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A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

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Post  Admin on Mon 09 Sep 2013, 10:01 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 36 September 9, 2013

I Want More

John chapter 13 ends and chapter 14 begins with a pretty emotional conversation between Jesus and His disciples. He has initiated a discussion revolving around His departure and reminding them that although He will be gone from them physically, He will still be with them and will be preparing for them to join Him at a later time. 
Needless to say His disciples are having a difficult time comprehending what He means about leaving, preparing a place, and knowing who He is and where He is going. 
Peter says, “I’m going with you. I’ll die for you.” 
He knows they are attached to Him and that their understanding is limited, so He tells them: 
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
They still don’t understand. Thomas speaks up. 
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus assures them that they do know the way even if they don’t realize the know the way. 
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip chimes into the conversation in a way that reminds me of me when in verse 8 he said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
This is where I see myself. “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough.” But it is not. I want more. I want more explanation. I want more to be explained. I want more clarification. I want more time. I want more conversation. I want more evidence that everything is going to be okay. I want proof that He is working. I want clearer directions on what I am supposed to do and be and say. I may say, “That will be enough” but it seldom is enough. 
Fortunately for me the conversation did not end there. In verse 16 and 16 Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.” Later He says this Spirit of truth will “be in me”(20-21) and will “teach me all things” (26) and give me “peace” (27).  
I find comfort in knowing, even when I feel like I do not know, He is helping me. I find comfort in knowing that He is with me and in me, even when I cannot feel or see or sense Him. I find comfort in knowing that His peace is available to me, even when I do not feel His peace. 
So, here is my prayer. 
Father, when You show me who You are and who the Father is and when You promise me that Your Spirit will be with me, and in me, and teaching me, and helping me, and offering me peace, I want more. Even when I see You, I want more. Even when I feel You, I want more. Lord, I always want more. I feel like I should not want more, but I want more. Thank You for loving me even when I want more.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Tue 03 Sep 2013, 1:27 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 35 September 2, 2013

When You Understand

You never know what is lies behind the actions, words, or attitude of another human being unless somehow you are able to connect with them in a real and meaningful way. When we do not know we assume, we judge, and condemn. This story from Brennen Manning's Abba's Child illustrates it powerfully. 
"Understanding triggers the compassion that makes forgiveness possible. Author Stephen Covey recalled an incident while riding the New York City subway one Sunday morning. The few passengers aboard were reading the newspaper or dozing. It was a quiet, almost somnolent ride through the bowels of the Big Apple. Covey was engrossed in reading when a man accompanied by several small children boarded at the next stop. In less than a minute, bedlam erupted. The kids ran up and down the aisle shouting, screaming, and wrestling with one another on the floor. Their father made no attempt to intervene.”
"The elderly passengers shifted nervously. Stress became distress. Covey waited patiently. Surely the father would do something to restore order: a gentle word of correction, a stern command, some expression of paternal authority—anything. None was forthcoming. Frustration mounted. After an unduly generous pause, Covey turned to the father and said kindly, “Sir, perhaps you could restore order here by telling your children to come back and sit down.” “I know I should do something,” the man replied. “We just came from the hospital. Their mother died an hour ago. I just don’t know what to do.” (Excerpt From: Manning, Brennan. Abba's Child. NavPress, 2002. iBooks.)
Manning concludes the section with this statement: “The heartfelt compassion that hastens forgiveness matures when we discover where our enemy cries.”
Anything like that ever happen to you? A child is misbehaving, a teenager wearing baggy jeans that look like the might drop to the floor any second, the couple at the table next to you are having an intense conversation that makes you and most of the other people in the restaurant uncomfortable, the clerk snaps at you when you ask a simple question, your spouse seems distant and irritable, or your child storms the table after spewing words that cut you to the core of your soul and breaks your heart. 
Be very thoughtful with your next move. The life of the relationship depends on how you choose to respond.
You can assume the worst. "He's such a jerk!" "She is so hateful!" 
You can respond in kind. "You treat me like that and you'll be sorry." "Forget you!" 
You can react with even worse words. "You ugly #%^*!" "You good-for-nothing lazy bum!" 
There is another option. 
When you are confronted with a person or a situation where your immediate and natural reaction or response is to judge, be critical or assume the absolute worst about the person, stop. Stop right there and consider that there is more to the story than you can possibly see. In time, you may be able to build a relationship with the person and learn the pain behind the defensive and non-trusting attitude. The guy did not start out like he is now. The woman did not plan for her life to be as painful as it is. The teenager did not wake up one morning say, “I am going be as mean, and selfish, and hard to get along with as I can possibly be for the rest of my life.” Something happened. 
As a follower of Jesus we do a great service when we take time to ask a few questions, not make a few assumptions, and move in as close as we can get to the person and listen to their story. It may take time (it usually does) to get close enough and show them that you can be trusted with their pain. It may never happen in some cases where the pain is so deep and so great. But, you will be transformed when you take the time, make the effort, and allow God to open your eyes to really see inside the person. 
Something to keep in mind: Sometimes even when you know the back story, the guy is a jerk, she really is that hatful, and that couple actually is trying to manipulate you. That may be true. You cannot change who they are or why the circumstances that made them the way they are. But, you can change how you think, feel, and respond to them. Some will not allow you inside their protective cover, but don’t stop hoping they will. If you push too hard they will run. 
I am reminded of the people Jesus met who had been rejected by society. The woman at the well (John 4), the woman caught in adultery (John 8), the blind man (John 9), and others. Instead of joining the crowd and say, “You are worthless!” Jesus responded with gentle loving words. Jesus started with forgiving eyes and tender touches. Jesus started by trying to understand the reason behind their cries. 
You can do that too. You have His Spirit living in you. You have the opportunities to disarm an angry hurting and broken man or woman or child or teenager who knows only pain, disappointment, and anger. You may be the one person God has placed in that person’s path to show them a different way. They may be the pone person God has placed in your path to show you a different way. 
Lead with love and compassion. Jesus did with you. Look what that has done in your life. 

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 26 Aug 2013, 11:16 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 34 August 25, 2013
Waiting From the Other Side

From our perspective waiting is misery. From traffic jams to school drop-off and pick-up lanes, from doctor’s offices to hospital waiting rooms, from wedding days to birth dates, and from coffee shops to our favorite restaurants, we have a hard time waiting. We get frustrated. We feel forgotten. We wonder if we are being ignored. We assume nobody cares...including God. Waiting is misery. Yet, as I wrote last week, while we are waiting we sometimes discover it can be very meaningful and serve an important purpose. Sometimes. Most of the time it is misery. That is from our perspective. 
What about from the other side...God’s side? How does He feel when we ignore Him? Is He hurt, insulted, or feel betrayed when we fail to communicate with Him? Does God assume the worst about us when He does not hear from us as often as and in ways that He expects or prefers? What does He think when hours turn into days that turn into weeks that turn into months that turn into years without hearing from us? What does God do when we seem far away and distant and uninterested? 
Isaiah seems to indicate that when God is waiting on us He is making plans to bless us. 
A thousand will flee
    at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
    you will all flee away,
till you are left
    like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
    like a banner on a hill.”
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. (Isaiah 30:17-19)
Don’t miss this: “He longs to be gracious to you; he will rise up to show you compassion.” And, “As soon as he hears, he will answer you.” 
    Luke seems to indicate that when God is waiting on us He is longing to see us and celebrate with us. 
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24)
When the son “came to his senses” the father responded with open, gracious and loving arms. He was not angry. He did not lecture. He did not remind him of his mistakes. He did not demand repayment for all that he had wasted. 
That is not how we normally think about waiting, is it? Is it possible that as we go through a period of waiting, God is longing for us as much, possibly more than we are longing for Him? Is it possible that instead of being angry and impatient and offended and justified for feeling those things, that I could be relieved of those feelings if I could imagine God putting up decorations for our welcome home party? Is it possible that during those days and nights when I am wondering if God has forgotten me, or ignoring me, or neglecting me, I try to see Him as thinking that I have forgotten Him, or ignoring Him, or neglecting my relationship with Him and waiting for me to remember Him? 
I suspect it is not only possible, but likely. 
Father, let’s get together and have a party. 

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 19 Aug 2013, 2:12 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 33 August 19, 2013
The Waiting

If you have followed my “Notes” for any length of time you know that I have written about “waiting” on numerous occasions. The longer I live the more I realize that we spend a significant amount of our time waiting. Not just waiting in line at the coffee shop, or the grocery store, or the movie theater. Life itself involves waiting. 
This morning I preached a sermon, “Saturday: Waiting.” This sermon is based on (and including much of) John Ortberg’s Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. As I talked about the “In-Between” times of our lives...those times after something significant and before something significant...the audience was eerily quiet. Typically there are numerous “Amens!” Not today. (I refuse believe it was an off day for my preaching.) I believe the silence was because most of understand these “in-between”. 
We know what it feels like the day after a death. We know how it feels to wake up on the day after we have lost our job. We know the agony of seeing a dream disappear, and waking up the next day wondering if God is still near us, if He is aware of our pain, and if He cares about what we are experiencing. 
As the sermon ended and we moved into our class time I continued to sense that the message had connected deeply and significantly with some people. So, we sat aside our scheduled class discussion on Galatians chapter two, and I asked, “Does anyone have ‘Saturday story’ that you would share with us?” The stories came. One after another. Each uniquely different and personal; each amazingly similar. “I had no idea what was ahead. So, I prayed” “I fell on my knees and prayed.” “I wondered what was going to happen.” “I did not know where to turn.” “I was amazed at how as I waited I felt at peace, I felt God’s presence, and just when I needed it most...God showed up.”
So, I share these additional thoughts on waiting because I suspect some of you reading have your own Saturday story. Either you have lived through your Saturday to experience the hope that comes on Sunday, or you are living a Saturday story right now and trying your best to hold on to your hope and stay strong in your faith. 
You may be struggling to not give up. You may be longing to hear something from God. His silence may be pushing you to the edge. 
Hold on. As surely as we have Saturdays, we have Sundays. As dark and hopeless as this Saturday may be, the brightness of God’s glory will appear on Sunday. Keep looking. Keep hoping. Keep listening. Keep believing. Keep knowing that He has not forgotten you. He has not left you. He has not abandoned you. He is working on your behalf even when you cannot see or hear Him. He is always doing something good. 
Remember the words of Hosea.
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
    but he will heal us;
he has injured us
    but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will restore us,
    that we may live in his presence.
Let us acknowledge the Lord;
    let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
    he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
    like the spring rains that water the earth.” (6:1-3)

On the third day, whenever that may be, He will heal us, He will bind up our wounds, He will revive us, He will restore us that we may live in His presence. He will appear.  
The waiting is difficult, but His appearing is worth the wait. 

[NOTE: If you have a Saturday story that you want to share, I would love to read it: tomnorvell@mac.com
   
Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 12 Aug 2013, 6:18 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 32 August 12, 2013
It’s Time To Start Living the Life

You have talked about it. You have prayed about it. You have asked God to show you your gift and to reveal His will for you to use you gift. You have surrendered your life to the One who created you. Everything is in place. It’s time to start living the life. 
Romans 12:9-21 tells what to do and how to do it. 
Love must be sincere. Be genuine. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it. Be real. 
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Even if you are surrendered and working hard to please the Lord, maybe especially then, evil lurks very near. Hate it. Battle it by hanging on to what is good. Stay focused on good and avoid what is evil. 
Be devoted to one another in love. Demonstrate your commitment to the Body. Think about them and respond to them through your sincere love. 
Honor one another above yourselves. Get out of the way and put others in front of you. You do not need the attention. You are not what or who is important. 
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Keep your passion alive and strong. Do not allow the first to go out. 
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Joy, patience, faithfulness. Always essential. The tendency is to lose the joy, become impatient, and stop praying. Don’t!
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Be generous with your brothers and sister. 
Practice hospitality. Be warm to people. Treat them with kindness. Be receptive to strangers and friends. 
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. When you are getting a bad rap, be nice. Don’t fall into the habit of talking bad about people, even if they don’t like you. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Be appropriate in your response and reactions to people. 
Live in harmony with one another. Stop arguing and complaining. Get along with your brothers and sisters...the world is watching. 
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. As Paul said earlier, “Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought.” You are not all that special. Get over yourself. 
Do not be conceited. Get over yourself.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. There’s that word again...evil. When it gets the best of you, you start wanting revenge. Don’t. 
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If you know what is right in the eyes of God, do it. Most will appreciate. Even if they don’t do what you can and live securely. 
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. You can’t please everyone, but do the best you can to keep the barriers down. 
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to get revenge. God will handle it. 
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do what you can to be nice to all people, even the ones you do not like.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. There is that word again: Evil. Evil is all around. Do not ti to best of you. You can control it by overcoming with the Love of Christ in you.
It’s time to start living the life. You know how. You know where. All that is left is to start. 
          
Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 05 Aug 2013, 8:18 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 31 August 5, 2013

You Were Born To Be You

Who am I? What was I created to be and to do? Why am I here? Do I have a purpose? Does God have a plan for my life? Questions some of us struggle with from time to time. Questions some struggle with all the time. 
How about you? Ever wonder why you were placed on this earth? Does another year passing make you sad because it means you still do not know why you were born?
Maybe Romans 12 will offer some help.

Romans 12:3, For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Insight Number One: Maybe we think too much about ourselves. In verse 3 Paul instructs us “Do not think more highly than you ought,…” Maybe one way to read that would be, “Don’t spend so much time thinking about yourself.” Use sober or clear-headed judgment about yourself. Maybe we spend too much time trying to figure ourselves out when we should spend more time focusing on God and what He is doing, and how we can fit into His plan 
Insight Number Two: God’s plan for us is not necessarily a puzzle to be solved. It is mysterious. But the puzzle has been solved. Colossians 1:25-26 says, “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ in you, the hope of glory. That is a major part of the reason you are here, to allow Christ to be revealed in you. That happens when you have surrendered to Him. That happens when you have made your life a living sacrifice. 
Insight Number Three: You were born to be you. God makes it clear that we are all different but we are all joined to be one. We all have different gives but we make up the one body. We cannot be someone else. We do not have their gift. Although we may have similar qualities as our parents, our siblings, our closest friends, but we are not them. We were not created to be them, or like them. We were formed in our mother’s womb to be us. We are to be part of the Body of Christ as designed by God, and as He designed us. 
You were born to be you.  That is where you be be your best. That is where you will flourish. So, be who you were born to be you. 

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 29 Jul 2013, 1:45 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 30 July 29, 2013

His Will

His will. We are all searching for His will in our lives. We are all, in one way or another, trying to determine: what His will is for our lives? What is it that He wants us to do with our lives? Where are we supposed to live? What kind of ministry are we supposed to be involved with? How are we supposed to use the gifts He has given us for His glory? 
We spend a significant amount of time and energy wrestling with these questions and wondering if we will ever really know if we are living in a way that pleases God. We may even wonder if it is possible to know what God’s will is for our lives. 
Many live life as if we are the silver metal ball in a pin ball machine. We roll this way until we hit a bumper, then, “Ding!” we bounce off in another direction. We hit another bumper, then, “Ding!” off we go in another direction. No control. No sense of meaning. About the time we think we are done the flipper sends us zooming through the maze of bumpers and back through the we bounce from one thing to another. Eventually, the bouncing stops and we head toward the exit at lightening speed. The controller of the game makes one last desperate effort to catch us with the flipper and save us, but even with the strongest effort and all the body English that can be mustered, they miss us and down we go. Game over. 
Is that it? Are we nothing more that silver balls at the mercy of fallible and imperfect gamer who uses us to develop his skills as a player? Are our lives to be lived bouncing in one direction, then another, then another, and yet another, responding to any impulse that pushes our pulls us, only to be lost down the shoot at the end of the game? Surely there is more. Surely there is a better way. 
We have spent several weeks in the first two verses of Romans chapter twelve attempting to understand this how life is to be lived in the Body of Christ. We would be negligent if we skipped this last sentence. 
In the J. B. Phillips New Testament these the section begins with this heading: We have seen God’s mercy and wisdom: how shall we respond? Then, Phillips writes: 
With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. 
Read that last part again: let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. These thoughts surface.
Maturity is God’s will for my life. God is not as interested in my happiness as I am. God is not concerned about life always be smooth sailing for me. God is much more concerned about me being transformed into the image of His son (Romans 8:29). That is maturity. That is what He wants. 
Maturity comes later. After I have reflected on God’s great mercies, after I have surrendered my whole life to Him as worship, after I have allowed the transformation process to begin, and after my mind has been “re-moulded” 
When it happens I will know it. I do not have to bounce from one bumper to another. I do not have to be in a constant state of doubt and insecurity. The text says, “...so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”
Stop living like you are a confused and helpless object being manipulated through the game of life that eventually ends with you sliding down the exit into nothingness. You are being changed into the image of God’s son. Sometimes it is painful. The transformation process usually takes longer than we prefer. He knows what He is doing. Trust Him. In the end you will know that He is good and his plan is good and meets all his demands. 

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 22 Jul 2013, 4:23 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 29 July 21, 2013
Renew Your Mind

As we make our way in life following Jesus something happens. We commit ourselves (sacrifice our lives) to God. We seek His guidance and long to know His will for our lives. We want Him to be the Lord, the ruler, of all that we think, say and do. We rely on His promises for strength, power, wisdom, courage, and the promise that His Spirit will guide us in all understanding. 
In the process of all that, something amazing happens. We are changed. We are transformed. We become someone we have never known, and maybe never dreamed we could become. It happens through His power and it happens as our minds renewed. 
To renew means to “resume (an activity) after an interruption. It means to “return to, take up again, come back to, begin again, start again, restart, recommence; continue (with), carry on. It implies the return to something or some place where we once were. 
The follower of Jesus has little trouble seeing the need, understanding the process, and appreciating the opportunity to “renew our minds.” Where would we be if we did not have this gift of renewal?
As important as the renewal process is, and as vital as it is to our spiritual transformation, it often seems that we know very little about it. What is it? How does it work? How are our minds renewed?
From two of the three texts we have been examining (see them below) it seems apparent that it is something that happens to us. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (NIV), and “You’ll be changed from the inside out.” (The Message). However, the New Living Version indicated it involves  our “changing the way you think.” Actually the NIV leans toward some action on our part as well. So, let me offer a few thoughts on we can do to renew our minds and how we can prepare ourselves to have our minds renewed. 
Sometimes we must literally change the way we think. There are times when our thinking just gets off track. Our brains (with the assistance of the great Enemy) begin to tell us lies. “God does not really love you.” “He is not really going to forgive you of your sins.” “You have done too many bad things to ever be make clean again.” When that happens we need to simply remind our brains that “this is wrong thinking and I refuse to do any more.”  This requires an honest examination of what we are thinking and how it is affecting us. When it happens we need to literally change the way we think.
Sometimes we must do things that will renew our minds. There are times when we need to do some physical activity that causes us to change the way we think. Stress, busy schedules, sickness, fatigue, and being overwhelmed by life and cause us to lose our focus, lose our direction, and confuse our thinking. When that happens we need to take a break. It may help to get away by ourselves. Jesus did that regularly and at times took his disciples with him. We may need to get some rest. We may need to read something different. We may need to spend time with His Word. We may need to talk with a counselor or close friend who can help us regain a healthier perspective.
Sometimes we simply experience the renewal of our minds. There are times when it just happens. You see a rainbow after a storm. You witness a beautiful sunset. You wake up early and sit outside as the sun rises. You take a walk by the ocean, or you hike through the mountain. You get a call from a close friend. You read a passage from Scripture that you have read hundreds of times, but this time you see something new and fresh and different. You hear a song. You hear a sermon. You sit quietly with your Bible in your lap asking god to “Show me something new.” You hold a baby in your arms. You attend a funeral. You read an article. There may be no explanation but it happens. Your mind is renewed. You have a fresh look on life. You feel refreshed, revived, and restored. 
However it happens, when it happens you are convinced once again that God is on your side, that He loves you more than you love yourself, and He is working in your life and in your heart to transform your life, mind, and soul. And, you are once again confident that your life has meaning and purpose and value.
Father, renew our minds to see You more clearly. 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:2,The Message)
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NLV)


Tom
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Post  Admin on Tue 16 Jul 2013, 3:09 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 28 July 15, 2013
Be Transformed

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:2,The Message)
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NLV)
What does it mean to be “be transformed?” 
The best and most simple way to help you understand would be to have you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 
To be transformed means to be changed from what you once were to what you were created to be. It takes imagination to think about it. It takes patience to achieve. It takes God to make it happens. 
Notice the text does not say, transform yourself. It does not say fix yourself. It does not say get yourself right. 
It does say, “be transformed” (NIV). It does say “let God transform you into a new person” (NLV) 
That is part of what makes it so hard, knowing we must depend on God to do it. Part of the reason we may get so frustrated with the transformation process is that the harder we try to make it happen, the less it seems to happen. We cannot make the transformation happen. 
Our part is to accept God’s mercies, give our whole selves to Him, and allow Him to transform us by renewing our minds. We let Him change. We submit to His changes. We trust Him to change us as He sees appropriate. 
We must understand that the transformation process is not always pleasant. Being transformed can be unpleasant. There may be times of silence, confusion, questioning, and pain.  
As we are being transformed we look for progress. Are we becoming more “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29)? Are we sounding more and more like Jesus when we talk? Are we responding more and more like Jesus to people in our circle of influence? Are we experiencing the peace and contentment that comes from submitting our wills to God? 
When we endure. When we allow God to transform us we long for and rejoice in that moment when we realize the transformation has taken place. For the caterpillar it happen when he exits from his cocoon as a beautiful butterfly. For the follower of Jesus it happens when she comes out of the waters of baptism. It happens when he faces a temptation and comes away victorious. It happens we find ourselves when people are coming to us for spiritual advice. 
It happens because we allow God, who knows how He made us, and knows how He has designed us, and reveals to us what we can be. 
Is it time you surrendered to God and allowed Him to transform you? Give up trying to make it happen through your own efforts. Be transformed. 

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 08 Jul 2013, 8:26 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 27 July 8, 2013
Do Not Conform

A fairly common conversation parents have with their children as they approach adolescence and during the teen years involves language that includes the danger of peer pressure. Most conscientious parents want to make sure our children know how easy it is to be swayed by friends and companions, how difficult it is to resist a good friend when they try to talk them into doing something they know they should not do, and how important it is be a good positive influence on their friends and companions.   We may even use a phrase like, “You don’t have to be like everybody else.” We may even throw in a good scripture to had some punch: “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV) Or as we like to rephrase it: “Veil companions corrupt good morals.” 
Our children may respond with a roll of the eyes as they groan and and say, “Dad, you can trust me.” 
We do trust them. What we do not trust is how deceptive and persuasive the forces of evil can be...even on those who have a solid faith and a strong belief system. What we know (often from personal experience) is how easy it is to be lured away from the faithful path of following Jesus. 
We know all too well how sad it is when a man who has walked with the Lord drifts into the ways of the world. We know the horrible destruction caused when a woman of considerable influence chooses to abandon the ways of God for a life of selfishness. Too often we have seen the pain created when a church leader becomes consumed by following material dreams to the neglect to the ways of the Spirit. 
Paul sounds like a concerned parent when he writes to his spiritual children from the Christian community in Rome. 
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” (Romans 12:2,The Message)
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NLV)
It may be that this gentle nudge urging us to “not conform to pattern of this world,” to not “become so well-adjusted to our culture,” and to resist the temptation to “copy the behavior and customs of this world” has come at just the right time. You are feeling the world squeezing you into it’s mold. You are feeling the pressure to abandon the life of a Jesus follower. Or, maybe you have become weary of living the life and are considering a new and different lifestyle that you feel fits better with that of your friends and companions. 
I pray this will be a wake-up call. I pray that you will not abandon the walk of faith. I pray that you will stay the course. I pray that you will not conform, that you want get too comfortable with this world, and I pray that you will not get caught in the trap of trying to copy the the behavior of the world. 
If you have to, ask for help. If you need to, change your friends, or your work environment. And certainly do what Paul suggests: “be transformed by renewing your mind,” “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” 
It is possible. He can transform you. Let Him. Do not be conformed. Please.  

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 01 Jul 2013, 7:12 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 26            July 1, 2013
Your Act of Worship

    “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1, New International Version)
    “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (Romans 12:1, The New Living Translation)
    “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1, New American Standard)
    “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” (Romans 12:1, The Message)
    “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1, King James Version)
    I shared these five different versions of this verse (and I consulted several others) because I was looking for the translation, paraphrase, or version that says that our worship only happens on Sunday morning in a pew inside a church building. I know it has to be there, I have heard it all my life. But where does it say that? Oh, well. 
    If I understand this passage worship happens when I give myself to God. If that is the case and if I have given myself to God, then it seems logical that my entire life worship. I suppose that’s why Eugene Peterson (The Message) said, “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”
    What does that mean? That means...
    When you are at your job, driving to your job, listening to a co-worker share about their pain about their struggling marriage you are worshipping.
When you are putting your children to be, and fixing them breakfast, and driving them to school, or changing a diaper, or kissing a boo-boo you are worshipping.
When you are playing softball, or coaching little league, or sitting in the parking lot waiting for practice to end you are worshipping.
When you are teaching algebra, or repairing a carburetor, or preparing a meal for a sick friend you are worshipping.
When helping your mom carry in the groceries, or babysitting your little brother, or walking your dog you are worshipping.
When you are sitting alone on the beach, or hiking a mountain trail, or  watching a sunset you are worshipping.
"Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life" and enjoy your life of wholehearted worship to God.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 24 Jun 2013, 3:41 pm

A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 25 June 24, 2013

In View Of God’s Mercy

Life in the Kingdom begins when I give myself to God. One could be motivated to make the decision for any number of reasons: To go to heaven; to escape hell; because someone told you should do it. Paul gives another motivation: God’s mercy. 
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1, NIV)
“In view of God’s mercy.” Look at God’s mercy. What do you see? Think of God’s mercy. What comes to mind? Ponder God’s mercy, then give yourself to God. 
God’s mercy. “A quality of compassion, especially as expressed in God’s forgiveness of human sin. Scripture stresses God’s forbearance towards sinners. In his mercy, God shields sinners from what they deserve and gives gifts that they do not deserve.” (Dictionary of Bible Themes)
In view of God’s compassion that is expressed in His forgiveness of human sin, give yourself to God. 
Aaaaah! That makes sense. Not because you are forced to. Not out of guilt. Not to earn your way to heaven. Not to show that you deserve it. You give yourself to God because of what He has done for you. 
“If God’s mercy in salvation has been presented in chapters 1–11, then the response of those receiving God’s mercy begins in chapter 12.” (Holman’s New Testament Commentary: Romans)
Although he phrased it a bit differently in Ephesians 2, Paul gives that church the same message:  
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.
How else can we respond? Why would we respond any other way? 
We were dead in our sins, He made us alive because He was rich in mercy. We were lost, He saved. We were far from Him, He brought us close. 
When think of the mercy God has shown toward us want to give our hearts to Him. When someone loves us like He loves us we want to serve Him. When we have been rescued we to express our gratitude as often as possible. When the Creator of the universe has shown His great mercy to us we fall before Him and say, “Here I am. I am Your. Use me. Shape me into the image You have planned for me.” 
Some time this week find a quiet place and spend a few minutes reflecting on God’s mercies. Thank Him for His great mercy. Rejoice with Him that He has been merciful. Praise Him for the forgiveness of your sins. 
Then, if you have not already done so, give Him your life. 

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 17 Jun 2013, 4:25 pm

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 24 June 17, 2013
Give Yourself To God
Where do you fit in the Body of Christ? Do you realize that you do have a place? Are there things you can do, or not do, that will help create or enhance the life you and others experience in your community of faith? Are you looking for ways to encourage your friends and family in their spiritual walk? Romans 12 is filled with practical valuable teaching that can help all of us as we live in the Kingdom. 
The teaching begins in verse one with these words: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1, NIV)
“Offer your bodies.” This is where you start. This is the decision of a lifetime. Once this decision has been made all other decisions are made from a different perspective. Unless this decision is made all other decisions are made from a different perspective. It is an important decision. 
Notice how Eugene Peterson states is: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” (Romans 12:1, The Message) 
“Place it before God as an offering.” Give yourself to God. All of yourself. Everything you have. Give Him your heart, soul, mind, strength, attitude, talent, vocation, reputation, and possessions.
That sounds like too much to ask, doesn’t it? If we will remember that all that we have our “everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life” really does not belong to us it makes it easier. God is the Giver of life. He is the One who made us in His image, and simply trying to help us get back to that image of Him. He longs for us to be like Him. We will never be like Him as long as we hold on to the things that we have come to believe are what make us significant. 
He knows that real life comes when we surrender our will and the control of our lives to Him. As long as we pretend that we have the answers and can figure out what His will is on our own, we will never find it. His answers and the peace of knowing His will come when we allow Him to be in complete control. 
“My heart, my mind, my body, my soul, I give, to You. Take control. I give my body a living sacrifice. Lord, take control. Take control.”
Would you like to have a better church? Give yourself to God. Would like to experience a deeper worship experience? Give yourself to God. Would you like to sense God’s presence in your in new and fresh ways? Give yourself to God.
Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 10 Jun 2013, 11:28 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
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A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 23 June 10, 2013
Listening Choices

“What will I listen to?” That question is asked when I get in my car and drive to the office, when I head out to lunch, when I go across town, when I sit at my desk, when I am taking a walk, and back home at the end of the day. Listening to good music soothes my soul, calms my spirit, and helps relieve tension. Not all music is appropriate for all times and settings. Some days I like to turn the volume up with an “oldie but goodie.” Some days I prefer the calmer, quieter music of movie soundtracks. Some days I do not know what I want so I ask, “What will listen to?” Some days I prefer the quiet.
I also ask, “What, or whom, will I listen to?” in other settings that have nothing to do with music.
When making major decisions I have options when it comes to listening. There are those who tell me, “This is what you need to do.” There are those who tell me, “You do not want to do this!” Others will tell me to “wait”, while another will say, “Act fast!” Some offer the voice of reason; some offer ideas and solutions that are far-fetched and impossible to accomplish. Who will I listen to?
In dealing with relationships there is a vast number of messages longing to be heard. “This book says this.” “This expert says something entirely different.” The people involved in the relationship say one thing, and objective bystanders with nothing to lose say something else. What will listen to?
When it comes to work, success, and a fulfilling life there is no absence of choices when it comes to offering wisdom. Those who have gone before offer their life experiences. Those who have failed miserable offer their advice and make their excuses. Those who have never worked, never known success, and are looking for a similar fulfillment like to say, “Here is what you need to do.” What will I listen to?
The Scriptures is not silent on the importance of listening.
The wise man of Proverbs makes his case:
“To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13)
“Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:27)
In Luke’s account of Paul speaking to the intellectuals of his day he wrote:
20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b]
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others. (Acts 17:20-34)
Every day we have a choice about what we will listen to. The choice of music can determine a mood and perhaps alter our attitude. The voices of wisdom may determine the course of our lives and the direction of a relationship. What are you listening to? Who are you listening to? Be discerning. Be wise. Listen carefully. If you need to change the playlist, do not wait too long. I may determine how you live in this life and in the life to come. (Keep in mind, of course, this is just one option for you to choose from.)
Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Mark 4:9)

Tom
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Post  Admin on Tue 04 Jun 2013, 6:50 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
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A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 22 June 3, 2013

A Clear Image

For the life of my two mobile devices (iPhone and iPad) I have had a protective covers on both. I was afraid the beautiful clear glass to get scratched. After two years the cover on my iPhone got so scratched-up that I decide to replace it with a new cover. Carefully I pealed the old cover off with the new one nearby and ready.
Once the old cover was off I was absolutely amazed at how clear, clean, and fresh the phone looked. It looked almost brand new! I could hear Johnny Nash singing “I Can See Clearly Now” in the background.The protective cover went into the trash. Needless to say, the cover came off the iPad as well. What a difference it makes when you see remove the protective cover!
I wonder what other ways fear has caused me to apply a protective cover to create a distorted image and miss blessings that were available to me?
When I meet new people do I have a fear-filter that causes me to see and hear what others have said about them? do I allow preconceived ideas and prejudices to determine how I react or respond to them? Do my defense mechanisms cause me to be defensive and cautious? Do my assumptions prevent me from seeing anything new about them?
Do I view my relationships through a protective coating? Never quite sure if people are genuine? Always wondering if they can be trusted? Or, do I put the protective cover over me so they do not see me as I really am? Am I afraid to let them see the real me? Do I do this (or try to do this) with God?
When I am in a strange place does the fear of what I have heard about that area cause me to be guarded and so cautious that I miss the beauty of what is right in front of me? Do I allow the fear of what may or may not happen paralyze me?
When problems, obstacles, and challenges confront me do I allow my fear of making a mistake keep me from doing anything? Do I allow my fear of failure to keep me from experiencing a new adventure? Do my past experiences determine my future decisions?
What about when I read Scripture? Am I afraid that I might see something I have never seen? Am I afraid that a new understanding will force me to change not only my thinking, but also my lifestyle? Am I so concerned about maintaining the status quo that I ignore truths that I have never seen? Am I so concerned about offending someone that I refuse to acknowledge what God is saying to me? To them? To the church?
Of course there is a place and time to heed the warnings, to listen to those who caution us, and to refrain from ill-advised activity. But, fear can keep us from seeing truth when it is right in front of us. Fear can prevent us from doing good when we know we should act. Fear can blind us to blessings, opportunities, and life abundantly.
Fear is a killer! But, it does not have to be. Scripture says, “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 them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 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.” (1 John 4:16-18, NIV)
Here is a suggestion: Take the protective cover off. Be confident in the God who created you. He has empowered you to not only know the difference between right and wrong, but to do right even in the face of wrong. He will give you answers. He will guide you wisdom. He will direct your steps.

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 27 May 2013, 8:20 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
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A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 21 May 27, 2013

Life Happens Fast

Watch closely. Pay attention. Slow down. Take time. Life comes at us full force from the first breath and does not slow down until the last. There is no time to waste.
Scripture calls it “a vapor”.
Paul said, “Make the most of every opportunity.”
Jesus offers in “abundance.”
How many reminders do we need for us to get the message? Life happens fast!
Pull out your box of photos, or photo album, or pull up your photos on your computer and you will be amazed how quickly life has happened. “Where did that little girl go?” “How did he grow up so fast?” “Wow! He looks old!”
Watch the news. Another horrific tornado where lives were lost and property were destroyed in seconds. A plane goes down. An automobile accident on the Interstate. A shooting in the city. A murder in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods. A heart attack took the life of a young husband and father.
Life happens fast. It comes so fast that about the time we get comfortable in one phase of life we move into a different phase. We start feeling good being single, and suddenly we are talking marriage. Then, we work and work at being the best husband or the best wife and here come children. We feel like we get the parenting thing figured out, we are grandparents.
With life coming (and going) so fast how do we manage it? Here are a few things to remember.
Live today, not tomorrow or yesterday. Spend too much time looking ahead or behind and you will miss what is happening in the present. Jesus said, “Take no thought in tomorrow.” Paul said, “Forgetting what it behind I press on.”
Slow down. Try to eliminate hurry from your life. If you have small children try not to say, “Hurry up!” too many times. When you get on the freeway, drive the speed limit. When you are walking if you see something worth looking at, stop and look at it. Remind yourself that you have all the time you need to do what God wants us to do.
Enjoy the moment. When you work, work hard. When you rest, rest. When you are with friends, shut your phone off and be with your friends. When you are with your spouse, really be with her. When you are with your children, be with them.
Life happens fast, but it does not have to overwhelm us, we do not have to miss it, and we can enjoy it. God has given us life and life abundantly. We have the tools to live it at His pace and in His time and like He wants us to.
This week I hope you can receive the life God has planned for you and enjoy it to the fullest.

Tom

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A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 20 May 20, 2013

Abundantly Grateful

Sometimes words come slowly. My head and my heart are filled with so many thoughts that it is difficult to bring any single thought out into the open. As I clear my mind and open my heart the thought that surfaces is that of being abundantly grateful.
I find myself feeling grateful for life. The sixty plus years I have lived have been good and blessed and filled with joy. Yes, there have been (and surely will be) times of deep sorrow and great pain, but gratitude is the theme of this morning. Thank You Giver of life, for bringing me into this world to enjoy Your creation and experience the “abundant life” You have given me.
I sense this abundant gratitude when I look at my wife and my children, their spouses, and my granddaughter. They are healthy. They are beautiful. They are living in and through Your Spirit. They are walking in Your ways and loving Your people. When I have time with them in any form I am filled with abundant joy for the blessing of these people.
I feel abundant gratitude when I look at Your creation. What a world You have made! There is so much of that I have never seen, and will never seen, but there is so much of it that I have seen. The ocean. The mountains. The forests. The cities. The rivers and streams. The view from an airplane. The view from a walkway through the greens places. The sunrises I have seen. The sunsets I have marveled at the colors and the peacefulness of a day well spent as it ends.
I feel abundant gratitude for the people. My family, my friends, my colleagues, my coworkers, the people I have spent decades with sharing our journey through this world. Each one has played a role in shaping my view of life, enhancing my view of people, and enlarging my view of God.
I am abundantly grateful for the people I know only as “that man, or that woman, or that boy, or that girl. I am abundantly grateful for the man or woman I exchanged eye contact with for a brief moment on a sidewalk, in a hall, or across a crowded room. The woman selling papers on the street corner. The young man ringing up my groceries at the super market. The countless men and women who have served me a meal, cleaned a room, given me change, cleaned my shirts, or greeted me with a smile. I am abundantly grateful for God’s timing and the way He placed each one there in my midst for that brief moment.
I am abundantly grateful for times of rest. I am grateful for those rare times when there has been no schedule, there has been no agenda, and the only plan for the day has been to enjoy it to the fullest. There are times when the question, “What is next?” has been replaced with “Let’s enjoy this moment.” There are times when sleep is more important than seeing the sunrise, or finishing the project, or sending the email. I am abundantly grateful for those times with I have heeded God’s invitation to “Come away with me and get some rest,” when I have taken his yoke upon me, and when I have just been still and reflected upon God.
I am abundantly grateful for memories. Memories of moments that happen only once in a life time. Memories of moments that are repeated and relived every Sunday, every summer, every Christmas holiday, and every time any part of God’s family gathers. Memories that are vivid than the photographs, speak louder and more clearly than the video recordings. Memories that are housed deep in our hearts and dwell in our souls.
I am abundantly grateful for the love that I have experienced. The love I have received from God. The love I received from my family, from my friends, from my brothers and sisters in Christ, and from strangers. I am grateful for those special God-moments when I have been able to reflect some of that love into the life of another human being.
God is on His throne. Jesus is Lord. My hearts if full. My soul is well. I am abundantly grateful.

Tom

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A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 19 May 13, 2013

I Continue To Pray

A light snow was falling in Richmond, Virginia the day the doctor confirmed that we were going to have another baby. At that point we were not sure if we were having a boy or a girl. From early on one sweet woman from our church assured us that this would be a girl. She was right. When the doctor welcomed Laura Lee into the world tears of joy flowed down my face. When I held her in my arms for the first time I prayed: “Father, thank You for this beautiful baby girl. Help her to learn Your ways, help her to know Your love, and help me release her into Your care when it is time to let her go.”
The first day of school was hard. I drove to the school for the first time, pulled into the drop-off lane, made certain the card with her name and her teachers’ name card was securely draped around her neck, kissed her, said, “I love you,” opened her, and watched her walk toward the door and I cried. As I drove away from the school I prayed: “Father, thank You for this beautiful little girl. Help her to learn Your ways, help her to know Your love, and help me release her into Your care when it is time to let her go.”
Later on she learned to swim and started to compete. She swam like a fish, only sweeter. She won some races and received a few awards. She was praised by her coach. I watched from the side of the pool as she dove in swam her laps and hopped out of the pool with a look of “I did it on her face.” As she learned to compete I prayed: “Father, thank You for this beautiful little girl. Help her to learn Your ways, help her to know Your love, and help me release her into Your care when it is time to let her go.”
We rode our bikes through the neighborhoods, we walked the trails of the parks, we were introduced to sleep-overs, and learned more about letting her become her own person. With each new adventure I prayed: “Father, thank You for this beautiful little girl. Help her to learn Your ways, help her to know Your love, and help me release her into Your care when it is time to let her go.”
She needed surgery. We discussed the options. We pondered the limitations. We greeted the doctor and nurses, hugged her, told her we loved her. As we watched them roll her away I prayed: “Father, thank You for this beautiful young girl. Help her to learn Your ways, help her to know Your love, and help me release her into Your care on days like this when it is time to let her go.”
She continued to grow and mature and we were introduced to high school sports, cheerleading, and the high drama of relationships. Every time she walked out the door I prayed: “Father, thank You for this beautiful young girl. Help her to learn Your ways, help her to know Your love, and help me release her into Your care when it is time to let her go.”
She finished high school, walked across the stage, we drove her college, moved her in the dorm, kissed her good by, said, “I love you,” and left her there. As we drove away I prayed: “Father, thank You for this beautiful young person. Help her to learn Your ways, help her to know Your love, and help me release her into Your care each time it is time to let her go.”
She waited as God prepared a man to be her husband, they married, and I pronounced them husband and wife. As they drove away. I prayed: “Father, thank You for this beautiful young woman. Help her to learn Your ways, help her to know Your love, and help me release her into Your care each time it is time to let her go.”
She has completed her college education, ready to start her life as a nurse, and she and her husband are preparing to make their first move to a new community with the prayerful hope of making a difference. She is strong. She is beautiful. She is determined. She is wise. She loves God and cannot wait to see Jesus. At the end of each visit, and many times in between, I continue to pray: “Father, thank You for this beautiful young woman. Help her to learn Your ways, help her to know Your love, and help me release her into Your care each time it is time to let her go.”

Tom

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A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
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A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 18 May 6, 2013
Lord, I Want...

Luke records the story of Jesus healing a blind man in chapter 18,
35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. (Luke 18:35-43, NIV)

If you were blind what you want God to do for you? That is what Jesus asked this blind man. “What do you want me to do for you?” Somewhere in the the depths of our soul we know how we would respond to that question. We may be reluctant to ask, we may be embarrassed to ask, or we may think God does not want us to ask, but if I am reading the story correctly, God wants us to ask.
Here are three lessons that seem to emerge from this story:
We all have that one request we want to make of the Lord.
“Lord, I want to see.”
“Lord, I want to hear.”
“Lord, I want to be healed.”
“Lord, I want to be a good parent.”
“Lord, I want to save my marriage.”
“Lord, I want to be able to help more people.”
“Lord, I want a job.”
“Lord, I want someone to love me.”
“Lord, I want to be forgiven.”
“Lord, I want peace.”
“Lord, I want to know I’m saved.”
“Lord, I want to make a difference in the world.”
“Lord, I want to really live again.”
We need to make the request.
Why not take a moment right now and present your request to the Lord. (Philippians 4:6-8) Get with a friend. Or, get alone. Get with God and lay it all out. Yes, He already knows before you ask. Ask anyway. Pour your heart out to Him. Tell Him what you want Him to do for you.
We need to praise God when our request is granted. The Blind Beggar did. The people around him did. The blind man in John 11 did. The people around him did not. When He grants you the request thank Him, praise Him, share what He has done.
God is ready and willing to hear your request. And, He is ready and willing to grant your request in His time and His way. When He does, rejoice and praise Him.

Tom
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A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 17 April 29, 2013
What Do You Say?

What do you say to the man who, as he reflects on his long life and says, “Why did God bless me like He did?”
What do you say when you learn that a relative has inoperable cancer?
What do you say when you walk into your bosses office and he informs you that your position with the firm is being eliminated?
What do you say to the soldier when he returns home from the war and is haunted with the question of why he survived the attack, but his buddies did not?
What do you say when the doctor tells you that she has your tests results and she would like for you to come to her office…and she suggests that your husband come with you?
What do you say when you learn that your wife has been having an affair for several months and she is not interested in working on your relationship?
What do you say when your best friend tells you that he and his wife are getting a divorce?
What do you say when your best friend reveals that the reason she has pulled away from you for the last several months is because she believes you betrayed her?
What do you say when your son tells you he is tired of living by your rules, is “taking off”, and really does not care what you think about his decision?
What do you say to the man who tells you he has messed up his life so completely that he feels he is better off dead?
What do you say to the woman who has been a “good and faithful servant” almost all of her life yet lives in fear everyday that she “has not done enough”?
What do you say to the young wife and mother as she walks away from the graveside of her husband faced with raising her children alone?
What do you say to man you have loved and admired for decades when he tells you that he tells you that he never feels that God is satisfied with his performance and that he does not think he can ever please Him?
What do you say to the teenage couple sitting in your living room confused, frightened, weeping because they have just learned that she is pregnant?
What do you say after another natural or man-caused disaster and people ask over and over again, “Why did this happen”?
What do you say to these people? What can you say?
Questions. We have more questions than answers, don’t we? Some have answers. Some may not. Some we may attempt to answer only to realize we had no business trying to answer them. Some we understand and can relate to, others we have no concept of what the person is going through.
A couple of lessons from Job’s story may be helpful.

Don’t say anything. Just be with the person.
When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. (Job 2:11-13)
Sometimes the best answer is silence. It is still an answer. Unless you are confident you know for sure what God would tell the person, be quiet. Listen to them. Pray with them and for them. Allow them time to process the questions, the crisis, or the tragedy. There will be time to help them find answers, but for now don’t say anything.
Admit that you have no right to speak to such things.
Then Job answered the Lord: 4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
 I put my hand over my mouth. 5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:3-5)
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things;
 no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
 Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
 I will question you,
 and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
 but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself
 and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)
For some reason we tend to think that life must be explained, that God must be explained, and we are responsible for coming up with the explanations. We tend to feel that God must be defended. We think God owes us an explanation. We sometimes assume that mystery is a bad thing.
The conversation between Job and God reminds us that God can handle His own defense, that He can explain His actions if He chooses to explain. Even when people are hurting, want answers, and look to us for answers, we as compassionate people naturally want to ease the suffering, but it still may be inappropriate for us to answer for God.
What do you say when life hits hard? What can you say? God may need you to speak, but unless you are absolutely sure, be content with being a silent presence.
Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 22 Apr 2013, 10:52 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 16 April 22, 2013
What Can You Do?

What can you do when you have more “down” days than “up” days?
What can you do when the clouds block your view of the sun day after day after day after day?
What can you do when you continue to take two steps forward then slide three steps back?
What can you do when the negatives in life are overpowering the positives in your life?
What can you do when the bills accumulate faster than the income does?
What can you do when day after day the “To Do” list is longer than your “Done” list?
What can you do when dreams have faded?
What can you do when you hope that life will get better is all but gone?
What can you do when you have more reasons to be afraid than reasons to trust?
What can you do when you feel paralyzed by fear?
What can you do when your sadness over the injustices of life begins to turn into anger?
What can you do when you see the more people you try to help the more people you meet who need help?
What can you do?
Start by reading Philippians 4:4-9.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
After reading that text from Philippians 4 try these suggestions:
Remember and remind others that The Lord is near.
In the midst of trials, crisis, boiling tempers, and smoldering anger if you will pause and remind yourself “the Lord is near,” you will be amazed at how quickly attitudes can change. Gentleness will become the natural response. If you have to repeat to yourself: “The Lord is near.” “The Lord is near.” “The Lord is near.” Then, let your gentleness be evident to all.
Take all your fears and anxieties to The Lord.
“Present your requests to God.” Be honest with your feelings. Tell Him what you are thinking. Share your fears. Open up your heart to Him. If you are anxious, say, “Lord, I’m anxious.” If you are afraid, say, “Lord, I am afraid.” If you have a need, say, “Lord, please help me.”
Think about something else.
“Think on these things.” Sometimes you just have to change the channel on the television, on the radio, or get off the Internet. Fold the newspaper and put it away. Quit watching the news. Think about good things. Think about pure things. Think about things that are excellent. It takes real discipline of the mind to change a direction of thought, but it will make a difference in how you see things, and how you respond to life.
What can you do? Remember you can do something. You are not helpless. You are not powerless. The world may seem to be crumbling around you, or the ground may feel like it is shaking beneath you, but the Lord is near, He will hear you, and give you peace.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Tue 16 Apr 2013, 9:47 pm

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


A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 15 April 15, 2013

Where Can We Go?
After Jesus said these things, many of his followers left and stopped following him.
Jesus asked the twelve apostles, “Do you want to leave too?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, where would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe in you. We know that you are the Holy One from God.” (John 6:66-69, ERV)
The gospel song says, “Where could I go? Oh, where where could I go but to Lord?”
That was true for those disciples at that crucial moment in their lives and in the earthly ministry of Jesus, and is it still true today. Where would we go? Where can we go except to the Lord?
Where can we go to find words when we have no words worth speaking?
Where can we go to remind us to be silent when we want to be speaking?
Where can we go to learn how to love those people who are the hardest to love?
Where can we go to find and receive forgiveness when all we feel is shame, regret, and guilt?
Where can we go to find rest when we are washed-out, washed-up, and weary?
Where can we go to find peace when we are surrounded by crisis, chaos, and drama?
Where can we go to find hope when all around us is confusion, cynicism, and doubt?
Where can we go to be reminded of joy when all we are seeing your sadness and destruction?
Where can we go to find comfort when we have been hurt, rejected, and betrayed?
Where can we go to know we are not alone even though we feel extremely lonely and homesick?
Where can we go to find healing after we have been beat-up, beat-down, and beat-on?
Where can we go to find security when we feel lost, abandoned, and forgotten?
Where can we go to when our minds are so full we cannot think, we cannot sleep, and we cannot find clarity?
Where can we go to when our hearts are breaking, our dreams are fading, and all our plans are changing?
Where can we go to when we are filled with fear, despair, and disillusionment?
Where can we go when life experiences have overwhelmed us, problems have devoured us, and pain has drained us?
Where? Where can we go? We can go to the Holy One of God because He has words of eternal life.

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 08 Apr 2013, 5:26 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 14 April 8, 2013

From Where I Sit

This article is about perspective.
From where I sit the sun is shining and spring is blooming all around. Bradford Pear trees are as white as snow. Cherry blossoms are beautiful. The grass in my lawn is growing and green and could use a mowing. The weeds could use a killing. The neighborhood is calm. From where I sit is a beautiful peaceful spring afternoon.
Not far from here a family is grieving due to a house fire and loss of life. A little further away a family is grieving the loss of three people due to an apparent murder suicide. Others are grieving the loss of a loved one in a car accident. From where they sit life is quite different.
From where I sat this morning the worship was rich and full and alive. God was being praised. Our assembly consisted of people from different races, from different spiritual backgrounds, and from different social and financial segments of our community. Worshippers were openly expressing their love and adoration for the One who has given us live and hope and a reason to live. We were free to assemble and free to worship with all our hearts.
In other parts of the world some were forbidden to assemble for worship. In some places what went on in the assembly was dictated and followed a very strict pattern of what is appropriate. Some worshipped with only people of similar backgrounds, and tastes, and beliefs. Some people worshipped in secret because of their fear of punishment. Some people worshipped in large assemblies and some worshipped where two or three were gathered.
From where I sit friends frequently gather to enjoy an evening of fellowship, food, and spiritual conversation. We regularly share meals with friends and family in our home and in restaurants. We laugh. We talk. We cry. We share. We support. We encourage. We share our stories.
Others are alone. They cannot remember they actually sat across the table from another human being. They cannot remember the last time they actually had a conversation with another human being. They cannot remember the last time they felt loved.
From where I sit I see God as a loving, caring, compassionate father who always wants what is best for me and is constantly sharing His creation and vast world of blessings with me. I see God as loving me unconditionally. I see God as drawing me to His side so that He can nurture me, comfort me, console me, and protect me.
Others see God as uncaring, cold, harsh and caring very little about what goes on in our world. Others see God as intent on making life miserable. Others see God as waiting for them to make a mistake so He can angrily correct them and condemn them to hell.
From where I sit I imagine God looking at us from where He sits with gentle loving eyes knowing that although we all may see things differently, think differently, act differently, and react to life differently, we are all still His children. From where I sit I imagine God reaching out to each one of us with open arms inviting us to bring our fears, our tears, our pains, and our suffering to Him. I imagine seeing Him life on this earth comes to an end as He welcomes home where once and for all we will enjoy eternal rest.
I like what I see from where I sit.

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

Vol. 16 No. 13 April 1, 2013
On This Day

Father, on this day help me to allow the wisdom You have given me so that I will make, not only the right choices, but choices that demonstrate spiritual wisdom and choices that will produce spiritual fruit.
Father, on this day help me to surrender my will to Your will so that Your will is done in my life as it is in Heaven.
Father, on this day help me to allow Your Spirit to guide me resist temptation.
Father, on this day help me to seek Your Kingdom first and trust that You will provide for my all needs.
Father, on this day help me to trust that You will give me the strength to do all the things that I need to do today.
Father, on this day help me to know that You are aware of everything that is going on in the world and realize that You did not ask, and are not asking me to fix the wrongs nor to take credit for any of the rights.
Father, on this day help me to receive all the gifts You will make available to me with a grateful heart.
Father, on this day help me to keep Your teachings on love, compassion, kindness, and gentleness in the forefront of my mind as interact with people.
Father, on this day help me to rejoice with those who rejoice.
Father, on this day help me to mourn with those who mourn.
Father, on this day help me to receive any attacks that may be aimed toward me without retaliation.
Father, on this day help me to ignore comments and criticisms that are spoken to harm and discourage me.
Father, on this day help me to reject the lies that the prince of the darkness whispers in my ear or tries to plant in my mind.
Father, on this day help me to sense Your constant and abiding presence in every circumstance.
Father, on this day help me to speak when I need to speak.
Father, on this day help me to be silent when I need to be silent.
Father, on this day help me to simply listen to those who need to be heard without comment or instruction or correction or judgment.
Father, on this day help me to forgive anyone who has harmed me.
Father, on this day help me to release any ill will toward another human being that I may be holding on to.
Father, on this day help me to express my gratitude to every person who does a good deed to me or around me.
Father, on this day help me to look for opportunities to do good and ask for nothing in return.
Father, on this day help me to hear Your voice above all other voices that I will hear, and to heed what you say.
Father, on this day help me to think not only of my own interests but also the interests of others.
Father, on this day help me to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
Father, on this day help me to let Your gentleness be evident to all so they will know that You are near.
Father, on this day help me to overlook little and insignificant things that people do that annoy me…remembering that I do little and insignificant things probably annoy them as well.
Father, on this day help me to be a person that people enjoy spending time with.
Father, on this day help me to be the husband, the father, the father-in-law, the grandfather, the brother, the friend, the teacher, the preacher, the counselor, the writer that You created and gifted me to be.
Father, on this day help me to follow You in such a way that when others see me they will see You.
Father, on this day when I fail to do any one or all of these things to remember that You still love me, to ask for Your forgiveness, to accept Your forgiveness, and to know that if I wake up tomorrow You will give me the opportunity to start over and hopefully do better than I did today.
Tom
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A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 12 March 25, 2013

A Little Thing, But Not Really
Have you noticed that much of life is made of events or happenings or opportunities or things that might fall into a classification of a very little thing, but not really? You may have another way of describing them, but you know the kinds of things I am referring to.
On the negative side it may be that hangnail that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot clip. It’s a little thing, but not really.
It may be that person at work who gets on your nerves. You come into the office what a great attitude and within minutes after a short interaction your day is ruined. It’s a little thing, but not really.
It may be that conversation that you seem to have over and over again with your boss or your spouse or your children. You have had the same conversation a hundred times. Nothing ever changes. You talk about changes, but nothing ever does. It’s a little thing, but not really.
Maybe it is that sound in your car. It is a rattle. Or it is a squeak. You cannot pinpoint where it is coming from. Everything else is quiet and smooth, except for that noise. It’s a little thing, but not really.
It could be that bump on the side of your face. Not a big bump. It turns an odd shade of red. It is a little tender. Finally you go to the doctor and he says, “We better have it checked out.” It appears to be a little thing, but maybe it’s not really.
It may be that cough that just will not go away. You have taken some over the counter cough medicine. That helps for a few minutes but it starts up again when you lay down. You call the nurse and she say, “You better come in. It sounds like a little thing. But maybe it’s not.”
Maybe it is that thing that your husband does, or does not do, that hurts you, or disappoints you, or makes you question whether or not he really loves you. He says it does. But if he does would he not take your feelings into consideration? Why does he keep doing that? Why is he not listening to me? You try to ignore it. Everything else seems to be going well. Do I really want to stir things up? It’s such a little thing, but maybe not.
On the positive side there are many little things that can make a profound difference in how you approach the day.
The person in the drive-thru at Starbucks pays for your coffee. It’s a little thing, but not really.
The person coming through your checkout line compliments you on your nice smile. It’s a little thing, but not really.
$2.26 provides a meal at the Nashville Rescue Mission. It’s a little thing, but not really.
You stand before an audience and say, “I do.” These are two little words that change lives forever. It’s a little thing, but not really.
The note you received in the mail from the friend you have not seen in a long time. It’s a little thing, but not really.
You led a prayer at church. You could not remember what you were trying to say and had a long awkward pause. You stumbled all over yourself. And you felt like you did a horrible job. But one of the older men came to you and said, “You did a great job! Thank you for your prayer.” It’s a little thing, but not really.
You walked into the new church for the first time. You are all alone in a new city and in a new church. A young couple saw and came toward, introduced themselves, and asked if you would like sit with them. They introduced you to several members, invited you to their class, and took you home for lunch. It’s a little thing, but not really.
Jesus talked about offering a cup of cold water in His name. He told stories of stopping to help a stranger. He rebuked His disciples when they tried to stop little children when they ran to Him. They seem like little things, but not really.
Then challenge: be the person who does the things that make life more positive; don’t be the person who does that little things that can turn a day wrong. Do that thing that we would call a little thing, but not really.

Tom
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