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A Norvell Note Because We Are Human

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Post  Admin on Tue 19 Mar 2013, 6:43 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 11 March 18, 2013

Water Is Available

We were driving home from a nice meal and evening with some dear friends. We had driven about ten minutes when I began to realize I was thirsty. I wished I had a drink of water. We drove a little further and I thought about how much I wanted a drink of water. We drove a little further and I began to feel almost parched and had thoughts of stopping for something to drink. Then, I realized I had almost half of a bottle of water sitting right beside me in the drink holder. I had forgotten that I had not finished it on the way up. With two or three gulps the water was gone and my thirst was quenched.
I felt so foolish. I longed for water. I wished for water. I wanted a drink. I was really thirsty. The water I wanted was right there beside me. All I had to do was to reach for it, drink it, and get refreshed.
My failure to remember that I had the solution to my thirst right beside me is not so different from how we ignore and forget about the life giving water our Lord makes available to us.
To the Samaritan woman of John 4 Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Eventually she asked for it and received it.
To the curious followers seeking a savior in John 7 Jesus offered, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
To the young disciples in Matthew 5 Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
 for they will be filled.”
We have a tendency to spend a significant amount of time wishing we had what God has promised we can have. We expend an awful lot of energy longing for and dreaming about what God has already given us. We waste too many opportunities to be blessed and refreshed and revived and restored by ignoring the Spirit of the living God who is always with us and already in us.
Why? Why do we miss the life giving living water of the Spirit of God? Why do we not reach out to the Comforter who has come to dwell within us?
We forget. We get caught up in living life our way. We become comfortable with the status quo. We settle for good enough.
We ignore. We know there is a better way. We understand that the source of refreshment is ours for the taking, but we prefer pretend that we are lacking.
We choose. We choose to go it alone. We choose to do without. We choose to not use what God has made available.
Are you thirsty? There is water. Are you hungry? There is food. Are you weary? There is rest. Reach for. Open the bottle. Drink. Be refreshed.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 11 Mar 2013, 2:38 pm

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

Vol. 16 No. 10 March 11, 2013

Confusing Reflection

As I write I am sitting on our deck on a beautiful spring morning. The air has a warmth and freshness that we have not felt in months. The sky is a beautiful blue with a few thin white clouds scattered around. The grass is beginning to turn green. It is early enough in the spring that the mowers and blowers are not yet running. So the only sounds I hear are the birds singing, the blowing sounds of jets flying overhead, the faint sound of automobiles passing on a nearby street, and an occasional muffled conversation between neighbors as we begin to emerge from winter caves. It is a very nice morning.
There is one more sound that peeks my interest. At first I could not locate it. It is not a loud noise, but a distinct one. I have heard it before. I remember it from late last fall when I was recouping from an illness and spent quite a lot of time on this deck. What was that sound? Then, I located it. It is a small bird perched on a branch next to a window of our neighbor’s house.
The bird apparently sees his (I do not know if it is a he or a she, so assume it is a he since most would say a female would not make this mistake) reflection in the window and is confused about whether it is real. He sits on the branch. Looks at the window and then tries to fly through it. Since I do not speak or think bird I do not know what he is thinking. Does he think it is open space with another branch to land on? Does he think, “That is one beautiful chick and I want to meet her?” (Let’s not get into gender identification issues here. Remember I am speculating.) Does he think, “He dude, let’s be friends”? Obviously do not know what this little bird is thinking.
What I do know is that this little bird is confused and is wearing himself out trying to get through this window or get to the bird he sees in the reflection. For several minutes he beats his beak and body against the window, then he flies away. Maybe he goes to a mentor bird and asks for advice. Then, he returns to once again battle the image in the window.
The bird reminds me of me. There are times when what I see in the reflection is not what really is. There are times when I beat myself up about what I see when I look in the mirror and there are times when I think much too highly of myself.
Sometimes when I see my reflection in the mirror I see a man who seems to have his act together. At first glance that guy in the mirror seems to be a pretty good guy. He loves God. He loves his wife and children. He has always worked hard to provide for his family. He loves his church family and does his best to serve the Lord with his gifts and tries to use his blessings to encourage other people. But, when I look closer I realize that he is a sinner, and that because of his sin he has fallen far short of the glory of God (Romans 3:22-24). I realize that he is dead in his sins (Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 2:12-14). And I realize he is a slave to sin (John 8:33-35).
Sometimes when I see my reflection in the mirror I see a man who seems to have nothing together. All I can see is the sins the man has committed. All I can see is his guilt. All I can see is his shame. He is a sinner. He is guilty. He is ashamed. But, when I look closer I realize that he has been rescued from his sin (Romans 5:6-8). I realize that he has been blessed through forgiveness (Psalm 32:1-3). I realize that he has gained redemption through the forgiveness of his sins (Ephesians 1:6-8). I realize that because of Jesus his sins have been forgiven (1 John 2:11-13).
The bird has left his perch. At least temporarily he seems to have learned the truth about the image reflected in the window. This man has also gained a better understanding of who he is: He is a sinner who deserves to be punished, but he has been forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. For now I realize that I am nothing without God. For now I am grateful to be loved by the living God.

Tom

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Post  Admin on Tue 05 Mar 2013, 10:00 pm

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

Vol. 16 No. 09 March 4, 2013

Swing Your Swing

The week leading up to and including my 60th birthday was filled with sharing memories, eating my favorite foods, receiving cards, gifts, and messages from friends and family, and some times of deep reflection on where I have been and where I am going. The time has been well spent and the good wishes have been appreciated. (By the way, it was March 1 for those who need to know and forget to send a gif. It is not too late. I am still accepting.)
One question that has been asked numerous times is: “Well, how does it feel to be sixty?” My typical answer has been: “A lot like fifty-nine.” Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in reality it is no different. And yet it is. Six decades. Sounds like a long time, seems like a long time, yet it also seems very brief. As one Facebook friend stated, “It seems like I just wished you a happy birthday.”
Part of the reason this birthday seems different is that in my mind sixty years implies some level of wisdom. From my perspective I have always looked at men and women who were sixty and above with at least some degree of respect. My reasoning being if they have lived this long they surely have learned something, so I can learn something from them. Obviously that is not always true. Some appear to have lived their sixty-plus years and managed to bypass the accumulation of wisdom.
So, as the day approached and passed I continued to look for that wisdom that I could pass along to those coming behind me (and maybe even some of those who are ahead of me), that would make their journey easier and more enjoyable.
The insight came during a commercial break of a recorded program of the one called the greatest golfer of all time, and is narrated by another of golf’s greatest. You can see the commercial by going to this link: Swing Your Swing.
Swing your swing. That is it. Arnold Palmer and Dick’s Sporting Goods said it well.
Swing your swing. Live your life. Live the life you have been given. Not the life you wish you had. Or the life you think you should life. Live the life you have been given. Use your talents. Do what you were created to do.
Long before the commercial, the company, golf and any of the great golfers, God used his servant Paul to live the message of being who you were created to be, then offer these instructions on how to function well within the body.
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:18, NIV84)
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27, NIV84)
So, my bit of wisdom to you is this: Swing your swing. Be you. God created you to be you. Learn from other people. Glean from the experience and wisdom of those who have gone before you. But be you.
If you are a teacher, teach the way you teach. If you are a singer, sing with your voice and your music. If you are an athlete, play your game your way. If you are a preacher, preach the message God is giving you and share the message the way God has equipped you to share it.
Although God has placed, and will place, very gifted and talented people in your life and along your path do not try to be them. Some of those respected may even try to push you into their mold, or shape you into someone they admire and respect. Resist the pressure. Swing your swing. Play your way. Live your life. Use your talents. Develop your gifts. Follow God your way. Swing your swing.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Tue 26 Feb 2013, 3:19 pm

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

Vol. 16 No. 08 February 25, 2013

We Do Not Lose Heart

I suspect there are some reading these words might take exception to the title: We Do Not Lose Heart. You do not mean to lose heart. You do not want to lose heart. You know that you should not lose heart. But, you are. You are losing heart…or at least you feel like you may be losing heart.
You have dreams that seem to be fading. You think about opportunities that have passed by, or never came. You see obstacles that are too big and too powerful to overcome. You are faced with problems that seem to have no solution. You feel the pressure, you are perplexed, you feel you are being attacked on every side and from the most surprising people, and are afraid that if you are knocked down one more time you make not be able to get back up. You feel weak, tired, and defeated.
What are you going to do? What can you do?
Start here. Read what Paul wrote, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, NIV84)
Does that sound like you? At least the “hard pressed, perplexed, in despair, persecuted, abandoned, and struck down” parts sounds familiar. The other things? Not so much right now.
Read what he wrote at the end of the chapter, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV84)
Feel any better? Does it help to know you are not alone in your struggles? Do you find any comfort in hearing that others have experienced the same difficulties? Maybe? Maybe not? I know. I have been there.
Before you quit take a deep breath. Before you slump off into depression and hopelessness because you still cannot figure out how to fix all the stuff that is wrong in your world read this third paragraph that fits between the other two. This is where Paul reveals the reason he does not lose heart.
He wrote, “It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:13-15, NIV84)
Did you see it? It is right there in the middle of the paragraph. One sentence: because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.
That is the secret. That is the key. That is what can keep us from losing heart. Look up. Look at Jesus. Rely on the fact that He will raise us up. Our struggles show that the Gospel is at work in us. Our difficulties will be turned into His glory. There is a lot we cannot see if we stay focused only on what we can see. This is temporary stuff. We are about the eternal.
I pray that through our faith in Jesus Christ who will raise us up we will not lose heart.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 18 Feb 2013, 10:06 pm

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


A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 07 February 18, 2013

It Is Time To Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV84)
It has been a long full week. Pressures at work have been even more intense than usual. Deadlines are getting closer. Conversations are getting more strained. Because of the pressures at work your home life is suffering. It is time to rest.
The weekend was great! Traveled for hours for a time of spiritual refreshment. The schedule was full. The emotions were all over the place. You were refreshed, revived and restored. And your energy was depleted. It is time to rest.
Your vacation was the vacation of your dreams. You did everything you had dreamed of doing. You went everywhere you had ever hoped to go. You saw things up close that you had only seen in photographs. Now it is over. Now it is time to rest.
You have not had a day away from the children in weeks. You and your husband have not had a real date in months. You are tired. You are frazzled. You are on the brink. It is time to rest.
You have studied for the test for months. You have not taken a break in days. You keep thinking once you get beyond the test you take some time off, but it seems like an eternity away. It is time to rest.
We push. We shove. We put stress on ourselves. We feel pressure from others. We deal with it. We don’t deal with it. We ignore it. We try to pretend that it does not exist. It does.
We talk about rest. We think about rest. We talk about how must we need to rest. We talk about how difficult it is to find time to rest. We talk about the consequences of not taking time to rest.
Jesus’ words are an invitation that we need to heed. The words are more than just nice sounding words. The words are a promise that that there is a better way. The words promise that with God’s help life can be lived at a different pace, a better pace, an easier pace, and a healthier pace.
The words are good words and wise words. But unless we hear and heed the words they will always be just words. Jesus invites us to rest. Jesus is inviting you to rest. Is it time for rest for your soul?

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 11 Feb 2013, 10:27 pm

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

Vol. 16 No. 06 February 11, 2013

Your Safe Place
“The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for your area.” Those were the words from the computerized voice awakening me from a peaceful sleep at about 2:30 AM. I listened. Checked the time. Got up to see what happening. As I stepped out on the front porch there was an eerie quiet with only the sound of a storm warning horns in the distance. Although not usually unnerved by weather events, this one seemed different so I turned on the television tuned to the local station to see their weather screen lit up with severe storms moving across the area. Within in minutes the forecaster pinpointed an area not far to the east of us and issued this statement: “If you live in this area it is time for you to get to your safe place.”
Sure enough the morning light revealed significant damage had been done by a number of tornados that had moved through the area and touched down in a number of places. Along with one life lost trees were twisted and tossed like toothpicks. The roofs of homes and businesses were torn off and tossed aside.
(As I write this storms are beginning to move through our area with similar concerns, and thousands in the Northeast are without power due to the latest snow storm, and thousands more are still without power or homeless because of another storm 100 days ago.)
When I hear the exhortation from the weather person to, “Get to your safe place!” I am reminded of other times in my life when I have received similar encouragement. Like when the nurse said, “You need to get to our office NOW!” And when the doctor said, “You need to have the surgery as soon as possible.” And another said, “You need to go to bed and stay for a while.” There is wisdom in hearing and heeding the warnings from doctors, nurses, and weather forecasters when they tell you get to your safe place.
There is even greater wisdom in knowing that we have a spiritual safe place where we can always go when the storm is raging, or when life is calm. God is our safe place. Consider these words from Scripture.
2 Samuel 22:2-4 (NIV84)
He said: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation.

He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—

from violent men you save me.
I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

and I am saved from my enemies.

Psalm 18:1-3 (NIV84)
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.

He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

and I am saved from my enemies.

Psalm 62:6-8 (NIV83)
He alone is my rock and my salvation;

he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;

he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your hearts to him,

for God is our refuge. Selah

Psalm 91:1-3 (NIV84)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare

and from the deadly pestilence.

Psalm 144:1-3 (NIV84)
Praise be to the Lord my Rock,

who trains my hands for war,

my fingers for battle.
He is my loving God and my fortress,

my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,

who subdues peoples under me.
O Lord, what is man that you care for him,

the son of man that you think of him?

You have a safe place? When the storms of life are raging, He is a safe place. When the weather is really bad the forecasters may say, “Do not hesitate. Now is the time to get to your safe place.” In life, the urgency is even greater. “Do not hesitate. Go to your safe place now.” He is there. You will be safe.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Sat 02 Feb 2013, 8:19 pm

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

Vol. 16 No. 04 January 28, 2013

The Sick Helping the Sick

In Luke 4 Jesus announces the coming of the Kingdom of God: Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
 because he has anointed me
 to preach good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
 and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:14-19, NIV1984)
In Luke 5 He had this conversation with the Pharisees: But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:30-32, NIV1984)
The message seems clear. The Kingdom of God is about unhealthy people accepting God’s healing and turning around and helping other unhealthy people do the same thing. Sick people getting help, then helping other sick people.
How does that work?
It starts with the realization that at one time we were all helpless and hopeless (Romans 5) and without hope. In that condition we were far from God, foreigners, and weak.
As we accepted that truth we are all saved by grace the grace of God (Ephesians 2). By God’s grace we have moved from being foreigners to being brought close. We were aliens in a foreign land, and then brought near to God. Being saved we are brought into the body as new creations to do good works that God has prepared ahead of time for us to do.
Part of doing those good works involves moving out from our sickness, and leaving our limitations behind, relying on the Spirit of God as our new source of strength to look around us to others who are just as sick and unhealthy and bring them along the path toward healing and renewal.
How is this for a recruitment notice?
Wanted: Men and women who have admitted they have a helpless and sick nature, and want to walk with other men and women (who are equally helpless and sick) to a new life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Otherwise known as the abundant life. Perfect people need not apply.
That is our task. It is possible. May it begin with me.
Tom
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Post  Admin on Wed 23 Jan 2013, 11:36 pm

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

A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 03 January 21, 2013

The Truth About Lies

Once upon a time there was a man who had achieved more than any of his colleagues and competitors. He had won every competition he had entered. No only did he win but he won in impressive fashion. Year after year after year he excelled. Year after year he was praised. Year after year after year he claimed the titles, received the awards, and achieved his dreams. He became an icon. His face was on the cover of almost every magazine, he appeared on every talk show on every network, he was the headliner at all the big events, his accomplishments were the subject of ever radio talk show, and his name became a household word around the world. He was the best.

The rumors began. Stories of inappropriate activity began to surface. Questions of his integrity became commonplace. Conversations turned into debates. Casual talk turned into heated discussions. Investigations were launched. Hearings were called to discuss the allegations. Charges were filed. The tide was turning.

“I am innocent!”

“I did not do it.”

“I am not guilty.”

“You have it all wrong.”

“You do not understand.”

“You do not know the pressure I am under.”

“I am not lying.”

“I am telling you the truth.”

Then, the truth came out. The stories were true. He had cheated. He had lied. He had deceived. He had destroyed lives to protect his image. He had used his power and influence to cover his crimes, his sins, his indiscretions, his poor choices, his abuses, and his shortcomings. He lied to cover his lies. He lied to protect his reputation. He lied to protect his fortune. He lied to “protect his family.”

Eventually the truth comes out. His face once again appears on the covers of magazines, newscast, and talk show promos. His image is soiled. His reputation is ruined. His integrity is lost. His family is devastated. His private life has now become the lead story on the evening news. The world that he had so carefully kept from public view is now discussed over coffee, in car pools, in living rooms, around dinner tables, in the local diner, at the lunch counter, and in small group Bible studies. The life that was once the envy of the world is now described with words of betrayal, disgust, and disbelief.

The wise man gives these words of truth on lies.

There are six things the Lord hates, 
 seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, 
 hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, 
 feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies
 and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19, NIV)
A truthful witness gives honest testimony, 
 but a false witness tells lies. 18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, 
 but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:17-18, NIV)
“Two things I ask of you, O Lord; 
 do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; 
 give me neither poverty nor riches, 
 but give me only my daily bread. 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
 and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ 
Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9, NIV)
Let us be people of truth. Let us live by a higher standard. Let us be people of integrity. Let us be people that other people can trust.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 14 Jan 2013, 10:48 pm

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

A Norvell Note
Vol. 16 No. 02 January 14, 2013

If You Had Never Been Born

In It’s A Wonderful Life George Bailey questioned that.

At his low point, defeated and broken and not knowing where else to turn he visits Mr. Potter seeking help, only to have his nemesis pour salt on his wounds:

Mr. Potter: “You're worth more dead than alive! Why don't you go to the riffraff you love so much and ask them to let you have $8,000? You know why? Because they'd run you out of town on a rail. But I'll tell you what I'm going to do for you, George. Since the state examiner is still here, as a stockholder of the Building and Loan, I'm going to swear out a warrant for your arrest. Misappropriation of funds, manipulation, malfeasance...”

[sees George runs off]

Mr. Potter: “All right, George, go ahead! You can't hide in a little town like this!”

Potter’s words hit home. George believed him. He concluded that he was indeed worth more dead than alive. He wished he had never been born.

He got is wish. The story is his look into his world without him in it. The result is a renewed, restored and revived George Bailey.

Can you identify with George? You are feeling as if life has passed or is passing you by. Other people get all the breaks. Other people get the promotions. Other people take the dream-of-a-lifetime vacations. Other people live in the biggest houses in the nicest neighbors and drive the coolest cars. You, well your stuck working at the same old “Broken-down savings and loan” in the same old boring Bedford Falls that you call home.

Do what George Bailey did. Take a few minutes and try to imagine what your world would be like if you had never been born into your world.

If you had never been born…

Your children would have never known their Daddy.

Your children would have never been able to say, “I love you, Mommy.”

Your wife would have never have been able to walk down the aisle into your arms.

Your husband would have never heard you say, “I will love you until I did.”

Your company would have never rebounded from the recession and made the progress it has made.

Your students would have never experienced your passion for teaching English, or Math, or History.

Your parents would have never been able to say, “I’m proud of you.”

Those people with whom you shared the Gospel when you went on that mission trip would have never learned that they are loved by the Creator of the world so much that He gave His one and only Son to die so they could have eternal life.

That little boy down the street who got hurt while his mother was working late would not have gotten the care and attention he needed.

That money you gave to support the ministries in your church would have never been given.

That little boy who watched the way you handled yourself when you lost the big game would have never learned what it means to be a good sport and how to win gracefully and lose with grace.

That little girl who never knew her real Dad would have never known what it meant to be loved the right way.

That couple watching the way you and your husband love and respect each other would have never seen what a good marriage looks like.

That young lady watching how you look at your husband when he comes to the office for a visit would have known that there is a different way.

My name is not Clarence and I am not trying to get my wings, but I can assure you: When the enemy tells you that it would have been better if you had never been born, it is a lie. Do not listen to the lies.

You are not a mistake. You are not worthless. Your family would not be better off if you were dead. You are not worth more dead than you are alive. The world, your world, would not be better without you. You would be missed. You do make a difference. You have value. You are unique. You are special. You are needed. Nobody else can ever be you or make a difference for good like you.

How do I know this? Because I know that you were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Because I know that because God created you, you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Because I know that God loves you so much he gave His one and only son to die for you (John 3:16). Because I know that Jesus said, “I have come that you may life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

If you had never been born? You were. God knew what He was doing. He knows what He is doing. Trust Him and live to the fullest!

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 07 Jan 2013, 9:47 pm

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

A Norvell Note

Vol. 16 No. 01 January 7, 2013

It Is Time!



It is time to stop playing games with the greatest story ever told. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He came. He lived. He died. He was buried. He rose again. He forgives us all our sins. He invites us to live abundantly knowing that we are saved by His grace through our faith in the risen Lord. He will come again and we will be with Him forever.

It is time we start living like we have saved by grace.

It is time we act like we believe that He is the risen Lord.

It is time we like we know that we are saved.

It is time we love people like God loves us because He loved us first.

It is time we started sharing the story of God love, mercy and grace with as many people as we possibly can.

It is time we stop listening to and putting more trust in the news media, the stock market and prophets of legalism, and start hearing the Lord when He says, “If I am for you who can be against you.”

It is time we stop believing that people of faith have no voice, have no influence, and that we cannot live holy lives that make a difference.

It is time we allow the words we speak, read, and sing turn into actions of courage and faith.

It is time we stop listening more to those who are wise in the ways of the world and started listening to those who are wise in the ways of God.

It is time we stop accepting violence as acceptable.

It is time we get serious about being peacemakers, not just peace lovers.

It is time we admit that we really are helpless without God and stop pretending otherwise.

It is time for us to honor those who truly deserve being honored and stop glorifying those who win medals that will not last.

It is time to speak up when we should speak up and be silent when we need to be silent.

It is time for us to focus on the things that really matter and stop spending our time and our money and energy on things that do not.

It is time we stop shirking our responsibility to be the voice of reason in a world that being guided by those who can speak the loudest.

It is time to be people who love like Jesus, talk like Jesus, listen like Jesus, confront like Jesus, show compassion like Jesus, speak with confidence and authority like Jesus, respond to needs like Jesus, offer hope like Jesus, demonstrate peace like Jesus, and sacrifice like Jesus.

It is time we stop complaining about what other are doing or are not doing and start doing what God has called us to do and to be.

It is time! Let this be the year that we step out in faith with confidence and courage and make a difference for God.
Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 31 Dec 2012, 11:36 pm

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

Vol. 15 No. 51 December 31, 2012

The Next Thing: Blessing or Curse

The next thing: Is it a blessing or a curse?
Obviously there are times when the next thing is a good thing. When times are difficult just getting to the next thing is a major thing. Getting to the next thing means progress and usually means moving forward. So, the next thing can be a blessing.
The next thing is just that, the next thing on your list to do. The next thing is always there no matter how short your To Do list is. Even if your next thing is “Do Nothing,” it is still there. It is the next thing. Rarely will our list include “Do Nothing.” It seems that there is always one more thing to do.
So the next thing may be more of a curse than a blessing.
While we are having lunch we often talk about what we are going to have for dinner. While we are having dinner we talk about what we will have for dessert. After dessert we talk about what movie we are going to see. As we sit waiting for the movie to begin we talk about whether or not we are going to have coffee later.
When we are children cannot wait until we are teenagers. Once reach our teen years look toward the next phase when we can go to college or get our of our parents home. The next thing is get a job, then have find a spouse, then have a child, then get through the terrible twos, then through the teen years, then into college, then out of college, then hope they get a job, then hope they find a spouse, then push them to have children…GRANDCHILDREN.
The next thing is always out there calling us, pushing us, challenging us, pressuring us, and if we are not careful causing us to look past and missing the beauty in the present moment.
While you were enjoying a wonderful lunch with friends you spent more time talking about the next thing on your schedule and missed much of the beauty of the friendly conversation. While you were having your last meal with the family on vacation you were, in your mind, mapping out your travel plans for the trip home.
The curse of the next thing likes to rob us of joy of the moment. The curse of the next thing loves to cause us to worry about tomorrow so we will ignore the pleasure of today. The curse of the next thing does all it can to blind us the beauty of the present thing. The curse of next thing can leave us wondering what we missed and filled with the miserable feelings of regret over what could have been.
So how do we avoid the curse of the next thing? I know of only one way.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-33, NIV)
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV)
Do not worry about tomorrow. Seek first His kingdom. Be careful how you live. Make the most of every opportunity. Understand what the Lord’s will is. Live in the moment.
There will always be a next thing. How you handle it will determine if it is a blessing or a curse.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 24 Dec 2012, 11:50 am

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





A Norvell Note
Vol. 15 No. 50 December 24, 2012
Finally Here
This week children of all ages will wake up early in the morning with shouts of glee that Christmas is finally here. When we were children it seemed as though the 365 days between Christmas Day and Christmas Eve was unbearably long. Those last few days before Christmas drag along as if to torture us. Then, we awaken on that glorious day of opening presents and playing with new toys. We can breath again. It is finally here. That is what is like for children waiting for Christmas.

Imagine what it was like for the children of God as they waited century after century after century after long century for the coming of the Messiah. Rumors would spread about the coming One. Hopes would be dashed, as once again it was not the One. Generations would come and generations would go without the Messiah, without the Redeemer, without the hopes being fulfilled.

Then, the rumors began to sound more like reality, but a reality too good to be true. “The King has been born!” Many could not, or would not believe them. A baby? In a manger? In Bethlehem? The mother was a virgin? That’s ridiculous!

As the curious and the wise traveled to investigate the stories, Lord confirmed them and silenced the rumors. It is true! The announcement came: “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

He is finally here!

Not only did He come. He came to be with us. He finally came. “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (The Message) Jesus came. God’s only Son came. He came to dwell with us. He came to live in our neighborhood. He finally came.

Can you imagine the relief?

After all that time He came. After waiting for centuries He came. After all the wondering and questioning and disappointments, He finally came.

And, the news continued to get better and better. He did not just come He came to be with us and He came to be our Savior. He came to redeem us. He came to show us how to live. He came to show us how to serve the Father and how to serve and love one another.

He came because He loved us and knew we needed Him to do for us what we could not do for ourselves: Save us.

He came because He wants us to share His story with others. He wants His story to be our story.

A year from now (if we are still alive) the child in us will again breathe a sigh of relief that Christmas finally came, that families finally come together again, and that the special feeling we call Christmas will finally be alive again. In the meantime we will live, we will love, we will watch, we will hope, we will share, and we will long for Him to come again to end the suffering, to end the abuse, to end the sorrow, and finally put an end to saying goodbye. One day, we do not know when, He will appear again and we will experience a joyous and complete relief knowing that the wait is finally over and that it has been worth it because He finally came. When He finally comes again it will be His grand finale. We will finally get to be with Him forever.



Tom



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Post  Admin on Tue 18 Dec 2012, 1:38 pm

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

Vol. 15 No. 49 December 17, 2012

He Does Amazing Things

Well, she is married.
Typically on Sunday afternoon and evening I put the finishing touches on the weekly Note, but not this time. If all goes as planned by the time you read this Note our daughter (our ONLY daughter…MY daughter…my ONLY daughter) will be married. During the time when I usually finish up and hit “send” the reception will be winding down and I will likely have turned into a puddle of tears somewhere in the Hill Country of Dripping Springs, Texas.
Let there be no mistake, this is a wonderful occasion that has come pass through the amazing wonders of our great, loving and merciful God. We are extremely proud of our daughter, the woman she has become, and we could no be more pleased with the man she has chosen for her husband. God has done, is doing, and always will do amazing things.
The text used in the ceremony is from Joshua 3 where the people of God were about to cross over into the Promised Land. They were to follow the Ark of the Covenant so they would know the way to go since they had “never been this way before” (verse 4). Then in verse 5, Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
Amazing things. God does amazing things.
As I stand/stood before my daughter and my son-in-law I shared with them some of the ways we as their parents, friends, and family have seen and are seeing God work in their lives. It is amazing! God is amazing! God does amazing things!
For us this is a time of emotional reflection, a time of joyful peace, and a time of once again being amazed by how God works, in our lives as parents, as children, as His followers.
As the months and weeks leading up to this day I have reflected on the day we discovered we would have another child, the first time I held her in my arms, and all the other firsts we have experienced. I have also spent several tearful moments thinking about all the lasts that we have experienced and that we are experiencing. In it all I am again overwhelmed by how God does amazing things…in His way and in His time.
As we move from this season of our lives to the season of remembering the most amazing thing God has done among us: sending His one and only Son into the world to dwell among us, to teach us to live and love, and to show us the true meaning of life…the true meaning of living.
My prayer for us all is that we will not allow this season, or one day, pass without remembering and thanking God for all the amazing things God has done, is doing and will continue to do in our lives and in the lives of those we love.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 10 Dec 2012, 7:57 pm

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



A Norvell Note

Vol. 15 No. 48 December 10, 2012
When I Was A Child



When I was a child the 365 days between one Christmas and the next seemed more like what I perceived must surely be an eternity. Now it seems like we just celebrated it last week.

When I was a child birthdays seemed to be more than a year a part…at last two or three years. I sometimes wondered if my birthday had been skipped. Now it seems like birthdays come once a month, and there is a temptation to skip one or two.

When I was a child I thought that people who were my current age seemed to really old, full of knowledge, stories, and wisdom. Now I think children seem to be really young, but full of knowledge, stories, and wisdom.

When I was a child I dreamed of what it would be like being a grown-up making my own decisions and setting my own schedule. Now that I am a grown-up I dream of what it was like as a child not having to make decisions and having no schedule to keep.

When I was a child I thought life would be easier when I became an adult and had my own job and my own money and could spend it on anything I wanted. Now that I am an adult I dream what it was when I was a child and did not have a job and did not need any money and my parents provided anything I needed.

When I was a child I thought life was completely unfair and I was being terribly deprived. Now that I am an adult I realize how much I have been blessed and how kind and graciously God has treated me.

When I was a child I thought adults were way to serious, did not know anything, and that I had all the answers. Now that I am older I realize that I am sometimes way too serious, that really do not know much of anything, and I have very few answers.

When I was a child I never thought about growing old and did not realize how quickly life can change. Now that I am older I cannot help but think about growing old and sometimes shutter at how quickly life can change.

When I was a child I thought almost everyone was nice and could not imagine anyone being cruel. As I have grown older I have learned first hand that everyone is not nice and that sometimes we can be awfully cruel to other people—sometimes even people we say we love.

When I was a child I thought God loved everyone and everyone loved God. Now that I am older I realize that God does indeed love everyone and cannot understand why everyone does not love Him.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11, NIV84)

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I have tried to put childish ways behind me, but sometimes I wish I could go back to being like a child.

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 03 Dec 2012, 9:31 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note
Vol. 15 No. 47 December 3, 2012

A Time For War and A Time For Peace

As I bring this “A Time For” series to a close I am once again challenged by words in Ecclesiastes 3:1,8b-11: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time for war and a time for peace.

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

War is used to describe a wide spectrum of activities. We use the term war when we talk about nations engaged in military action against one another. Sometimes athletes describe competition on the football field as going to war. Legal teams discuss intense cases against their opponent as war. Politicians plan their campaign strategy as if they were going to war.

When it comes to war opinions vary. Some say it is time for war when freedom is threatened, when the weak and the innocent are being oppressed or abused.

Some say it is time for war when we are being attacked or there is a threat of our being attacked.

Some say it is time for war only when injustice exists.

Some say it is time for war when we need to express our views, promote our cause, and we need to prove our strength.

Some say it is time for war when our views and opinions are not being accepted and appreciated.

Some say it is time for war when we decide that we want to take possession of what others have.

Some say it is time for war only when we are defending “what is right.”

Some say it is time for war any time our free lifestyle is being compromised.

Some say it is time for war only when our free lifestyle is being compromised.

Some say it is only time for war when the calculations have been made and we know we can win the battle.

Some say there is never a time to go to war.

When it comes to peace the opinions also vary.

Some say it is time for peace only after our enemy has been defeated...and destroyed.

Some say it is time for peace any time we can avoid a battle.

Some say it is time for peace only when we cannot win the battle.

Some say we should always seek peace at all cost.

Some say peace is for the weak.

Some say peace is for the losers.

Some say peace is for those who cannot fight.

There is a time for war, and there is a time for peace.

Some will say that when a domestic relationship become so intense, so out of control, and the anger escalates to a point that words can no longer resolve the issues that it is time for war. At that point anything goes. The families of victims of such violence will likely argue the point. They would prefer a time of peace.

Let us seek God’s wisdom and discernment to know when those times come, the courage to stand and fight, and when to seek peace, the love to accept and respect those who have different views, and the faith to know God will make each beautiful in its own time.
Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 26 Nov 2012, 9:42 pm

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

Vol. 15 No. 46 November 26, 2012

A Time To Love and A Time To Hate

In Ecclesiastes 3:1,8a, the wise mans says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to love and a time to hate.”
As a follower of Jesus it is sometimes difficult to harmonize these two statements. We know we are supposed to love. God is love. To be like Jesus means loving His people and His creation.
We love at all times.
We love all people.
We love the lost.
We love the oppressed.
We love the weak.
We love the poor.
We love the brokenhearted.
We love the unlovable.
We love because God first loved us.
We love one another.
We love the church.
We love deeply.
We love unselfishly.
We love sacrificially.
We love unconditionally.
We love our spouses as Christ loves the church.
We love little children.
We love our enemies.
The gospel in a word is love.
But, when do we hate?
We hate what is evil.
We hate sin.
We hate oppression.
We hate abuse.
We hate selfishness.
We hate what God hates.
We hate injustice.
We hate dishonesty.
We hate those who love violence.
We hate wickedness.
We hate the deeds of faithless men.
“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” (Proverbs 7:16, 19, NIV)
We love and we hate. There is a time for both. Part of me wants to encourage us to lean toward love. Part of me want to pat us on the back when we hate the things that God hates. A greater part of me wants to encourage us all to pray for wisdom and discernment so we will know when to love and when to hate, and the courage to do both.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Tue 20 Nov 2012, 12:14 am

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

Vol. 15 No. 45 November 19, 2012

A Time To Be Silent and A Time To Speak

In Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b, the wise mans says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be silent and a time to speak.”

At the risk of crossing the boundary here are a few examples of each.

Times When It Is Appropriate To Be Silent
•When you have nothing to say that is worth.
•When you do not know what you are talking about.
•When you are talking just to hear yourself talk.
•When you realize you are saying something that may not be.
•When you gossiping.
•When someone else is talking.
•When someone else is gossiping.
•When you are in the theater (and it is also to silence your phone).
•When you are saying something that you would not say directly to the person you are talking about.
•When you are being judgmental.
•When you are talking too much about yourself.
•When you should be listening.
•It is appropriate to be silent unless you cannot improve the silence.
Times When It Is Appropriate To Speak

•When what you say benefits those who are listening (Ephesians 4:29)
•When you can speak a word of encouragement.
•When you can express your love.
•When you can and need to express your appreciation.
•When you can speak the truth in a loving way.
•When you preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, release the oppressed, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
•When you need to ask for help for yourself or someone else.
•When you can truly empathize.
•When Christ is preached (Philippians 1:15-18).
•When you have good news to share.
•When you are offering hope and life.
•When you are being thankful.
I have said enough. Hopefully not too much; not too little. It is time to be silent.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 12 Nov 2012, 9:20 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
A Norvell Note
Vol. 15 No. 44 November 12, 2012

A Time To Tear and A Time To Mend

There is a time to tear and a time to mend.

Sometimes the fences around our property need to be torn down in order to build or improve relations with our neighbors; sometimes the fences around our property need to be mended in order to build or improve relations with our neighbors.

There are times when walls of division need to be torn down so that divisions in relationships can be mended.

There is considerable talk in our nation of the need for the barriers that separate us politically must be torn down so that meaningful change can occur that will mend some of the ills that exist.

In families, churches, businesses, education systems, and other organizations generational differences have to be torn down to create a spirit of unity and cooperation can emerge to for the good of the whole.

Many of our communities have boundaries – some visible and some invisible – that isolate, insulate, and protect us in the security of our neighborhoods from the undesirables. Maybe it is time some of these boundaries are torn down so that the dysfunction our communities can be mended.

Occasionally a wall may form between husbands and wives due to hurts, disappointments, or unmet expectations that are not confronted and dealt with. Those walls must be torn down or the relationship may be permanently damaged.

Parents may sense similar walls being built between them and their children as a result of poor and ineffective communication. Those walls must be destroyed in order to keep the relationship growing and healthy.

There was a time when mankind was separated from God because of our sin. We needed a way to tear down the curtain that kept us from Him. We tried but we could do nothing to make it possible. On the cross Jesus tore the curtain in two and forever mend our brokenness.

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46, NIV1984)

There was a time when we were powerless to do anything to repair the damage our sins had done to our relationship with God. By dying for us the relationship has been mended.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8, NIV)

There was a time when we were dead because of our sins. We tried to earn our way back into God’s good graces. We failed. There was nothing we could do to bring us back close to Him. The great love of the One who is rich in mercy made us alive and mended us and saved us.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 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. 3 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. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:1-5, NIV)

There is a time to tear and a time to mend. Thanks be to God that He has seen fit to tear away all the barriers that keep us separated from Him and has mended our helpless condition.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 05 Nov 2012, 7:04 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
- http://www.anorvellnote.com
You can help the people affected by Hurricane Sandy: Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org/

A Norvell Note

Vol. 15 No. 43 November 5, 2012

A Time To Keep And A Time To Throw Away
From the wise words of Solomon we read: “There is a time to keep and a time to throw away.”

I am writing these words while sitting on my deck in the beauty of a beautiful autumn morning. It is cool, but too cool. It is breezy, but not breezy. It is quiet, but I still hear traffic in the distance, a few birds, and two squirrels apparently discussing their plans for the day. I have made a list of things I hope to accomplish this weekend. One of the items on my list is “clean out my closet and discard clothes I do not need.” “There is a time to keep and a time to throw away.”

In the northeastern quadrant of our nation there are millions of people searching for answers to the question “Why did this happen?” Their homes have been destroyed by wind, rain, waves, and sand. Their belongings are scattered all along the eastern coast. Slowly and deliberately they dig through the rubble hoping to find something that they can save that reminds them of the place they once called home. As they search they will sort. Some things they will keep. Some things they will throw away.

There is a drawer in our kitchen cabinet that is filled with stuff” The “catch-all” drawer. You probably have one too. There are times when the drawer becomes so filled with “important stuff that we may need at some point in time” that it has to be cleaned-out. It is almost that time. Some stuff we will keep. Some stuff will be thrown away.

There are places in our home that are collection areas. A room. A garage. A car. A closet. A corner. A table. My desk. A shelf. These are places where we put stuff that we feel the need to keep because we are not sure if we need it or not. So, we put it there. There are times when we need to go through the piles and keep what is worth keeping and throw away what needs to be thrown away.

Even in our world of social networks, there is a time to keep and a time to throw away. Reminds me of the little rhyme:

Make new friends

But keep the old.

One is silver.

The other is gold.

In our lives there are times when we need to take inventory. Through the years we have stored things in our hearts, in our minds, maybe in our souls. Much of what we have stored is good (maybe most of it). Some of it is not. Some of it has been kept around because the hurt has been so significant we have not known how to let it go. Some of it we have held onto just in case we need it to us as a weapon of defense or worse, a weapon of revenge. There is a time to keep and a time to throw away.

How do we determine what to keep and what to throw away?

I am not the wise man who first penned these words but here are a couple of thoughts that may help in the process of determining what to keep and what to throw away.

First, if it has served it purpose, is no longer of any worth to you, or if it could be more useful to someone else, it is probably time to throw it away or to pass it on.

Second, if you are holding on to it for selfish or evil purposes it is certainly time to throw it away.

Third, if it still has value and brings you joy, keep it and cherish it, and share it with those you love.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 29 Oct 2012, 11:52 pm

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

Vol. 15 No. 42 October 29, 2012

A Time To Search And A Time To Give Up



For the mother and dad of a lost child it is a time to search, and search, and search. For the parents of a son or daughter who has gone off into “the far country” it is time to search…search every voice mail, every text, every email, and every face in the crowd. For the child with a missing pet it is time to search. For the family of man who was last seen in a boat on the lake it is a time to search. For the neighbors who cannot find the older gentleman who lives down the street it is time to search. After the storm has ravaged the neighborhood it is time to search.

There is a time to search and time to give up.

When Easter rolls and the eggs are scattered and hidden, the children equipped with their empty baskets take off in search of the eggs. When they all found the search is over.

At Christmas and birthdays the search begins for the perfect gift that will express our deep love for the person. When the gift is found and purchased the search is over.

When we come out of the mall and cannot remember where we parked the car the search begins. We walk around pressing the electronic door lock until we finally hear the beep. The search is over.

When we are rushed leaving the house to get to work and we cannot find our keys the search for the keys begins. After we have ransacked the house and racked our brains the keys are found. The search is over.

Hunters dress in their camouflage, load their guns, and head out into the woods. The search is on for wild game. When they meet their quota they head for home. The search is over.

The wedding is approaching and the search for the perfect dress is underway. You search, your mom searches, your friends search with you. Then, you find it. It is perfect. The dress you have always dreamed of wearing on your wedding day. The search is over.

From the time we are old enough to process it we begin to search for the one person with whom we will live the rest of our lives, the one with whom we will have children, and the one who will share our hopes and dreams. One day the Lord reveals that He has answered our prayers. The search is over.

In Luke 15 Jesus talks about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. The search for the lost is relentless. When the sheep is found, when the coin is recovered, and when the son comes home the search is over.

When we learn that a soul is lost the search begins. How can we connect them? How do we ask the right questions? What Scriptures should we share with them? Is there are way to introduce them to some of the members of our church? Am I the right person to study with them?

From the beginning of time the God who created us to be with Him, to know Him, to be loved by Him, and to love Him. We make our choices that disrupt that relationship. We search for something we can do, something we can change, and something that will repair the relationship. We search for answers. We search for something new we can try. We search for some way to correct all that we have done wrong. Then one day we meet Jesus. The search is over. It is time to end the search and surrender to the One who has been searching for us.

There is a time to search and a time to give up.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Mon 22 Oct 2012, 6:35 pm

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

A Norvell Note

Vol. 15 No. 40 October 15, 2012

A Time To Embrace and A Time To Refrain

Ecclesiastes 3:5b says there is “a time to embrace and a time to refrain”. It is believed that Solomon was referring to the display of affections, probably of a man to a woman and perhaps also of a woman to a man.

The first thing that comes to mind when I read this second half of verse 5 goes back to college days. There was professor at a university I attended who was known for his bold exhortation to couples on campus who were, in his opinion, showing too much of a public display of affection (PDA). Some of you may have also heard, or been the recipient of his stern, “Get your hands off that girl!” There is a time to embrace and a time to refrain. There are times for dating couples to embrace and there are times when it is better to refrain from embracing.

I consulted several commentaries on the verse. Warren Wiersbe’s observations caught my eye: Embracing and refraining from embracing (v. 5). People in the Near East openly show their affections, kissing and hugging when they meet and when they part. So, you could paraphrase this, “A time to say hello and a time to say good-bye.” This might also refer to the relationship of a husband and wife (Lev. 15:19–31; and see 1 Cor. 7:5).[1]

From that I began to ponder the different occasions when we might express affection by embracing. We embrace when we say hello. We embrace as we say goodbye. We embrace when we want to say I love you without actually saying the words. We embrace when we want to comfort someone who going through a struggle. We embrace when we want to show our support. We embrace when we want to provide encouragement. Sometimes we embrace because we do not have the words to express how we feel. When our team scores a touchdown or wins the game we may embrace to celebrate with other fans. When someone has lost a loved one we may embrace to demonstrate our sadness and express our mutual grief. Sometimes, as a couple, we embrace to acknowledge the joy of sharing a special moment.

Some embraces are serious. Some embraces are due to sadness. Some embraces are lighthearted. Some embraces are long and passionate. Some embraces are sudden, quick, unexpected, and humorous. Some embraces are comfortable and natural. Some embraces are inexplicably awkward. Some embraces you want to last forever. Some embraces you want to end as soon as possible.

There are times when it is appropriate to embrace.

There are also times when it is not appropriate to embrace. When do we refrain from embracing?

It may be time to refrain from embracing if it is unwanted by the other person. If it embarrasses the other person it is best to refrain from embracing. Some children reach an age when they do not want to be hugged in public and in front of their friends. “Dad, I’m too old for that!” If the other person is committed to another person it may not be appropriate to embrace. It may be particularly awkward if you have had a romantic relationship with that person. It is time to refrain from embracing when the other person is hurting and wants to be left alone. It is time to refrain from embracing if the other person is distracted and just not interested in embracing at that moment.

There is a time to embrace and time to refrain from embracing. If you are a “hugger” you may not understand why anyone would be resistant when you come at them as say “I’m gonna hug your neck”. If you are a “non-hugger” you may have a difficult time putting your arms around even people you love, much less a pushy aunt whom you have never met or heard of.

Frankly, I am glad the man of wisdom taught these boundaries about the appropriateness and inappropriateness of embracing. There are times when embracing is just not the thing to do. However, there are other times when there is nothing more appropriate or needed that a genuine “I-just-need-to-express-to-you-how-much-I-love-and-care-about-you-hug.”

Some of you read these words with tears in your eyes because you remember, and can still feel, that last embrace and you would give almost anything for just one more. Some of you are saddened because you have not felt the arms of a another human being wrapped around you in so long you have almost forgotten how it feels. Some of you are smiling as you think about the embrace you will receive when you greet your family at the end of the day. All of us can find joy in knowing that one day, like the prodigal son, when we make our way home weary and broken from our journey, our Father will greet us with open and loving arms to embrace us and welcome us home. That will be a time for embracing.

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 15 Oct 2012, 9:25 pm

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

A Norvell Note

Vol. 15 No. 40 October 15, 2012

A Time To Scatter Stones And A Time To Gather Them
Ecclesiastes 3:5 says, There is “a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,” As the following paragraph explains there are numerous interpretations about what this line means.

Friendship and enmity (v. 5)
This particular section has been prone to a number of interpretations. Some interpretations of the stones metaphor include: the old Jewish practice of dropping stones into an open grave, the preparation for the building of a house, the building of a memorial, and the destruction of the temple and God’s judgement. A simple interpretation could be found in the practice of ancient armies in covering an enemy’s field with stones in order to make it unproductive (2 Kings 3:19, 25), and the removal of stones from a field before planting (Isa. 5:2). Gordon Keddie suggests the additional picture of the preparation of the highway for the advance of the victorious army (Isa. 62:10).1 The overall message, however, is that in human experience there are times of friendship and there are times of enmity.[1]
If you will consider the author’s conclusion that the meaning is that “there are times of friendship and there are times of enmity” you may not need to look very far to find numerous examples of the latter. The current political conversation is one example. A visit to the divorce court will provide you with another. Reading the histories of corporations, institutions, and unfortunately churches will enlighten and disappoint you. Focusing your attention on the local news, reading the newspapers, or checking the daily headlines on your favorite news website, will surely assure you of the truth in the statement and perhaps lead you toward discouragement and depression.

Therefore, I would suggest you turn your attention to the other option: times of friendship. Ponder the times when you have made new friends. Ponder the times when you those new friends became friends for life. Ponder the times when your friendships lifted you up in prayer, supported you through crisis, and sustained you during the darkest and most difficult of days. Ponder the times when your friendship was threatened by enmity, and the pain that brought to you and to your friend. Ponder the times when you and your friend worked, prayed, and cried as you overcame the enmity and experienced complete restoration of the friendship. Ponder the blessing of that person, those people you call friend. Thank God for the friendship, then, thank your friend for being your friendship.

There is a time for friendship and a time for enmity. Since you have a choice, make this a time of time of friendship. If there is a friendship that needs attention please give it the attention it needs. Now. Not later. The relationship is too valuable. You will be glad you made the effort.

Thank you to all the friends who read these words, share them with a friend, and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for a friend.

Tom

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Post  Admin on Mon 08 Oct 2012, 10:54 pm

A NORVELL NOTE by Tom Norvell
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A Norvell Note
Vol. 15 No. 39 October 7, 2012

A Time To Mourn and A Time To Dance

We mourn the loss of a loved one. We mourn the loss of a dream. We mourn when we lose our job. We mourn when the storm hits our city and destruction is everywhere. We mourn when our marriage fails. We mourn when we lose a friend. We mourn when we make a mistake that creates chaos and we must deal with the consequences. We mourn when the doctor tells us mass is cancer. We mourn when our heart gets broken. We mourn when we lose our home to foreclosure. We mourn when a fire destroys our possessions. We mourn when the floodwaters wash away everything we own. We mourn when our favorite team loses the championship. We mourn when we lose a sentimental possession. We mourn when we think of the lost. We mourn when we think of the souls we have failed to reach. We mourn when we think of the missed opportunities to share the story of Jesus.

There is a time to mourn and a time to dance.

We dance when we receive an unexpected gift. We dance when someone we love shows up at our door unannounced. We dance at weddings. We dance when we are excited. We dance when we celebrate. We dance when our team scores a touchdown. We dance when we win. We dance when it rains after a long dry spell. We dance when the rain stops. We dance when our hearts are full of praise to the Creator. We dance when we taste a food that tastes really good. We dance when we finish the race. We dance for joy. We dance when we are happy. We dance when we get a check in the mail that we did not expect…and it is okay to cash it.

We dance (or at least inside we have a sensation something like dancing) when we have a family reunion and we see loved ones we have not seen in years. We mourn at those same gatherings when we think about those who are no longer with us.

We dance (as grandparents I think we may actually dance around) when we learn of new skills that our granddaughter is learning. We mourn (just a little) when think about how quickly she is growing and changing.

We dance (in our hearts) when our daughter tells us she has found the man she wants to marry. We mourn just a little when we realize that things will never be the same.

We mourn when we think of the sins we have committed and the pain it caused Jesus on the cross, and the heartbreak it caused the Father. We dance when we have our sins washed away.

We mourn when we think about the lost souls in the world. We dance when we see one of those lost souls coming to God.

There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. God makes each one beautiful in its on time.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Tue 02 Oct 2012, 2:20 pm

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

Vol. 15 No. 38 October 1, 2012

A Time To Weep and A Time To Laugh


Sometimes you just need to cry. Like the time you wrecked your new car. Or the time you wrecked your friend’s car. Or the time you ruined your new dress. Or the time did not get the job. Or the time heart was broken. Or the time you missed your flight. Or the time you were in the hospital and they did not know what was wrong. Or the time you were in the hospital and they discovered what was wrong…seriously wrong.

There are times when crying is the only appropriate response. When you watch the news report of violence and destruction and death in foreign soil. When you hear about the child who as killed in your city. When you read about a husband who killed his family, then turned the gun on him self. When you see another soldier hugging his family as he deploys for another tour of duty in the war zone. When you see another soldier greeted at the gate by wife and children as he returns home from another tour of duty in the war zone.

There are times when weeping is the right thing to do. As you shed tears of joy over the birth of your child, or their graduation, or their wedding. As you learn of the disobedience and rebellion of your child, your friend, your mentor, or your hero. As you admit your own sinfulness to your spouse, to your church, to your family, and your God.

There are times when you can nothing besides cry. When you learn that the treatment did not work. When your son does not come home. When your daughter calls in tears because her heart has been broken. When your dad packs his bags and walks out the door with no plans of coming back.

There are times to laugh. When the joke is good and clean and hilarious. When your 3-year-old comes out with something totally unexpected. When you are with a friend you have not seen in several months and the conversation is rich and light and filled with joy.

There are times to laugh. When you are sitting around your table with the family telling stories about “the good old days.” When you pull out the old home movies of family vacations, birthdays, and weddings. When you are with your spouse and something totally unexpected happens. When your children begin to tell their friends about strict you were as parents.

There are times to laugh. When you are in the store looking for the perfect birthday and you find it. Without realizing it everyone is staring at you. When you are in the grocery store with your children or your husband and the keep putting things on their list in your basket.

There are times to laugh. We need to laugh more. We need to lighten up. Especially when it comes to the “churchy” part of our personalities. Sometimes we need to laugh at ourselves. We get so serious. At times we are too serious. There times to laugh at ourselves.

There is a time to weep and a time to laugh. And God makes everything beautiful in it’s own time.

Tom
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Post  Admin on Tue 25 Sep 2012, 5:32 pm

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

Vol. 15 No. 37 September 24, 2012
E. Winston Burton

June 15, 1924 - September 19, 2012

It was in the fall semester of 1970 when I began my college education at Arkansas State University. Within the first few weeks of the semester I decided to check out the Church of Christ Student Center. Ezra Winston Burton was the 46-year old campus minister. That began the 42-year long relationship with this man that has guided my path in life, in marriage, in relationships, and in ministry. He was a mentor, he was a father, he was a teacher, he was coach, and he was my friend.

My reflections on my relationship with Winston began long before he left this earth last week. Many times over the last 42 years I have been reminded of how blessed I have been to have had Winston in my life. When I think of Winston I think of the many things He taught me.

Winston taught me how to drink coffee black and strong. You start by eating something sweet, like a really good donut or other equally unhealthy pastry. Eat a bite; take a sip. Eat a bite; take a sip. Before you know it you have stopped eating the donut and are simply drinking strong black coffee.

Winston taught me how to drive fast on curvy roads. First, you take a fast car; then you find a curvy road. That’s about it. Oh, try not to get a speeding ticket.

Winston taught me that I could lead singing, lead devotionals, and lead people. One day when I was innocently walking through the student center singing out loud, Winston said, “Hey, you can lead singing tonight.” I did that night and many more nights.

After forty-two years I am still enjoying strong black coffee. Not doing much speeding around the curves.

Winston taught me how to love people. Maybe it would be better put that he saw the potential in me to love people and helped bring it to the surface. As a college student I watched Winston love students, some who were not (from my perspective) particularly lovable. Winston had the ability to see beyond the exterior into the heart and soul of the student.

Winston taught me how to do what I believe God wants me to do even when some (maybe even your bosses) do not agree with you. Listen to God. Get the best and wisest counsel you can and do what you believe pleases God.

Winston showed me how to stay with the ministry and life and follow my calling even when things are difficult, unpleasant, and not going according to my desires. There may be times when you feel betrayed, deserted, hurt, tired, depressed and discouraged. Do not stop listening to Jesus. Do not abandon your call. Remember the One who has gone before you and gave His life for you.

Winston showed me the importance of family, and that my spiritual family is as real as family can get. Winston and his family literally took me into their home on many occasions. They welcomed me into their family and loved me as if I were a part of their family.

Winton showed me that growing older does not mean our ministry has ended. Winston never stopped. To the end he loved, he taught, he encouraged, he gave wise counsel, and he served.

Above everything, and the thing that continues to mean the most to me, Winston me always to keep my eyes on Jesus. Ministry is not always easy. People are not always kind. Life is not always fair. Jesus is always with me. Jesus is my model. Jesus is my Lord.

There have been many men in my life, but there has been only one E. Winston Burton. I am eternally glad that God placed E. Winston Burton in my life.


Tom

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