Hate Didn’t Kill Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday we paused to recognize one of the greatest men that ever lived. He was not a great politician, though he had a great impact on the laws of our land. He was not a famous celebrity, though he is known by most of the people in America. In fact, many cities in our country have streets named after him. This man was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King made it his life’s work to improve the plight of black people in America. While there is still much work to be done, our country took a great step forward through the work of Dr. King.

Then someone killed him.

It’s natural to say that his death was the result of hate. Perhaps, for some it was an act of hate. It’s certain that there were people that hated Dr. King. In spite of his education and influence, here was a man that many would have thought to be of less value, a lower class citizen, simply because of the color of his skin and he was shaking things up. He was questioning the status quo and had a lot of others doing the same. People don’t like change. The sort of change that challenges their comfortably existence they like even less. This sort of change might even cause some people to hate him.

But, hate didn’t kill Dr. King.

You see, while there were a lot of people who DID hate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr there were many who loved him. There were others  that may have thought that what Dr. King was doing was good and right, but were unwilling or scared to stand beside him. Ultimately, they were indifferent and apathetic towards Dr. King and his mission.

They killed Dr. King.

Good Christian men and women. Pastors and church members. People like me. These are the people that killed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They didn’t kill him directly, but they still held some responsibility. In April of last year I was at a conference in Atlanta. During one of the main sessions I had the surprise pleasure of hearing Dr. Bernice A. King speak. She is the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As she spoke she said something that shook me and brought me to tears.

“Hate didn’t kill my father. Indifference and apathy did.”

That’s a bold statement, but it just made sense. Dr. King stood up against things that many people were willing to fight to keep. Certainly there were other’s that stood with him, but there were a great many Christian men and women who did nothing. This is what his daughter meant when she said that indifference and apathy killed her father. We can not know for sure that standing with Dr. King would have prevented his assassination, but if he was doing what was good and right shouldn’t good, Christian men and women have stood with him.

Maybe he would still be here today.

Our country has made so much progress since the time that Dr. King started working to improve the lives of people like him. Still, we have a long way to go. Let’s not make the mistake that our brothers made all those years ago. Let’s stand beside other believers that are working to make lives better. Let’s stand beside and stand up for people who look different from us.

50 years have passes since Dr. King was killed, at least in partly due to indifference and apathy. 50 years from now, let us not be known as indifferent and apathetic, too.

Matt Norman

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3 Things I Learn From The Death of a Young Coworker  

Recently I received news that a woman I had worked with for several years passed away. Her death was unexpected. It’s always shocking to hear that someone you know has died. In this case it was even more shocking cause she was only 39 years old. In a couple months I’ll be 43. She was younger than me and now she is gone.

As is often the case in times like this I found myself reflecting on a variety of things. I thought about my own life, my career, my family, and my relationships. As I did, there were three things that really stood out. Here are 3 things I learned from the death of a young coworker.

1.) Make sure the people you love know it. One thing that we hear over and over again when anyone under the age of about 70, or maybe even 80 dies is that you never know how much time you have. There are people that you care about, people you love. Take time to make sure that they KNOW you love them. Tell them. That’s important. They need to hear it. But, don’t stop there. Your actions will speak love much louder than your words can. When you are gone, it is too late to let those people know you love them. So, make sure they know NOW.

“…we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.” 1 John 3:18

2.) Make time to spend time with people you enjoy being around. After the passing of this young friend and coworker, many of us were left wanting to express our feelings for her and to mourn with others. The family had decided not to have open memorial service, but to keep whatever services they did  have just within the family. I completely respect this decision. However, this left many others that were effected by her death with no outlet for their feelings. This prompted one of our former coworkers to organize a dinner. Nothing fancy, or formal, just an open invitation to a local restaurant to gather and share memories. As I looked forward to this dinner, and while there, I was reminded of just how much I actually enjoyed being with many of these people. Sure, I had left the organization that we had all worked for together, but not because I didn’t want to be with these people. I actually really like these people.

I think we all have people like that in our lives. People that we got to know through work, school, or maybe even through the activities that our children are involved in. People that we genuinely enjoy being around. Chances are some of those people actually enjoy being around you as well. Social media has made it really easy to stay connected with these people. Reach out to them. Plan a time to meet at a local restaurant. Plan a BBQ at your house. Plan to meet at a local park. Whatever it is, make time to spend time with the people you enjoy being around.

3.) Make up with that loved one you’ve been struggling with. I get it, family is tough. Family has a unique ability to hurt us so much deeper than anyone else. The pain is made even worse by the fact that these people are supposed to love us. These are the people we are supposed to be able to count on more than any others. I get all that. BUT, life is simply too short to hold a grudge against a family member. Forgive them. Seek to reconcile that relationship. Try to move on and rebuild that relationship. Make the most of the time you have, because you never know how much time you have left.

I know that your efforts at forgiveness, reconciliation, and rebuilding of these relationships may not be returned or appreciated by that loved one. There is nothing you can do about that. Do your part to salvage and restore that relationship. If they were gone tomorrow you don’t want to have to deal with the weight of knowing that you didn’t do what you could to fix it. When that loved one is no longer around you want to be able to assure yourself that you did what could. You may still mourn the missed opportunities, but at least you tried.

At the end of the day, make sure the people you love know that you love them. Make time to spend time with the people you enjoying being with. Make up with that loved one you’ve been struggling with. None of us knows how much time we have left, or how much time they have left. You will never regret time spent with the people you love and enjoy being with, but you could end up regretting not having done it.

Matt Norman

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Hope For a New Year

One of my favorite songs is an old hymn called “Because He Lives”. This is a song that I just can’t get out of my head for the past few months. Maybe it’s because of this crazy journey of starting a new church and all the uncertainty, stress, and even fear that comes with that. Whatever it is, I think that this is a great song to really connect with as we move into a new year.

I know that for many people the beginning of a new year is often more about relief that the previous year is coming to an end. It seems like every year around this time my social media feeds are fill with people talking about how bad this year has been and how they are going to really kill it in the new year. Often times the same people boasting about how good the new year is going to be will be cursing the year as it ends.

Where does your hope come from? All to often our hope is placed in our own ability to “get things done”. We are created in the image of God. In the very image of the one that created everything. So, we certainly do have a great potential to effect the course of our lives. However, there is one much greater that we can put our hope in.

Because He lives., I can face tomorrow. As the title of the song I mentioned above says, I can have hope because Jesus lives. You see, I have worked very hard in my life and still have often found things not working out as I had planned, hoped, or thought they would. In those moments it can be easy to lose hope. You see, we often place our hope on our own ability to “pull ourselves up by our boot straps” or to “get it done”. So, when this fails, what are we left with?

That’s why I take such comfort in this song. You see, my hope for tomorrow is not based on my own ability to fix things or to make things happen. Rather, my hope is based on the fact that the creator of the universe, Jesus, is ALIVE.

 Because He lives, all fear is gone. Many people will look at what I’ve said here and ask how they can KNOW that tomorrow will be better. The truth is, no matter what you do you can never know for certain what tomorrow will bring. We see instances all the time of people who have done everything right and still find their lives falling apart.

Hope is not about KNOWING that tomorrow is going to be better. Hope is about knowing that tomorrow CAN be better. You see, fear is not removed only when all the dangers are removed. Rather fear is removed when one has trust enough that the person in control will keep you safe. Think about riding in the car with someone you trust. Now, if you are a complete control freak, then you may experience anxiety no matter who is driving. But, suppose for a moment that you truly trust the person driving. When you do, you climb into the car without fear. This is not because every danger has been removed. No, your fear is gone because you trust the person that is in control to keep you safe.

That’s why trust in Jesus can remove fear for tomorrow. It is not because we KNOW that nothing bad is going to happen. It’s because we know that Jesus is in control and we trust that even when bad things do happen that Jesus is still in control and has a plan for us, even in the bad times.

Because I know He holds MY future.  Ok, this line from the song actually says, “Because I know He holds THE future”, but I have always liked to substitute “MY” where “THE” is supposed to be. This serves as a reminder that not only does Jesus hold THE future, He holds MY future. He loves me and wants to see my future be awesome. This is not a “name it and claim it”, “God will give you a new car” kinda thing. But, Jesus did say that He came that we could have life and that we could have it to the full.

As you face tomorrow and 2018, it might help to consider this line and put “MY” in place of “THE” when you sing it. Heck, you could even put your own name in there. “Because I know He holds Matt’s future.” Wow, that has a nice ring to it.

And life is worth the living, just because He lives. Listen, life will not always go the way you planned or wanted it to go. You may invest years in a company, only to find that they care no more about you than they might a piece of equipment. You may invest years into a person, only to find that they are more interested in a moment of physical pleasure with someone else than a life with you. You may invest countless hours in your kids only to have them do things and make choices that you taught them not to make. You may invest blood, sweat, tears, and a TON of time into your own business only to have it crumble.

The truth is that none of us knows what tomorrow holds. None of us knows what 2018 will bring. But, what I DO know is that Jesus holds my future, and He is real and alive. For this reason, I know that life is worth the living. I know that, no matter how bad today gets, tomorrow can be better, because He lives.

Below is a link to this song. Take some time to listen to it. Replace “because I know He holds the future” with “because I know He holds MY future”. Even better put your name in there.

What to know more about how to get this hope? This hope starts with a relationship with Jesus. If you’d like to know more about how to start a relationship with Jesus, feel free to use the email link above to contact me. You can also find me on Facebook HERE.

Matt Norman

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I’m Not The Man I Want To Be… But, I’m Not Done.

In my last post I shared some really personal things. If you missed it you can find it HERE. Many people thanked me for my openness, honesty and vulnerability. That was my goal. One of the most powerful lies that the enemy tells us is that we are the only one that struggles with the things we struggle with. He goes on to tell us that there must be something wrong with us because we are the only ones. As I said, this is a lie. Seldom does any of us struggle with anything that many others are not also struggling with. That’s why I share. So that others can know that they are not all alone.

It’s true, I’m not the man that I want to be. But, I’m not done.

God’s still working on me. You see, God’s word promises that He will continue to work on us until we are complete. Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Certainly, I will not reach completion until I go on to be with Jesus, but this verse promises me that God is not done working on me. So, while I’m not the man I want to be today, I know that tomorrow I will be a little closer.

God’s got a plan for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you…” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I take a lot of comfort in knowing that God has a plan for me. For me, when I make plans, all sorts of things come up. There are just so many things that I can see until they come up. These things catch me by surprise. BUT, with God’s plan none of these things are a surprise to Him. He knows that they are coming and has a plan for every one of those obstacles. Not only can He see them and has a plan for them, He has a plan to use them to grow me.

He’s got a plan for you, and He’s not done working that plan. This message isn’t just for me. You see these verses that I’ve shared apply as much to you as to me. God has a plan for your life. He has begun a good work in you and will see it through to completion. The difficulties you have encountered along the way were not a surprise to Him. He saw them coming and has a plan for those as well. Please understand me, He would not have chosen those painful things, but our world is broken. Because of this, bad things happen. Still we can trust that God wants to lead us through those dark times and use them to grow us.

There is an old saying in the gym, “no pain no gain”. Sadly the same is often true in life. Many times it is through the pain in our lives that we experience personal growth. I don’t say this to discount the pain that these times bring. Sometimes life just hurts. BUT, if we can stay focused on the growth that is coming, it might make the pain a little easier to bear. If we can remember that God has a plan, even in the midst of our pain, it might help us to persevere.

I’m not the man I want to be. That’s true, I am not the man I want to be. But, that’s ok. I closer than I once was, and I know that with each day I have the potential to move closer to the man I want to be. Not because of my own ability or my own work, but because of the work that God is doing in me.

Matt Norman

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War Room App

So, a couple weeks ago I wrote a post about my “portable war room”. You can read that post HERE. Well, a coupe days ago I was thinking of how I could take that idea to the next level and have it with me all the time. Certainly I could just use the Notes app or other apps like Evernote. I tried to use the built-in Notes that comes with all iOS devices and it didn’t really work for me. I also tried using Evernote. I LOVE Evernote and use it for all kinds of other things, but it didn’t really work for me for my prayer list. So, I wanted something different. I like the idea of the post-it notes in the folder that I’ve been using. I still use it when I’m at home and can take the folder with me when I travel, but I wanted something that I could take EVERYWHERE. Like something that I could pull up on my lunch break or while sitting in my car before work. So I searched and found the perfect app: The Post-It Notes App.

Here is a picture of my portable War Room. You can read the full post on this using the link above.

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This works great, but I wanted something electronic to augment it. That’s where the Post-It notes app comes in. This app allows me to actually take a picture of my portable War Room. It recognizes the Post-It notes, removes the background and creates a board with the post it notes on it.

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From there you can click on a certain one and zoom in on it.

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Then you can scroll left or right through all of the notes on that board.

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You can also create multiple boards. This would allow you to create different grouping of prayer requests. For instance I have a friend that separates his prayer list into different categories. On certain days he prayers for people that he know who are in ministry. You could create a different board for each of your categories. Or you could create a different board for certain days, depending on how you managed your prayer list.

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In addition to snapping pictures of paper post-it notes, the app allows you to create new notes right in the app. This would allow you to add notes on the go. In this pic I chose to type the note, but you can also write one. For $.99 you can buy the full editing suite, which would allow you to edit notes you create as well as pic different colors for your note “paper” and different color ink.

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Another cool feature I almost forgot to mention is that you can add any, or all of the notes in the app to your “Today” screen. This is the screen that you get when you drag down from the top of your home screen. This allows even quicker access to your prayer requests. You can then go straight to the app from there. Another way to help cut down on possible distractions. If you’re like me, that’s important.

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I know that there are many other ways to manage your prayer requests. Some I mentioned in the opening to this post. For me the other apps allow for to much chance for distraction. This one is simple. I can look at one prayer at a time. I can include as much information as I can get on a post it note. Or I can just put a name. Since I am only using it for prayers then the only thing that will come up when I open the app will be prayers. Also, since I can get to it from the Today screen, then I don’t even have to actually go into my phone to get to them. There are certainly other apps out there that can do this job, but I like how this one works.

 

Let me know what apps you are using for prayer lists, requests, etc.

 

Matt Norman

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