Known By God

Vol. 18 No. 33 | August 22, 2016

UnknownFormerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? (Galatians 4:8-9, NIV)

In a chapter what Paul is writing to a church in danger of being sucked back into a system of legalism from which they had been set free, Paul is pleading with them to stay free. He urges them to avoid the dangerous trap being set for them by those who would enslave them again. In these two sentences he describes two contrasting human conditions.

He reminds them of a time “when they did not know God.” Can you remember that time in your life? You were depending on your own merits to save you. You were holding yourself responsible for your own salvation. It was all up to you. You did not know the loving God who sent His son to earth live and die and come back to life. All you knew was human effort ant human achievement. The only meaning to life was what you could accomplish. You did not realize, because you did not know better, but you were a slave. You were so enslaved that the you were not even aware of your enslavement. You thought that was the only way to live.

That has all changed because “now you know God—or rather are known by God.” You know of His love. He made you aware of His love by sending Jesus, His only Son, to break the chains of slavery and set you free. You know of His love through the merciful kindness that tore down the walls that separated you from Him. You know of His love that has been lavished on you through the shedding of blood and the power of His mercy and grace.

You know of His love, but you are also known by the living and loving almighty God who created the universe. He knows you. He cares for you. He showers you with His love. He cherishes you. He knows your weaknesses and sinfulness and loves you completely. He knows your hurts, heartaches, and heartbreaks. He knows your need for refreshment and graciously provides you with seasons of refreshment.

You know Him. He knows you. He as set you free from your bondage. Why would you ever consider going back into a life of slavery?

Please be wise. There are still those who would pull you back into a life that is about making sure you are not breaking any of the rules and trying to keep all the laws. You can try. But you cannot do it. They will promise it as the right way, and the only way. But do not believe their lies. You will fail and fall right back to “those weak and miserable principles.”

The next section of Paul’s letter begins with these words: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

You know God. You are known by God. You have been set free. You are created to be free, so be free and live for the One you know, and the One who knows you. There you will find joy.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When I Am Weak

Vol. 18 No. 32 | August 15, 2016

Complete this sentence: when I am weak…Unknown
When I am weak I feel like a failure.
When I am weak I want to quit.
When I am weak I want to give up.
When I am weak I want to cry.
When I am weak I want to run away.
When I am weak I feel lost.
When I am weak I think my life is a waste.

Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

It is rare for us to hear anyone admit a weakness in our day, much less take pride in our weakness like Paul does. You almost never hear an athlete admit a weakness. When a celebrity admits a weakness it is usually only after a scandal has been uncovered. Certainly not in our current political conversation will you hear any of the contenders admit a weakness.

Paul had reached a level of spiritual maturity where he not only admits his weaknesses, but takes pride in them (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). A man who most who read and believe the Scriptures consider a spiritual giant takes pride in being a failure.

What is the message? What are we to learn from Paul’s example?
Simply and profoundly this: God is our strength.

When you feel that you are weak that is when God will fill you with His strength.
When you have failed God will give you victory.
When you want to quit God will help you go on.
When you are crying God will renew your Spirit.
When you feel lost God will be your home.
When you think your life is a waste God will show you your value.
When you are weak, God’s grace will be sufficient.

If this week is anything like last week, or the week before, or the week before that, there will be something that happens this week that makes you realize that you cannot handle everything by yourself. It could be a family disturbance. It could be an upset customer. It could be a disgruntled employee. I could be a bad report from the doctor.

Whatever it happens to be you may find yourself feeling weak, helpless, and powerless. When that happens listen closely and carefully and you will hear God saying, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Trust that. Lean into that. Know that is true.

Thank Him, and when you are sharing your story include this statement: “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Make Room For Us

Vol. 18 No. 31 | August 8, 2016

Unknown2 Corinthians 7 begins with these words: “Make room for us in your hearts.” Paul is writing to the Christians in Corinth as part of an ongoing relationship with them that involves and in part because of a request for them to give to a special effort to help another group of people. You can read more about that in chapter 8. But for the purposes of this post I want to focus on this one statement: “Make room for us in your hearts.”

Consider the people who are calling out for someone to “Make room for us in your hearts.”

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the children down the street who needs supplies to begin a new school year.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the mother who shows up alone at church every Sunday with two small children.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the single guy who comes in, sits alone, and quietly leaves alone.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the elderly gentleman sitting alone at a table not far from you in the restaurant where you and your church friends go after you leave church services.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the line of people standing in the hot sun waiting for their chance to fill a shopping cart with food. (See OneGenAway.)

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the man at the intersection holding a sign that reads: “No job. No home. Will work for food.”

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries child that moves from foster home to foster home.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the wife and mother as she feverishly bundles her children in her arms, packs what she can in the car and escapes to a shelter.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the middle aged man who goes through life alone, a casualty of being on the wrong side of the power systems and still strives to be a blessing to all.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the grand parents who have reared their own children and now provide a love-filled home for their grandchildren.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the family leaving the comforts of home to move to among the people of a distant and poverty-stricken country to remind them that they have made room for them in their hearts.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the immigrant coming to America hoping to find a safe place to pursue a life where her gifts and talents are acknowledged, respected and appreciated.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Cries the lonely forgotten masses as they hope for someone somewhere to remember they exist, acknowledge they have value, and believe they worthy of our attention.

“Make room for us in your hearts.” Will we hear their cries?

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pour On the Love


Vol. 18 No. 30 | August 1, 2016

As you read these words let me ask that you think about a person who has hurt you. You may be thinking of a friend who has betrayed you by sharing something you told them in confidence. You may be the victim of verbal or physical or emotional abuse. You may be thinking of your spouse or one of your children who walked away from the family for a while and now is ready to come home. You may be thinking of a business partner who went behind your back on a deal that ended up costing you a great deal of money. Any one of these can be terribly painful and create havoc and heartache.

As difficult as the above scenarios may be, and I do not minimize the pain involved with any of them, in Scripture, especially in Paul’s writings there are things that happen that he emphasizes because of the broader and more widespread pain created by the offender. The letters Paul wrote to the church in Corinth deal specifically with an individual(s) who’s sin has and is having a negative effect, not just on individuals but on the collective body of Christ. In earlier writings he has given instruction on the importance of separating the disobedient individual from the fellowship. The process would be similar to that of removing a tumor from the physical body in order to protect the rest of the body.

With that as a backdrop I ask you now to think about a person within your spiritual community who has done something, said something, or acted in some way that is not in keeping with a follower of Jesus. The face of the individual appeared in your mind as you read those words. You remember how angry they became when they were confronted. You can still hear the poisonous words that spewed from their lips. You remember the tension that emerged when people chose sides. You remember how your leaders struggled to deal with them and keep peace in the body. You think of them every time you walk into the building and see the empty space where they usually sat. You grieve over the loss.

Then they came back. Apologetic and broken they are asking to be forgiven. How do you respond? How should you respond? Questions like that must have been what the Corinthians were asking Paul when he responded in 2 Corinthians. Here’s what he said:

5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, [WHY?] so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:5-11, NIV)

From that response I find these truths that should help you as you deal with a person who has caused you grief.

First, there comes a time when the punishment you inflicted is sufficient. Parents you know that moment when you have punished your child and he comes to you with tears running down his face and say, “I’m saawwy, Mommy.” Your teenager comes to you after having broken curfew and hands you the keys to car. There may still be consequences to their actions, but you have done enough. The Lord has done good work in his heart.

Second, forgive and comfort her. The words “I forgive you” are tremendously important for her, and for you. She needs to hear them. You need to say them. Maybe you can follow-up with these words, “How can I help you now?” Paul shows that he knows there is a limit to the amount of sorrow and individual can take when he says, “…so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” It is easy to ignore this step and replace it with, “I will forgive you, but I will never forget what you have done.” It is true that you may not be able to fully forget the offense but you can stop reminding her.

Third, reaffirm your love for him.  This is when your child crawls up in your lap and you hug him and kiss him and say, “I love you so much. There is nothing you can ever do that will change that.” The same sort of thing needs to happen with your friend. They won’t literally crawl up in your lap but in some manner you need to remind him, that there is nothing he can ever do that will cause you to stop loving him. The Message says it this way: “My counsel now is to pour on the love.” What a great way to say it!

Some of these words may have stirred up deep seeded emotions that you have had successfully buried. You pushed them down and had successfully ignored, until now. Now you are reminded that the anger, resentment, pain, sadness and heartache are still there. You smile and act like everything is “Fine. Just fine.” Maybe it is time to take things a little further with deal with them. I hope this helps.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where’s the Love?

Vol. 18 No. 29 | July 25, 2016

imagesPaul wrote these words: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV)

This one paragraph in what many call the “Love Chapter” is a small portion of a letter written to a church that struggled with just about every problem imaginable. In what seems to be his best effort to bring peace to their volatile situation he writes these words describing the one thing possible solution: love.

It appears that as Paul pondered the things going on in Corinth the Spirit provided him with the words that were the opposite of what he was seeing among the Christians there in Corinth. He saw impatience and unkindness, envy, boasting and pride. He saw Christians who were dishonoring other Christians, acting out of selfishness, easily becoming easily angered, and holding grudges. He seems to basking where’s the love?

Reading these words in the context of the events of our day in our communities, political arena, and even in some churches, we ask the same question: where’s the love?

Words of love were sparse to say the least during last week’s Republican National Convention.

It is not likely the language will be much different in this week’s Democratic National Convention.

Although there are references to something that sometimes resembles love you really do not hear much about it in news reports.

Many homes are filled with language that expresses feelings far different from the languages of love.

Work places are commonly known for the conversations that take place during breaks, lunch hours, office parties but it may not be the same kind of love that Paul describes in his writing.

The language that Paul uses describing the truest love there may or may not be found in those places, but perhaps that was never the intent. Paul is writing to Christians. He is writing to those of us who claim to walk with Jesus and like Jesus, and encouraging us to live the life of love. Live in our homes. Live it in our work places. Live it in our schools. And definitely live it in our churches.

It is not the task of politicians to speak and demonstrate the love that Paul describes. It is not the task of the corporate world to speak and demonstrate the love that Paul describes. It is not the task of news media to speak and demonstrate the love that Paul describes.

It is my responsibility to speak and demonstrate the language of 1 Corinthians 13. It is your responsibility, if you claim to follow Jesus, to speak and demonstrate the language of 1 Corinthians 13. It is the responsibility of the church to speak and demonstrate the language of 1 Corinthians 13.

Where is the love? Hopefully the search will be found with and in the people of God.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If Everyone Were Like Me

Vol. 18 No. 28 | July 18, 2016

UnknownLife would be so much easier for me, if everyone were like me.

If everyone were like me when I tell people I get up early and stay up late to watch the British Open no one would consider me strange.

If everyone were like me when I tell people I do not like raw tomatoes, no matter how fresh, no one would say, “And you’re from the South!”

If everyone were like me we would all cheer for the Yankees, the Celtics and the Cowboys.

If everyone were like me we would never have another heated discussion on politics.

If everyone were like me wearing jeans, untucked shirts, loafers, and no socks would be the preferred attire for all occasions.

If everyone were like me mornings would begin slow, easy, quietly and with a really good cup of coffee…just black.

If everyone were like me Italian food would be on the menu at least once every week…maybe twice.

If everyone were like me all tables that seat more than two people would be round.

If everyone were like me it would take about 10 seconds for all of us to be bored out of our brains.

Fortunately not everyone is like me.

In 1 Corinthians 8 gives a very clear illustration that not everyone is like me. He is talking to a group of people who had issues over eating certain kinds of food that emerged from their spiritual heritage. Paul’s message here is simple: if I can do or not do something that will enhance your walk with the Lord, I will do it. 

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul describes the Body of Christ like this, “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” His message is simple here is equally simple: We are all different and God made us all just the way He wants us. 

When I combine the two messages I get this: When I am who God created me to be and your are who you created then, we build each other up, encourage each other to be who we are created to be we will be our relationships with the Lord will be enhanced and the Body will be strengthened. 

We are all different. God made us different for a reason. He created me to be me and He created you to be you. I cannot be you and you cannot be me. I am glad God created us all like we are. I am glad not everyone is like me.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Be God’s Fool

Vol. 18 No. 27 | July 11, 2016

UnknownIn 1 Corinthians 3 Paul offers some solid advice to the Christians in Corinth that would be worth our consideration today.

Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture,

He exposes the chicanery of the chic.

The Master sees through the smoke screens

of the know-it-alls.

I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God.(1 Corinthians 3:18-23, The Message)

Our world seems enamored with acquiring and possessing knowledge. Or maybe we are enamored by the idea of having knowledge. We like to appear smart. We like for people to perceive us being intelligent, and we love it when they tell us that they think we are intelligent. Unfortunately, the knowledge we often seek is what Paul describes simply as “Being up-to-date with the times.”

In some of the posts I read on social media I think I see the desire to posts the smartest, most clever, and most intelligent comment on the events of the day, or whatever subject is being discussed.

In day to day conversations I hear people, sometimes I hear me, hoping to be considered smarter than anyone else in the conversation.

When I listen to politicians speak I feel sorry for them because of the pressure they must be under to always have all the correct answers, never admit they are wrong, and never acknowledge failure.

I have never been a fan of preachers who represent themselves as “The Answer Man” and need to be the center of attention. They know all the answers to all the questions. They even have answers to questions that few people are asking.

Educational institutions seem to thrive on promoting and expecting ultimate knowledge, achieving higher scores, and better ratings.

Do not misunderstand, I believe knowledge is important, information valuable and wisdom in essential to survival in our age of enlightenment. Education is extremely valuable. Being as knowledgeable as possible of our subject matter and reaching the top of our professional career. A verse many memorized in the King James Version says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). The emphasis is on knowing the Word so we can best share the Word. Paul’s encouragement here and in Corinth is to be wise in God’s things, not “What the world calls smart.”

As the events of the last week unfold it seems that the “the know-it-alls” came out in mass. Each one knows all the facts. Each one knows exactly what is in the hearts and minds of everyone involved in every incident. That is until the next one comes along and proves the first wrong.

Let me encourage you, me, all of us, as we go through these times of uncertainty to seek to be God’s fools. Be aware and informed. Be as wise as you can be so you can make good judgments, offer accurate observations, but don’t get carried away. Remember: “What the world calls smart, God calls stupid.”

One good way to get to the point of being “God’s fool” is to pray for God’s wisdom. And when you receive His wisdom you no longer have to worry about all the bragging. Instead you get to enjoy “Everything is already yours as a gift.” It will be a challenge. It will be tempting to veer off into a “know-it-all” attitude. Resist. Be a different kind of fool. Be God’s fool.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Celebrating Our Independence AND Our Interdependence

Vol. 18 No. 26 | July 4, 2016

UnknownWe value our independence. We are grateful for our independence. We are proud to live in a  country where we are free to worship as we please, free to assemble, free to travel wherever we want whenever we want, free to carry a weapon or not carry a weapon, free to dress as we choose, and free to be whoever we decide to be. I recently heard of a woman who thinks she’s furniture. You can do that if you want. I suppose.

On this day, millions of dollars will be spent on fireworks shows, cookouts, picnics, lake outings, and feasts of various kinds all for the purpose of celebrating our independence as a nation. We are proud to be Americans “And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.

‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.”

Hear me when I say, I value my independence. I am grateful for my independence. I am proud to live in a  country where I am free to worship as I please, free to assemble, free to travel wherever I want whenever I want. On this day, I will gather with family, enjoy a meal and a day off work to celebrate the independence of our nation. I am proud to be American where I can live a free and independent life, but as we celebrate our independence I read these words from Paul that addresses the importance of living in community with believers of all shapes and sizes in a world that emphasizes and often demands independence.

“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:7,8, NIV)

Earlier Paul wrote these words in Romans 12.

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. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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[a] 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,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love in Action

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 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,”[d] says the Lord. 20 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.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

As we Americans celebrate our independence may I remind all who are citizens of the Kingdom of God of the interdependent lifestyle of a follower of Jesus. May we never forget that though I am free, as a child of God I am also dependent upon God, upon my brothers and sisters, upon spiritual leaders who watch after my soul, of family members and friends! When my brother hurts, I hurt. When my sister struggles, I struggle. When my neighbor is in need it is my place to help. When one weeps, I weep. When one rejoices, I rejoice. When my friends need me I pray, I go, I help, I serve, I love. “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone”

Yes, we are free. Thank You, Lord. Let’s use our freedom to live the life God has modeled for us. May we celebrate it and live it with great vigor and enthusiasm!

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip

Vol. 18 No. 25 | June 27, 2016

IMG_6205We celebrated the actually 40-year anniversary of our marriage back in January, but last week we really celebrated.

Kim had visited the Pacific coast two years prior to our marriage (42 years ago) and called me while she was there and said, “I really wish you could see this.” Last week I saw it. We saw it together.

Our plane landed in San Francisco, we got our rental car, plugged in our phone with the GPS address of our Monterey hotel and headed toward the Pacific and Highway 1. I had been told of the beauty. I had been told of the splendor. I had been told of the spectacular views of rocky bluffs and sand beaches. I had been told of the thunder of waves as they crash onto those beaches and into and over those rock. I had been told, but what I had been did not come close to what describing what I saw.

I was overwhelmed. I was often speechless. I was thrilled to finally to be witnessing this part of God’s creation. I was often spellbound with wonder at my smallness in the midst of God’s majesty.

We had staged this as a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We would see the coastline, I would walk the fairways and play the amazing Pebble Beach Golf Links, we would eat amazing food, and we would reflect on our forty years of marriage. We did all that. We did more than that.

We shared memories of how God has walked with us every step of the way.

We marveled at the miracles of our two children, our daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and three beautiful grand daughters.

We spoke of how blessed we have been.

We spoke of how glad we are for the surgeon and medical teams that worked so hard to make sure Kim had eyes that could see actually the things we saw.

We reminded each other of how God had led us into and out of some very dark and difficult days to teach us to trust Him instead of our own strengths and resources.

As we watched the turbulent crashing waves and peaceful tide pools of the coastline we often sat quietly pondering how God who will lead through peaceful days ahead and through days filled with troubling waters that will again remind us of our helplessness and need to constantly trust the only One who can deliver us.

We did all those things, and more.

As I slowly and somewhat reluctantly move on to what comes next, I have discovered these reflections have washed up on the shores of my mind like the white foam from the waves of the blue Pacific.

First, dreams sometimes take a long time to be come true. We probably could have made the trip to the West Coast many years ago, before children, before the expense of travel, food, and lodging reached the level they have. We could have made the trip with our children, or with friends. We could have, but we did not. We waited. We prayed for the right time. We waited for the right time. With God’s help we came up with a plan. And with His blessings and guidance we saw that plan and those dreams come to pass. It took a while. And it was worth it.

Allow me to suggest that you dream your dreams, but do not rush them. Let God lead you to and through your dreams. He knows when and what and how and where and why much better than we. “God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, The Message)

Second, God’s reality is almost always better than our ideas and plans. We saw things last week that I had only imagined. Bundled up to stay warm in late June as we watched the sunset on the Monterey Peninsula was well above and beyond any of my wildest imaginations. Although I never really thought we would NOT make to our 40th year of marriage, I do not think I ever really thought about what actually making it to our 40th year of marriage would be like. I am sure it exceeds any and all of my wildest imaginations that I could have imagined.

Never stop letting God amaze you. His plans for you are bigger. His ideas for and of you are greater. His dreams for you greater than anything you can ask or imagine.  “Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? ‘Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,’ ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:20-21, NIV)

Third, live every day to the fullest and be grateful for each moment. We are not promised 40 years of marriage. We are not promised 40 years of life. We are not promised tomorrow. We have this moment. Live it. Enjoy it. Share it. Celebrate it. Delight in it.

Thank you Kim for following me and walking with me these forty years.

Thank You, God for giving us forty years of marriage.

 

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Sheer Gift

Vol. 18 No. 24 | June 20, 2016

UnknownOne of the reasons I like Father’s Day so much (other than the gifts my wife and children give me) is that I (and other fathers) are honored and we do not have to do anything (well, we had to our part in becoming fathers) to be honored. I am treated extra special and reminded of how much I am loved and all I have to do is just be me. For me that means after I preached I went home, enjoyed a very nice meal, watched the U. S. Open, and game seven of the NBA finals. Although on this particular Father’s Day there were a few other things to do to prepare for a trip, mainly I just relaxed and enjoyed the day. It is a day to be reminded of how blessed I am.

When you consider your life, whether you are a father, a mother, a son or a daughter, you have the same opportunity. Consider these two passages from the book of Romans.

If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift. (Romans 4:4-5, The Message)

Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.(Romans 4:4-5, The Message)

Did you get the message? The sheer gift from God to us is that He has made us fit for Him, set us right with Him. We did not have to do anything other than accept the gift. God did it all.Much of Romans 4 explains how Abraham was made right by God and how he did nothing to deserve it. He was not declared “right” because of what He did. Instead, “We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody.“ (Romans 4:17, The Message) It’s all God!

So what do you do with a gift? You accept it. You express your appreciation for it. You enjoy it. You tell others about it.

So what should you do with this gift from God? Accept it. Express your appreciation. Enjoy it. Tell others about it.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2016. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment