Waiting for the Light to Change

Vol. 19 No. 24 | June 12, 2017

Sitting at an intersection waiting for the light to change, I reflect on the amount of time we spend waiting for ‘life’s traffic light’ to change.

Some typical things we might do while waiting:

We might change the radio station, maybe check our emails and text messages. We might search our GPS for the fastest route, clear the dust off the dash, maybe wipe the smudges from our wideshield. We might think it a good time to touch up our makuep (note: I am speaking of the collective we here, this is one I usually choose not to elect), maybe trim up our fingernails… check our teeth for food particles. (Remember, collective!)

These are just a few examples of the endless number of ways we find to distract ourselves while waiting for the light to change. But what about those times when we are waiting for life’s traffic light to change?

You are ready to go. In your mind you know the plan and are just waiting for God to give you the green light.

In your heart you are convinced that He wants you to quit your job, sell most of your early possessions, and move to a remote part of the world to spread His message. That is your vision, but the light is still red.

You are ready to be married. You have dated and dated, but so far the man or woman of your dreams has yet to show up. It seems like everytime you meet someone, you are sizing them up, hoping they will be the one. You think the light is finally going to turn green, but it stays red.

You know the career you want to pursue. You have the training and skills. You have written and rewritten your resume countless times. You have applied to every job that is even close to relevant. Nothing. So you wait.

You know your education is important, but you are tired of studying and ready to go to work. You feel like you can endure it, as long as the courses apply directly to your field. But if you have to take one more General Education course, you are going to lose it. You wonder if the light will ever change.

There is a story that comes from the life of Joshua. After the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader of the Israelites. There was a period of mouning (Deuteronomy 34) as God continued to prepare Joshua to lead the people. Can you imagine that waiting period for Joshua, knowing that once the light turned green he would step into the shoes of one who is described as follows:

Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12, NIV)

But when the light turned green, Joshua did not hesitate; he proceeded forward.

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses, my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. (Joshua 1:1-3, NIV)

Pay close attention to this one line of Joshua’s instructions: … get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.

As you sit in your car, waiting for the light to change, you can piddle around with rearranging things in the glove compartment if you want. But maybe a better thing to do would be to get ready. You would not want to hesitate and delay your arrival because you are distracting yourself from the waiting period.

So get ready. Even if this waiting period takes longer and is more painful than you want. If you are paying attention and allowing God to do His work, the light will change precisely at the moment you are ready.

So please, be ready…the light is just about to turn green.

Tom

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

 

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We Shall Be Like Him, and We Shall Not Do It Alone

Vol. 19 No. 23 | June 4, 2017

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

We are centuries removed from when John first penned these words. Yet, like many in his day, we continue to struggle with the idea of what we will be has not been made known. We cannot seem to fully trust that we shall be like him because we struggle with this idea of being transformed into His likeness (Romans 8:29). So we are constantly trying to invent new ways of transforming ourselves, by ourselves.

I want to first remind you of some of the self-transformation techniques we often attempt. I then want to offer a suggestion (or two or three) that might help us rest in the fact that the real work of transformation belongs to the very One whom we are trying to emulate.

When we try to manufacture our own transformation by reading and memorizing Scripture, we soon realize how futile it is. To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong, and a lot good, with reading and memorizing Scripture. But we seem to always take it to the extreme. We work hard to keep up with are Read-the-Bible-Through-In-A-Year plan, but when we get behind a day or a two… or a month, we beat ourselves up because we ‘failed’ at it again; Leviticus and Numbers always seem to do us in. t

So please, try to ease up on yourself a little.

In John 5:39-40 Jesus says:, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

When we plunge into the Spiritual disciplines (prayer, mediation, silence, etc.) to prove our spirituality, we wear ourselves out and risk creating more stress and unrest than we had in the beginning. We seem to get hung-up on the word discipline. We reason, if it is a discipline, then it should be difficult. But remember, one of the disciplines is rest.

Jesus said, “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.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

The disciplines are designed to contribute to our peace and harmony with the Lord, not drain us of our energy and joy.

So let me offer a few alternatives…

Remember, Jesus came so that we might have a transformed life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Remember, Jesus has shown us the way to live a transformed life.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
“My Fathers house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
“You know the way to the place where I am going. Jesus, the Way to the Father.”
Thomas said to him, Lord, we dont know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. (John 14:1-6)

Remember, Jesus is the one who gives us peace.

“All this I have spoken while still with you.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

The good news is that we shall be like Him. The even better news is that He is the one who will be doing most of the hard work involved in making us like Him.

Tom

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

 

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Just Use What You Have

Vol. 19 No. 22 | May 28, 2017

Imagine you are one of the disciples of Jesus. You have been following Him for a while and watched Him heal countless people. You have gone on many missions with Him, seen Him show compassion to those who needed it, and watched throngs of people gather just to hear Him speak.

Another gathering is taking place and you realize that it is getting late, so you suggest to Him that it is time to quit for the day. You have learned from His example to be show empathy and compassion for people. You know you are hungry and tired, so you suggest to Jesus to let His followers return home to have a meal and rest. .

To your surprise Jesus has another idea. ‘Then let’s feed them,’ Jesus says.

“What, feed them all? But how? There are thousands of people here, and all we have is a couple of fish and a little bread”.

“Give me have what you have,” he replies.

Suddenly, there are enough baskets of fish and bread to feed everyone in the crowd as much and they want. You and the other disciples begin collecting what is left and are amazed to discover that there are twelve baskets left- exactly enough for you and the other eleven disciples to eat your fill. You all look at each other in complete awe and ask, “What just happened?”

Jesus smiles.

You may not have experienced anything as dramatic as feeding thousands of people with one man’s lunch, but you have experienced a time when you were baffled by something miraculous that happened, only to sense God saying, “Just use what you have.” You look around at your options and finally come up with what seems to be a ridiculous idea, only to watch in awe as God turns it into something beautiful and miraculous.

You and your spouse are at the end of your rope. You are both unhappy and beyond miserable. Your communication has diminished to endless arguments, followed by long periods of uncomfortable silence and distance. One day, after yet another fight, you look at each other and admit that it is time to ask for help, or to give up. And then you hear His words, “Just use what you have.” So, you agree to make one more attempt to salvage your relationship and contact a counselor your friend recommended. Six months later, after a lot of hard work, you are seeing positive results. A year later, after even more work and a lot of prayer, you cannot believe how much better your relationship is. All you had to work with was a desire to make things work and faith in your ability to use what you have.

You have a major project due. Every time you sit down at your desk to start working, you are overwhelmed by the enormity of it. You finally slam down your fist and push away your chair in frustration. You are ready to give up when you hear a voice, “Just use what you have.” You sit back down, put your fingers back on your keyboard, and start with just one sentence. And then you write another. The ideas begin to flow effortlessly, and in matter of hours, your project is finished.

You have friend who you know is struggling. You do not know all the details, but you know something is wrong. You want to help, but you are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. So you pray and hear the words, “Just use what you have.” What you know you have is a compassionate heart and the ability to listen. That is all your friend needed, he just needed someone to listen. And he begins to share his story.

The paraphrase of Luke 9:10-17 and the three stories above are just a few examples of what can happen when you decide to use what the Lord has given you to approach a problem. It may seem impossible in the face of what confronts you, but in the hands of Jesus, it will always be transformed.

If you are facing a seemingly insurmountable obstacle that stands in your way of helping someone, improving your own situation, or seeing a dream come true, try this. Take what you have, hand it over to the Lord, and say, “I only have this, but here it is.”

God loves it when you do this. In fact, He is probably waiting right now, ready to take whatever you have to hand over to Him and transform it into something beautiful and miraculous. 

Tom

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

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The Burning Bush

Vol. 19 No. 21 | May 21, 2017

As I left home late one afternoon, I noticed smoke billowing from around the corner. I pulled up far enough to see that the source appeared to be one of the condos just around the corner. Quickly parking the car so as not to be in the way of any emergency vehicles, I jumped out, and started running toward the house while trying to dial 911.

As I approached the driveway, I could see the smoke was coming from a bush. (try not to get ahead of me here) I dashed through the smoke and ash and pounded on the door. A lady came to the door, along with her very irritated dog. Startled and alarmed, she rushed to the garage and grabbed a water hose.

As she doused the smoking bush, another lady from the neighborhood approached us wondering what was going on. I turned to her and politely said, “It looks like we have a burning bush.” There was an awkward pause, then laughter.

Needless to say, as I walked back to my car, I was relieved and humored by the situation. And I continued to think, “A burning bush. A burning bush? What in the world? That was a burning bush!”

The original burning bush is described in the Book of Exodus (3:1–4:17). According to the narrative, the bush was on fire, and yet not consumed by the flames, hence the name. The burning bush is the location where Moses was appointed by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into Canaan.

No, I am not suggesting that my neighbor’s burning bush was any sort of miraculous sign from God to instruct the people of our neighborhood to lead Nashville to the Promised Land. Moses had a ‘burning bush’, we now have a ‘burned’ bush. Although no one has any idea how a seemingly healthy green shrub would suddenly catch fire, maybe there is a takeaway from this neighborhood burning bush.

For a brief few minutes, three people stood watching a smoldering bush reflecting on something that a few minutes earlier appeared to be a tragedy in the making. And then we all quietly thanked God that everyone was safe.

I left the neighborhood and traveled on to my planned activity thinking and pondering God’s goodness. Maybe He had nothing at all to do with the burning bush in the neighbor’s front yard, but He is good. He is kind. He is merciful. He delights in being praised.

As you go about your week, I hope you don’t see any literal burning bushes, but maybe you will see something or someone who will remind you that we have a great God who loves us. Or, maybe you will be the reminder to someone else who needs one, that God is worthy of our praise.

The Doxology

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Thomas Ken, 1674)

Tom

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

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An Answer to Why

Vol. 19 No. 20 | May 14, 2017

One of the most common questions ever asked is ‘Why’?

We ask and are asked this question possibly more often than any other.

Why did this young boy have to die? Why did she get cancer? Why is there so much death? Why does God allow evil? Why did a marriage fail? Why did become an addict?

Why can’t she get over her addiction? Why did my parents have to get divorced? Why did he kill himself? Why is life so difficult? Why are some people so mean? Why does he get the breaks and I’m always struggling just to survive? Why did the church split?

Why didn’t I get that job I wanted?

When life is not going the way we think it should, and sometimes when it is, we wonder why it is happening. I believe Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament letters, gives the best answer that I have heard as to why bad things happen.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 CORINTHIANS 1:8-9)

Paul’s answer to the question of why: So that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.

God knew, and mankind has proven Him right over and over, that from the time we are born, we crave control over our lives. When life seems out of control, we panic. When our plans seem to be straying from what we had intended or hoped for, we grasp to try to gain control and often demand an explanation.

Well-meaning and misinformed advisors will tell us that bad things happen to us because we have sinned or violated one or more of God’s laws. That is a valid explanation if we have sinned or violated one or more of God’s laws. But what about the person who has done neither of these?

Of course, we all are sinners and we all violate God’s laws, but Jesus made it clear that suffering is not necessarily the result of sin.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world”. (1-5)

Jesus and Paul offer the same answer as to why bad things happen. There is a bigger reason than punishment. There is something going on more than teaching us a lesson. The purpose is about something and someone greater than us.

God wants us to rely on Him.

He wants us to rely on Him not because He wants to dominate or control us, but because He has the answers we are looking for. He wants us to rely on Him because He is the One who can and will fulfill all of our needs. He is the power we need.

God is not a tyrant who wants to overpower or dominate us. He is a loving God who wants to empower us to live the life He has created for us. He knows what we need.

He wants us to rely on Him and He wants us to use our experiences to help others. If you read the paragraph that precedes the one we are referring to, you will see that there is another purpose to our struggle in addition to relying on God.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

We are to learn from our experiences and share what we learn. When we struggle, there are valuable lessons for why it happened that God wants us to share. We were comforted and thus should give comfort. We received compassion and thus should be compassionate.

There is always an answer to why. It may not be what we expect or hope for. But we need to accept it is what is best to meet our needs. There is always a gift if we can have the patience and courage to look for it.

So, if you are in the midst of a battle or struggle, or you feel defeated, rely on Him. He can help. Then share it with someone else who you know is struggling. That, if nothing else, will always be the gift.

Tom

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

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Listen and Hear!

Vol. 19 No. 19 | May 7, 2017

After telling the parable of the sower and the seeds Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear” (Mark 4:9, NIV).

In different contexts, He makes similar statements emphasizing the same message:

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22).

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 2:19).

There are other topics mentioned more in the Scriptures, but I don’t believe any are as important as this one.

Listen and hear.

When parents are communicating important information to their children, it is sometimes necessary to say, “Listen to me”!

Instructors may say to their students, “Listen to this. You may see it on the exam”.

Preachers may say to their congregation, “Are you listening to me? This is important”.

Husbands and wives may say to one another, “I need you to listen to me”.

The fact is, we hear countless things going on at any given moment. Try it. Try to just listen. Close your eyes, sit still, and just listen. What do you hear?

What I hear is music playing. I hear water churning in the washer and clothes tumbling in the dryer downstairs. I hear a truck rumbling as it makes its way slowly down the street. I hear so many things that I most likely would not have had I not taken the time to listen.

It is understandable. There are so many sounds infiltrating our immediate environment at any given moment that we simply become numb to them. No wonder Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” And more specifically “Hear what the Spirit says.” His desire is not simply to hear the words and the sounds, but to absorb what is being said.

James’ admonition is not to just listen to the words, but to really hear the person who is speaking. Be quick to listen, instead of preparing what you will say when given the first opportunity.

In order to really get His message, we need to both listen and hear, focus our attention on what is being said, let it sink in, and absorb the message into our daily lives.

In order to do a good job in our profession, we much not only listen to what is being said by our boss and co-workers, we must hear what is being said and apply it.

To have a deeper level of communication with the important people in our lives, we not only need to listen to them talking, but hear what they are saying. Hear their words, their tone, their emotion, and their heart.

To truly understand what is going on in the lives of our children, we must listen- sometimes more to what is not being said than to what is. We must listen intently, even if they have not learned how to fully express what they want to say. And we must hear them.

During one of the seasons of the television series Parenthood, Camille and Zeek Braverman were having problems connecting with each other. Their counselor encouraged them to practice acknowledging when they were really hearing each other. The phrase: “I hear you and I see you” became an underlying theme for several episodes of the show, and I suspect a common phrase in the conversations of many fans of the show.

“I hear you and I see you.” I am focused on you. I am connected with you. I am in tune with what you are saying and how you are feeling.

It is important that we learn to listen and hear one another in all of our relationships. If the sounds around you are distracting you, find a way to focus in on what you really need to…which is the person who really needs you to.

Jesus was not just talking for the sake of hearing Himself speak. His words have meaning and the power to transform your relationships, with Him and with the people you love.

So listen and hear!

Tom

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

 

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Accept One Another

Vol. 19 No. 18 | April 30, 2017

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7, NIV)

Accept one another. This is what Jesus said. This is what Jesus did. He accepted us and bid that we follow His example by accepting one another.

What He did not say was this:

Jesus did not say to judge one another.
He did not say to criticize one another.
He did not say to disapprove of or censure or condemn one another.

Jesus did not say to discourage one another.
He did not say to frustrate one another.
He did not say to oppose or irritate or combat one another.

Jesus did not say to question one another.
He did not say to disagree with one another.
He did not say to debate or protest or rebuff one another.

Jesus did not say to condescend one another.
He did not say to belittle one another.
He did not say to discredit or ridicule or humiliate one another.

Jesus did not say to dismiss one another.
He did not say to ignore one another.
He did not say to exclude or reject or abandon one another.

Jesus did not say to antagonize one another.
He did not say to curse one another.
He did not say slander or berate or scorn one another.

Jesus did not say to argue with one another.
He did not say to defy one another.
He did not say to conquer or betray or harm one another.

Jesus did not say to fear one another.
He did not say to dislike one another.
He did not say to defy or condemn or hate one another.

What Jesus said was to love one another, to accept one another.

So, let us hear what He said. Let us do what He said. Let us love one another, and let us accept one another.

Tom

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

 

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The Voices

Vol. 19 No. 17 | April 23, 2017

Some of us are more aware of them than others. The voices, they are always there. I am not talking about strange psychotic or disturbing ‘people would be worried’ voices. I am talking about the voices inside of our heads and heart that overpower us and create confusion and anxiety, but at other times calm our spirits and bring us peace and harmony.

Jesus heard the voices.

“You cannot be the Son of God. You are a carpenter’s son.”

“Jesus, You should demonstrate Your power in such a dramatic way to show people who You really are.”

“Jesus, put my sons in positions of leadership in Your kingdom!”

“Jesus change these stones to bread. Jesus worship me and I will give You all these kingdoms. Jesus throw yourself off this high place and prove to me Your loyalty and dedication.”

“Jesus, who do You think you are?”

Jesus heard the voices, yet He stayed true to His nature and to His calling.

Thinking about the voices led me to pray this prayer and similar ones many times.

Father, I hear the voices. They come from all directions. They come from friends who want me to succeed. They come from those who may want to see me fail. Father, help me discern between the voices so that I know when to listen to my head and when to listen to my heart.

Father, silence the voices that tell me that what I do is insignificant. Silence the voices that tell me I am too good to do this, or that I am not good enough. Silence the voices who speak negativity to my heart.

Father, increase the volume of the voices that say this is a good thing, you are a good person, you are doing great things, you are touching lives, you are helping people find peace and hope. Increase the volume of the voices that say this is where God wants you and you are doing what He wants you to do.

Father, silence the voices that invoke fear. Increase the volume of the voices that instill confidence and trust in You.

Father, silence the voices that try to tear me down by drawing me away from You. Increase the voices that lift me up and draw me closer to You.

Father, silence the voices that tell me to be suspicious, skeptical, cynical and judge those who are different from me. Increase the voices that tell me to be open, to be trusting, and to love all people.

Father, silence the voices that remind me of my sins and failures. Increase the volume of those voices that remind me of Your forgiveness and the victories that You and I have enjoyed through Your strength.

The voices are real, Father. Some are good and some are bad. Father, help me discern between the voices and know which ones need to be silenced and which ones need to be heard.

Father, help me hear Your voice above all others.

Tom

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

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He Is Risen!

What I Want You To Know About Jesus, #5

Vol. 19 No. 16 | April 15, 2017

My most vivid childhood memory of Easter involves polishing my shoes. Yes, you read that correctly. Polishing shoes was our Easter ritual that I now realize was a clever way to implement tradition. To me, there was no rhyme or reason to it, but it did serve as an effective way for our parents to get us to shine our shoes on Easter morning. 

The understanding in our house was that if you wanted Easter candy on Easter morning, your shoes had to be cleaned, polished, shined and placed outside your bedroom door. With shoes cleaned and shined, we would go to bed, then on Easter morning we would find our shined shoes miraculously filled with Easter candy, along with a basket full of eggs and more candy. I eventually discovered that the Easter Bunny was just as much of a night owl as Santa was. But none of this mattered, as long as I had an adequate supply of those white, cream-covered eggs with pink, yellow, blue, and green sugar. Such a healthy snack to start off our Sunday morning!

The second most vivid memory of my childhood Easters was dying the Easter eggs. Usually on the Saturday before, the eggs would be boiled and tablets of dye would be dropped into heated vinegar. Next, the boiled eggs would be placed on a copper wire with a circle designed specifically to hold one egg at a time. The egg would be dipped into the dye and an amazing transformation would take place. Those plain white eggs became various shades of red, blue, green, yellow, and pink. Some of them came out of the dye with unique designs that we would create with a wax crayon. After the color transformation, the eggs, still wet with warm vinegar, would be placed on newspaper spread out on the kitchen table to dry. I can still here my mom’s warnings: “Don’t touch them! You’ll mess them up! You have to let them dry!”

And so, adequately jacked up on sugar, off we would go to church- dressed in our best (and only) pair of black pants, white shirts, black ties, and beautifully polished shoes- soon to join all the ladies and little girls dressed in their Sunday best, wearing their pretty hats and new fancy dresses.

I suppose the preacher spoke about the Resurrection, but I most likely missed it, falling asleep right about the time he started. But I assure you I woke up in time for the Easter Egg hunt that followed. That I would not miss. 

Eventually I outgrew those traditions. Well, most of them. I still try to make sure my shoes are in pretty good shape, and I now prefer the Reece’s Peanut Butter bunnies instead of the colorful sugar-coated eggs. I also eventually came to understand that the miracle of Easter was not about candy mysteriously showing up in my shoes, or eggs changing color right before my eyes.  Easter was about a Savior who had died and been buried, and then rose again from His grave.

The miracle is about the followers of Jesus who watched him suffer pain and humiliation, who witnessed the afflictions of his wounds and declaration of his death, who saw him conquer death and rise again. Hope restored.

I now understand that an Easter Sunrise means more than hunting eggs and wearing my best clothes. It means that the time of darkness has passed and the Light has returned. It means that the hope that had been lost has now returned. It means that although we go through times of waiting and confusion, even despair, because of that empty tomb, hope is restored. 

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Tom

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

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Reasons Why Jesus Is Not Safe

What I Want You To Know About Jesus, #4

Vol. 19 No. 15 | April 10, 2017

Jesus is not safe because following Him means carrying a cross.

Your cross may involve suffering for your faith. Your cross may involve leaving the creature comforts of your local community or staying there longer than you desire. Your cross may involve losing friends and family or being stretched to the limits of your faith. Your cross may involve physical limitations or being forced to face your fears. 

Jesus is not safe because following Him leads to death.

Following Jesus means abandoning yourself and embracing Him as your truth. Following Jesus may mean letting your dreams die so that He can create new ones within you. Following Jesus may mean abandoning your career goals so you can pursue the vocation He has designed for you. Following Jesus may mean surrendering your pride and even experiencing physical death that will unite you with and bring glory to Him.

Jesus is not safe because loving people is not easy.

Following Jesus means loving people. Loving people is not easy and it is not optional. Loving people is the identifying factor of a follower of Jesus. Some people are easier to love than others. You have to love the difficult ones too. Following Jesus means loving people like He loves you, and this also entails forgiving them as He has forgiven you.

Following Jesus will present known challenges and some that will not be revealed until you are in the thick of it. If you choose to follow Jesus, there may be times when you wonder if you made the right decision and times when you are convinced you made the wrong one.

Following Jesus is not safe because you must carry your cross, you must let the person you were before die so that He may now live through you. And, you must love people. If you just start with those two things, your journey will be much easier than it would have been otherwise. 

If you choose to follow Jesus, stay focused on the fact that He carried His cross and died for your sins. He chose to die so that you could be victorious over death. He chose to love people because He knew we needed to be loved.

Following Jesus is both challenging and rewarding. But the reward, in the end, will be worth the challenges.

As you consider following Jesus think about this story

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side. After he had dismissed them, he went up to a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone. The boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the wind and the waves.

Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on water to reach them. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and cried out in fear, “It’s a ghost!”

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. (Matthew 14:22-29, NIV)

As scary as it was, Peter came forth and walked on water. None of the other disciples could make that claim. He loved and trusted Jesus enough to follow Him when he said, “Come”.

The question of whether or not you will follow Jesus can only be answered by you. He does not demand it. He will not force you. He invites you to follow Him. If you choose to follow Him, your life will be filled with adventure that is beyond anything you can imagine. Maybe He is saying, “Come” to you. Will you?

Tom

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

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