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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 Mon 22 Mar 2010, 3:05 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 13 No. 12 March 22, 2010
Predicting the Future
Like millions of other basketball fans early last week I went online and filled out a bracket with the teams that I predicted would win and lose games in the NCAA basketball championship. Not only did we pick teams to win the games, we picked the two teams we thought would play in the final game as well as the final score. Forty-eight games later (Yes, I did watch most of them. And I loved it!), we look at our brackets and realize that our spiritual gift is not that of prophecy.
It did not take a basketball tournament to remind me that predicting the future is not one of my life skills.
I can remember commenting about how foolish people looked walking down the street talking on their mobile phone. Now I rarely go anywhere without mine.
I can remember judging people as extravagant when I saw their 26" television. I've watched all those basketball games on the 42" flat screen hanging on our wall.
I can remember thinking that paying $.60 for a gallon of gas seemed outrageous. Last week I paid $2.59 a gallon.
I can remember, before I was married, watching couples and saying, "When I'm married I'll never treat my wife like that."
I can also remember, before I had children, watching parents deal with their children and saying, "My child will never do that."
I can remember last year filling out my brackets, making my predictions of who would win and who would lose, then asking myself, "Why do I do this? I can't predict who is going to win a basketball game."
I can remember looking at families and saying with absolute confidence, "They are a great family. They seem to have it all together. Great kids. Great marriage. They will make it." Only to learn later that I had no idea what went on behind closed doors.
I am learning and accepting that I am not very good at predicting the future. I do, however, take comfort in knowing that I am not alone.
Peter told Jesus he would follow him anywhere and would be willing to die for him if necessary. He denied him three times before the rooster crowed the next morning.
The disciples promised to stay with Jesus when all others turned away. When he went to the cross he was alone.
When a discussion about the end of time surfaced there were all kinds of theories and predictions. These words are recorded in Matthew 24: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man." (Vss. 35-37)
Even with a poor record for predicting the future there are some predictions that, with God's help and the Scriptures to back me up, I can make.
For instance, we will all give an account to God for the life that we live. "It is written: 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:11-12, New International Version)
We will all bow before the Lord. "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11, NIV)
Those who believe in the Son will have eternal life. "The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:35-36, New International Version)
If my prediction for the winner of the NCAA Basketball Championship does not come true I will be disappointed. However, if I ignore the predictions of Scripture I will regret it for eternity.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Wed 17 Mar 2010, 12:12 pm

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



A Norvell Note


Vol. 13 No. 11 March 15, 2010


The Hopes of the Helpless


Psalm 10:17 "Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them." (New Living Translation)

"The hopes of the helpless." Interesting phrase don't you think? What are the hopes of the helpless? Help. Escape. Relief. Freedom. Deliverance. Strength. Energy. Light. Refreshment. Revival. Renewal. Dreams. "Immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine."

"The hopes of the helpless." Would those descriptive words apply to you? Weak. Weary. Worn-down. Restless. Barely holding on. Holding on to hope even though there are times you wonder why? Hoping that something totally beyond your power and beyond your comprehension will happen. Hope that something will bring about a change. Hope that something will happen that you have never even dreamed of...something "out of the blue."

A hope of the helpless might involve the doctor coming into your hospital room with a puzzled look on his face saying, "The tumor is gone. We can't explain it, but it's gone."

A hope of the helpless might be waking up in the middle of the night concerned about your husband but not sure there is anything you can do to encourage him or lift his spirits.

A hope of the helpless might take the shape of accidently bumping into the professor of the class you're struggling in and having her say, "I think you can do this. Just don't give up."

A hope of the helpless might come from meeting a new family after they visited your church and hearing them say, "We loved it! We want to be involved."

The hopes of the helpless may come in all shapes and sizes that surfaces at the least expected time. The hopes of the helpless may come at a time when you feel totally drained. The hopes of the helpless may come may come at a time when you wonder if there is any reason to hang on to your hope.
According to David there are at least three reasons for the helpless to have hope.


First, the Lord knows the hopes of the helpless. The Lord knows what you are going through. He knows the pain you are feeling. He knows that that the pain has been with you for longer than you can remember. He knows that you have exhausted yourself trying to fix things, restore things, and rebuild things. He knows you feel helpless.

Second, the Lord hears the cries of the helpless. He hears your heart. He hears the words that you cannot speak. He hears voice inside you crying out for help. He hears the cries for an end to the suffering.

Third, He comforts the helpless. Not only does He know the hopes of the helpless and hear their cries, but He also comforts them. There may be no human way to describe this comfort from the Lord, but when you experience it, you will know it. You will have no doubt about the One who providing the comfort. It will be clear that your hopes known and your cries are being heard.

He knows. He hears. He comforts. There is hope for the helpless.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 08 Mar 2010, 11:29 am

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



A Norvell Note
Vol. 13 No. 10 March 8, 2010
A Simple Phone Call


Turning fifty-seven recently was a pretty pleasant experience. Nothing traumatic. Nothing extraordinary. Another birthday. It was a very good day. I received many “Happy Birthday” wishes from friends. Time well spent with my wife. Good conversations with my children. It was a good quiet birthday. However, one thing did make it a most memorable day.

It came fairly late in the day and caught me completely by surprise. I received a note from a very dear friend asking me for my phone number. Someone wanted to call me. I sent my number and within a few minutes my phone rang (actually it didn’t ring…it played a tune). The voice from miles away said, “Hang on my Dad wants to talk to you.”

His voice was slow and deliberate due to a stroke he suffered about eighteen months ago. He could not say much. But, hearing his voice was enough to transport me back through the years with tears in my eyes.

You see we once spend a considerable amount of time together. During a very important time is my life his family became part of my extended family. His home became my home away from home. He was a mentor. He would become one of the most powerful influences in my life.

Then, stuff happened. Things changed. Our lives went in different directions. Conversations and visits became less frequent and eventually pretty much non-existent. Not because angry words were shared, not because of an argument, and not because our love for one another ceased. Just life.

With the sound of his voice all those years of no communication were erased and we were talking again. Our friendship seemed as strong as it ever. The closeness returned over a 3G network.

How is that possible? How is it that relationships that have lost connection for years can suddenly with one very brief telephone conversation be re-connected as if there had never been a break? What is it that creates a bond between two human beings that can never be broken, no matter what happens, no matter what changes, no matter what?

There’s only one explanation. It is God’s love. It is the love God has for us, and the love God places in our hearts that enables us to love others and to receive love from other people. John describes it: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:7-21, NIV)
Is there someone you’ve not talked to in a while? Are you feeling the need to reconnect? Go ahead. Make the call. It may seem like “just a phone call.” Make it anyway.


I’m grateful for my call.

Tom


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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 09 Feb 2010, 10:10 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 13 No. 06 February 8, 2010
Communication

This line from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke seems almost prophetic in today's world, "What we have here is failure to communicate." We have "failure to communicate" in extreme proportions.
A couple of years ago a friend and co-worker gave me a notepad with these words printed at the top: "I KNOW THAT COMMUNCATION IS A PROBLEM, BUT I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT."
We hear it over and over again. "Communication is the key to marriage." "Communication is what it's about." "We have to learn to communicate better." Many husbands and wives have "failure to communicate." We have "failure to communicate" in the work place. In our churches we have "failure to communicate." We preacher-teacher-writer types struggle with issue of "failure to communicate." We think we've done and excellent job of communicating our message only to discover those on the receiving end have gotten a totally different message. We are shocked. "How could they have gotten that message from what I said?" We reason and rationalize: "Surely it is the receiver's fault. We communicated the message perfectly. They just were not listening well."
There are many important factors in effective communication: eye contact, body language, voice inflection, tone, rate of speaking, pauses, sighs, laughter, tears, and so on. That is with face-to-face interaction. That is with minimal distractions.
The truth is, communication requires sending and receiving, speaking and listening. And it seems no matter how hard we try we continue to have "failure to communicate." But, "we don't want to talk about it."
Our obsession with instant information has created even more challenges to the communication process. A misplaced comma in an email can change the entire message. Those who read these articles regularly know how true that is. (And no you don't have to point out every mistake you find in this article. Thanks for your grace.) A text message is a terrible way to end a relationship. It is hard to conduct business via voice mail. Is your Facebook wall really where you want to share your deepest struggles? "Tweets" are great, but it's no foundation for a friendship.
As flawed as these methods of communication are, they illustrate our strong, and often desperate, desire to connect with other people. Our history is rich with creative efforts used to communicate our feelings for one another.
The story of the Bible is the story of communication. From the beginning the Creator of the Universe shared His heart about and with His creation. "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'" (Genesis 1:26) As the creation process continued, the communication continued.
28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day.
He has never stopped communicating with us. As His people experienced their wilderness wanderings He communicated His constant presence to them. Through the prophets He communicated His feelings and desires for how He wanted them to live. His ultimate communication with us came when He sent His one and only Son into the world: "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent,?c? nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." (John 1:11-14a)
In spite of all His efforts to communicate with us, we still have difficulty hearing the message. We think our deeds will impress Him. We think our knowledge will please Him. We think our many words will appease Him. As He has communicated from the beginning He still communicates, "I want your heart."
Remember this part: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." He did not post a status update. He did not "retweet" the good news. He did not ask to be added to your professional network. He came to live among us.
Obviously I don't have the solution to "failure to communicate." When I do I'll write the book, sell millions of copies and start writing these articles from my house on beach. Until then, the search for new and better ways to communicate continues. I will continue to look for the newest, fastest, and most efficient methods to get the message out and across. I will continue to struggle with "failure to communicate."
In spite of all our successes and failures in communication, one message has been delivered powerfully and clearly. It is the one piece of communication we cannot afford to miss, or misunderstand. It is God's message to you and to me. "I love you. I allowed my only Son to die for you. I want to be with you. Please love me." Or, to put it another way, "I stand at the door and knock."

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 18 Jan 2010, 12:08 pm

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



A Norvell Note
Vol. 13 No. 03 January 18, 2009
Amazed By God


He, the only true and living God, amazes me.


His creation amazes me. The ocean amazes me. The white sand amazes me. The power of the waves amazes me. The continuous action of the waves-the rising and falling and coming and going-amazes me. The power of the wind amazes me. The brilliant blue sky amazes me. The creatures that live in the water amaze me.


The changing seasons amaze me. The quietness, the serenity, and the calmness of falling snow amaze me (even if it's just a dusting). The brilliant colors of autumn amaze me. The new life that appears in the spring amazes me.


His love amazes me. From the beginning of creation He has demonstrated His love to His people continuously. Leading. Protecting. Teaching. Providing. Blessing.


His compassion amazes me. He has never stopped reaching toward us and trying to draw us near to Him. He sent prophets. He sent spiritual leaders. He sent His only Son. He gave us His Word. He gave us His Spirit. He longs to live in us, comfort us, and give us life everlasting. The Lord God almighty amazes me.


Yet, nothing amazes me more than His willingness to hear us, His ability to hear us, and His response to us when we pray.


He has heard every prayer of desperation from the people of Haiti. He hears the prayer of every child who is alone and afraid. He hears the prayer of every man searching for his wife and his children. He hears the prayer of every woman searching for her husband and children. He hears the prayer of every doctor and every nurse as they ask for strength to help just one more person. He hears the prayer of every person around the world struggling with feelings of complete helplessness.


He hears the pain in every heart when the word "cancer" is included in a medical diagnosis.


He hears the sorrow of every family as they walk away from the graveside of their loved one.


He hears the desperate plea of every parent when they lay their head on their pillow every night as they ask for protection for their son or their daughter.


He hears the cry of every little boy and every little when they hear the word "divorce" coming from the mouth of their parents.


He hears the heart of every church leader when they ask for wisdom to lead the souls under their care.


He hears the unspoken words of every struggler when they fall down before Him desperately seeking ... something.


He hears every prayer that is prayed. He hears every word that is spoken. He hears every cry. He hears every expression of joy. He hears every call for help. He hears it all. He never becomes weary. He never needs a break. He never takes a vacation. He never gets tired of listening. He never refuses to help. He never ignores. He never feels inconvenienced.


He is God. He amazes me.

Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of t hem,
they would be too many to declare. (Psalm 40:4-5, NIV)

Tom


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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 11 Jan 2010, 10:19 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 13 No. 02 January 11, 2009
What's Your Purpose?

Why are you here? The question is not why are you sitting in front of your computer reading this article? Why are you here? Why are you on the earth? What is your purpose for being alive? What were you created to do?

Some will respond, "I truly don't know." Another might say, "Maybe I'm here just to occupy space?" "I guess if nothing else I am here to fill a chair at the table, ... maybe?" "I'm just a number."

Here's some good news: there is a bigger purpose. There is a reason for you being here. You are here to do more than just occupy space, fill a seat, or be a number. And here's even more good news: you don't have to take my word for it. See for yourself.

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)
The first nine verses remind us of who we were and where we were. The emphasis on were, not what we are. The change came when "God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ." He continues by reminding us that we have been saved by the grace of God.
Why would He do that and for what purpose? The answer is found in the last sentence. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
There's your reason for being. You were created to do good works. God has a plan for you. He has a purpose for you. He has been planning for you. He knew you were coming. Now that you are here, He has a purpose for you.

Not just any good works, but good works that He has designed for you to do. You were not placed on this planet just to occupy space. You were placed here to do the God's good works.

Maybe you are here to be a godly mother for your children who need to know the tenderness of God's love. Maybe you are here to be the dad who teaches his son how to be a godly man, and show his daughter the kind of man God wants her to marry.

Maybe you were created to lead a church. Maybe you were created to teach children about how Jesus loves them. Maybe you were created to be the one godly man in the life of an athlete life who needs see how a man of God conducts himself in a world that lacks integrity and true character.

Maybe you were created to take care of the medical needs of orphaned children in village on the other side of the world. Maybe you were created to teach English or Math or History to students in the school in your neighborhood. Maybe you were created to stay right where you are and be who you are with your friends and your neighbors.

What is your purpose? You were created to be the best you that you can possibly be.
Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 04 Jan 2010, 12:04 pm

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

Vol. 13 No. 01 January 4, 2009
What's Important?

News headlines have chronicled the private lives of the public figures that they wish would remained private. The economic turbulence has kept us wondering how long we'll be able to continue to live at our present level of affluence, or how much longer we'll have to struggle to pay the bills. Like other groups, spiritual communities have struggled to provide a legitimate response to the confused and hurting masses. We are being forced to ask, "What's really important?"

It's not a new question.

The first couple struggled with the question as they surrendered to the temptation of the fruit from the forbidden tree. God answered the question when He drove them from the garden.

The people of Israel wrestled with the question in their wilderness wanderings as they complained about the manna and bowed down to imitation gods. God delivered an answer when Moses brought them the Ten Commandments.

Job, and his friends, searched for an answer as they asked, "What is God doing?" God answered them by revealing that He could do as He pleased.

The prophets asked, "Will you not listen?"

The disciples asked, "Where are you going?"

Those trying to destroy Him asked Jesus directly: "Which of the commandments is the most important?"

Jesus gave the definitive answer.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?'
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'? This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'? All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:34-40, NIV)

What is important? What is really important? What really matters?

To answer the question satisfactorily we must engage in the agonizing process of eliminating the things that are not important. We must determine the things that are holding us back. We must indentify the attitudes and habits that prevent us from living a life that is pleasing to God. We must ruthlessly deal with prejudices and self-erected barriers that keep us from truly loving our neighbor.

Asking the question is commendable. Making the commitment to do what is important is essential.

Will you commit to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength...today? Will you start to love your neighbor as yourself...today?

What's important? God. People.
Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 16 Nov 2009, 12:07 pm

A Norvell Note


Vol. 12 No. 46 November 15, 2009


It is Permissible, but...


"Everything is permissible for me"-but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"- but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12, NIV)
In the New International Version of Scripture this passage in found in a section of instruction from Paul to the church in Corinth under the heading of "Sexual Immorality."
"Everything is permissible"- but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"-but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, NIV)
In the New International Version of Scripture this passage in found in a section of instruction from Paul to the church in Corinth under the heading of "The Believer's Freedom."
If Paul, guided by the Spirit of the living God, felt this relationship principle was important enough to apply in situations involving sexual immorality, and the rights of a believer, shouldn't it also could be applied to other areas of our life.
For instance, you've been slighted in some way. No doubt about it you were done wrong. In any court of law or Sunday School Class you would have been declared innocent and the other person declared guilty. You have every right to strike back. No one would blame you. In fact, most people would praise you for standing up for your rights and for giving them what they deserve. You can do it. But is that what you want to do? Is that what you need to do? Is that what is beneficial?
Someone you've known and gotten along with for years criticizes you in public. You're angry. You're embarrassed. Your natural reaction is to strike back. Write a letter. Criticize them. Shoot them down. Embarrass them. You can. No one would blame you. Some would be proud of you. Some would agree with you. Some would jump on your bandwagon. It's permissible. But is it beneficial?
You have worked hard to position yourself so that when promotion time came around you would be at the top of the list. The list came out. Your name was not on it. However, the person in the office next to you, someone you have worked with closely for years and consider a very good friend, gets the promotion. Your other friends suggest you quit. There's a part of you wants to distance yourself from your friend. Build a wall between you. Feed the resentment and allow the bitterness to grow. The culture approves of those feelings. You could do it. No one would blame you. You could easily justify it. It is permissible. But, is it beneficial?
There's a group of people in your church who continue to push for change. It seems like every time you have a discussion they call for something new. Nothing ever seems good enough. It seems impossible to satisfy them. You are tired of dealing with. You wish they would just go away and leave things alone. There are times when you want to encourage that, or even force them out. You can. You have plenty of folks who would agree with you. It is permissible. It happens all the time. In fact, you know several churches in your area where the same thing happened. It is permissible. But is it beneficial?
Jesus lived this principle and died showing us how to live it. He could have fought back when he was arrested. He could have defended himself when He was accused of blasphemy. He could have called ten thousand angels down from Heaven to destroy the world. He could have. It would have been permissible. But He didn't. It was far more beneficial for us, for him to die on the cross for our sins and leave the tomb in dramatic victory over death.
That's what He did. Now, it's your turn. We live in a very permissible world. You can do pretty much anything you want. The restraints have been removed. The chains are gone. We are free. No one can stop you. "Everything is permissible for me"... but not everything is beneficial."

Tom


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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 09 Nov 2009, 12:43 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 12 No. 45 November 9, 2009

Let Us Encourage One Another

"Let us encourage one another." That phrase seems to automatically highlight itself when I read it in the context of Hebrews 10.


19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25, NIV)

The writer of the letter is concerned about the heart condition of the brothers and sisters to whom he is writing. They were tired. Living the life of a follower of Jesus had become challenging, wearisome, and for some dangerous. The writer exhorts them to hang on to their faith, hang on to God, hang on their hope, and hang on to each other. In verse 25 he specifically calls their attention to how important their times of meeting together were to their spiritual survival. Obviously, some were considering, and no doubt some had already given up on meeting together with other followers.


As we read these words we tend to envision, assume, and have possibly been completely convinced, that these assemblies were taking place at 9:00 on Sunday morning in a church building with rows of pews, stain glass windows, a pulpit up front and everyone dressed in their Sunday best. There is a good possibility that may not have been the case. However, there were times when the believers came together. Apparently there were some who had become discouraged by, afraid of, or tired of dealing with the consequences of being identified as a Jesus Follower. So they stopped showing up for the gatherings - whenever the meetings were held. That resulted in the rest of the Body missing out on the encouragement that comes when Christians gather.


It is not uncommon to find weary followers on the verge of "giving up" on corporate meetings today. The reasons vary. For some it is fear. For some it is disappointment. For some it is anger. For some it is the pain created by with well-meaning brothers or sisters who could not resist sharing their opinions (or criticisms). Some are giving up as a result of times when they have attended faith gatherings, and instead of being encouraged, they left more discouraged than when they came.


What do you suppose the writer had in mind when he said, "let us encourage one another"?


Perhaps, he had in mind the inherent value of being together verses being alone. Empty seats can be discouraging. Vacant parking lots can be discouraging. Seeing familiar faces is encouraging. When you are going through a difficult time, isolation can be deadly. When life is not going well, there is something really good about being with people who love you.


Perhaps he had in mind that we should be intentional about encouraging one another when we are together. Let's face it some of our gatherings are not very encouraging. Too often the conversations during our gatherings consist of complaints about how things should be, how things used to be, or how things would be if we had our way. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to intentionally encourage one another by saying, "spur one another toward love and good deeds." Real encouragement does not happen by accident. We must choose to speak words that encourage. We must develop attitudes that are encouraging. We must conduct ourselves in a way that is encourages.


This week, when we have opportunity to gather with fellow Christians let's plan to make them times of encouragement. Let us look for opportunities to encourage each other.

Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 02 Nov 2009, 6:34 am

A Norvell Note


Vol. 12 No. 44 November 2, 2009


He Still Lives


On October 30, 2009 I posted photos of my Dad on Facebook, and sent an email with photos included to several family members to commemorate what would have been his 100th birthday. My Dad died in 1973, so he's been gone a long time. As I scanned my photos memories flooded my mind.


I think he would have a tough time with the world we live in today. I can remember when, in the late 1960s, he'd get really upset when he'd see the kind of dancing kids were doing on American Bandstand. What would he think about the path in life I life I have chosen? He did hear me preach my first sermon, but as I recall that was the only one he heard. He would probably be amazed at how much money I make in a year, the size of our house, that we don't trade cars every year, and how many people there are in Nashville, Tennessee. I doubt if he would be interested in taking a trip to New York City with me. However, I do think he would be pretty impressed with the 42 inch flat screen HDTV hanging on the wall in our living room (if he knew he could watch Bonanza in color.) It would be nice to be able introduce him to my wife, to my children, to have a cup of coffee with him. Of course, he'd only drink Maxwell House Instant coffee, and he would need lots of sugar and Pet Milk for his creamer.


The events of that day in 1973 are still pretty vivid in my mind. I know remember where I was when I got word of his death. I remember how gently E. Winston Burton shared the news with me. I remember the drive from Jonesboro to Hope. I remember several of my friends coming to the service. I remember the line of people coming by to pay their respects. I remember how much food people brought to the house. I still have a note he wrote me just before he died.


The memories are fresh, even though he has been gone a long time. Thirty-six years. So much has happened since January 26, 1973. So much has changed with our family, in the world of technology, the world of medicine, the world of politics. Although he has been gone a long time the viewing of one grouping of photos on my computer screen reminds me that he still lives. He still speaks. But he's still here.


So it is with all of us. We spend our days living the life that God calls us to live, or the life we choose to live, then we are gone. Behind us we leave memories for those we've loved and touched and impacted to reflect upon on the anniversary of our birth.


What is true with my Dad is also true for every character from the pages of Scripture. Just as the memories my Dad bless his children, the stories of God's faithful in Scripture bless all of us who have learned and share their stories. They lived. They've been gone a long time. Yet, they still live through their words, their actions, and their example. Jesus left this earth a long time ago. More than two thousand years. Yet, He still lives. He still speaks. He still teaches. He still encourages. He still inspires.


My Dad would have difficulty with the world in which we live. Jesus has no such trouble. What we may see as a difficult time, He sees as a time of opportunity. While we see so much darkness, He sees so many reasons to shine. What we perceive to be terrible times, He sees as the greatest of times. He sees this as our time to live free and be filled with hope. He sees this as our opportunity to share the joy we have found in knowing Him with those in the world who have not yet met Him. He has never really left us. He still longs to live in and through us. He still lives.


My Dad has been gone a long time, but he still lives in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him. One day, I'll be gone. How will I be remembered? Will I live on? What will my children remember? What will I leave behind? What will my life teach?


May we all live out our days by allowing Christ to live in us so that those who live after us will be encouraged to live, to love, to give, and to share what God does in them and for them.

Tom


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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 26 Oct 2009, 12:02 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 12 No. 43 October 25, 2009


Beyond The Clouds


After three days of beautiful autumn weather in New York City I headed to the airport on a cold cloudy and gray morning. By the time I arrived at the airport heavy rain had begun to fall. The walls of glass at waiting area soon to be fogged up and covered with blowing rain as the weather changed from beautiful to gloomy.
It was still raining when I boarded my flight. I took my window seat and looked out to see one last view of the city. There was only a faint vision of the New York skyline and memories of the beauty of the previous day. We taxied down the runway and within seconds after liftoff the images of the city were hidden behind a sea of thick dark clouds.
As we continued to climb the darkness began to brighten and within a short time we were above the clouds. Below us was a think fluffy blanket of clouds. All around us was nothing but blue sky and sunshine.
Willie Nelson singing, "Blue skies; nothing but blue skies..." in my head, I had one of those "Duh!" moments: beyond the clouds the sun always shines. No matter what the weather down below, when we able to see above and beyond the clouds we realize that the sun always shines and the skies are always blue.
Sitting there peering out the window at the clouds below and surrounded by sunshine and blue skies (Yes, I did sing under my breath, "Blue skies and rainbows and sun beams from heaven..."), I was reminded of the scene on the mountain when Peter, James and John were with Jesus on the mountain.
"Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: 'This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!' Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus." (Mark 9:7,8, NIV)
There was the cloud. Then, there was God.
These words also came to mine: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33, NIV)
Perhaps Jesus was telling us that there will be times in our lives when all we can see with our eyes are clouds, but if we will keep looking with our hearts, if we will search beyond the clouds we will see Him.
Perhaps He is speaking to you.
Your vision is clouded by the sadness of losing a loved one, or what appears to be inevitable loss of a loved one. Will you keep looking above and beyond the cloud? He is there.
Your world is darkened by a marriage that appears to be falling apart, or a marriage characterized by apathy and disrespect your partner, or a marriage that seems hopelessly lost to busy schedules and an over-commitment to climb the ladder of success. Will you look beyond the clouds? He is there. He can help.
The cloud of a life filled of dishonesty, deceit, cover-ups, and pretense engulfs your life. Will you look beyond the cloud? He is there. He can help. He wants to help.
Your family is completely covered with a cloud heartache, loss, and grief. Will you look beyond the cloud? He is there. He can help. He wants to help. He understands your pain.
Your future is hidden by a cloud of hopelessness due to a past of broken dreams, failures, and disappointment. Will you look beyond the cloud? He is there. He can help. He wants to help. He understands your pain. He can give you a new dream.
In this life there will be clouds. But, take heart. He has risen above the clouds. He is there. He invites you to rise above the clouds with Him. You can see him...if you'll look beyond the clouds.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 19 Oct 2009, 10:05 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 12 No. 42 October 19, 2009
Living Abundantly
I recently made a trip to visit my son and daughter-in-law in New York City. A trip to the Big Apple typically involves at least one Broadway show, some sort of sporting event, a stroll through Central Park (or one of the other beautiful parks in the city), maybe a museum, possibly a visit to an art gallery, photographs at the well-known landmarks, maybe a celebrity citing, shopping, indulgence of the taste buds, and several stop at the local coffee shops. Prior to making leaving home it's not unusual to plan the details of trips to the city days or even weeks in advance to insure that you make the best use of your time.
This visit was no different. One day was spent with family casually enjoying meals together and walking through areas of the city we had not previously visit. The second day included a more extensive tour of the area and a professional basketball game. The third day was dedicated to visiting some of the most scenic parts of the city, taking in a play, dinner, and a movie. Of course, each outing has been documented with photographs and involved at least some time spent simply watching people.
It was during those walks through the city that I was reminded of these words of Jesus, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10, NIV). As I sat in the middle of one of the most famous spots of the city, Times Square, enjoying the experience of a beautiful autumn day, I thanked God for the life He has given me, and I asked myself makes this trip so special?
That is when I was reminded of at least three thoughts that had been floating around in my head that helped create fertile soil for this "abundant life" experience: "There's so little time." "There's so much to see and do." And, "I may never have this same opportunity."
My pondering progressed as I considered how the quality of life in general might be improved if the same three attitudes that had dominated my thinking during this mini-vacation were applied to each new day. I have concluded that it would drastically change the way I live. It might do the same for you.
Suppose we start each new day telling ourselves, "There's so little time." We cannot waste time on things that do not matter. We must get busy with the things that do matter. We don't have time to waste with our "foolish and stupid arguments" (2 Timothy 2:23). We don't have time to waste making sure we get our way. We don't have time to waste worrying about all the things we cannot do anything about. We must stop waiting for that apology that may never come. There's so little time. It's time to enjoy what God has given us, enjoy His blessings, enjoy His creation, and enjoy each other.
"There's so much to see and do." God has created a wonderful world and He wants us to experience it, enjoy it, and marvel at it. He wants us to keep our eyes open to what He is doing in us, around us, for us, about us, with us, and with those we know and love. He wants us to be busy with telling His story and sharing His glory. There is too much to see and do to sit around wishing we had something enjoyable to do. It's time to get busy.
"We may never have this same opportunity." There are some things that we do only one time in our lifetime. Some conversations will take place only once. Encounters with some people will only happen one time. Many opportunities will pass our way only once. We will have only one opportunity to make a life-giving connection with some people. We will have only one opportunity to tell some people what God has done for us. We may have only one opportunity to ask certain people if they know God. The opportunities to be with our children and express our love for them, share our dreams for them, and help them develop their own vision for life, will come quickly and be gone. We may have only one opportunity to teach them to be kind, to be loving, to share, and to care for other people. It is true that we may never have this same opportunity again. We need to take advantage of it while we an.
Today starts a new day, a new week, a new part of your life, and it gives us a new opportunity to live life to the fullest...to live abundantly. Will you? There's so little time. There is so much to see and do. We may never have this opportunity again. Think it. Share it. Live it. Enjoy it.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 12 Oct 2009, 1:21 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 12 No. 41 October 12, 2009


All Who Are Weary


In Matthew's gospel chapter 11 we read these words of comfort and invitation:


25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:25-30, NIV)


Father, there are some weary people on this planet. Good people. Sincere people. People of faith. People who long to please You. People who love You with all their heart and soul and mind and strength. People who are committed to being good and doing good. Your people. There are some weary people in this world.


Father, there are some burdened people on this planet. Hard working people. People with big and generous hearts. People who care about people. People who have great compassion. People who give of themselves, share what they have, and show mercy to other people. There are some burdened people in this world.


So, I come to You on behalf of all who are weary and burdened people.

I come to you on behalf of the daughter who has the responsibility of caring for her aged mother who cannot remember her name, the name of the daughter who visits her every day, nor can she remember where she is.

I come to You on behalf of the husband who cares for his wife who suffers from a disease that will eventually take her life.

I come to You on behalf of the young mother who struggles to hold on to the hope that her husband will ever give her and their children the attention they crave.

I come to You on behalf of the single dad who had to learn to be a father and a mother to his teenage daughter.

I come to You on behalf of the Christian leader who carries the burden of spiritual development of his family, the Christian family he serves, and his own spiritual health.

Father, I come to You on behalf of all the weary and heavy burdened people. I lift them up to you. And, I pray that each one will hear Your invitation to come, and Your promise to give them rest. And, I pray that they will accept Your invitation to come to You.

I pray for all the weary and heavy burdened through the name of the One who hears, the One who invites, and the One who gives rest. Amen.
Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Sun 11 Oct 2009, 6:11 pm

A Norvell Note



Vol. 12 No. 35

Wait In Expectation

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for
help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you
hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in
expectation. (Psalm 5:1-3, NIV)

The words from the Psalmist reveal one thing we do very well, and one thing
we do not do so well.

This is what we do very well: ?In the morning I lay my requests before you.?

We have no problem laying our requests before the Lord in the morning, at
noontime, late in the afternoon, and before we go to sleep at night. And, by
the next morning we can start a new list. Our list of requests can be long
and detailed. ?Lord, this is what I want to happen in this situation; and
this is how I want this problem to be solved. Lord, I want You to do this,
and Lord, I hope you will hurry up and do this other thing.? We can even
presume we know what the Lord thinks is best. ?Lord, I know You would not
want this to happen to me; or Lord, I know You would not want me to be
unhappy.?

By the middle of the day our requests may change. Our desires may be totally
different than they were early in the morning. When the agenda changes we
are very good at asking the Lord to change the plans we had previously
requested. Then, if need be we will change the request made at noon to
better suit our desires before we go to bed.

We are very good at laying our requests before the Lord in the morning.

This is what we don?t do so well: ?Wait in expectation.?

The expectation part is not a problem. The problem is with the waiting. Once
we?ve presented our requests before the Lord, we are ready for it to happen.
We act toward the Lord much like when we punch a button on our computer and
get frustrated if the computer does not give us the instant response we
expect. We want it now. We expect it now. We are disappointed when it does
not happen now. We cannot understand why our requests are not granted now.

We love to present our requests to the Lord, but waiting for Him to respond
is not easy.

Perhaps there is a better way to live. In the morning let us lay our
requests before the Lord and wait expectantly for the Lord, who gives ear to
our words and listens to our cries for help, to respond as He determines is
best. Until He responds we will wait expectantly. When He responds we will
trust Him, knowing that He always responds in our best interest, and that He
will continue to respond in a way that draws me closer to Him.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 05 Oct 2009, 12:01 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 12 No. 40 October 5, 2009
The Hope for the Future
Without meaning to the theme of the day became unity.


My sermon for the day was from Philippians 2:1-11, where Paul says, "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: ..."


Later that day we attended a special assembly of believers from three elements of our spiritual movement. One passage that was shared was from John 17:20-23, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."


The day ended with the feeling that we've not done so well with this concept of unity. Unfortunately it seems that Christian history is cluttered with stories of division, arguing, and the erection of barriers. It appears that we have too often been associated with efforts to prove we are not like other groups, to the neglect of efforts that would allow us to embrace one another and reach out to a lost and dying humanity.


If we dwell on our history our future looks dreadfully dark. However, we look at the words of the master and the words of the apostle, our future can be filled with optimism and hope.


Paul's solution: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." An unselfish attitude is the remedy division and strife. Being concerned for the interests of others will prevent us from building walls of division. A selfless attitude like that of Jesus Christ neutralizes the threat of demanding our own way.


Jesus' prayer, "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." With Christ in us the unselfish attitude comes naturally. With Christ in us He will be glorified. With Christ in us the world can see complete unity.


This is the plea: let us put aside our selfish ambitions our pride; let us invited Jesus Christ to dwell in our hearts; let us adopt the same attitude as that of Jesus Christ; and let us reveal God's love to the world for which Jesus died.


There is hope for the future!

Tom


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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 28 Sep 2009, 12:24 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 12 No. 39 September 28, 2009
When the Storm Hits



What do you do when the storm hits?

You’re feeling fine, but then your doctor calls you with the results of your blood work. She says, “I’d like for you to come into my office. We’ve found some things we should talk about?”

You think everything is going well with your children. Everything you hear is that they behave themselves when they are away from you and you’ve always gotten good reports from their teachers and other adults. But, one day you get a call from the school Principal informing you that your son is in his office and is in pretty serious trouble.

You knew things were not perfect with your marriage, but compared to others you felt pretty good. You don’t argue much. You’ve just had a good family vacation. Then, one morning as your husband is getting ready for work you notice a suitcase by the door. You ask about it. He says, “I’m leaving. I just don’t want to do this any more.”

You have heard about other families having problems, but your parents have always “gotten along” and you assumed they had a good marriage. But, when you come home from school you find your mother sitting at the kitchen table crying, holding a letter to you from your Dad. Cautiously you open it and begin reading: “I know this is probably hard for you to understand, but I don’t love your mother any more, and I’m tired of playing the game. I want you to know that what is happening with your mother and I is not your fault, and I will always be here for you. I love you very much, but I need a change.”

Work has been a little slow lately but nothing major. Compared to other companies you had faired well. You had managed the economic downturn very well. At least that’s what you thought. Then you see your boss walking toward your office. He walks in and closes the door. He begins by saying, “Joe, I hate to have to do this, but…” You hear nothing after that.

What do you do when the storm hits?

You feel every emotion imaginable and at the same time you feel nothing. You are stunned. You are shocked. You are hurt. You are angry. You are afraid. You are confused. You feel desperate. What do you do when the storm hits?

One night when Jesus and His disciples were on a boat a storm hit them without warning. This is how Matthew describes the scene:

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.


The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" (Matthew 8:23-29, NIV)

The disciples were afraid because of the storm and confused because it seemed that Jesus was unconcerned about them. Although Jesus rebukes them a bit for their lack of faith, at least they knew what to do when the storm hit. They went to Jesus. Obviously they did not know what He would do, or what He could do, but knew they needed to wake Him.

Perhaps that is the message for us when the storm hits…go to Jesus. Go to the One who can calm the storm. Go to the One who is not afraid of the storm. When the storm hits, go to Jesus.
Tom



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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 14 Sep 2009, 8:20 am

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



A Norvell Note



Vol. 12 No. 37 September 14, 2009



Every Time I Remember You



Paul wrote, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3, NIV)

Do you have someone like that in your life? These are people you love and who love you. No matter what goes on in your world you know they are there. If you are flying high, they’re there. If you are hanging out in the valley they are there. They love you and you love them, and every time you remember them you are thankful and a smile comes over you face. The Message says, “Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God.”

Maybe it’s a passing thought. Maybe it’s lingering daydream where you drift off into a land somewhere far away. Maybe it’s when you hear a certain song, see a clip from a favorite movie, or read a familiar Scriptures. Every time they cross your mind you give thanks to God for them.

Here’s a simple exercise in thankfulness that can lift your spirits, perhaps change your disposition, and it may even cause you to “break out in exclamations of thanks to God.” It’s simple. Take a break from whatever you are doing and make a list of these people who bring joy to your heart. As you list them, spend a moment expressing to God your thankfulness for that person and why you are glad they are in your life. If you dare to take it step further and share your thoughts with the person. Write them a note. Call them. Text them. Email them. Post something on their Facebook wall. Tweet them. Or, if you can look them in the eye and say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

Here are some suggestions:

Your immediate family. Your spouse. Your children. Your parents. Thank God blessing you and trusted you with these special gifts.

Your extended family. Your brothers and sisters, along with their families. What wonderful memories you must share with these dear people. Most will be pleasant; but some may be very difficult. All are gifts from God reminding you of who you are, where you came from, and where God wants to take you.

Most of the rest of your family. These are the aunts, uncles, and cousins who are scattered all over the world and make you thankful for your shared heritage.

Friends. These are the old friends that you’ve kept in touch with over the years. These are the old friends whom you hardly ever see, and have limited contact with through occasional phone calls, rare visits, and connections through the Internet community. You can be thankful for the comfort of knowing they are always there. These are the old friendships that are so real and so strong that when you do have occasions to speak it’s as if you’ve seen each other every day of your lives. These are the new friendships that are growing deeper and stronger each day.

Mentors. Express your gratitude those people God has placed in your life to teach you, encourage you, and help you remember that it’s not all about you.

Try it. Enjoy it.

I thank my God every time I remember you.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Wed 09 Sep 2009, 9:00 am

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


Vol. 12 No. 34 August 24, 2009
That Helpless Feeling

What do you do when you cannot help someone you love when they are hurting?

You listen as long as you need to listen. You bite your tongue to keep from saying anything, even things that might be appropriate to say...at another time. You answer questions when you have an answer; you refrain from answering questions with simplistic and overused phrases. So, you listen, but you feel very helpless.

You pray. You listen to their heart and offer to pray, then you pray. You lift them up to the Lord and ask Him to provide the direction and the comfort. You remind them that you will continue to pray. And you do. You keep your promise. You pray consistently for weeks. Nothing changes. The person you love is still hurting. You still feel helpless.

You talk to them. You've waited for just the right time and you are convinced that the time is right, so you call. You set up a time to get together. You get together and you talk. You share your thoughts as just that, your thoughts. You admit your limitations, and affirm your love. They thank you for your concern and for your words. You still feel helpless.

You enlist others to pray. You ask your prayer group to pray, you ask your Sunday School class to pray, you post a comment on your online prayer partners page, and you ask your friend at work to pray. You are confident they are praying. Nothing changes. You feel helpless.

You spend time with them. That's what Job's friends did, so you give it try. You go. You sit with them. You are quiet. You just sit there. They weep. You weep. They agonize. You agonize with them. You feel helpless.

Jesus had a definite advantage. When He learned that His friend Lazarus had died and his friends Mary and Martha were hurting He went to be with them, He listened to their crying, He wept with them. Then, He brought Lazarus back to life.

When brought their dying children to Him, He healed them. When He saw a crippled man, He healed them. When He saw a blind man, he gave Him sight. When He was approached by the demon possessed, He commanded them to leave. When He saw His friends on the boat in a storm, He spoke and the storm calmed.

Jesus could do that. But, what can you do when you know that someone you love is hurting? You listen. You pray. You talk. You enlist others to pray. You spend time with them. You feel helpless. Then, you realize you have done and are doing everything within your power. Then, you leave them with the Lord. You ask Him to do what only He can do. You trust Him. You believe that even though you are helpless, He is not. He can do "Immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine." You let Him.

See, you are not helpless. With God your words have power. With God your listening makes a difference. With God your presence means something. With God you are not helpless.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 08 Sep 2009, 5:18 pm

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



A Norvell Note

Vol. 12 No. 36 September 7, 2009

Unrestrained Joy



As a friend was passing through town we decided to meet in the airport for coffee and conversation. We were talking about the trip, future plans, and the journey through life, when behind us we heard two small children yelling at the top of their voices, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” Naturally we turned to see that the “Daddy” they were thrilled to see was their solder father who was obviously returning from a tour in the desert.

They ran to him and literally jumped into his arms. They hugged him and kissed him. He hugged them and kissed them. They could not tell him everything they wanted to tell him quick enough. He kneeled down to their level and in between hugs and kisses the little girl and her younger brother took turns crawling on his back on his shoulders.

The soldier’s young wife and mother of the two children stood by patiently allowing the children to enjoy this reunion with their daddy. When her turn came… well, let me say, I felt like we were invading their privacy. They embraced and they kissed and they kissed and they embraced. At one point I thought about applauding as a way of thanking the family for their sacrifice and to celebrate his safe return, but it seemed out of place. This was a private moment shared by everyone in that part of the airport. We were all frozen in time and immersed in the joy of the moment. We simply allowed this soldier, his wife, and their two children the freedom to express their joy without restraint.

Oh, it should be noted that as mom and dad reconnected, the little boy was crawling up his dad’s back and the little girl stood next to them jumping up and down in anticipation of her next moment with her dad.

After a few moments they walked on and we along with all the other travelers went back to our worlds leaving this traveler feeling blessed by the opportunity to see the unrestrained joy of a little boy, a little girl, a loving wife, and a travel weary soldier. Blessed, but also convicted by the absence of that kind of joy in my own life.

When was the last time I was so excited to see my “Daddy” that I could not contain myself? When was the last time I let it all out in joyful celebration as I came into His presence? When was the last time His Bride, the church, received the Groom with absolute devotion and love? When was the last time the world stopped to take notice of the people of God as we expressed our deepest feelings of love for our Father without concern for who might be watching, listening, or thinking we were going a bit overboard?

What keeps us from running to our Daddy yelling, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” What prevents us from letting it all out when we are gathered with our brothers and sisters and know we are in His presence? What stops us from jumping up and down with excitement over the next opportunity talk to our Daddy?

When the children tried to come to Jesus the disciples stopped them, but Jesus stopped them and said, “Let the children come.” He wanted to hear their stories. He wanted to see their smiles. He wanted to feel their arms around His neck. He wanted them to crawl all over Him. He wanted to show them how much He loved them. He still does.

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, NIV)

“One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: ‘Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these.’ After laying hands on them, he left.” (Matthew 19:13-15, The Message)

Let their be unrestrained joy!

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Tue 28 Jul 2009, 12:24 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 12 No. 30 July 27, 2009

I Trust In You

In the 55th Psalm David is completely honest with the Lord. He says: "My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught" (2); "My heart is in anguish within me" (4); "Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me" (5). He calls on the Lord for protection, he asks the Lord to destroy his enemies. In verses 12-14 he acknowledges his feelings of betrayal and disappointment: "If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God." Life changed.

Certainly many who read these words can relate to David's honesty, frustration, disappointment, and heartache. You've been hurt. You've been betrayed. You've been distressed, depressed, and oppressed. You've been attacked, harassed, and threatened. You understand his disappointment. You understand his anguish. You can empathize with his struggle.

Can you also relate to his faith?

If you finish the Psalm, you'll notice that although he is in turmoil he is composed enough to put his life in the hands of the Lord. "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you."

After admitting his fear, acknowledging his disappointment, and expressing his concerns, he models the message for us that the best thing we can do in the midst of struggle is turn it all over to the One who can handle it. "He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." "He will bring down the wicked." That's God's job. That's what God does. He will do it in His time and in His way. He does not need our help. He does need our advice. He does not need our schedule. David trusts God to do what He sees fit. He shares his honest preference for what He wants to happen, what he thinks should happen, and what he hopes will happen, but in the end he relinquishes it all to the One who can make things happen.

Then, he concludes with these words: "But as for me, I trust in you." There's the great wisdom of the Psalmist. It's as if he were saying, "If it were up to me, I'd do it this way. If I were in control, I'd wipe 'em out! If I had the power I would let them have it! But, it's not up to me, I'm not in control, and I don't have the power. You do. So, I trust in you."

This is the hard part for us. Can we do that? Will we say that? Will we relinquish the control? Will we let God be God and do what God will do? Or, will we demand our way, force our will, and seek our on justice?

It all comes down to that one word: trust. We can talk a lot, preach a lot, claim a lot about who we are, what we do, and how we live, but it all comes down to trust. When we are hurt, when we are betrayed, when we are confused, when we are criticized, and when we are judged, what will we do? Will I truest God?

David said, "But as for me, I trust in you."

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 25 May 2009, 2:45 pm

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



A Norvell Note



Vol. 12 No. 21 May 25, 2009

Worth The Wait

A group of friends from church gathered on Saturday morning to begin the remodeling a room. The plan was to get as much painted as possible. Within a few hours the first coat of paint was on the wall and the room was already experiencing a complete transformation. The rain started falling and the humidity went up. For a couple of hours about all that we could do was to literally "watch the paint dry." So, we waited. Finally, it was dry and the second coat of paint was applied. By Sunday morning with the new lights were mounted and the room looked beautiful. The wait was worth it.

We left sunshine and blue skies for a family vacation on the beach. By the time we reached the beach the sky had darkened and the rain began to fall. The first full day at the beach was overcast and rainy, except for about three hours when the sun almost peaked through. The next day there was talk of a tropical depression as the rain continued to fall and the winds grew stronger. A semi-tropical depression of another type was taking place on the inside of our condo as some entertained thoughts of going home early. Toward the end of the day the clouds rolled away and the sun was shining. The next morning we were awakened by the sound of thunder and heavy rain. We wondered if the trip would be a total wash. After church and lunch the skies cleared, the sun was shining, the winds had calmed, and we enjoyed an absolutely beautiful afternoon on the beach. The wait was worth it.

"In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." (Job 1:1) "The Lord said to Satan, 'Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.' Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord."

With that, Job's life began to crumble. His friends and family accused him of hidden sin justified the suffering. Job insisted he was innocent and waited for the Lord to vindicate him. The wait was worth it.

"The Lord said to Job:
'Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!'

"Then Job answered the Lord:

'I am unworthy-how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.

I spoke once, but I have no answer-twice, but I will say no more.'" (Job 40:1-5)

"My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.'" (Job 42:5-6)

The wait was worth it.
You are waiting. But your wait involves more than drying paint or clear skies. You are waiting for a call from the doctor. You are waiting for your spouse to come home from the war. You are waiting for your daughter to come home from the far country. You are waiting for God to answer your prayer for clear direction. You are waiting for the baby to come. You are waiting for the baby to come home. You are waiting the pregnancy test to show you are pregnant. You are waiting for your husband to come out of his depression. You are waiting for "Mr. Right" to come along.

You are tired of waiting. You are ready for a change. You are ready for something to happen.

Wait. Keep waiting. The wait is worth it. .

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14)

The wait will be worth it.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 11 May 2009, 10:37 am

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


A Norvell Note

Vol. 12 No. 19 May 11, 2009

Here To Serve

What if we, God's people, shifted the way we treat people? What if we, God's people, stopped thinking about what people can do for us, God's people, and started thinking about what we, God's people, can do for them?

Oh, I know this is not anything new. Jesus has been telling us from the beginning that He saw people differently and that if we are going to be His people, then we should look at people differently. In fact, it was Jesus who said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:42-45, NIV)

That's what He said and that's what we know, but what if we started doing it? What if we started living like Him...here to serve, not to be served?

For instance, maybe we, God's people, could adopt the same policy as a popular Chick-fil-A whose employees are trained to say, "It's my pleasure." They take your order and say, "It's my pleasure." You thank them for handing you your sandwich at the drive-thru window and they say, "It's my pleasure." These people really act like it brings them pleasure to serve you. What if we, God's people, greeted people who come to our assemblies like it is our pleasure to have them join us?

Or, maybe we, God's people, should learn to treat strangers who came into our midst like a group of golfers were treated when we arrived at the FarmLinks Golf Club where every person we talked with asked, "Is everything okay?" "Is there anything we can do for you?" "We are really glad you are here?" "Let us know if there is anything we can do to make your stay here more enjoyable. We hope you'll come back to see us." What if we, God's people, made it obvious that we are glad when people visit our assemblies and made a point to tell them that we their time with us to be as enjoyable as possible, that we are really glad they are with us, and that we genuinely hope they come back?

Maybe we can learn something from the waiters and waitresses at one of our favorite restaurants, Maggiano's Little Italy, who work very hard to make sure that our dining experience is as good as it can possibly be. The workers are constantly scanning the patrons for an opportunity to bring more bread, refill a glass, clear away empty dishes, and make sure our meal is perfectly suitable to our tastes. They look for ways to serve. They don't wait to be asked and seldom make you wait for whatever you may need. What if we, God's people, looked for ways serve people? What if we stopped waiting for people to ask and making people ask, before we served them? What if we just served them? Whatever they want? Whatever they may need to make their experience as enjoyable as possible?

What if we, God's people, started trying to make one's encounter with Jesus and with His people an absolutely enjoyable experience? What if it became our goal to make "coming to church" such a positive experience that people would be talking about it days and weeks after? What if we went out of our way to treat people seeking to find Jesus like we really valued them, valued their time, and really wanted to help them find Him?

Maybe it is time we, God's people, imitated the One who came to serve. We too are here to serve.
Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 27 Apr 2009, 10:50 am

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


A Norvell Note



Vol. 12 No. 17 April 27, 2009

Where's Your Mind?



After a terribly busy weekend it's Monday morning. First, you overslept. Now, the family is in chaos. The kids are not even dressed yet and they have to be at the bus stop in fifteen minutes. Your wife left early for her work and you assured her you could get the kids off on time. You can't find the envelope with the lunch money, and you wonder what snack you can hand them as they rush out the door. They are finally on their way and you head to work. You hit every red light possible. Halfway to the office you realize that you forgot your brief case with the notes you need for the meeting you are almost late for. You pound the steering wheel and say, "Where is my mind?"

You plan to spend an hour or two taking care of all the errands you promised your family you would do today. You are make great time and feel really good about being home in plenty of time to have a quiet moment before the kids get home. When they walk in the door you feel fulfilled and confident you are surely one of the world's greatest moms. Then, your youngest asks, "Mom, did you get the poster board I asked for?" Oops! Then, your oldest says, "Mom, did you pick up my dress from the cleaners? I have to have it tomorrow?" Oops! Again. Then, your husband calls and asks, "You do remember that we have a dinner engagement tonight?" Oops! Another time. "Where is my mind? How could I have forgotten all those things?"

It's Sunday morning and you pull into the church parking lot. You reach in the backseat to retrieve your Bible. A piece of paper falls out. It's last Sunday's bulletin. You pick it up and see the note you had written last Sunday: "Read chapter 9 and jot down your thoughts. Be ready to discuss them next Sunday." That's when you realize you haven't even opened you Bible since last Sunday. Worse, it's been on the backseat of your care all week long. "What am I doing? Where's my mind? I didn't give this a second thought!"

Sound familiar? Is your mind cluttered and littered with "stuff"? Is all that stuff crowding out some of the important matters of your life?

It's easy to do. In fact, it is quite common among good-intentioned, well-meaning, overcommitted, overwhelmed, and overloaded followers of Jesus.

If any of this sounds even remotely familiar to you, let me suggest you deliberately take a few minutes to slow down, find a quiet place, open your Bible, and read these words.

Paul told the Christians in Philippi, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8,9, NIV)

To his son in the faith Paul said, "Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them." (1 Timothy 4:13, The New Living Translation)

The writer of Hebrews said, "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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him 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 sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV)

Think. Focus. Fix. Three simple actions that can help you reclaim your mind for God. Think about God's things. Focus on God's Word. Fix your eyes on God's Son.

Try it today. Try it for a few days. You may still have a rushed week. Your schedule may be just as busy. But, the next time you find yourself asking, "Where is my mind?" You'll have a new answer. My mind is on God.

Think. Focus. Fix. Simple words. Good results.
Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 20 Apr 2009, 11:18 am

A Norvell Note

Vol. 12 No. 16 April 20, 2009
Lord, I've Got Nothing!

Lord, I've got nothing!
My mind is jumbled with thoughts that range from excitement, hope, and anticipation, to confusion, discouragement, and frustration. I am amazed at the way things have happened in the past, and I wonder what sort of things will happen in the future. I dwell on the mistakes I have made, and I marvel the mistakes You have helped me avoid.

Lord, I've got nothing!

I read Your word and I understand that You direct my path and that Your Word lights the path that I walk. Yet, there are times when I am afraid to take another step. I read of how You have delivered Your servants from all types of disaster and calamity, and I realize that I have often been a recipient of that deliverance. I read of how You hear me when I have no words and answer me before I speak.

Lord, I've got nothing!

I look ahead of me to the tasks on my calendar for the week and wonder how I will ever get it all done. I don't have the energy. I don't have the desire. I don't have the motivation. Then, I look back and see all the things that You enabled me to do last week when I had just as little energy, desire and motivation.

Lord, I've got nothing!

People ask me questions for which I have no answers. People come to me for advice as I go to others for advice. People look to me for wisdom and knowledge as I come to you for wisdom and knowledge.

Lord, I've got nothing!

I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. I am a struggler. I am a sinner. I am a child. I am a human. I have questions. I have fears. I have temptations. I have pride. I am self-conscious. I am selfish. At times I am a mess.

I cry out to You, Lord, and I confess that I have nothing! As my cries grow silent I hear You say:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28-39, NIV)

"You can do all things through me for I will give you strength." (Philippians 4:13)

Lord, I have nothing! But, when I stop, listen, and hear Your voice I realize I have You, and You know me, and You have me. That's all I need.

Tom

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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

Post  Admin on Mon 09 Mar 2009, 6:25 pm

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


A Norvell Note

Vol. 12 No. 10 March 9, 2009

The Lost Hour

We lost an hour. Before going to bed, as instructed, we pushed a few buttons or turned a knob and an hour was gone. Some forgot to make the change and arrived at church an hour late not even realizing they were an hour late. That hour is gone. Supposedly we will get the hour back in the fall when we change the clocks back to real time. But, is that really possible?

When I woke up my body told me, "You lost an hour of sleep." When I looked outside and it was still dark I felt like I lost an hour. When we met for the Sunday night gathering it felt like we were meeting in the middle of the afternoon. It seems strange to just skip an hour. It seems like a waste.

After pondering the hour I lost (due in part to my preference for the real time which I inherited from my Granddaddy in the 60s when it started), I acknowledge that there are many other hours that I have wasted that just as frivolous. In fact, if you count the hour we lost with the time change and the time I spent thinking about not being a fan of the change, I probably lost two hours. We find many ways to waste time, don't we?

There's the hour spent daydreaming about what we would do if we had...

There's the time spent through the years sitting in useless meetings, discussing solutions to problems that most likely will never occur.

There's the time spent in conversation about the weather - how cold it is, how hot it is, how we need rain, and how we can't wait until it quits raining.

There's the time spent worrying about what we did wrong yesterday, and worrying about what we may do wrong tomorrow.

There's the time spent wondering about where we would be today if we had made a different decision ten years ago.

There's the time spent trying to change other people and being frustrated because we could not change them.

There's the time pretending to be working at the computer when actually all you're doing is browsing the Internet.

There's the time spent reading emails, getting upset, and forwarding emails about things that never really happened but sounded really true when you first read them.

Some (very uninformed people) would say I've wasted time watching golf on television, and wasted of time (and money) playing golf.

The fact is we are very creative in finding ways to waste time, aren't we? Chances are we'll never recover the hour we lost this weekend, but we can commit to use the hours we do have more wisely.

Paul gives good advice, "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV)

The lost hour is lost. The next hour is not. Live it wisely. Live it with joy. Live it with hope. Share it with someone you love. Live it for God.

Tom
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Re: A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

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