Monday, April 30, 2012

Carry it On: Get Resourced!

So, the Draw Near Initiative is officially finished, but that doesn’t mean that we will stop drawing near to the Lord! We challenge you to take what you’ve learned this month and carry it on! Through this summer, through next year, through the rest of your life! God will continue to bless your commitment to spend time with Him and continue to bring you deeper into Him. God won’t ever stop being jealous for us, even if we no longer have a daily devotional book from InterVarsity.

We also understand that it can be challenging to continue in spending time with the Lord, especially if this is the first time you’ve truly committed yourself to spending time with Him daily. To help you out in continuing to take the initiative, we’ve put together a handy list of resources! Did one of the themes really strike a chord with you? Do you feel that God wants you to study His word more deeply? To grow in your prayer life? Check out whatever interests you most, and get excited for what God has in store!


  • Sermons by Scripture talks by John Piper
    • This link will take you to a complete list of sermons organized by book of the Bible, written by John Piper at Desiring God. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, this site is PACKED with sermons from all over the word of God, to help you want more of Him!
  • Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
    • The section on the Word from this book is a great overview of what it looks like to study the Word. It’s a little more informational, but really great! It gives you the why
  • “The Bible” - talk from Sermon Series called “Roots” by pastor Jason Smith of Harvest Pointe Community Church in Charles Town, WV

  • Seek out community with believers this summer! Are you going home? Get connected with a good Bible study! Working at a summer camp? Start a weekly prayer night with your co-counselors! Wherever you go, know that God has made us to be in relationship with each other.
  • Keep in contact with your Small Group. Create a prayer calendar - commit to praying for one member of your SG each day throughout the summer, and call/text/facebook/email him or her on the day you pray for them.
  • The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love by James Bryan Smith

General Growth/Devotionals

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This week, we are learning about being a witness for Christ. Today specifically, we are learning what it means to be an ambassador for Christ, representing Him well and living a missional life. Take some time to listen to  Timothy Keller’s podcast titled “Missions.” It talks about living a missional life and being an Ambassador for Christ... how perfect is that for today’s study? Before you begin listening, pray that God will use this message to show you how your life needs to be a mission for Christ, always!

To find the podcast, open up iTunes and search “Missions” in the iTunes Store. Click on “Missions” from the “Timothy Keller Podcast” and listen!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Community of Jesus

As a part of Draw Near this week focused on fellowship, check out the podcast called “The Community of Jesus” by Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Keller talks about how Jesus not only saves us from our sins, but also gives us the opportunity to be part of a community of fellow believers.  We are woven into a new, true human community where relationships are important and each person plays a different part!  Continue to pray for God to reveal your role in the Community of Jesus here at JMU.

To find the podcast, open up iTunes - search “The Community of Jesus” in the iTunes Store - Click on “The Community of Jesus” from the “Timothy Keller Podcast” and listen! Or try visiting his podcast site and search "Community of Jesus."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Prayer promptings

The following content is an excerpt from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson (pp. 113, 117-118).

God is great not just because nothing is too big for Him; God is great because nothing is too small for Him. A sparrow doesn't fall without His noticing and caring, so it shouldn't surprise us that he cares about [us]. God loves showing His all-encompassing compassion in little ways, and if we would learn to obey His promptings, we would find ourselves in the middle of miracles a lot more often. 

The reason many of us miss miracles is that we aren't looking and listening. The easy part of prayer is talking. Its much harder listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. It's much harder looking for the answers. But two-thirds of praying hard is listening and looking. 

Peter is the patron saint of wet feet. He may have failed the persistence test by falling asleep in Gethsemane, but he passed the wet-feet test by getting out of the boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee when Jesus uttered one of the craziest commands in Scripture: "Come." Peter risked far more than wet feet. The Sea of Galilee was a 91-square-mile dunk tank, and he was in the middle of it in the middle of the night. The key to getting out of the boat is hearing the voice of God. If you're going to get out of the boat in the middle of the night, you better make sure that Jesus said, "Come." But if Jesus says "Come," you better not stay in the boat.

Have you ever had a moment when the Holy Spirit prompted you during prayer to do something that seemed border-line crazy? Have you ever had a moment, as Peter did, when God called you to do something unsafe? Your response to those promptings will make you or break you. It may seem unsafe or insane, but if you stay in the boat, you'll never walk on water.

Praying hard starts with listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. And if you are faithful in the small things and obey those little promptings, then God can use you to do big things. 

By taking the Draw Near initiative, we encourage you to read further material on listening in prayer, waiting and persisting in prayer, and praising in prayer by referring to Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker. You can buy his book at a local bookstore or online.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

DRAW NEAR on the Commons TODAY!

If you've been following along with us during Draw Near's prayer week, you may have seen that today is focused on praising God with our prayer. We mentioned last week that when you share what He's been up to, it encourages others and propels their spirit that causes them to want more of Him too!

Praising God in prayer ensures that He is the one that receives the glory. Thats right, I'm talking about our Dad who is present here on this Earth and moving powerfully in our lives. When we praise the Lord for answering our prayers, we attribute the honor to Him that He is rightfully due. Too many times we forget this and accredit answered prayer to mere coincidence. But no! It's not just a coincidence- it's GOD. We praise and extol Him for who He is and for what He has done. Sharing and hearing testimonies will set faith on fire. It's all about Him, and only Him!

We've got a story of praise to share with you. Last week, the Draw Near team realized that although we had printed out 500 Draw Near booklets, we had nearly run out of all the material after passing them out at the previous Large Group. We did not have many remaining to give to people who hadn't gotten one, and the 30 days barely begun. While this was a praise in itself, it was also a tough situation because people were asking if we had any more booklets... and we didn't. We had already reached our budget for printing more. The anxiety level was just beginning to rise. Then that very weekend, one of our team members was given a donation for IVCF that she hadn't been expecting. Another team member got a check in the mail made out to IVCF the day before that hadn't been anticipated, either. Wait, what? It ended up being precisely the amount of money that was needed to print off another set of Draw Near booklets! One minute, we were stressing out that we didn't have enough. In the next, God showed us that He had already provided, He was MORE than enough. Sure, it could have been a coincidence. But really? We know it was all Him. Boy, you better believe we were praising Him even more that afternoon!

What are you praising Him for today? How have you seen God reveal Himself as actively and powerfully working to answer your prayers? What has He been teaching and speaking to you? Come out to the Commons today from 10am-4pm and share in each others' joy! We will have a prayer board out on which we invite you to come write out your answered prayers, praises, and words from God, which will be shared at Large Group tomorrow night!

God is moving! Let's give Him glory and also ignite the faith in others-- if He did it for someone else, He can do it for you. So let's talk about who He is and what He's done!

Monday, April 9, 2012

24 hours just isn't enough

...or is it? As we transition into this next week of Draw Near focused on prayer, you will most likely find yourself feeling the tension between your to-do list and your prayer time. In our fast-paced campus culture that burgeons under the pressure of getting from ECL to the Quad within 15 minutes before that next class, meeting with your GCOM presentation group before the Thursday night grilled-cheese rush at D-Hall, signing up for that hour-long yoga session at UREC, all happening in between your efforts to stay on top of your papers, projects, studying, and homework... phew! How the heck are you supposed to find time in the midst of all the things you could be doing to get alone with God and find time to pray?!

 If you're sweating under the pressure of your planner, a resource we suggest you could pick up is the book Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels. This book is a practical guide to prayer that turns our to-do list logic upside down. The premise of its theme claims that the more you gotta do, the more you gotta pray.

In the midst of our busyness, prayer shouldn't be something that is put at the bottom of our to-do lists. In fact, the longer and crazier your to-do list, the more reason you should talk to God about what’s going on. We need to learn how to “slow down to pray, listen to God, respond to what we hear, practice our acknowledgement of the presence of God, and overcome prayer barriers”. Reading Too Busy Not to Pray can help you understand why it is vital to stop and pray in the midst of your busyness, and even inspire you to pray with more passion and discipline.

Find a place and a time in your 24 hours today where you can meet with God and pray. Write it down in your agenda, set an alarm on your phone, and don't reschedule if your suitemate asks you to grab Market One for lunch instead. Stick with your commitment - after all, your prayer meeting with God will be the most important meeting of your busy day!

"Most of us are far too busy for our own spiritual good."- Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not To Pray 

1 Hybels, Bill. Too Busy Not to Pray.1989. Print.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tryna holla at #drawnear?

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
- Hebrews 10:19-39

Did you know that the command "draw near to God" is repeated 7 times just in the book of Hebrews? This command to draw near is linked with themes of trusting God and growing deeper intimacy in personal relationship with Him and His holiness.

As we persist in drawing near to our Abba Dad, please feel free to share about what He's been teaching you and speaking into your life! We want to recognize how God has been moving within you this week, and also celebrate the fact that He is making good on His promise and drawing near to us in return.

Not only is it exciting to hear what you may have received during your time with Him, but it is also extremely encouraging. When you share about how He's been meeting you in your personal time together, it electrifies something in another person's spirit that causes them to want more of Him too! Sharing your stories about Him will prod and prompt others to continue to draw near and press on throughout the month of April.

So let's talk about it! Comment on this blog, write on the Draw Near Facebook wall, tweet about #drawnear, grab a friend, tell your small group, alert the lady at Dukes while she swipes your punch- just don't keep it to yourself! We want to hear YOUR story. Let's praise Him for what He's doing!