Saturday, January 2, 2010

Draw Me Nearer

God is not prodigal with His power; but to be much for God, we must be much with God.
—Leonard Ravenhill

Yesterday at breakfast, Brett shared with the kids our family’s theme verse for 2010. Opening his Bible to the book of James, chapter 4, he immediately captivated their attention by reading a passage that hit home for our three young kids, who have been cooped up together for these past two weeks of school break:
Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that war within you. You want things, but you do not have them. So you ... are jealous of other people, but you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You do not get what you want, because you do not ask God. Or when you ask, you do not receive because the reason you ask is wrong. You want things so you can use them for your own pleasures. (James 4:1–3 NCV)
After discussing a few practical alternatives to our kids' arguing and fighting—inevitable realities of too much “family togetherness” over the holidays (can I get a witness?)—Brett continued reading the passage until he arrived at our family’s theme verse for 2010:
Come near to God, and God will come near to you. (v. 8 NCV)
This verse, so simple that even our three-year-old can memorize it, sums up our foremost desire for the new year. Like Jonathan Edwards’s resolution #30, we will “strive our utmost every week to be brought . . . to a higher exercise of [God’s] grace than the week before.” To do that, we have made a plan—as individuals and as a family—to come near to God each day.

As anyone in ministry knows, one of the enemy’s most cunning strategies is to keep Christians so busy—even serving in the church—that they neglect personal time with the Lord. John Ortberg once said, “For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so busy and distracted and rushed that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.”

And never is that temptation stronger than when a church is growing and thriving. In just under two years, The Church at Sendera Ranch has grown from a nascent Bible study to a vibrant and healthy church. As we look forward to another exciting year of helping people develop into fully functioning followers of Christ (and the additional ministries, staff, and opportunities that 2010 will bring), it is imperative that we do not become so busy serving the Lord that we neglect our time of sitting at His feet.

Because a God-honoring church is not about “putting numbers on the scoreboard,” as one pastor referred to his own strategy. It’s about making much of God.

And a God-honoring life is not about trying to impress people with how “spiritual” you are. It’s about pursuing an authentic, vibrant, ongoing communion with God.

And here is God’s astounding, immutable promise: when you come near to Him, He will come near to you.

Yes, you.

No matter where you are, no matter what you've done or how hopeless you feel or what you fear this new year will bring, you can cling to this one promise, strong and sure: if you come near to God, then God Himself--the God of all hope, healing, love, comfort, peace, and glory--will come near to you.

So what are you waiting for?

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.
O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!
There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

--Fanny Crosby

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