teaching.
I wonder if He reflected on the time He changed water to wine, watched Peter stop out of the boat and walk toward Him, and the look on the blind man’s face when he first opened his eyes and could see.
I wonder if He reflected on those things and so many other things that He and the Father had done together as he pleaded for there to be “another way.”
Obviously, I will never know all the things, what Jesus reflected on as he prayed in the garden on that Friday afternoon. But one thing I am sure of, He prayed. As He reflected, He was thinking of you and me, even though we were centuries from being born, and the provision for our sins to be forgiven that He was about to reveal to the world.
As I reflect on this Friday afternoon, I am reminded of children that are grown and living on the meals shared between them and good friends, lonely Friday afternoons when no one was around, and that special Friday afternoon when Jesus said, “This is why I came. And it is finished!” And I find that in the midst of my reflections, I am extremely grateful and forgiven.
It is Friday afternoon, and I am thankful.
Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Sun 12 Feb 2017, 11:43 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 19 No. 07 | February 12, 2017

Maybe Not As Healthy As I Thought

I am not sick! I am not in a health crisis of any sort (physical, mental or spiritual)!

I have kept this to myself to avoid rumors starting, but I have discovered in recent weeks that I may not be as healthy as I thought.

I had my annual physical a few weeks ago. After having made some adjustments to my blood pressure medicine at the end of 2016, I was pleased that my numbers were again in the acceptable range. I did the rest of the things a 63-year-old-men is supposed to do in those check-ups- blood work and a serious conversation with the doctor, which included, “Why are you not exercising?” Left the office feeling pretty good, thinking “I’m doing pretty well for a semi-old guy.”

A few days later the doctor’s nurse called saying, “The doctor wants you to make a few adjustments.” I will not go into the details but some numbers were not where they should be. She went on to inform me that I needed to back off on some foods, increase some of my meds and vitamins, and begin taking another med. Turns out that I’m not as healthy as I thought.

Several months after leaving my preaching position, my wife and I were binging on the West Wing. Many times we had to pause between episodes for brief conversations on how that scene impacted us. Most included a passing wish that Josiah Bartlett could be in the current presidential race, or how we had forgotten about that actor or actress being on the show.

During one season, the White House team had faced several challenges but had survived them all and came out victorious in the second term election. C. J., Toby, Josh, Leo and the whole team enjoyed a jubilant time of celebration. During that episode, I paused it, wiped tears from my eyes, and when my wife questioned me, I muttered, “I miss the team!” Turns out, I’m not as healthy as I thought.

Having survived a few months in this new chapter of life, I was feeling pretty good about things. I decided to venture off into a pretty exciting and demanding new phase to develop some skills and add a few more tools to my ministry tool box. I was pumped. I was excited. I was invigorated by how enjoyable and helpful this was going to be.

That is, until I had a mind implosion. “I have no room for this information in my brain.” “As much as I want to do this, I cannot.” I was sad. I was disappointed with myself. I was angry with myself. I was frustrated with wasting money we did not have to waste. Turns out, I’m not as healthy as I thought.

I’m not as healthy as I thought. That is quite a realization. Yes, I realized years ago that I was not as young as I once was and could not physically do many of the things I once did. That is part of life. That is part of getting semi-older. No Sweat! (Partly because I do not move as quickly as I once did, so I don’t sweat as much as I once did.)

So it is, or will be, with accepting the reality that I am not as healthy as I thought. After numerous conversations with my wife, friends, and the Lord, I am understanding more about what these things mean and how to deal with them.

The primary message I have received is simple: It is okay! Maybe you’re not as healthy as you thought, but you still have a good heart, a good mind, two good legs, good friends, a loving family, and all kinds of opportunities to serve the Lord in your present condition. So, it is okay.

Closely attached to that is: It is a time for you to rest. Enjoy it, and rest.

Words like the following have brought me peace as I realize that I am not as healthy as I thought.

Ecclesiastes 2:22-24, (NIV)
22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.
24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,..

Matthew 11:27-29, (NIV)
27 All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Maybe you are going through a similar phase of life. Against your will, you are slowing your pace. You keep hearing the same message in every sermon, every song, and seeing it in everything you read: “It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to back away for a while and let yourself heal.”

Jesus did it regularly. God considered it important enough to include it as one of His laws. If He thought it was such a good idea, and necessary, maybe you can crawl down off your self-made pedestal long enough to let the Lord run the world. He has been doing it for a long time.

Maybe you need to rest a while so He can make you healthier than you ever thought you could be. The things He has planned for you to do will get done when He is ready for them to get done.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 06 Feb 2017, 8:36 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 19 No. 06 | February 6, 2017

Gas Prices, Politics, the Weather, and Jesus

Gas prices change at irregular intervals. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the changes. Gas prices go up and go down, sometimes multiple times during a twenty-four period. In our area, you can drive down the road and the price of gas will fluctuate as much as ten cents higher or lower. This varies from week to week, depending on which location you go to. If a gas line is ruptured in Alabama, the price of gas in areas near us will go up, and some will not. Economists try to predict what will happen with gas prices, and sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are not. There seems to be little consistency.

Politics is as inconsistent as gas prices. Whoever is in a position of leadership determines the protestors and the supporters. The amount of power of the president is dependent upon which political party has control of the various branches of government. Even then, it seems that the bill he signs or does not sign can cause a shift in those who are supporters and those considered the opposition. Political analyst try to predict how politicians will act or react and how the constituents will respond, sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are not. There seems to be little consistency.

The weather, particularly during this season, is almost impossible to predict. We get frustrated with, amused with, and sympathetic towards those who have the task of making accurate predictions. Temperatures on some winter days are more like early spring or late fall. Predictions of light snow are overturned with a slight shift in the jet stream that produces several inches (and of course global warming must also be factored in). Predictions of heavy snow excite children, only to disappoint them when the jet streams moves just a degree or two in one direction or another. Forecasters, using all of their advanced technologies, do their best to make predictions that are as accurate as possible, sometimes they are exactly right, and sometimes they are not. There seems to be little consistency.

Jesus! Ahhh, Jesus! Jesus is someone who you can know, with absolute certainty, is consistent. We can consistently depend on Jesus. Jesus offers us something solid to hold on to. Jesus provides us with a tangible understanding of consistency. The writer of the Hebrews encourages the followers who were weary of the inconsistencies of living the holy life in a very hostile world with these words. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV)

Sometime today I will fill my car up with gas. Before I go, I will check an app on my phone to see who has the cheapest price in my area.

Several times within the next twenty-four hours, I will get updates on all my devices or scan comments on social media that are giving details and opinions on the latest decisions coming out of the White House.

Before I leave the house, I will check the weather to see if there will be rain, sunshine, or clouds.

The sources that provide me with information about gas prices, politics, and the weather are useful and as dependable as ‘humanly’ possible. I am blessed to have these many tools at my fingertips to help make life more predictable and easier to manage.

Jesus, however, is always on target. His Word is always right. His predictions of what will happen to those who follow Him are true. His projections for those who do not follow Him are solid. He is never surprised by the price of gas, the actions of politicians, the weather, or anything else that happens in our world. When we turn to Him for direction, for wisdom, and for strength, He always comes through with exactly what we need.

As you face the inconsistencies of day-to-day life, use whatever is available to help you live the best life you can live. But more than anything or anyone else, keep your eyes and your heart focused on Jesus. He is the one you can depend on all of the time. “He is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV)

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note

Vol. 19 No. 06 | February 6, 2017

Gas Prices, Politics, the Weather, and Jesus

Gas prices change at irregular intervals. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the changes. Gas prices go up and go down, sometimes multiple times during a twenty-four period. In our area, you can drive down the road and the price of gas will fluctuate as much as ten cents higher or lower. This varies from week to week, depending on which location you go to. If a gas line is ruptured in Alabama, the price of gas in areas near us will go up, and some will not. Economists try to predict what will happen with gas prices, and sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are not. There seems to be little consistency.

Politics is as inconsistent as gas prices. Whoever is in a position of leadership determines the protestors and the supporters. The amount of power of the president is dependent upon which political party has control of the various branches of government. Even then, it seems that the bill he signs or does not sign can cause a shift in those who are supporters and those considered the opposition. Political analyst try to predict how politicians will act or react and how the constituents will respond, sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are not. There seems to be little consistency.

The weather, particularly during this season, is almost impossible to predict. We get frustrated with, amused with, and sympathetic towards those who have the task of making accurate predictions. Temperatures on some winter days are more like early spring or late fall. Predictions of light snow are overturned with a slight shift in the jet stream that produces several inches (and of course global warming must also be factored in). Predictions of heavy snow excite children, only to disappoint them when the jet streams moves just a degree or two in one direction or another. Forecasters, using all of their advanced technologies, do their best to make predictions that are as accurate as possible, sometimes they are exactly right, and sometimes they are not. There seems to be little consistency.

Jesus! Ahhh, Jesus! Jesus is someone who you can know, with absolute certainty, is consistent. We can consistently depend on Jesus. Jesus offers us something solid to hold on to. Jesus provides us with a tangible understanding of consistency. The writer of the Hebrews encourages the followers who were weary of the inconsistencies of living the holy life in a very hostile world with these words. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV)

Sometime today I will fill my car up with gas. Before I go, I will check an app on my phone to see who has the cheapest price in my area.

Several times within the next twenty-four hours, I will get updates on all my devices or scan comments on social media that are giving details and opinions on the latest decisions coming out of the White House.

Before I leave the house, I will check the weather to see if there will be rain, sunshine, or clouds.

The sources that provide me with information about gas prices, politics, and the weather are useful and as dependable as ‘humanly’ possible. I am blessed to have these many tools at my fingertips to help make life more predictable and easier to manage.

Jesus, however, is always on target. His Word is always right. His predictions of what will happen to those who follow Him are true. His projections for those who do not follow Him are solid. He is never surprised by the price of gas, the actions of politicians, the weather, or anything else that happens in our world. When we turn to Him for direction, for wisdom, and for strength, He always comes through with exactly what we need.

As you face the inconsistencies of day-to-day life, use whatever is available to help you live the best life you can live. But more than anything or anyone else, keep your eyes and your heart focused on Jesus. He is the one you can depend on all of the time. “He is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV)

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 30 Jan 2017, 11:07 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 19 No. 05 | January 30, 2017

Until Hope Returns

The Story

Matthew 14:22-23: As soon as the meal was finished, He insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. When the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be alone and pray. He stayed there alone late into the night.

24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them, the waves battering the boat. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared to death. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter, acting boldly, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

31 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

32-33 The two of them then climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!” (Matthew 14:22-33, The Message)

The Observations

In Mark and John’s accounts, this story immediately follows the story of Jesus feeding 5000 people. Jesus feeds the masses, sends his disciples out in the boat to the other side of the lake, then goes off to be alone. What do you suppose the disciples were thinking? In Mark and John’s accounts, this story immediately follows the story of Jesus feeding 5000 people. After witnessing this miracle, he sends his disciples out in a boat and then leaves them to be alone. I wonder what the disciples were thinking.

They surely were amazed, astounded, and more than a little confused by what they had just experienced. According to John (6:15), the crowd was excited and ready to force Jesus to be King. Knowing He needed rest and the crowd needed to settle down, Jesus did what He believed to be best for His disciples. He sends them out in the boat away from the crowd.

They may also have been disappointed. They could sense the momentum building as Jesus traveled through the villages healing, teaching, and gaining followers. Their visions of kingdom, power, and control seemed to be in their grasp, and Jesus leaves them to be alone. What is up with that?

In the next scene, the disciples are in a boat in the middle of the night, when Jesus walks toward them. They are terrified until He identifies Himself.

Peter is overcome with excitement and starts walking on the water toward Jesus. Some say the wind scared him. Some say the waves scared him. Some say he took his eyes off Jesus. Some say he suddenly realized what he was doing. Whatever the reason, he started to sink. Jesus pulls him up, and they climb into the boat.

The Application

As we journey through life, there are times when we are overcome with disappointment and hopelessness, only to be amazed and energized by what happens when we allow God to work within us and among us.

The disciples go from being amazed by the miraculous feeding of the crowd, to being frightened in the boat during a storm, to being overjoyed when Jesus joins them in the boat. Peter probably went from “This is it!” to “This is not it!” to “Hey, look I’m walking on water!” to “Lord save me”, to ‘resting safely in the boat’.

As you travel through the ups and downs of life, remember this: there will be times when your faith grows weak and your hope begins to fade. When this happens, stay close to Jesus, keep walking with Him, and listen to His voice until hope returns.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.



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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 23 Jan 2017, 11:20 pm


A Norvell Note

Vol. 19 No. 04 | January 23, 2017

Sometimes You Just Can’t


Sometimes you just can’t do it. You want to. You try everything and consider multiple options. You arrange and rearrange. You do everything you can but you just can’t do it.

Sometimes there are things that you just can't do.

Yes, Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do things through Christ who gives me strength.” I know that if the Lord has something that He wants for me to do that will be for His glory and honor He will provide me with the strength and ability to do it. I believe that. God has proven that to me life more times than I could ever list.

Yet, there are some things I just can’t do. Here are some examples.

When I was growing up I wanted to play basketball for a career. I read books about Bob Cousy and the Boston Celtics. I played and replayed basketball scenarios on our dirt court at our home. Eventually the dream evolved to the point that would eventually play college ball, end up with the Boston Celtics, hit the winning basket to win the NBA championship and drop dead at center court of the Boston Garden.

A series of things happened that made that impossible. I was not that good. I did not receive a single offer to play in college. Those who knew me then are thinking, “You really thought you were good enough to get a college scholarship?” That did not stop me.

When I got to college I decided I was going to walk on. I took one look at the team and realized I was not tall enough, fast enough, or good enough to even walk on the court. The dream was gone. I learned that there are somethings I just cannot do.

Through the years I have discovered other things that I just cannot do.

I cannot run like I once did.

I cannot play basketball like I once did.

I cannot be in all the places that I want to be.

I cannot be everything people want me to be.

I cannot help all the people I would like to help.

I cannot fix all the problems I would like to fix.

Sometimes I have to admit I just can’t do everything. Sometimes it is a painful admission. Sometimes it is an easy admission. Sometimes it is a frustration realization. Sometimes the realization is a relief. Sometimes it is difficult to accept. Sometimes it is an easy acceptance.

I have grown to understand that although there are many things that I can do, and many more things I could do if I allow God to empower me, but that there are somethings that I just can’t do.

In those times of weakness and inadequacy I find comfort from these words from God.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

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. (Romans 8:26,27, NIV)

As you go through this week you are going to be faced with requests, invitations, and demands for your attention, time and energy. Some you will accept and fulfill without hesitation or reservation. You will do these things enthusiastically and with delight.

There will be others that, regardless of your desire to fulfill them there will likely be some things that you will not be able to do. You may feel frustration. You may feel like a failure. You may look back on your week with regret.

You tried. Take comfort in that. You did as much as you could. Take comfort in that. God appreciates your efforts and loves you just like you are. Keep loving God and serving His people.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 16 Jan 2017, 11:07 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 19 No. 03 | January 16, 2017

An Emergency?


Our water pipes are frozen this morning. The representative at the water department called it an emergency. But, is it? I mean, is it really an emergency?

We cannot shower, the small trickle of water coming out of the spout made it difficult for us to even brush our teeth. And, it is inconvenient.

It is inconvenient, but is it an emergency?

We may be late for church or not make it at all, but is this an emergency?

We have enough bottled water and a variety of other drinks to survive. We have enough food to last for days. If necessary, we can get in either one of our two vehicles and drive a few blocks to any one of several stores to get anything we need. Or, we can bundle up in any of our countless number of sweaters, coats, gloves, hats, shoes, and boots and walk a block or two to those stores.

If we must take a shower, we can call any number of friends and drive to their houses to use their showers. Or, we could walk a few steps to one of our neighbors’ places.

I set up the coffee maker before going to bed, so hot coffee will be had by all first thing in the morning.

The house is warm. In fact, it is so warm, I don’t even need the last layer of clothing I put on in preparation for the emergency. There is nothing stopping me from just crawling back into bed and waiting for the pipes to thaw.

I hear the automated system ask, “If this an emergency, please press ‘1’.

Emergency? Is this really an emergency?

There are probably hundreds of people sleeping (or trying to sleep) outside in this 9 degree weather, possibly even under the patch of trees located a hundred yards or so from our house….our house with the frozen water pipes.

As the sun warms the earth to a blistering 30 degrees, there will be men and women standing in the intersections, selling their papers and hoping those with generous hearts will give them an extra dollar or two.

There are children in our city who went to bed hungry and cold last night and will go to bed hungry and cold again tonight.

According to last year’s statistics, over half a million people are living on the streets, and nearly two million kids will experience a period of homelessness this year.

When the representative finally answered the phone, she assured me, “An emergency technician will be with you as soon as possible. Please be patient, due to the extreme weather conditions, we are experiencing a large number of emergencies, please wait patiently until the next representative can assist you. We appreciate your patience.” I wait, impatiently, constantly looking out the window, hoping help will come soon.

After a while, we got a hold of a local plumber, and he quickly came, fixed the broken pipe, received his payment, and left.

Emergency averted.

Or was it ever really an emergency?

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Thu 12 Jan 2017, 11:34 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 18 No. 51 | December 26, 2016

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus

John has shared the final episode of the life of Jesus and what is about to come in a very creative, but somewhat confusing, way. These were his final words:
He who testifies to these things says, yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21, NIV)
Like many people, the Christmas season and the beginning of a new year are times that we look forward to all year long. When we talk about it, we tell stories of Christmas past, the events of the year that is about to close, and the longing for what we hope will come in the New Year.
We may say it differently, but the desire is the same. “Hurry up, Santa!” “Please let this year end soon and let the next year be better.” “Lord, just get me to the end of this year so I can star over!” “Come on, Lord, do something soon!”
Well, here we are. Presents are opened. Gifts have been exchanged. Memories have been shared. New ones have been made. Blessings are counted. The clock strikes midnight, and we breathe a sigh of relief and say along with John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”.
In John’s words, we find a promise, a prayer, and a proclamation.
A promise:
“Yes, I am coming soon.” Although we do not know everything that was meant to be expressed in this statement, we do know enough to realize assurance in the promise: ‘you are not alone. I am always with you. I am coming. Do not despair. Do not lose heart or hope or joy. I am coming back’.
A prayer:
Amen. Come Lord Jesus. Lord, I need You now. I need You always. I need You every day. Lord, although I am grateful for this life and the experience of living here, I am ready for You to come and take me to be with You where You are.
A proclamation:
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
Can one utter a more loving blessing for another human being? Can one proclaim a more generous request?
So, here we are again, ending one year’s story and beginning another. Closing one chapter as we turn the page to another. As we do so, may we offer this prayer:
Father, thank You for never leaving us alone and for the assurance of knowing that we will never be left alone, that You are coming, and although for us it may not be soon enough, we know You are coming. Thank You for always hearing our prayers.Thank You for giving us Your grace and for reminding us of the grace that we want others to receive.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Tom
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A Norvell Note

Vol. 19 No. 01 | January 2, 2017

Forget the Former Things

These passages from an Old Testament prophet and a New Testament apostle always seem to have relevance, but especially at this time of year.

This is what the Lord says—

He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19, NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

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)

The message is simple. The wisdom is timeless. The practice is challenging.

It is one thing to celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of a new with parties and fireworks, it is quite another to follow through with your plans to do things differently in the New Year.

It is much easier to make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight than it is to have the discipline to resist the Snicker’s bar in the cabinet ten feet from you.

It is much easier to say you are going to exercise more than it is to put those walking shoes on and head out the door.

It is much easier to say you are going to let go of your bitterness and resentment than it is to go to the person who hurt you and say, “I forgive you.”

And, it is much easier to say, “I forgive you” than it is to actually forgive.

It is much easier to say you plan to trust God more in the New Year than it is to simply trust Him.

It is important to make the promises and resolutions to do things better. It is equally as important to forget and leave the past behind. The passage from Isaiah says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

You must forget and leave behind your failures. You messed up. Big time! Move on. Start over. Forgive yourself. Stop dwelling on the past.

Things did not go as well as you had hoped they would. Okay. Try again. Stop dwelling on the past.

You were hurt deeply. I am sorry. As long as you interact with people there is as risk of getting hurt. Keep interacting. Stop dwelling on the past.

You did great things last year. Good for you! Do not rest on those accomplishments. Do even greater things this year. Stop dwelling on the past.

Stop dwelling on the past, look for the new things God is doing, and join Him.


Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 09 Jan 2017, 11:10 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 19 No. 02 | January 9, 2017

Be Still!

Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10, NIV)

Being still is seldom easy, but it can be especially difficult in these early days of the New Year.

You have a plan and you are ready to move forward with your plan. Then you are reminded of the Lord's words, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

You have made a decision to make a change and you are ready to start. Then, you hear the Lord say, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

You have delayed making a decision because you cannot seem to find peace with your decision. Maybe you need to read the Lord’s words again, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

You have shared your dream with some close friends and they keep telling you to move forward, but you keep hearing the Lord’s words, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

You have set a deadline that is rapidly approaching, you feel the pressure building, but you cannot escape the words from the Lord, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

It is a difficult dilemma. Ready to act. Needing to wait. Ready to move. Needing to be still.

Sometimes the reluctance to act is due to fear. You just are not sure that it is the right thing to do. You fear making the wrong decision, so you wait. That may be why the Lord is reminding you, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Sometimes the hesitance to act is because you have not done your homework. You want to make a change but you are not sure of the impact your decision will have on you, your family, your friends, or your co-workers. All you know is that you are ready for a change. That may be why the Lord is reminding you, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Sometimes you know you need to do something different but you do not know what to do. Maybe that is why you keep seeing these words from the Lord everywhere you go, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

The second part of this well-known message gives us the purpose for being still. The purpose is not just to be still or to avoid a move. The purpose is to remind us that God is God. God is watching over the events of our lives. God knows us better than we know ourselves. God knows what is best for us and is always at work towards what is best for us. The passage reminds us of what we often forget: God is God and we are not.

God wants us to be still long enough to remember that we have the ultimate source of wisdom, strength, and power at our disposal.

As difficult as it may be, there are times when the best thing we can do is to be still, so let me offer these observations.

Being still does not necessarily mean you are lazy. Of course, there is the possibility that you are lazy and using God’s message to excuse your laziness or your fear. But do not let people guilt you or shame you into action when you know the best approach for the moment is to be still.

Being still does not mean you are doing nothing. Some people cannot be still. And they cannot stand by and allow you to just be still. Stillness to them equals waste. If you are listening for the Lord’s direction and waiting for His peace do not allow the pressure from others to force you into action just to please them. Being still is doing something.

Being still may be the best thing you can do. Have you ever been hurt or offended and reacted in anger only to regret it? Have you ever made a quick decision without taking time to seek the Lord’s wisdom only to regret the outcome? Had you taken time to be still and ponder God’s presence, maybe that email would not have been sent, that phone call would not have been made, and maybe you would not be living with the regret of your decision.

As you move through your week, I pray you will have the wisdom to know when it is time to act and when it is time to be still.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 20 Dec 2016, 12:33 am

A Norvell Note
Vol. 18 No. 50 | December 19, 2016
The Week Before Christmas
It is the week before Christmas. According to many of our traditions and holiday customs, this is a time of quiet, peace, and blissful harmony. It is a time when we are expected to have a “happy-jolly-jingle-bell-ringing, Silent-Night-Holy-Night singing, Rudolph-the-Red-Nose-Reindeer, It’s-the-Most-Wonderful-Time-of-the-Year” attitude.
What happens if you do not feel like that? Where do you go if “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” makes you weep? What happens if Elvis singing “Why Can’t Everyday be Like Christmas” makes you want to crawl into a hole, or “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” makes you want to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over your head? What if listening to one more sermon about the baby Jesus being born in a manger makes you want to get up and run out of the church building?
What if you are just not in the holiday spirit?
If any of those descriptions sound familiar, let me say a few things.
First, it is okay for you to feel that way. There are no laws, there are no obligations, and there are no requirements that demand that you wear a Christmas sweater, ugly or otherwise. There is nothing that says you must sit in long lines of traffic and then joyously fight your way through a stressed-out crowd in the department store so you can then stand in a long line to check out. There is not even a hint of a suggestion that you are less spiritual if watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” again this year has no appeal to you.
It is okay to feel whatever you are feeling. It is okay for you to be sad. Maybe you are going through a difficult time with your family. There is conflict between you and your husband. There is conflict between you and your wife. Your son is not coming home this year. You do not know where your daughter is. Your cancer has returned.
It is okay to feel what you are feeling.
Second, it is important that you express whatever you are feeling. Maybe it is the first Christmas since your mother died. Maybe you know this is the last Christmas you will spend with your Dad. Maybe fear about the future has you paralyzed. It may not be necessary to share it with a therapist or your doctor or your closest friend. Sometimes it helps just to be open and honest with yourself. Say it out loud in front of a mirror, or under the covers, or in a journal. Admit that you are sad, depressed, grieving, or just “blue.” It is okay, whatever you’re feeling, but it is important that you come to terms with those feeling so that you can eventually move past them.
Third, stay connected to the Lord. Tell Him what you are feeling. Pour out your heart to Him. He can handle anything and is willing to help you with your burden.
“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 11:28-30, New International Version)
Fourth, keep in mind that the message of this season ‘Immanuel’, ‘God with us’, ‘3’ ‘the Virgin Mary, ‘the holy birth’, and ‘they will call him Immanuel”, which means God with us. (Matthew 1:23, NIV).
The Message (John 1:24) reads, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” He is right here with us. This is right where He wants to be.
Finally, remember these lines from Max Lucado’s book, You’ll Get Through This.
“You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this”.
It may be a difficult time for you or someone you know. I hope these words will help comfort you in the coming weeks. If I can help, I hope you will contact me.
It is the week before Christmas, and you will get through this.
Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 12 Dec 2016, 10:38 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 18 No. 49 | December 5, 2016
December 8, 1964
It was Tuesday afternoon, December 8, 1964. That is the day that my mother died. I was eleven years old.
She had been sick for several months. How many? I do not remember. But I remember the afternoon of December 8, 1964.
The school bus made the stop at my Aunt Eunice and Uncle Ruby’s grocery store at the intersection of Highway 4 and Melrose Lane. I had the option of getting off the bus there and making the quarter-of-a-mile walk to my house. Or, I could stay on the bus until it made the loop back around to my house. If I stayed on and helped Mr. Day make sure all the windows were shut, he would often buy me a soft drink at one of the local cafes on the route. On this particular Tuesday afternoon, I saw my sister and brother-in-law’s car at the store, so I decided to get off. Little did I know what was waiting for me.
Just inside the door on the left, there were a couple chairs inviting the regulars to sit, catch up on the latest happenings, enjoy a soda from the refrigerated box, or enjoy a candy bar from the glass-covered case just a few steps away. That is where I saw my sister and brother-in-law sitting as I opened the door. I can still hear the jingle of the bell situated to alert my aunt and uncle that a customer had arrived.
I do not remember the details of what happened next. Obviously they told me that Mama had died, but I do not remember the words. I do not remember if I cried, although I am sure I did. I remember seeing my aunt and uncle standing behind the cash register, and the woman who would eventually become my stepmother smoking a cigarette at the end of the counter. She had known for a while her time with us was limited and she had talked to all of us about it, so technically we knew this time would come, but mentally and emotionally none of us were prepared.
The next thing I remember about the afternoon, December 8, 1964, is pulling into the driveway of our house. My Uncle James (my mother’s brother) greeted me, walked with me out by a big oak tree in our yard, put his arms around me and said: “Go ahead. Let it out!” And I did.
That was the afternoon of December 8, 1964. That was fifty-two years ago.
We eventually went inside where my grandmother and other family and friends were gathered. I have only a few sporadic memories of the several days and months that followed.
My memories of that afternoon are hazy but the lessons I have learned since December 8, 1964 are not.
I have learned that loss is painful, inevitable, and that the pain may never completely go away. For an eleven-year-old boy, the loss of a mother is beyond traumatic. For a sixty-three-year-old man, that loss is still very real. Yes, I have matured and moved past most of the intense pain of that afternoon, but there are still days when I long to hear her voice and feel her touch. I would love to have another taste of her fudge at Christmas time, hear her pop popcorn in a skillet, and eat her fried chicken and cocoanut cake. Much of my life has been lived to honor her life and her memory.
I have learned that life is short and passes quickly. Forty-four years is not a long time to live, but if lived well you can influence a lot of people. It is often stated in poetry and song that it is not the length of one’s life that counts as much. It is the quality of one’s life and the number of lives that are touched that matters.
I have learned that family is important and should not be neglected. Family must be a priority. Quality time with family in large quantities is also important. If you are fortunate enough to be able to spend time with your family, please do not neglect or take for granted that time.
I have learned that what we leave behind is probably more valuable than the things we actually accomplish from day to day. Here I sit, fifty-two years later, thinking about the mother that lived only eleven-and-a-half years of my life. I am only one of four children she influenced. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and all who follow will reap the benefits of the impact she had in her short life.
And, I have learned that a life surrendered to the Lord God Almighty, no matter how short or how long, is one that never ends.
May 24, 1920 to December 8, 1964 are the dates that mark a life that continues to live. It was a Tuesday afternoon, December 8, 1964...
Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 06 Dec 2016, 5:14 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 18 No. 47 | December 5, 2016


Worship Is Important

You have finished your busy week, and you have been counting the minutes until you finally have some down time. As usual, you have waited all week to have this time to relax. You indulge in a long and satisfying sigh of relief.

About that same time, your wife reminds you that you promised to go to church with her. Your sigh of relief turns into a moan of disappointment. The thought of walking into a church building, sitting for an hour, mouthing words to songs that do not make sense to you, and listening to a sermon that does not connect with you sounds exhausting. As you leave, you say to yourself, “Why do I do this?”

You just finished your very busy week. Phone calls, responding to clients, and handling your day-to-day responsibilities have taken a toll on you. You feel drained, and tired, and weary, and empty. You look forward to time with your spiritual family, the encouragement and support that comes from being with the people you consider your brothers and sisters. The songs lift your spirits and restore your heart and soul. The message touches you and reminds you that the Lord above loves you and sustains you. As you leave, you say to yourself, “How can I live without this?”

I suspect that most of us, if not all of us, have experienced both scenarios. There are times when worship is meaningful and rich, and there are times when worship is meaningless and dry. There are times when worship gives us life and times when worship leaves us feeling lifeless.

Although it is written in a way that may confuse us, the Revelation of John brings the story of the Bible to a dramatic conclusion by inviting us to experience being in the presence of God.

Eugene Peterson writes, “Worship shapes the human community in response to the living God. If worship is neglected or perverted, our communities fall into chaos or under tyranny.”[1]

Peterson’s statement and my limited ability to understand the final book of the Bible lead me to these observations.

Worship is important.

v Worship is important because it reminds me that I am not alone and winning the battle against the enemy is not up to me.

v Worship is important because it assures me that I am not forgotten.

v Worship is important because it reminds me that I am not the center of the universe.

v Worship is important because it points me to the One who is the center of the universe.

v Worship is important because it offers me the opportunity to respond to the living God.

Let me encourage that your experiences of being in the presence of God, whether meeting your approval or not, provide you with the opportunity to express your appreciation to the One who created you, and to receive the affirmation that He longs to give you. As you worship this week, alone or in a corporate setting, may you give your heart to the Lord God Almighty, and may you receive His love and blessings.

Worship is important.

Tom

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[1] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Re.


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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Wed 30 Nov 2016, 9:34 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
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#Giving Tuesday will actually be over by the time some of you receive this. I hope you will not let that stop you from giving to this or another good cause.

Many of you already know that after almost 41 years of full-time local church ministry I stepped away in late September of this year. Helping people know and love Jesus has always been my passion and I have no desire to stop now. I believe God has given me a dream and reignited a flame for ministering in a new and different form. So here I go.

I am delighted that Lyle Williams of Fishbowl Ministries http://fishbowlministries.org/ extended the invitation to join the team. Throughout my ministry in local churches I have considered it part of my calling reach out to and support other ministers, and particularly younger ministers. Fishbowl Ministries https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHDQopYFEuQ gives me the space and freedom to support and encourager to ministers, their families and other church leaders. I am also in the process of developing a private counseling practice, as well as broadening the scope of writing projects that I have put off far too long.

Since this is a new endeavor I really need your help. You can donate by going by clicking the button below and specifying the donation in my name. Thank you in advance for your help.

Click here to donate
http://fishbowlministries.org/donations/

Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 28 Nov 2016, 8:37 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 18 No. 47 | November 28, 2016

Face to Face

2 John 1:12,

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”

Writers of the New Testament shared the Holy Spirit’s teachings in a similar style. They incorporated their own personal feelings for their recipients and expressed their desire to share more, but with the preference that this be done “face to face”.

A similar sentiment exists with many preachers, almost all writers, and all close knit families. We can preach a sermon, write an article, send texts and emails, and have telephone conversations, but, in the end, we usually feel that there is always more that we wanted to share. We are fortunate to have access to all of these methods of communication, but they are insufficient for sharing the full expression of feelings from the depths of the heart.

So it is with John.

In his first letter, he gave what he called a ‘new teaching’ on the importance of loving one another, although this teaching was not new to many of Jesus’s followers. John reiterated his teaching that Jesus is the Christ to dismantle contradictory teachings from deceptive teachers on their mission to confuse Jesus’s followers.

It is essential to express your love for the Father by loving one another and your fellow human beings, and the importance of walking in love.

Paper and ink were not sufficient for communicating all of the things that John needed to share. Even though our methods of communication are vast and readily available to us, we may find it difficult to share our deeper thoughts until we are face to face.

Serious and emotional discussions need to be shared face to face.
Conversations about the future that involve plans for the future should happen face to face.
Many business decisions should happen face to face.
Tender and romantic conversations most surely should be face to face.
An apology should be delivered face to face.
Expressions of gratitude are more meaningful when exchanged face to face.
Disappointment and heartbreak can be better expressed and handled face to face.
Joy and happiness are better enjoyed and shared when face to face.
Even anger is likely to be received and understood better when you can look into the eyes of the person with whom you are angry, or who is angry with you.

To be able to see the face of a loved one through an electronic device held in our hand or sitting on a tabletop is an absolute marvel of our day. Thanks to the technology we have available to us, many of us were blessed to share a Thanksgiving message with someone we love from hundreds or thousands of miles away. However, it is not the same as being able to reach over and touch their hand or see their expressions from across the table. I suspect we would all agree that it would have been better to have our loved ones home sitting next to us instead of looking at them through a screen.

This week you will likely have a moment of reflection or a thought of love that you would like to share with someone. Send a text, write an email, or make a phone call if you can or must, but if at all possible, do it face to face. You and whomever you are sharing it with will be blessed by it.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 21 Nov 2016, 7:26 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 18 No. 46 | November 21, 2016
 
Live Like Jesus
 
When I glanced at the schedule, I saw that the text for this week comes from John 1:6 of chapter 2, and this came to my mind:
                          
“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”[1]
           
The tendency when reading this one verse is to focus more on the physical activity, “living as Jesus did”, than the condition of the heart. But there is more to it than simply changing some of your actions.
 
Eugene Peterson puts it this way as he summarizes his letter:
 
“If we want to deal with God the right way, we have to learn to love the right way. If we want to love the right way, we have to deal with God the right way. God and love can’t be separated.”[2] He carries this idea in his rendering of the passage: “Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.”[3]
 
The examples of those who claim to be living like Jesus lived can vary dramatically. Politically speaking, one group claims that Jesus would exclude the weak, the needy, the helpless, and all who are different. He would send the immigrants back to where they came from. He would be proud of His status and His high standing in the social arena. He would withhold His blessings from anyone who could not carry his own load and perform all the requirements of the law. He would demand that members of His tribe be devoted to Him entirely and show no mercy on those who failed to live up to His expectations.
 
Another group would boast about their Jesus and declare His openness to all people; His inclusion of people from all nations; and His acceptance of people of all colors, all ages, all economic levels, and all gender identifications. He would love sacrificially and give generously. He would speak honestly and directly with the utmost gentleness and compassion.
 
Another group might claim that Jesus would dwell in the middle ground. He would be accepting, but also harsh. He would be gentle, but firm. He would be neither conservative nor liberal. He would stand up for the downtrodden and might speak disrespectfully of the wealthy and those who live extravagantly.
 
Another group might prefer a Jesus that lives simply, quietly, kindly, and gently. He would truly love all people, be giving, and lift up the fallen. His words would be consistent with His actions. When He spoke, you would know His words were true. If He made a promise, you would know that He would follow through with His promise.
 
Here are four things to consider as you respond to the challenge of living like Jesus:
 
First, read the gospels to get an accurate picture of the real Jesus. Do not depend on someone else to tell you how to live like Jesus. Let Jesus tell you how to live like Jesus.
 
Second, be prepared to make changes in your life. Even if you are already doing a decent job of living like Him, you will surely find ways to improve, which can sometimes result in uncomfortable adjustments.
 
Third, build in space for grace. Living like Jesus takes time. Living like Jesus will not always be easy or enjoyable.
 
Fourth, don’t give up. There will be times when you will want to quit. Don’t! If you keep moving toward living like Jesus, you will discover that all the effort and discomfort is more than worth it.
 
I recently rediscovered the song, “I Want to Live Like Jesus”, which can serve as a regular prayer to help you as you learn to live like Jesus      
 
                        “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”[4]
 
You can do this! I am here for you, so please let me know how I can help!
 
Tom   
 
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell. All Rights Reserved.

[1]The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 1 Jn 2:6.
[2] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), 1 Jn.
[3] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), 1 Jn 2:6.
[4] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), 1 Jn 2:6.

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 15 Nov 2016, 11:03 pm

A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 45 | November 14, 2016 
No Bullying!

In the introduction section to Peter’s letters The Message says this about Peter: 
In the early church, his influence was enormous and acknowledged by all. By virtue of his position, he was easily the most powerful figure in the Christian community. And his energetic preaching, ardent prayer, bold healing and wise direction confirmed the trust placed in him. 
The way Peter handled himself in that position of power is even more impressive than the power itself. He stayed out of the center, didn’t “wield” power, maintained a scrupulous subordination to Jesus. Given his charismatic personality and well-deserved position at the head, he could easily have taken over, using the prominence of his association with Jesus to promote himself. That he didn’t do it, given the frequency with which spiritual leaders do exactly that, is impressive. Peter is a breath of fresh air.
The two letters Peter wrote exhibit the qualities of Jesus that the Holy Spirit shaped in him: a readiness to embrace suffering rather than prestige, a wisdom developed from experience and not imposed from a book, a humility that lacked nothing in vigor or imagination. From what we know of the early stories of Peter, he had in him all the makings of a bully. That he didn’t become a bully (and religious bullies are the worst kind) but rather the boldly confident and humbly self-effacing servant of Jesus Christ that we discern in these letters, is a compelling witness to what he himself describes as “a brand-new life, with everything to live for.”
One line that stands out in this description is: “From what we know of the early stories of Peter, he had in him all the makings of a bully.”
We hear about and are appalled by bully stories. We cringe at stories of the damage done by bullies. We are horrified when we hear a story about a teenager who attempts to take her life as a result of being bullied at school and in social media. We are heartbroken by stories when the attempt is successful.
One would think that a spiritual community would be a safe place where bullying would not be a problem, but too often that is not the case. How sad it is to hear about a church leader, or would be leader, who abuse their power and influence by bullying those under their care. Spiritual bullying may result in the loss of faith, a separation from their church, or walking away from a relationship with God all together.
If you have ever dealt with a religious bully you will agree with Peterson’s comment that: “religious bullies are the worst kind.” 
In the early part of chapter 5 Peter demonstrates his understanding of the better way, by offering wise counsel to those who serve as spiritual leaders. He says, 
I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
You see more proof of Peter’s understanding of the Jesus style by explaining how to avoid being a spiritual bully.
And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—
God has had it with the proud,
But takes delight in just plain people.
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. (1 Peter 5:5-7, The Message)
Peter suggest two attitudes. 
First, “Be down to earth with each other.” Why? Because “God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people.” 
Second, “Be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs.” Why? Because “God’s strong hand is on you; He’ll promote you at the right time.” 
This is not easy. Most of us have a desire for people to think like we think. Those of us who are considered spiritual leaders may have to really fight those same tendencies. We may, at times, try to persuade our friends, co-workers, and those under our care to adhere to our way of thinking and our style of living. If our way is not accepted we may resort to intimidation or forced conformity. 
Peter says…Jesus says…Just be you. Let others be who they are. Live your life. Be a guide to others who look to you as an example. Encourage them. Teach them the Jesus life. Love them as they grow and just be plain people. Don’t be a bully! Because God knows how to deal with bullies. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 14 Nov 2016, 11:10 pm

A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 45 | November 14, 2016 

No Bullying!

In the introduction to Peter’s letters of The Message Eugene Peterson writes this about Peter: 
In the early church, his influence was enormous and acknowledged by all. By virtue of his position, he was easily the most powerful figure in the Christian community. And his energetic preaching, ardent prayer, bold healing and wise direction confirmed the trust placed in him. 
The way Peter handled himself in that position of power is even more impressive than the power itself. He stayed out of the center, didn’t “wield” power, maintained a scrupulous subordination to Jesus. Given his charismatic personality and well-deserved position at the head, he could easily have taken over, using the prominence of his association with Jesus to promote himself. That he didn’t do it, given the frequency with which spiritual leaders do exactly that, is impressive. Peter is a breath of fresh air.
The two letters Peter wrote exhibit the qualities of Jesus that the Holy Spirit shaped in him: a readiness to embrace suffering rather than prestige, a wisdom developed from experience and not imposed from a book, a humility that lacked nothing in vigor or imagination. From what we know of the early stories of Peter, he had in him all the makings of a bully. That he didn’t become a bully (and religious bullies are the worst kind) but rather the boldly confident and humbly self-effacing servant of Jesus Christ that we discern in these letters, is a compelling witness to what he himself describes as “a brand-new life, with everything to live for.
One line that stands in this description is: “From what we know of the early stories of Peter, he had in him all the makings of a bully.”
We hear about and are appalled by bully stories. We cringe at stories of the damage done by bullies. We are horrified when we hear a story about a teenager who attempts to take her life as a result of being bullied at school and in social media. We are heartbroken by stories when the attempt is successful.
One would think that a spiritual community would be a safe place where bullying would not be a problem, but too often that is not the case. How sad it is to hear about a church leader, or would be leader, who abuse their power and influence by bullying those under their care. Spiritual bullying result in the loss of faith, a separation from their church, or walking away from a relationship with God.
If you have ever dealt with a religious bully you will agree with Peterson’s comment that: “religious bullies are the worst kind.” 
In the early part of chapter 5 Peter demonstrates his understanding of the better way, by revealing offering wise counsel to those who serve as spiritual leaders. 
I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
You see more proof of Peter’s understanding of the Jesus style by explaining how to avoid being a spiritual bully.
And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—
God has had it with the proud,
But takes delight in just plain people.
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. (1 Peter 5:5-7, The Message)
Peter suggest two attitudes. 
First, “Be down to earth with each other.” Why? Because “God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people.” 
Second, “Be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs.” Why? Because “God’s strong hand is on you; He’ll promote you at the right time.” 
This is not easy. Most of us have a desire for people to think like we think. Those of us who are considered spiritual leaders may have fight the same tendencies. We want and may insist that our friends, co-workers, and those under our care to adhere to our way of thinking and style of living. If our way is not accepted we may resort to intimidation or forced conformity. 
Just be you. Let others be who they are. Live your life. Be a guide to others who look to you as a model. Encourage them. Teach them the Jesus life. Love them as they grow and just be plain people. He will do the promoting. Don’t be a bully!

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 07 Nov 2016, 8:47 pm

A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 44 | November 7, 2016 

He Will Do the Lifting

The 4th chapter of James could be summed up with his one statement in verse 10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
It is impossible to submit to God without humbling yourself to God. 
Most fights and quarrels could be solved and resolved with a good dose of humility. 
Making requests to God makes much more sense when you are humbling yourself before God. 
Humbling yourself before God is the only way to get rid of pride. 
Submitting yourself to God requires significant humility. 
Try as you will, there is no way to resist the devil successfully without first humbling yourself and admitting that you cannot do it on your own. 
If you have humbled yourself before the Lord, there is no reason to slander anyone, or speak against a brother or sister, or judge your neighbor. When you engage in those activities you confirm that you have not humbled yourself before the Lord. 
When you boast about what you are going to do tomorrow, and where you are going to go, and how you are going to carry on business, you are certainly not humbling yourself before the Lord. 
If you are busy trying to promote yourself, elevate yourself, push your way to the top, stepping on and over people to make sure you are first in line, you are not humbling yourself. 
According to James humility is a pretty important thing. Apparently some in his day did not consider it as important. Unfortunately it does not appear to be very important in our day either. 
Humility has not made much of a showing in the current election. Humility rarely makes an appearance on talk shows, in sporting events, or in movie theaters. There are not many job postings that read, “We are looking for a humble servant to lead our company.”
You may have heard about the man who won the award for being the most humble employee in his company. He proudly displayed the award in the office for all to see. He did not win it the next year. 
Jesus reminded us of the importance of humility. He began His sermon with “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) And 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) Later Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) 
In Philippians 2:8 Paul reminds us that not only did Jesus talk about humility, but He lived it, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” 
Knowing Jesus so well and having watched the way He lived, it is no wonder that James emphasized the importance of humility by speaking into an apparent tense situation with, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
What are we to make of this idea of humility in these times when arrogance and pride seem to be the norm? Is it even possible for us to live a life of humility when there is so much encouragement for self-exultation and boasting? I think it is possible and here are three reasons why I believe that. 
First, Jesus said this is the way to live. He would not have asked us and instructed us to live it out if it were not possible. 
Second, Jesus lived it. Since Jesus lived it, I too must live it. 
Third, as we become more like Him it is only natural that humility will begin to develop in us. If it is essential it is achievable. 
It may not happen immediately, but maybe these practical suggestions will help getting it started.
When you feel the urge to brag about yourself, don’t. 
When you have accomplished something significant, keep it to yourself. 
When you have the chance to push others out of the way so you can get ahead, deny the urge. 
When someone else brags on you or pays you a compliment, let them, thank them, then move on. 
When you are feeling like the Lord is not acting fast enough to get you in the limelight, keep waiting and let Him do what needs to be done when He is ready.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” He will lift you up. It is not your job to do the lifting. Remember, He’s got this and He has you. So, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 11:50 pm

A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 43 | October 31, 2016 


“I’ve Got This!” 

It was another warmer than usual late October afternoon as I started my walk on the Stones River Greenway and through the old Ravenwood Golf Course. The scenery included the colorful leaves falling and drifting in the breeze, the occasional jet making the final turn toward the airport, and squirrels scurrying around occasionally pausing to look around as if to say, “Why is so warm?” 
The Friday afternoon birds songs joined the soundtrack coming from the Pandora music app set to shuffle through selections from my playlists which included quiet contemplative selections from movie themes to Phil Keaggy and Kenny G, from Chris Tomlin and Kutless, to Dave Matthews Band, Bella Fleck, James Taylor, John Denver, and of course Barbra Streisand. I was reminded of what faith can do and how deep is God’s love. I reflected on images of country roads and times when I’ve seen fire and rain. I thought of journeys that seemed to take a thousand years, times when it seems as though grace is gone, and times when I’ve wondered if one more drink would help me be on my way. 
As I the walked people were heavy on my mind. That was also part of the motivation for the walk. I lifted up the friend with whom I had shared lunch. I carried thoughts for our children and grandchildren so many miles away, and those on that particular day who were even further away than normal. I prayed for friends and family, some going through difficult times, and for families who are hurting. I prayed they would sense God’s presence, know that He has not abandoned them, and that they could somehow know that I was thinking about them.  
I walked. I listened. I prayed.  
In that prayerful state is when I felt the leaf from one of the trees brush the top of my head then slide off. I reached up to brush it away when the leaf literally dropped into the palm of my hand.         
  There were many other leaves that were brighter and more colorful. This was an ordinary brown leaf from one of the many trees lining the path. There was nothing special about this leaf except for the fact that it had fallen a that precise moment and ended up in my hand. You may think I’m making this up. Think that if you wish but as my friend, Jim Wood, would say, “You believe what you want, but I think it’s hand of God.” 
I believe the leaf was a sweet reminder from the Lord saying to me: “I’ve got this! I’ve got these people. I’ve got all those situations that are way beyond your realm of control in my hands. Just as you caught that leaf as it fell and are holding it gently in your hand, I have caught you in mid fall many times, I have you now, and I am holding you gently in My hand. All these other people (your wife, your children, your granddaughters, your friends) who you care so deeply for are gently and safely in My hands. I may need you to be near them. I may need you to listen to them. I may need you to put your hand on their shoulder, or embrace them, or hold them, or pray with them. I may need you to speak to them as I speak to you. I may need you to serve as a leaf reminder to them that I am with them just as I am with you today. I may need you for one or all of those things at some point, but today I need you to relax, to trust Me, to keep your eyes focused on Me, to rest and be at peace in full assurance and complete confidence that I have them and I have this!” 
As you go through your week, and as you unload your burdens in the strong and gentle hands of God, know that He has you. He is aware of and has your situation in His hands. And if you watch and pay attention, you may feel a leaf drop on your head and end up in your hand to remind you that that He has everything under control. 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV)

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 17 Oct 2016, 8:33 pm

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A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 41 | October 16, 2016 

What We Have Heard

What have you heard today? Take a moment and think back on the last hour, half a day, the last two days, or the last week, and call to mind the things you have heard. 
You have the heard the two leading candidates for the highest office in the land use language and make statements that most of us would never use in our most private conversations as they criticize, smear and do everything in they can to discredit their opponent.  
You have heard scores and updates and highlights on football games, baseball pennate races, soccer and hockey games. 
You have heard comments about the damage done by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and on the East Coast, as well as messages from your children, grandchildren, and friends, and countless commercials and advertisements. 
You have heard music. You have heard familiar old songs that have touched your heart and brought back memories of tender moments. You have heard new songs that remind you of what is good in your life and they give you hope about the future. 
You have heard a lot. As you go through today you will hear a lot. Many of you will listen with headphones or earbuds to block out other sounds so you can hear what you want to hear. Because you are hearing so many stories, opinions, judgements, conversations, and noise it might be helpful to listen to these words from the New Testament book of Hebrews. 
The writer begins the second chapter of Hebrews with this: “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” If you have listened to preachers and Bible teachers you probably understand that the “therefore” in the middle of the sentence is “there for” a reason. Usually it is a reminder to pay attention to what has just been said. As you read through the letter you will notice that the writer of Hebrews uses “therefore” quite often. “Therefore” his statement at the beginning of the sentence is important to him, “We must pay more careful attention to what we have heard.” 
When you see “therefore” and you read back over what you just read it helps you connect what you are reading with what was just written. In this case, the writer is reminding us to make sure we understand that he is sharing his testimony (perhaps God’s testimony) about Jesus and the importance of recognizing Him for who He is. 
He begins with a descriptive statement about Jesus superiority over the angels: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” (Hebrews 1:1-4, NIV)
Then you come to the statement in chapter 2: “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”
The writer is telling you that if you are hearing messages that take you away from God, that cause you to drift away from the Lord, or distracts you from Jesus, you must pay more careful attention. 
I think he might also include these warnings. 
If you are hearing messages that discourage, you must pay more careful attention. 
If you are hearing messages that weaken your resolve to follow Jesus, you must pay more careful attention. 
If you are hearing any message that might cause you treat another human disrespectfully or think of another person as inferior you, must pay more careful attention. 
If you are hearing a message that makes you feel superior or above Gods laws or the laws of the land, you must pay more careful attention. 
If you are hearing messages that cause you to drift away from what you know is right in God’s eyes, you must pay more careful attention. 
If you are hearing messages that tell you that anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ is the path to salvation, you must pay more careful attention. 
You must pay more careful attention to what you have heard. We have heard, many of us since before we were born, that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior, that He is the Lord of all. Are you paying careful attention to those words? 
In the next twenty-four hours you will hear many things, many different things. Some will be good and positive words, and some will be uplifting words of truth. Some will be degrading and dehumanizing words. You must pay more careful attention to what you hear and what you have heard. (Here is a song that might help: The Voice of Truth.)
Pay more careful attention to what you have heard and what you will hear this week. It is very important.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 10 Oct 2016, 8:53 pm

A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 40 | October 10, 2016 


The Complaining Stops Here

The Jesus Calling entry for October 9 hit me right between the eyes. I told the Lord that in my own prayer journal entry. The reason it hit so hard is that it was not only the words from Sarah Young, or the words she included in her writing from the Lord, but these have been my words. 
I have spoken them. I have taught them. I have preached them. I have counseled with them. I have written about them. As I read them again in this setting and in the context of my circumstances the power of the words penetrated in my heart like never before. 
What are the words? They are found in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” 
Earlier in the day’s thoughts Young had written: “You have been on a long, uphill journey, and your energy is almost spent.” And I said, “Yes, I have and my energy is almost spent.” 
Then, I read further, “Though you have faltered at times, you have not let go of My hand. I am pleased with your desire to stay close to Me.” And I said, “Yes! Thank You, Lord for noticing.” 
Then, I read further: “There is one thing, however, that displeases Me: your tendency to complain.” And I said nothing. I could not believe what I was reading. I was stunned. I was frozen in the silence of the morning and by the convicting nature of these words. Eventually I said, “You are right, Lord.”
I finished the reading and at the bottom of page were the words, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” 
The words of God have spoken and I have heard them, so today the complaining stops. At least that is my goal…again. 
As I have “been on a long, uphill journey” and as I have spend so much of my energy, I have enjoyed a season of complaint. It has felt good. I have felt justified. Those who have listened have affirmed my justification and kindly listened to my complaints. It stops today. 
How can I complain about anything when others have lost everything due to the storm that has been slowly crawling up the East Coast?
How can I complain about anything when I have enough food in our refrigerator and pantry to feed us for days? 
How can I complain when I can sit in a comfortable chair where I have access to more excellent reading material and information than I can possibly ever consume?
How can I complain when I live a beautiful part of the world in a beautiful time of the year and where I am reminded multiple times every day that I am loved by people and by the Lord Almighty?
If I understand the passage I cannot “shine like a star in the universe” unless the complaining stops. The Word of God speaks. The power of the Word has penetrated my heart. The complaining needs to stop. It might as well stop with me. You can join me if you like. If you chose not to, I’ll try not to complain.

Tom

P.S. I do reserve the right to sometimes make sarcastic comments about sportscasters and news reporters

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 11:57 pm

A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 39 | October 3, 2016 

Godliness With Contentment 
(Or, a Cow, a Cat, a Dog, and a Baby)

Writing to his young friend, Timothy, Paul reminds him: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8, NIV)
If godliness with contentment is great gain, what is contentment without godliness? By definition contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction. Hmmmmm. That sounds a bit shallow. 
The images that come to mind when I read that definition is of a “contented” cow standing in a field chewing her cud. I see a cat sitting on the real of the deck looking out over the back yard feeling satisfied that he has everything under control and saying: “I’m fine. Don’t bother me!” I see a faithful old hound dog laying on, or under the porch, who lazily raises his head offers a single wag of his tail to acknowledge your presence and to remind you, “Yeah, I see you and I hear you. I need a nap.” I see a baby unhappy and desperate for a bottle suddenly become calm and resting in the arms of her mother as she drifts off to sleep.
Contentment alone not only seems shallow, but temporary. The cow is contented until she gets hungry. The cat on the deck is contented as long as you leave him alone. The dog is contented until she sees a squirrel run across the yard, or hears you rattle his food dish. This contentment is based on temporarily having immediate needs met. Once the need arises again, the contentment fades. 
I am like that…sometimes. When I am hungry, feed me and I’ll be happy. When I am tired, let me sleep for a while and I’ll be fine. When I am lonely, spend some time with me, then leave me alone and I’ll be fine. 
Without the godliness you have the chaos Paul describes in verses 1-5: “He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction.” Yuck! I have been there. No more!
Without the godliness you have what Paul describes in verses 9-10: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” Yuck! I have experienced enough of that and seen enough of that to know that I want no part of that. 
Add godliness to the equation and it changes completely. 
Godliness with contentment is real contentment. Yes, I want that!
Godliness with contentment helps us realize “we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it.” Yes, I want to accept that and live like that. 
Godliness with contentment enables us to say, “If I have food and clothing, I will be content with that.” Yes, I’m not quite there yet, but I am trying to get there. 
Maybe the cow in the field, cat on the deck, the dog under the porch, and the baby asleep in the arms of her mother are not bad images after. Maybe they know something we mature types knew at one time, but have forgotten. Maybe they have a connection with the Creator that we ignore. Maybe they know more than we think they know. Maybe they know that godliness means He has this so I don’t have to worry about it. Maybe they know that godliness with contentment is great gain. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 19 Sep 2016, 11:01 pm

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A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 37 | September 19, 2016 

A Quiet Life

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, NIV)
“A quiet life?” Some of you read that phrase and thought, “Dream on, Dude! Ain’t happening! You can talk about living a quiet life all you want, but you don’t know the world I live in. There is nothing quiet about it!”
Unfortunately I hear statements like that too often. Unfortunately I also find myself thinking along those same lines and using similar language.
There are two words in the sentence that appear to be contradictory: “ambition” and “quiet life.” We rarely put those two words together. 
When we think of ambition we think of climbing the corporate ladder, getting to top before anyone else, winning at all cost, being the very best, being a high achiever, and accumulating the most. Ambition is often spelled B-U-S-Y. Ambition speaks of hustle and hurry. 
When we think of a quiet life we hear Jesus say, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” We hear the Psalmist say: “Be still and know that I am God.” The quiet life reminds us of peaceful waters, green pasture, and a restored soul.
When we think of ambition we are reminded of the disciples arguing over, “Who is the greatest?” When we think of the quiet life we are reminded of Jesus going off by Himself  to a quiet place. 
When we think of ambition we have visions of the President. When we think of the quiet life we see images of a father fishing with his son on the bank of a pond. 
When we think of ambition we see the corner office with a spectacular view of the city. When we think of the quiet life we see Granddaddy sitting in his rocker on the front porch. 
When we think ambition we often think hard-working and successful. When we think of the quiet life we often think lazy and failure.  
Is the quiet life feasible in our day? It must be and Paul provides three simple guidelines for living the quiet life.
Plan for it. The quiet life will not just happen. It must be your ambition. It must be your goal. You must plan for it. You will not wake up one morning and suddenly your world has become quiet. You will need to work at living a quiet life. There will be things you must stop if you are going to live a quiet life. You will need to shut down and shut out some of the noise in your life, get rid of some of the clutter in your life, and focus on what really matters. To have a quiet life you must desire a quiet life. 
Mind your own business. Wow! What a difference that will make! Do not read that statement like siblings would say it to each other: “Mind your own business!” Read like a loving spiritual parent would say it to their spiritual son or daughter who is trying to be the person God wants them to be: “Just mind your own business. It’s not your responsibility to straighten out the rest of the world. You have plenty to do taking care of your own business. Don’t borrow frustration from someone else. Just mind your own business.” Social media would certainly change if we started minding our own business. Conversations between friends would sound different. That does not mean you ignore the needs of other people. Paul has covered that in other places. As a general rule, mind your own business. 
Do your own job. Work with your hands. What have you been trained to do? Do that. What are you most passionate about? Do that. Do it well. Work hard at what you are gifted to do. You cannot do someone else’s job and still do your well. If you are teacher, then be a teacher. If you are a preacher, then be a preacher. If you are an artist, be an artist. If you are a police officer, be a police officer. If you serve coffee, then serve coffee. 
The quiet life often escapes us not because it is unachievable, but because we make excuses, because we enjoy being (or appearing) over-worked and over-committed, and because we simply refuse to make it our ambition. It is your choice. Is it important? Is it possible? God thought it was important enough to include in His Book. Maybe this week you will experience the quiet life. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 13 Sep 2016, 3:48 pm

Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 36 | September 12, 2016 


A Different Approach


It is Monday morning.It is early Monday morning. You are sleeping soundly and deeply and peacefully. You are shaken from your slumber by your alarm on the nightstand next to your bed. In your grogginess you search for the alarm and turn it off as you glance at the clock. You groan in disbelief that it is time to get up and flop your head back on your pillow. Then, you remember, “I work for the Lord! I get a pay check from the company, but I serve the Lord Christ.” Your approach to the day is totally different. 
You did not get much sleep last night. One of your little ones had a nightmare then had a difficult time getting back to sleep. Once he was finally settled down, your other little one woke up wanted to play. as the day goes on you perform your duties as best you can. Getting them fed for breakfast, then again for lunch, then your husband calls and tells you he needs to works a couple of hours longer. You slump down in a kitchen chair almost in tears, when these words printed on a card and stuck on the refrigerator, “Whatever you do…” (Colossians 3:17). You know the verse. You put the card there for just such times. Your sigh changes to a deep cleansing breath as you remind yourself: “I work for the Lord. I serve the Lord Jesus.” You smile when the little ones come running in saying, “Mommy, we’re hungry.” “Yeah, Mommy, we’re hungry.”
The summer break seemed much too short as you get your classroom ready for a new group of students. Faculty meetings, after school activities, and parent conferences are what awaits you. It almost overwhelms you until you remember, “I work for the Lord! I get a pay check from the school board, but I serve the Lord Christ.” Your whole disposition has changed as you look at the list of new students. 
Your football team lost, your car would not start this morning, you electric bill is the highest of the year, and your son just called saying he had lost his job and wants to move back home. Your boss hands you a project that she wants finished by the end of the day. Your wife just called saying her mother is coming for long visit. Your shoulders slump as your turn your chair to face the window daydreaming about last summer’s vacation. That’s when you are reminded, “I work for the Lord! I take orders from my employer, but I serve the Lord Christ.” You spin your chair around and dive into the project. 
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:17, NIV)
Keep that verse handy this week. You may need it to help you remember that there is a different approach to the tasks that face you. 

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 8:28 pm

A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 35 | September 5, 2016 


Put Yourself Aside

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Philippians 2:1-4, The Message)

Your assignment this week: put yourself aside.
It starts, if you read further in Philippians 2, with an attitude. It is not just any attitude, it is the attitude of Christ. In order to put yourself aside, and hope other get ahead, you must develop the attitude of Christ. Interestingly enough, in order to develop the attitude of Christ, you must put yourself aside. It does not just happen. You must consciously and intentionally think about it and act on those thoughts. Remember, even a small step is still a step.  
Small steps you can take this week. 
When you are in line at the grocery store, let the person behind you go ahead of you. Yes, I know you are in a hurry. Let them go ahead of you anyway. 
When you reach the drive-thru line at Starbucks at the same time as the other person just as desperate for that first cup of coffee, let them go ahead of you. Then, don’t grumble about it. 
When you have had a hard day at work and come home to your spouse and kids, remember your spouse has probably had a hard day at work too. Remember your kids have probably been anxiously waiting for you to get home. Put yourself aside and play with the kids and give your spouse a break. 
When you are having a bad day and it seems to be getting worse. Put yourself aside and do something good for someone. Give them a phone call or a text them to remind them how much they mean to you. Take a couple of extra minutes and after the pleasantries of your usual “Hey, how are you?” Wait for a real answer to that question. You might have to say, “No, I really mean it. How are you?” 
When you are in the meeting with the other leaders of your company or your church or your club and you want things done your way and someone else wants things done their way, unless it is a life or death (speaking physically and spiritually) issue, let things be done their way. 
When you are trying to make an important point with your spouse and making your point may determine who wins or loses the discussion (argument). Let your spouse win. 
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Consider others better than yourself. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Put yourself aside: That’s your assignment for this week. The joy you experience when you put yourself aside will make you glad you accepted the assignment.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 29 Aug 2016, 6:38 pm

This Week’s A Norvell Note 

Vol. 18 No. 34 | August 29, 2016 


With Freedom and Confidence

In Ephesians chapter 3 Paul is explaining the mysterious work of God that brought him to the point of bringing God’s message of grace and hope to all people…Jews and non-Jews are heirs together and members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Near the end of that part of the conversation he makes this astounding statement:  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12, NIV)
What a gift! To be told by God that we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 
Some would tell us we must be careful how we approach God. Some would say you must be cautious. Some would say we must approach God with fear. Consider these words from John Ortberg. 
The Bible says that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Today we don’t speak much of this. Our images of God have tended to grow smaller and more comfortable. What does it mean to fear the Lord? We have no need to be afraid that God will do mean or destructive things. We do not need to be afraid that God’s love is not fully trustworthy. One of C. S. Lewis’s characters expresses fear at the prospect of meeting his Christfigure, the great lion Aslan, and wonders if he is quite safe. “Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he’s not safe. But he’s good.” This fear involves reverence and awe, a healthy recognition of who God is. It also involves recognition of our fallenness. But worship reminds me that the day will come when our fallenness will be utterly healed. In that day we will fully realize the truth of the saying that “perfect love casts out fear.” 
The Lord of the Universe does not want us to be afraid of Him. The great God almighty does not want to be fearful when we approach Him. He wants us to approach Him with freedom and confidence. The Message says it like this: “When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go.”
What are you waiting for? Go to Him with all the concerns and pains of your heart. Go to Him will all your dreams. Go to Him with your wildest imaginations. Go to Him with all your fears. Take Your sadness to Him. 
When you go, go with confidence. Go freely. Go to Him knowing He wants you to go.

Tom

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