It’s Time to Create the Life We Desire

Vol. 20 No. 01 | January 1, 2018

It’s Time to Create the Life We Desire

We have been waiting for this day for weeks, and it’s finally here. The past year has been so difficult and we are ready for a new start. We watch as the ball makes its decent, counting down to zero and declare, “Happy New Year!”

Now what?

Now that we have an opportunity to put the past year behind us and start over, what are we going to do with it? Now that we are able to put those mistakes, failures, illnesses, losses, and bad decisions behind us, how are we going to make sure the new year will be better than the last one?

We will make other mistakes and will probably experience a few failures in the coming year. We, or someone close to us, may have an illness and we may lose someone close to us. There’s a possibility that we will make more bad decisions. But now we have the opportunity to make new and better choices.

Make the most of the opportunities when they come.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5,6, NIV)

When we encounter a person who is outside the faith community, we must be wise in how we treat them. We have to take advantage of those opportunities and use language that is filled with grace. Being kind and graceful doesn’t cost us a thing, so we need to use each opportunity to display the spirit of Christ.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13,14, NIV)

Forget the past and move on.

We want to forget the past year, so we have to put it behind us. We messed up. We must accept it. Learn from it. Move on. We failed to accomplish all we wanted to accomplish? Me must let it go and move on. We accomplished some great things? We should celebrate them and move on. We had a great year? We should celebrate it and move forward to even greater things.

Encourage people.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13, NIV)

We must look for opportunities and ways to encourage others every day. If we missed an opportunity yesterday, we must encourage someone today; we may not have tomorrow.

Here we are at the end of one year and the beginning of another. Now is our opportunity to do things differently and carve out the life we desire.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2018 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

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It Begins with You

Vol. 19 No. 51 | December 24, 2017

Peace on earth. Good will toward men.

This year, let’s do it! Let’s make these words more than a line out of the Christmas story. This year, let’s bring those words to life.

When you have decked all the halls you can deck and jingled all the bells you can jingle, why not make a commitment to bring peace on earth and good will toward men.

It’s not as difficult as it sounds. A good place to start would be to read these words from Romans. In fact, you might try reading them two are three times.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:17-19, NIV)

Now, try:

When someone does something bad to you, let it go. If it is truly evil, do not repay it with another evil. Instead of revenge, choose forgiveness.

Just do what is right. Plain and simple. Of course there will be times when you can’t please everyone. But as much as possible, do what is right by everyone. It makes sense that if you are doing what is right, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll please most of the people most of the time.

Live at peace with everyone. You can see how the three overlap with one another. If you let go of evil when it is done to you and do what is right, you are more likely going to be at peace with those around you.

Don’t wait until the new year begins, and don’t limit it to three weeks in December. Bring these words to life, start today, and let there be peace on earth by showing good will toward men.

It begins with you.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

At the End of Your Rope?

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 Vol. 19 No. 50 | December 17, 2017

At the End of Your Rope?

The sermon begins with these words:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.   (Matthew 5:3, The Message)

Do you feel like you’re at the end of your rope?

Maybe you’ve been in a classroom with twenty-five kindergarten children and it’s two days before Christmas break.

Or you’ve been working two jobs for the last six months, so you can afford the Christmas gifts your children want.

Or you’re headed to yet another doctor appointment to hear one more time, “Let’s try this and see if it helps.”

Maybe the end of your rope comes when you’re visiting your wife who hasn’t recognized you in two years, hoping today she will.

Or you’re clocking in for another boring day at your dead-end job.

Or you’re trying to prepare another sermon when you are spiritually and emotionally drained.

Maybe the end of your rope is another night eating alone.

Or reading another Christmas letter reminding you how wonderful they and their kids are doing.

Or looking at the calendar and remembering all the things you intended to do this year that you didn’t.

Maybe the end of your rope is opening your Bible again with no idea of what words you need to hear from the Lord.

Or maybe the end of your rope is when you feel like, no matter how hard you try, you still keep falling short and can’t seem to get your life right as a follower of Jesus.

If you are the end of there is good news. Jesus said,

With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

Although there is probably much more to the second part of that verse than I understand, I understand enough to know that Jesus is saying, “Congratulations! You’ve done your part, now I can take over and do what needs to be done. You’ve worked hard trying to navigate this life I’ve called you to. Finally, you’re realizing that you can’t do it alone. Now, let me help.”

Are you at the end of your rope? Good. You are right where you need to be.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

Know Where You Are Going

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Vol. 19 No. 46 | December 10, 2017

It helps to know where you are going?

I had received word that a friend was to have a medical procedure at one of the local hospitals. I actually received text messages with time and location from multiple people. My plan was to go visit and pray before the procedure. Allowing myself plenty of time for traffic snarls and other possible delays I left home in plenty of time to arrive, park, and walk from the parking lot to the location.

So, I drove at the speed limit, found the hospital, parked in the garage, walked to the hospital and began my search for my friend, her husband, and other friends. Second floor. Okay here I am. Nope. Not here. Well, maybe there is another second floor or maybe it is in another part of the hospital. Down this hall. Asked for directions. Nope. Not here. I’ll try this hall. Nope. I’ll ask this lady at the information desk. “I’ll show you. You’ll never find it on your own.” She said in a semi-polite manner. I thanked her. She left. Nope. Not here.

My friends had already told me there were at the hospital on the second floor. So, I texted them again, got the same information, and continued my search. The next exchange of information when something like this.

Me: I’m still searching.

Friend: Where are you?

Me: I’m on the Second floor. I’ve been all over the second floor. (And the Third, and the Fourth…but I did not tell them that.) I’m standing right by the Food Court.

Friend: Silence.

Me: Silence.

Me: Are you at the West hospital?

Friend: No, we are at the Mid-Town hospital.

Me: That explains a lot.

I had another appointment and knew I would not have time to get to Mid-Town and then to my next appointment, so I apologized for missing them and asked them to update me on things and they transpired. They did. The friend did well. All is well. I made my next appointment (only one location for this one.)

I also was reminded of a well-known and important rule of travel: It helps to know the right location.

I had no one to blame but me. Rechecked my text messages about a dozen times during my wilderness wanderings. Yep, says right there: West. Actually, it said Mid-town, but because I had it locked in my head that it was West, I read it every time as West.

Yes, I felt pretty foolish. No harm done but it is important to know the right location.

My GPS correctly guided me to the place I thought I was supposed to go. In my mind, I thought I was in the right place. Once I arrived, I thought I was at the right place.

Sometimes our hearts and minds lead us to the wrong place. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said this about the heart:

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV)

In my heart and mind, I was in the right place. I wanted to be in the right place. But I was not in the right place. Being in the wrong place is not always as simple and innocent as going to the wrong hospital.

Our heart, and a mind full of good intentions, may lead us to a place that we thought would be beneficial. Once we arrive we realize it is not where we need to be. A party. Co-workers going out for a drink after work. A workplace that turns negative and discouraging. A relationship that had great potential becomes toxic and destructive. A major family decision that required some significant changes seemed like a good idea at the time but just before the move day you realized you were headed in the wrong direction.

There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
but all that laughter will end in heartbreak. (Proverbs 14:12-13, MSG)

The Psalmist offers another tool to help guide us as we travel through life.

I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.

Your word is like a lamp that shows me the way.
It is like a light that guides me.
I have made a promise
to follow your laws, because they are right. (Psalm 119:104-106, NIV)

It is important to know where you are going, and it is important to know where you are when you arrive. During the course of the next few days you will be presented with many options on how to live your life, places you will go, people you will spend time with. Knowing where you are going, and where you are, is very important. Choose wisely. When you find you are in the wrong place, admit it and adjust your course as needed.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

In God We Trust

Vol. 19 No. 48 | December 3, 2017

We read it on our money. (You remember money, the green paper bills we once used to pay for things.) We see it on government buildings; hear it preached in church services; and boast it in secular, patriotic, and religious songs.

In God we trust.

We hear and say these words repeatedly, yet it seems to me what we are saying and what we are actually doing are two very different things.

So my question is, do we really trust in God?

Because if we really trust in God, why do we panic when the stock market drops?

If we really trust in God, why are we so anxious when those in power threaten war?

If we really trust in God, why do we pray and pray for Godly wisdom, spiritual guidance, and strength to live for God, but at the first sign of difficulty, we revert back to our human resources?

I know these questions have been asked for centuries, and they will continue to be asked long after I’m gone. I also realize that economic disasters, nuclear war, and personal crises are valid concerns that deserve our attention. But if we really trust in God, shouldn’t the way we deal with these potential disasters be different?

When David’s entire world seemed to be in turmoil (Psalm 31:1-13) he responded with:

But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands; (14-15)

After Solomon had explored and experienced almost everything life could offer, he concluded:

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

In another place Solomon shared:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

John wrote:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

Let me reiterate, I completely understand that we live in uncertain times. Fear is being used to manipulate our decisions and convince us that the days ahead are going to be worse than days past. Some of them will be worse, but if we trust in God, we can face those challenging days with faith and courage.

Remember God said:

Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. (Joshua 1:4-6, NIV)

He also said:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV)

If it is true that in God we trust, let’s live like that is our truth. Let’s show the world those words are not just what we say, they are what we do.

Tom

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