He Is the Light!

What I Want You To Know About Jesus, #2

Vol. 19 No. 13 | March 26, 2017

Let’s talk about light.

I make no claim to be an expert on the history of light, but I know we are indebted to Thomas Edison for inventing the electric light bulb. Although there is evidence that before Edison, British inventors were demonstrating that electric light was possible with the arc lamp. Everything becomes much clearer when we have access to more light.

But when it’s dark, when there are no overhead lights, what do we do for illumination?

Before smart phones, if you wanted to see where you were going in the dark, you needed a flashlight. Before the flashlight, lanterns were the best way to overcome the darkness. Before the lantern, one may have used a candle. Before the candle, a torch might have been the light of choice. Before the torch…well, I am not sure what was used. There were probably a lot of stubbed toes and bruised heads. The point should be clear; if it is dark, you need light.

You need light when you are trying to navigate the darkness. But sometimes, just having a light is not enough.

For example, in a dimly lit restaurant, you can see, but maybe not well. You may need to move the menu closer to the candle to read it. Or, it is not uncommon to see people pull out their smart phones to help them see the menu better.

You may be in a room with a television on and a lamp on the table next to you. There is light, but if you decide to read the newspaper or a book, you may need more.

When I am in my bedroom looking for socks to wear, I may need additional light to tell which one is black and which one is blue. If the overhead light is not enough, I hold them under the lamp. If this still is not sufficient, I open the window shade to let the sunlight come through. Then, I can easily distinguish between to two colors. The sun is the true light. The Son of God is the true light.

John uses this kind of imagery when he describes Jesus.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:6-13, NIV)

The people had been waiting for and looking for the Light of God to come into the world. There were others who had come claiming they were the light or that they had the light. So it was only natural that those seeking it would go to John the Baptist to find out if he was the true light. John clarifies it when he tells them, “He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.”

Then he says, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him”. Jesus is the true light. John could only point to the true light. He could provide some light, but he could not give the light that everyone was seeking, nor did he claim he could.

As it was in Jesus’ time, people are looking for more light today. A light that can reveal what is true, what is real and right.

People themselves can at times be the darkness that surrounds us and can be oppressive and depressing. In His sermon Jesus tells us that we are the “light of the world.” But we can only be the light when we have seen the light.

Jesus is the light. Jesus is the true light. Jesus is the One who can illuminate our path in the darkness. Jesus can bring light into our dark world. That is what He came to do. That is what He wants to do.

That is why I want you to know Jesus. He is the light! Move toward the light.

Tom

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

The First Thing I Want You to Know About Jesus: He Is!

Vol. 19 No. 12 | March 19, 2017

A few weeks ago, I shared that one of my greatest passions is my desire to help people know Jesus (My Role in the Kingdom). The first and most important step to knowing Him is to just know that He is!

These words come from John, Chapter One:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John1:1-5, NIV)

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out. (John 1:1-5, The Message)

Obviously I cannot make you believe this if you do not already or if you do not want to. But I believe it. In one way or another, the fact that Jesus is influences everything I do.

Because He is, I have a purpose.

Because He is, I have confidence that life is more than a series of unrelated events and coincidences.

Because He is, as the old song says, “I can face tomorrow.”

Because He is, I know I am never alone, regardless of how alone I may feel.

Because He is, I know that life is not about me. It is all about Him.

Because He is, there is light even in the darkest of days.

Because He is, the world and all of creation was made for us to experience and enjoy.

Because He is, we have someone who listens to our hearts, understands our discontent, and forgives our sins.

Just knowing that He is, just accepting that reality, is a good place to start on a journey with Him. It is not necessary to know everything about Him.

For now, just take a deep breath and say, “He is! HE is! He IS!” Meditate on and take comfort in the beautiful reality that He is!

As you go through your day, keep thinking about the fact that He is. Whisper it when anxieties increase. Say it out loud when you sense doubt creeping in. When you open the shade in the morning to check the weather, remind yourself that He is. When you lay your head on your pillow at night reflecting on your successes and failures, breathe deeply and remember that He is.

Tom

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

The Toddlers and the Moms

Vol. 19 No. 11 | March 12, 2017

I look up and gaze out the library window. A toddler and her mom are walking, well sort of walking, in the late afternoon sunshine. The toddler is preoccupied with the blooms on the wildflowers, the bright green blades of grass, and the sticks that are all but invisible to her mother. A gentle tug of war takes place, the mother finally winning the battle of wills. And off they go to their very important destination.

Another toddler, this one a curly, blond-headed boy, drops to the ground refusing to take another step. There are flowers to explore. He pulls off the purplish bloom with his little hand and claims it as his own. He got it, and not a second too early. His mother takes him by the arm with loving authority and leads him on to their very important destination.

Apparently there is a toddler’s or ‘mother-of-toddler’s’ gathering happening nearby. Whatever the case, the mothers are certainly more concerned about making it to the event than the little ones are. 

Sometimes I see a bit of myself in those mothers.

Like the mothers, I often find myself fixated solely on getting to my very important destination. And time is of the essence. Traffic delays frustrate me. Red lights irritate me. Green left-turn lights that only stay green long enough for the four cars in front me to get through are the absolute worst! I don’t have time for such inconveniences. We are losing daylight here.

The gray-hair in front of me is clearly oblivious to how busy I am and how important my time is. The confused out-of-town driver should surely know better than to get in my lane. The teenager, the grandmother, or that well-dressed businessman need to all get off their phones and focus on getting through the light!

Outside, I appear calm and in control. Underneath, I am so anxious and stressed out that I see nothing but the clock on the dash ticking the minutes away. No time for chitchat. No time to connect with friends and family.

No time to stop and pick those purple flowers in bloom.

When I, like those mothers, am hurrying about, checking of my list of my very important to-dos, I feel good about what I have accomplished throughout the day. But then sometimes I wonder what I missed along the way.

And then sometimes I see myself in those toddlers.

As ‘the toddler’, I am relaxed and calm and in the moment. I cannot understand why that guy behind me feels compelled to ride my bumper. I shake my head in amazement as the driver in front of my speeds up to get through the yellow light that he knows is going to be red by the time he gets to the intersection!

When I see the world as the toddler, I not only want to pick the purple flowers, but also the jonquils. I want to stop and take pictures of the way the sun is reflecting off the water and pause with amazement as the sky turns from blue to red to pink to purple. On those days, even dandelions can have a certain beauty…although I have to really be in a childlike state of mind for that to happen. 

When I toddle along, I find great delight in what I have seen and experienced throughout the day. But sometimes I wonder what I could and should have done to be more productive.

I see God in those toddlers.

Pausing. Seeing. Exploring. Urging me to stop and take it all in. Challenging me to just be, relish in the moment, and do nothing but reflect on all the beauty that God has created.

But I also see God in those mothers.

Pushing. Pulling. Nudging. Urging me to move along. Challenging me to do something, to make something happen, to get on with what needs to be done.   

As I drift between the mindset of a toddler and that of the parent, I try to find peace in the words of the one who modeled the attitude of each. I pray that He will show me how to balance both and take comfort in that He continues to love me whether I am picking blades of grass or rushing to a meeting.   

“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 than food, and the body more than clothes? 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 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)

Tom

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

My Role in the Kingdom

Vol. 19 No. 10 | March 6, 2017


Over the past several months, I have been doing a lot of thinking, praying, and reflecting on what my new role is, what my ultimate purpose is, here in the Kingdom.

For most of my adult life, my purpose and role have been very clear: to work with and lead local churches. This involved teaching, preaching, counseling, comforting, leading, and mentoring. Five months ago, much of that- how I do it, when I do it, where and with whom- changed significantly.

Since then I have been on a journey of discovery that has focused on answering these questions:

What is it that I do best?

What is my true passion?

How do I now do what I do in this new life setting?

Is it time to do something completely new and different?

I have received sound advice and guidance from wise friends and family members (some older and some younger). I have listened. I have prayed. I have journaled. I have read books and articles. I have listened to podcasts, sermons, preachers, teachers, counselors, those who are retired and those still in the workforce.

But one question has emerged that has helped me, more than anything else, get closer to the answers I seek.

What breaks my heart?

This question came to me recently while I was praying.   I then came across it again in an article by Brandon Cox, Great Leadership Often Starts with a Broken Heart.

Cox makes a poignant case to support this notion:

“Great leadership often starts with a broken heart.”

After much reflection, I have realized that there are two scenarios that truly break my heart.

First, it breaks my heart when I encounter people who do not know Jesus.

Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

It breaks my heart to see people who know the facts about Jesus, but do not know Him. It breaks my heart to see church leaders who know rules, regulations, and how to keep people in line, but who do not know, really know, Jesus.

Second, it breaks my heart to see children who are sad and alone.

I often see news stories about abandoned animals. These stories are heartbreaking, and I always hope they find their way home. But stories about sad, lonely, abandoned, and abused children, this is something that absolutely breaks my heart.

As I ponder my role in the Kingdom, I realize now what I have known in my heart for decades. My role is to help people really know Jesus and to bring comfort to sad and lonely children in whatever capacity that I can.

I am still working out the details- the how and the where- of how I can best serve in these areas that I now know are my true calling. These details will sort themselves out. But the essential piece, identifying what truly breaks my heart, is the solid foundation I needed on which to build.

Maybe you are at a similar crossroads in your life? Perhaps asking yourself this question will help bring you clarity as well.

What breaks your heart?

When you discover the answer, think of one thing you could do to help change it. And then do it. Even if it seems like the smallest step. Even if it seems like it won’t make a difference. Do it anyway. The details will work themselves out.

I truly believe that when you take the time ask, to listen, and to follow your heart, you will uncover your role, your ultimate purpose here in the Kingdom. 

Tom

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