Walter Norvell

Walter H. Norvell is a teaching fellow with BHCTI and is an associate professor of Christian Ministries at Williams Baptist University. He and Mary have been married for 44 years. He is a dad to two grown sons and granddad to five grandchildren. He reads, fishes, grows gardens and writes a blog at

I watch birds. My favorite birds are great big ones like American bald eagles. I live in an area where fish are plentiful, so I frequently see eagles. My other favorite birds are little bitty ones. The smallest birds I get to see are the ruby-throated hummingbirds.  Hummers are fascinating birds. They eat small insects […]
October 21, 2019
Have you ever experienced a Bible passage that the Lord repeatedly uses in your life? I have several but one stands out. It is Jeremiah 6:16 (ESV):  Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ The Lord seems to remind me […]
September 23, 2019
I decided that was the last shirt I would ruin with my ballpoint pens. I had ruined shirt after shirt. While most of my written words were composed on the computer screen, I have always carried a pen, very often forgetting to retract it before putting it back into my pocket. But what pen options […]
August 23, 2019
The Teacher Behind the Lesson Do you have a favorite teacher in your life? My high school history teacher had a huge impact on my life. She taught me far more than U.S. history with her life. My 11th grade Sunday School teacher taught me much about using hospitality to support teaching and learning. Several […]
What Is Your Priority? Time is the greatest excuse. My students frequently tell me they did not have time to prepare for class. Some tell me they do not have time for a daily quiet time or to attend church regularly. I remind them that we always make time for the things we really want […]
Are Teachers Born or Made? I have seen some wonderful teachers in my life. Some had lots of training behind them. Some reached my heart with excellence in methodology. Others grabbed my imagination with stories. Some were self-taught. They never thought of themselves as great teachers. Yet God used them in my life. I am […]
Henrietta Mears’ Ten Commandments As we have looked at the contributions of Henrietta Mears to small groups and Bible study ministry through the local church, we can see what a committed and determined Jesus follower she was. She was strategic and focused in life and ministry. Can you see this in the following story she […]
I’m Just a Sunday School Teacher? Notice my title today ends with a question mark. When I talk to church leaders I often hear, “I’m just a Sunday School teacher,” or “I’m just a small group leader.”  We have been looking at the life and contributions of Henrietta Mears. She also encountered church leaders who […]
Henrietta Mears: Small Group Pioneer You have probably never heard her name: Henrietta Mears. But evangelist Billy Graham has written that, among women, only his mother and his wife, Ruth, have had more influence on his life and work than Henrietta Mears. Who was this influential woman and what can she still teach us about […]
What Helps Our Prayers If you could determine one thing that would help you pray, would you put it to use? We have been examining Steve Gaines’ helpful little book, Pray Like It Matters. First we looked at the importance of praying in a group. You can find it here. Then we looked at the […]
Some Roadblocks to Prayer We have been thinking about prayer with the help of Steve Gaines’ little book, Pray Like It Matters. In our last post we discussed The Power of Praying Together. I mentioned two other outstanding chapters in his book. Today let’s think about some roadblocks (Gaines’ Chapter 5: What Hinders Our Prayers) […]
A young friend whom I love and respect very much recently asked me, “Are we due for an awakening?” The question challenged me. I thought about it in several ways. First, are we “due” anything from God? Obviously God owes us nothing, but He chooses to respond to us out of His grace.  Second, are […]
Prayer, in many ways, is a mysterious yet practical aspect of following Jesus. I believe God is working His plan. And I also believe that when I engage in prayer, at God’s invitation, I work with Him to bring His resources to bear in establishing His kingdom. In the previous blogs we considered how to […]
Why don’t we pray in ways that match what we say we believe about prayer? I suspect that though we give prayer lip service, we don’t pray because we don’t make time to pray. I also suspect that we know so little about God and His work that we don’t know how to pray. We […]
What are the important actions of a Jesus follower? I could answer that with a number of ideas: sharing faith with lost persons, stewarding God’s resources, and studying the Bible. I know you can argue with me, but I think the most important work of a believer is prayer. Prayer does many things, some of […]
Small groups are the logical environment for developing disciples. Many skills associated with following Jesus are taught and learned inside a small group. Prayer is one example. I recently read Steve Gaines’ little book, Pray Like It Matters. The title grabbed my initial attention but the chapter titles drove me to complete the book in […]
The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) is about several themes: • How Jesus demonstrated teaching God’s Word. • How the Word germinates in each of us. • The kinds of persons who hear the Word. • The evil forces that rob us of God’s Word. But verses 11-12 put the parable into a different […]
How in the world do you lead a small group perfectly? You have seen great Bible teachers. Maybe your pastor is one of them. How can any non-seminary trained small group leader compete with that? What if I make a mistake? What if I don’t get the interpretation exactly right? What if I can’t talk […]
December 1, 2016
I have noticed that while I know what matters, I can easily lose my focus on what matters with all the tasks that seem to need to be done at any given moment. Sometimes we must take steps to focus on the most important and let the lesser important things go. As a small group […]
This past week I came across a blogpost by Lance Crowell, “Three Things Every Young Adult is Looking for in Their Sunday School Class.” My attention perked up because I lead young adults in Bible study at our church. He posed three great ideas: Content – Young adults are looking to be challenged and hear […]
If you just attended a great small group Bible study, how would you describe it? What made it great? What would you tell others about it and why? What do you think identifies a great small group Bible study? The Good Book Company just released a short video that answers those questions. The folks at […]
Bringing It All Together in Bible Interpretation This article concludes our posts about skills for Bible interpretation. If you missed or want to review the previous posts, here are the links: Interpreting the Bible The On-Your-Mark, Get-Set, Go Principle The When-and-When Principle The In-the-Neighborhood Principle The Phraseology Principle The WYSIWYG Principle The Symbol Principle The […]
What is the purpose of Bible study? What is it supposed to do? Are we after small groups of walking Bible encyclopedias? Or do we believe and study the Bible because it changes lives? I must confess that I am often diverted from what God is teaching me as I study to lead a small […]
If you have been following this series on biblical interpretation skills then you may have this question: I understand that symbols may be used in texts but what happens when it appears that the whole passage is symbolic? You just discovered the Symbol-Story Principle. The Symbol-Story Principle is also known as the allegorical principle. An […]
We use symbols all the time. Once my mother asked me what my sons as teenagers wanted for Christmas. I told her, “They like CDs.” She thought for a minute and replied that she didn’t have that kind of money. I realized that I used CD to present compact disc and she used CD to […]
Once, in the early days of computer word processing, typing a document required the operator to insert codes of what appeared to most of us as gibberish. But, done well, the finished document printed out as desired. But, you did not know if the codes were right until it printed. But (thankfully) text editors like […]
Principle #4: The Phraseology Principle for Interpreting the Bible Words are very important. Think about “red” verses “crimson.” Which one grabs your attention? Under God’s guidance, our biblical writers struggled with words, sentences, and styles of literature as they wrote. Understanding the use of these will help you interpret the Bible in accurate ways. The […]
Principle #3: The In-the-Neighborhood Principle of Bible Interpretation I have heard people talk about the value of real estate: location, location, and location. I have always tried to buy the least expensive house in the most expensive neighborhood, so I understand that real estate maxim. Location, location, location also helps us think about another principle […]
Principle #2: The Where-and-When Principle of Bible Interpretation Imagine walking along your favorite beach. You find a bottle half-buried in the sand. Sure enough, there is something inside. You work out the rolled up paper and discover a letter. You can read it but the meaning is not fully discernible. Think how eager you would […]
Principle #1: The On-Your-Mark, Get-Set, Go Principle of Interpretation While interpreting the Bible may seem like challenging endeavor, several guidelines exist to help us. The first one is the Preparation Principle, or as I like to think of it, The On-Your-Mark, Get-Set, Go Principle. A runner in a race finds her mark on the starting […]
Introduction to Interpreting the Bible You study during the week to lead your small group in Bible study. You have read your Bible passage. You have followed the suggestions and commentary in your leader’s material. You even looked up some ideas in your Bible dictionary and a commentary. But, how do you know you really […]
Praying Scripture I have heard that an effective prayer is born in heaven, passes through our hearts, between our lips, and goes back to heaven. We want to pray for the things that God desires to do and for the people and causes he loves and values. What better way to do this than to […]
The Father Loves Our Stumbling Prayers Prayer is the most important activity of disciples of Jesus Christ. Yet today’s church is bereft of prayer. Why? Do we feel we don’t know a formula that will get us success with God? Do we fear we lack a vocabulary to get God’s attention? Do we despair of […]
April 19, 2016
Praying Remember the Big Picture Often our prayer times are rushed and self-focused. “Bless me,” is about all it boils down to. Even when we pray for others, it is usually for the significant others in our lives with whose well-being we are linked. Please do not think that such requests are not to be […]
Better Praying For many of us (and me), prayer is not routinely easy. To stay on task in my praying, I expend a lot of mental energy to focus and stay engaged. My mind wanders easily. Here are some ideas for staying focused in your daily prayer times. Pray at a specific time and in […]