Praise the Lord!!!

This is my blog post from six years ago today. For those of you who have been on this journey with us or those who would like a glimpse of our thoughts and emotions of Paul and Matthew joining our family, I invite you to read.

Randy Norris

Let me begin by saying that God is good.  It has been an incredible couple of days in Uganda and at home and in big and small ways, God has shown Himself strong.  The hardest part of the adoption process, other than your family not being together, is the unknown.  Even though we received the judge’s ruling almost one month ago that Paul and Matthew belonged to us, until you are on a plane with them coming home, you live with this fear in the back of your mind that a brick is going to fall and everything is going to come crashing down.  I saw this fear in Paul and Matthew, even though it was somewhat present in Susan and me as well.  All that fear was relieved on Tuesday afternoon when I got an email from Freda at the U.S. Embassy that simply said, “Mr. Norris, I think…

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Nothing to Offer

This week, we have learned from the teachings of Jesus that, for the believer, prayer is expected and prayer can be learned. Jesus also taught His followers to be persistent and consistent with their prayers. Look at the following verses from Luke 11:5-8:

He also said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him. Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything. I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his friend’s shameless boldness, he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

When the neighbor said, “Don’t bother me!  We are already in the bed asleep!” the asking man doesn’t just hang his head, give up, and go home.  He keeps knocking at the door saying, “Hey, I need something!  A friend of mine has come on a journey and I’m in a bad predicament here!”

So why did the man keep knocking?  The answer is found in verse 6 and if you aren’t careful, you will read and skip right over the key to persistent prayer.  The man cried out, “I don’t have anything to offer him.”  One of our biggest problems with prayer is that since we aren’t real sure that God is going to give us what we are asking for, we always have a Plan B in the back of our minds.  “God, will you help me with ______________.”  But in our minds, we know that if He doesn’t come through like we want Him too, we will just muddle through on our own.

The man in Luke 11 had no Plan B.  When we come to the place where we realize that we don’t have anything to offer, when we have no Plan B, when we are bankrupt on our own with no other alternative, then and only then, will we really get persistent and consistent in our prayers.  As long as we pray and make our request to God, but deep in our hearts our attitude is one that says no matter what God does, we will still be okay and get by, we really aren’t praying like Jesus teaches us to pray.  We have to get to the place where we realize on our own, we have absolutely nothing to offer.

Are you persistent in your prayers?  Have you reached the place where you realize just how bankrupt and destitute you are?  Where you have nothing to offer?  We must reach the place where you say, “God, you have got to come through for me because I have nothing to offer, I have no Plan B.  If you don’t come through for me, I am going to fall flat on my face.  God, you have to answer.  It’s all up to you.”

Jesus said to His disciples, “Without Me, you can do nothing.”  But still we think that we have something to offer.  Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing.”  But still we think that we can do lots of things.  “Without Me, you can do nothing.”  But still we think that we can get by on our own.  “Without Me, you can do nothing.”  But still we think that we can figure it out.

We have to understand that truly, without Jesus, we can do nothing.  When we finally get that, then and only then, will we get persistent in our prayers.  And then and only then, will our prayers get beyond the ceilings of ourselves.

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Simple Prayers

Dom Chapman said this about talking with God, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”
We often blame our lack of praying on many different things, especially our busyness.  But being busy doesn’t keep us from doing things we really want to do like eating, sleeping, shopping, watching sports, etc.  Theologian and author Richard Foster says it is something deeper and more profound that keeps us from it.  That “something” could be many different things, but there is “something” that needs your immediate attention.  It is the notion that we have to have everything exactly right in order to pray.  You have to have the right heart and the right attitude and the right words and the right motives.  It’s not that there isn’t a point where we have to deal with these things, but my suggestion to you is to not put the cart before the horse.  Prayer isn’t something you master like a field of study.  To be honest, I used to worry about my motives when I would come to the Lord in prayer.  Here’s the truth of the matter.  We all come to prayer with a big mess of motives.  We can be hateful and hurtful and bitter and selfish.  Sometimes, we can be all those things wrapped into one!
Jesus taught us that if we want to enter the Kingdom of heaven, we have to come like little children.  I believe there is a great lesson in that when it comes to our prayer life.  Sometimes kids come to their parents with the craziest requests! We shake our heads and wonder where they come up with such things.  We might even get a little frustrated at their selfishness.  But we would be even more frustrated if they never came to us at all, even in their craziness and selfishness. As parents, we are just glad when they come to talk to us, regardless of their motives.
This is exactly how it is with prayer.  This side of heaven, you and I will never be good enough or have pure enough motives to pray “correctly.”  Sometimes people will say, “The Lord knows my heart” like that is a good thing!  It’s not! But that doesn’t mean that we can’t set aside all these things and pray simple prayers to our Heavenly Father.  Simple prayers, with all of their impure motives and crazy questions, are the most recorded prayers in all of the Bible. Why?  Because it is in our simple prayers, and the very act of praying itself, that God begins to deal with our impure thoughts and motives in due time.
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Skiing the Slopes of Prayer

We learn from the teachings of Jesus that prayer is expected from a believer.  Understanding that prayer is expected isn’t really enough to get us into the habit of a regular prayer time though.  In order for prayer to become a part of our daily lives, we have to get to the point where we enjoy it.  To be honest, it is hard to enjoy something that we aren’t real sure how to do.

Several years ago I went snow skiing for a week in Colorado.  It was a little better than the ice sledding we did a few nights ago!  The guys I went with convinced me that I didn’t need to go to “ski school” to learn how to ski. They told me that once I got up the mountain they would teach me what I needed to know.  Crazy thing is, I believed them!  Can you see where this is going?  I got on the lift and we rode to the top of the mountain.  Little did I know that the slope to the bottom was 3 1/2 miles long!  (If you’ve never been to Keystone and Breckenridge, you should make that trip!)  They told me to make big “S” turns and then they proceeded to leave me and I was stuck 3 1/3 miles away from my destination. Needless to say, it took me the rest of the day to get to the bottom and I fell more times than I could count on the way down.  At one point, I stopped and sat by a tree and told God, “God, if you will get me down this mountain, I promise I won’t ever come up it again!”  I was so sore that night and the next morning that I told the guys to go to the slope without me.  As I sat in the hot tub of our room, I looked out the window at the incredible landscape of the Rocky Mountains that was surrounding me.  I hadn’t even noticed how beautiful the place was the day before.  It’s hard to notice breathtaking scenery when you are actually struggling to take a breath!  I started watching the people on the slopes skiing and they didn’t look miserable.  In fact, it looked like they were having a blast!  I decided to set aside my frustration and give snow skiing another chance.  I grabbed my ski gear and headed back to the slopes.  I called my buddies and asked them to meet me at the lift.  We went back to the top of the mountain and I got them to slowly teach me once again the things I needed to do.  And then it happened.  I started to actually ski and make turns without falling.  I made it down the hill and it only took me a couple of hours.  I still fell down, but not near as much as I had the day before.  And the next day I went back to the top again and again and again.  By the end of the week, what had taken me an entire day to ski down, now only took me about 7 minutes.  Looking back on that trip, I still remember how frustrated I was, but ultimately I remember that trip as one of the greatest times I’ve ever had in my life.  If I could go back skiing tomorrow, I would in a heartbeat!

Sometimes, prayer can be frustrating.  Don’t give up.  When you think you are saying the same things over and over, don’t fret it.  If it seems like you fall down and miss praying a day or two, don’t chalk it up that you aren’t cut out for praying.  Just keep talking to God and sharing with Him whatever is on your mind or in your heart.
Over the course of this 28 day journey, we are going to be giving you tips and lessons on how to pray.  You might not get it all at first and you might have days where it seems like you fall down on your prayer life.  That’s okay.  If you feel like you don’t know what to say, realize that you are in a conversation with your Heavenly Father who loves you so much and enjoy the breathtaking landscape of just sitting quietly for a few moments in His presence.  It won’t be long before you will enjoy going to the top of the mountain with God again and again and again–
And you will find yourself praying when you wake up.
And when you go to sleep.
And before you eat that meal.
And before you pull out of your driveway.
And before you make that trip.
And before you send that text.
And after bad things happen.
And before bad things happen.
And periodically throughout the day just because you belong to God and you enjoy talking to Him about EVERYTHING!
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A Time, A Place, and a Plan

Our theme verse is Isaiah 40:31
“But those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”

As we get going on this 28 day prayer journey, maybe you are thinking up front that you aren’t that good at praying.  While you may agree that it is important, you still struggle to make it an important part of your life.  I have great news for you.  Prayer can be learned.  And what better place to start than learning from the prayer life of Jesus.

In Mark 1:35, the Bible tells us, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying.”

Let’s notice a couple of things from Jesus prayer life.

1.  He had a set time.  
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark…”
Jesus got up very early in the morning to spend time with His Father in prayer.  We need to do the same and start our day with prayer.  I’ve never been of the mindset that one had to get up before dark in order for prayer to be effective.  I think what we can learn from this is that while our day should start with prayer, we need to have a set time that we can pray everyday when we are not rushed or distracted.

2. He had a set place.
“He went out and made His way to a deserted place…”
Jesus got alone to be with God.  He found a deserted place where there would be no distractions Your regular place of prayer should be free from distractions as well.  Turn off the cell phone and the computer.  Get alone with God.  That way you can talk to Him out loud if you want.  You can even sing a little during your prayer time when no one but God can hear.

3.  He had a set plan.
“and there He was praying.”
When Jesus’s disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He gave them a plan we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”  This prayer has been outlined over years, but my favorite is probably also the most pupular.  It’s called the “ACTS” plan.  It stands for Adoration.  Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication.
Adoration:  Start your prayer with worship.
Confession:  Confess any known sin to God.
Thanksgiving: Be grateful for what God has done for you and tell Him thanks.
Supplication:  Let your requests for others and for yourself be made known to God.

It always helps to go into prayer with a plan.  So today, at your set time, find your set place and don’t just say your prayers, PRAY them!

Have a great day!  Randy

#28Days2Pray 
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28 Days to Pray: Day One

Good morning and welcome to 28 Days to Pray!  We want to thank you for taking this journey with us for the next 28 days.  From the very beginning, our desire has been to be a praying church.  This 28 Day prayer focus is designed to help our church learn to pray more effectively and fervently while focusing our prayers together as we seek the heart of God in the coming year for our lives, our families, and our church.

Our theme verse for the next 28 days comes from Isaiah 40:31:

“But those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.” 

These are easy verses to memorize so why don’t you take a moment and do something to help you memorize it in the days ahead.  One of the best ways to do this is to write the verse on a note card and put it somewhere you will see it everyday.  That could be on your bathroom mirror, in your toothbrush drawer, on the dashboard of your car, etc.  For those who are a little more tech-savvy, you could even design it and make it your screensaver of your phone.  While you are at it, you can encourage someone else by taking a picture of your memory verse card and post it on social media with #28Days2Pray!

I believe that the 2018 is going to be the greatest year yet for The Station Church. I believe that we going to experience victory like never before.  Is there any basis for the confidence that I have that God is going to do great things in our midst in the next twelve months and beyond?  I wouldn’t be your pastor if I didn’t think there were.  Will you join with me in praying that we would put all of our trust and hope in God as we serve Him by serving others in our church, community, and world?  To trust in Him completely will require you and I to move further out in faith in His love and power and less on our own abilities and plans.

May this be the year that we soar as a church family and press on to all that God has in store for us!  Over the next four weeks we are going to dive in deep into God’s Word and learn more and more to be people of prayer.  I’m excited that you are joining me on this 28 day journey of prayer and devotion!   Randy

#28Days2Pray 
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Countdown to Christmas Family Scavenger Hunt

Here is the list of what to find/do!!! Have fun!!!

Scavenger Hunt

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