Table Of Contents
Together In Fellowship 5th and 6th graders come together to equip, challenge, and refuel their walk with the Lord
The Year Of Jubilee Dr. Youssef looks forward to e Church of e Apostles’ 25 year anniversary
Instruments Used By God Leading e Way uses the upheval in the Middle East as an opportunity to bring people to Jesus
Year of Remembrance, Year Of Celebration Children’s Ministry graduates reflect on their time in the ministry
A Women’s Ministry Testimony e testimony of Diana Toso
Living Waters A ministry committed to removing the blocks to intimacy with Christ and working through the wounds, hurts, sin, and baggage we carry.
What do you know about crown financial ministries?
The Path A biblically-based life and work assessment course designed to provoke thinking and foster strategic renewal, personally and professionally.
Rejuvenation In Retreat A look back at the 2011 RE: Marriage Retreat
ach fall, the fih and sixth grade students in STS look forward to Radiate Weekend. is is a special weekend designed for students to be able to come together in fellowship and be equipped, challenged, and refueled in their walks with the Lord. e weekend has a guest speaker, designated times of worship, and an evening where the students spend the night, separated by grade and gender, in the homes of our church families. is year’s focus was the passage in John 14:6 where Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In a culture that says there are many ways to God, we want our students to be confident in knowing that there is only one way for salvation and that is through Jesus Christ and in Him alone! Our guest speaker, Chad Cannon, did a wonderful job leading our students in a deeper understanding of this passage and what this passage looks like in our daily lives. Our worship team did a wonderful job in leading our students in worship and it was truly a joy to hear and see them sing to the Lord with passion. Radiate weekend would not be possible without the gracious support of our fih and sixth grade parents who open their homes for students to spend the night and also provide a breakfast the next morning. As a student ministry we are truly blessed to have so many parents who pray, serve, and support our students. Here are some thoughts from one of this year’s host parents, Su Jackson: It was such fun to have the fih and sixth grade girls here for Radiate Weekend. Although most of the activities were held at the church, we had 13 bouncing girls arrive on Friday evening to spend the evening with us. ere were lots of giggles as they played ping pong, foosball, board games, and even karaoke! Although the girls didn’t all know each other when the evening started, they got along great! ey even all slept in the same room! Anna Witt organized the girls and stayed with them so all we really did was provide a place to stay and some breakfast in the morning. One of the girls at breakfast said, “We should all do this again!” It’s so important for the kids to be able to get to know each other better in addition to Sunday mornings. ApostlesLife | 2 | www.apostles.org
We are so thankful to the STS team for investing in the lives of our children. It is so important for the kids to discuss the important things in life with someone who cares for them—especially what God’s plan is for them. As you can see in the picture, it was a great time of fellowship for all!
he number fiy in the Bible is a significant one. It represents the full measure of years. It does not indicate the end of life, but the end of physical labor. In the book of Numbers you find that those who are in physical service at the Tent of Meeting (because of its taxing physical labor) should be between thirty and fiy years old. Aer fiy, a priest becomes an elder statesman (Numbers 8:25-26). The thought that fifty is the fullness of years is thrown in Jesus’ face in John chapter 8 when He says: “Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day.” They say to Him: “You are not yet fifty years old.” Of course they, like so many church folks today, fail to see that He is the divine Son of God. At fifty, a person is afforded the respect of eldership because of his or her wisdom of years and experience. But fifty is more than just a landmark. The number fifty carries great significance in Israel’s calendar. God instructed Moses that the timing of the Feast of Weeks was to be exactly fiy days aer the Sabbath from the first fruit, or the day of the wave oﬀerings. In fact, the Greek word Penta, from which we get “Pentecost,” means “fiy.” But there is something more important about the number fiy. It is associated with liberation and being set free. at is why God established the fiieth year as the year of Jubilee. Every seventh year is to be a Sabbath year—from which we get the word sabbatical— which many pastor friends of mine take aer each seventh year of ministry. Many people, whenever I take my three-week summer vacation, ask me: “Did you enjoy your sabbatical?” I oen resist the temptation of explaining what “sabbatical” really means. But in biblical times, the seventh year is a complete year of rest. During that year the land lies fallow. (Leviticus 25:4) But aer seven cycles of Sabbath years had passed, Israel was requested
to observe a second Sabbath as a year of Jubilee. at year on the Day of Atonement a trumpet would blast. At that moment, all lands that were sold in the previous forty-nine years would return to their original owners. In addition, all servants or slaves who were employed or bought during those forty-nine years were completely set free. e idea was that the Jubilee year would occur once in a lifetime for every Israelite. In fact,
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Below, clockwise, Dr. Youssef prays at the groundbreaking, Dr. Youssef on his way to the first service at the Northside location, Lovett, and the old chapel.
the most significant aspect of the Jubilee year is the concept of freedom. is was supposed to remind the Israelites that both they and their land belonged to the Lord. ey were both the Lord’s possessions. And it is God who takes back His people and His land in the year of Jubilee. at brings me to something very important. e year of Jubilee for our church would be 2037. But since my greatest hope is that when that time rolls around, I will
be in a glorified body in Heaven, we will celebrate our half-Jubilee on our 25th anniversary. For two years now I have been praying, spending time with the Lord, and sensing in my spirit through His leadership that we should do something symbolic for this mid-Jubilee year, namely, that all church members have the opportunity to renew their Membership Covenants on the day of the 25th Anniversary. Let us make our 25th Anniversary celebration truly an honor unto the Lord. ApostlesLife | 4 | www.apostles.org
Instruments Used by God Leading e Way, Winter 2011/2012
Vol. XXV, no. 4
Opportunity comes in many forms. is year, in the Middle East, it arrived in the form of upheaval and the fall of regime aer regime. Protests culminated in riots and some ended in tragic loss. ankfully, this upheaval le an open window for previously dan-
gerous questions. “What really matters in life?” “Who can I truly trust?” “Who is God, and does He care about me?” Leading e Way’s teams throughout the Middle East have worked diligently this year to field these very questions.
EGypt Ousts Mubarak Probably the most publicized of all the Arab Spring events, the eventual fall of Mubarak was publicized as the rise of hope for many. But that hope was soon exposed as false hope as the Muslim Brotherhood gained a foothold in Egypt leading to increased persecution of Christians. Still, the physical, economic, and political uncertainty has led to Egyptians asking deeper questions about spirituality. rough the KINGDOM SAT, internet, and dual-language radio broadcasts, Leading e Way has been leading people to Jesus.
Just wanted to encourage you in what you are doing. I accepted the Lord as my Savior aer watching your programs. God Bless. –Liza
Gaddafi falls in libya Home to the oldest mosque in the Sahara, Libya has long harbored Islam. Gaddafi’s 1977 overthrow of the Libyan monarchy was in no way liberating. e “emancipation” of Libya from Gaddafi earlier this year brought little relief. With less than one percent of the population following Christ, the dual-language broadcasts and THE KINGDOM SAT coverage has been an oasis of Truth in a desert land. I received the Lord as my Savior when you started broadcasting two years ago. I keep it secret for my parents would kill me if they knew about my conversion. I have the light of Jesus which my country doesn’t. Please let me know if you have missionaries here. –Teenager, unnamed for security concerns ApostlesLife | 5 | www.apostles.org
On thE rOad in daMascus
pErsEcutiOn in iran
Political and spiritual oppression in Syria reached critical levels this year as multitudes protested. e government responded with characteristic violence and credible threats, leaving citizens void of hope. However, God has not forgotten Syria or its people. With broadcasts through e KINGDOM SAT and solar-powered Navigator pocket missionaries, the light of truth is shining in the darkness.
Tertullian said, “e blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” While harsh, this is precisely what we are seeing in Iran. e world has been watching a highly publicized case of Christian persecution as an Iranian pastor has been put on death row and has endured disturbing false accusations—all for refusing to recant his faith in Christ. Despite intense persecution amidst political unrest, the church is growing in Iran. God Almighty is using the new Farsi language broadcast from Leading e Way to strengthen the church and bring hope to the 77 million unreached people in Iran.
I found a Bible that belongs to my brother whom I believe is Christian, but he is hiding it. I read about the Lord Jesus Christ and was struggling like most Muslims to accept the truth that God the creator became flesh. I wanted to learn more so I called the number on THE KINGDOM SAT. I called several times and THE KINGDOM SAT follow-up staﬀ prayed with me to accept Jesus a my Savior. I am so excited! —College Freshman
In my opinion [the broadcast is] like so and fresh water in desert, just as water from the rock in Horeb. – Tabriz, Iran
bE thE VOicE When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He rescued them through an unlikely leader from physical as well as spiritual oppression. God’s people were groaning for liberation from their oppression, as they are again now. is oppression is not only physical, but spiritual as well. Unlikely leaders have emerged to bring change—dangerous change. However, spiritual transformation is also happening through unlikely leaders—those who shine the light and love of Christ into the dark corners of this world, liberating people from spiritual oppression. rough our mission’s arm, Leading e Way, e Church of e Apostles enables every member to be an instrument of God in reaching the lost and equipping the saints. As Arab Spring changes the political landscape, partner with us to enable change in the spiritual landscape.
eading e Way sheds light into this darkness day and night by sharing the Truth of Christ. We oﬀer Biblically sound daily radio broadcasts, weekly television programs, a 24/7 satellite television channel, a monthly devotional magazine, teaching podcasts, e-devotionals, books, DVDs, CDs and
online teaching resources to strengthen believers and evangelize the lost. ese are urgent times and Leading e Way continues to do everything we can to passionately proclaim the uncompromising Truth of the Gospel to America and beyond.
If you would like more information or desire to partner directly with Leading e Way, please contact us at:
Leading e Way PO Box 20100 | Atlanta, GA 30325 www.leadingtheway.org Phone: 404-841-0100 | Email: email@example.com In the month of December, we have a Matching Challenge. Every gi given to the ministry in December will be matched—up to $1 million. You can give online at www.leadingtheway.org. ApostlesLife | 6 | www.apostles.org
In alignment with our
YEAR OF REMEMBRANCE – YEAR OF CELEBRATION, we celebrate the lives of children’s ministry “graduates” who reflect here about their childhood memories of church and learning to be servant leaders for younger children… ••• HANNAH MORRIs ••• Going to VBS, watching the Kingdom Kids skits, and singing praise songs are some of my favorite childhood memories of church. I would always be so excited to memorize the next verse in class or learn more motions to the next song. But what I looked forward to the most was learning something new and coming home and putting it to action. I always loved a new challenge! My favorite verse was “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and every time I felt like I couldn’t do something, I prayed that verse. Looking back, I understand now how important it was for me to be in the Word learning and in a Christian environment with kids that loved Jesus. All those lessons that I learned planted a seed and are now helping me grow in my relationship with the Lord. Jesus has made an incredible impact on everybody’s life whether they are aware of it or not. He taught me how to die to myself just as He did. I have discovered that serving isn’t a remorseful act like the world expresses. He revealed to me what life is truly about and that without Him, living is in vain. I have a yearning to tell others about him so that they can also have true joy. My life’s goal is to be like Jesus in all of my actions. Jesus has called me to help others be aware of Jesus’ impact on their life and to become closer to Christ each day.
••• JusTIN HEYdT ••• I still remember learning the first catechism on Wednesday nights with Mr. Ferris. e first lessons about God's nature and His creation stick out the most, because my younger sister is learning those lessons now. I think the most important teaching a child can receive is to realize the miracle of God reaching out and taking us from a state of ignorance of our sinful nature to a state of knowledge and eternal relationship with Him. I have had the opportunity to work in Covenant Keepers and VBS here at Apostles. I worked in Covenant Keepers in 5th grade and had a blast working with the puppets and acting out stories in front of the little kids. It is really awesome to look out at the children and observe the array of smiles and glued eyes as they watch the Bible story come to life. I am not sure yet what college I might be attending, but I believe that the gis I have been given are related to argument and speech. I enjoy basketball a lot, too. My goal is to keep praying about the future and be a willing servant wherever I am placed.
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••• spENCER sHELTON ••• Apostles has a special place in my heart. It’s where I grew up, and where I learned to grow. e earliest memory I have is going to “Big Church” for the first time. It must have been 10 years ago and looking back now, church has truly helped me mature and try and become a man. A few years ago, I broke my wrist playing football. I had to get a cast and missed three games, and it absolutely killed me! I would sit in bed at night, and my arm would swell up inside the cast. It was so excruciating, but Curt Benham taught me to pray. ose prayers at 1:30 in the morning helped me in ways untold. e young ones now need to learn to rely on God because in the end, He’s all that matters. I could easily argue that coming here taught me to make friends. As most everyone here knows, Sam [Flagg] and I are best friends. I’m sure Mrs. Connie, Bill, and Brian can attest to all the trouble we’ve caused! But our friendship started here, and the same people who chased us around taught us the Bible and helped us discover ourselves. I have been blessed to be able to serve with VBS, Wee Worship, and Kingdom Kids. Not only did these experiences help me grow confident, but they taught me to serve and give my talents to the young ones. I would like to thank every VBS volunteer throughout the years because what you guys do is magical and was essential to my childhood. anks. In four short years, I will hopefully be attending the University of Tennessee on a football scholarship. If God allows me, I will come back and coach high school football because I’ve seen that the best way to give back and instill something in a teenager is to be a coach.
••• MARY CRAIg LINdgREN ••• e first time I remember coming to church, I think I was about three or four. I remember that my mom was one of the Sunday school teachers, so I was excited since she would be there. I remember learning that God is everywhere and with us all the time, which really comforted me, and still does, especially when I get nervous or scared. I have helped with Wee Worship, Covenant Keepers, and VBS, and love serving, especially at VBS. I have learned a lot about little kids; especially their instant trust and belief in what you tell them. ey’ll ask questions, but they don’t really doubt what you’re saying which is so special. I have absolutely no idea what God’s plan for me is yet, but I love little kids and would love to do something with them, as a teacher or counselor or something.
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T H E T E S I MON Y OF DI AN A TOS O
hen I first came to Christ, I was so excited that God was real that I would corner all of the Christians I could find and beg them to tell me their stories. I never get tired of hearing about how God works in people’s lives . . . and I count it a privilege to be on the “other side” today sharing my testimony with you. I have never shared my testimony with such a unique and precious group of women, though— women who have learned to love and trust the Lord as only His widows can. I know that any of you could stand here and bless all of us with your own story, and so I pray that something today will encourage your hearts. He loves us so much. I came to Christ later in life, when I was 25 years old. It happened totally outside the context of a church, through the testimony of the life of a friend. Aer graduating from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, my boyfriend and I moved to Atlanta to pursue our careers. He was in advertising, and I was in retail, and that’s where I met Susan. She was the Designers buyer for Bloomingdale’s in New York, so I knew that she understood the stress involved in a retail career. But Susan was diﬀerent from me. She had a peace in her life that I found irresistible—and it was real. As we became friends, she told me how she had recently become a Christian. Over the months we talked a lot about God . . . sometimes then way too much for me . . . but while one part of me wanted to run away, the other, larger part wanted to stay up all night and hear more. Eventually I couldn’t escape the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and to give me the gi of eternal life. So on anksgiving Day, 1985, on the living room floor at Susan’s apartment, I asked the Lord to forgive me for my sins—and He did. I wish I could tell you that my life took a dramatic turn from that moment, but it didn’t. By this time I was pretty leery of “church.” During college, I had decided ApostlesLife | 9 | www.apostles.org
that church was a place for hypocrites, so I never went to church. I was guilty of some things back then, but being a hypocrite wouldn’t be one of them as long as I could help it. e media at that time was filled with televangelist scandals which didn’t help matters.
But probably the biggest factor was that I’d been dating someone from college for many years. In the pit of my heart I knew that my boyfriend wouldn’t go for this—I had lots of plans for the future, and this “God thing” threatened to become a major disruption. So for about three years I ran away from God. I didn’t read the Bible. I didn’t go to church. I didn’t grow in my faith. Oh, I would turn to Him in “crisis moments”—and He was always there—but I think I was afraid of what a real commitment to Jesus would mean in my life. So I focused all my time on my boyfriend and my career. I enjoyed my job as a department store buyer, working first at Macy’s and then at Rich’s, and I was pretty good at it. I won awards and bonuses for profitability, but inside, I felt empty. And I didn’t know why. Over time, some changes took place at work which made it more political and aggravating and stressful. So I decided to give myself a sabbatical. I quit my job to “find myself.” With time on my hands I began reading the Bible and it just really came alive. I couldn’t get enough. e more I read, the more real God became to me. I also discovered Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis, who answered so many of my questions. I was so excited by TRUTH that I began to share what I was learning with my boyfriend. I gave him a copy of Mere Christianity, thinking that any intelligent person would certainly be persuaded by Lewis’s arguments. We had a lot of interesting discussions, but in the end he decided that he was an atheist. He said he didn’t know why it had to be a “Him or me” decision, but suddenly, I did. Deep inside I knew that if I chose to marry a man who didn’t even believe in God—let alone Jesus—that we would never have any real intimacy as a couple, and that this new relationship with God which was so wonderful and real would disappear. It was an agonizing decision, but I knew what I had to do. So aer eight years together we broke up. At this point I had no job, my savings account balance was almost zero, and now I was throwing away a long-term relationship and the security that went with it. Part of me felt like a crazy person . . . here I was, voluntarily tossing away all my plans for some big “unknown.” But the rest of me knew that God was real . . . and that if He called me to do this, He would be in charge of taking care of me. It was the most painful thing I had experienced up to that point in my life—but God’s peace and comfort and healing were even more amazing. It didn’t happen overnight, but I can still remember the remarkable realization four months later that God had healed my heart. I was amazed that even though I had no job, no money, and no boyfriend, that I had more peace in my life than ever before. And with that one act of obedience, the God who had been my Savior for three years was now also my Lord. My relationship with
Him, indeed my very life, has never been the same since. And I am so grateful. e money I had for a three-month sabbatical miraculously lasted for nine months. During that time I began reading the Bible, attending a local church, and getting to know the Lord. He eventually led me to another job. And even though I figured that I would never get married, God sent me a wonderful, godly husband, Duane. We were married in October of 1990. And by early 1993 God had blessed us with our own home and two wonderful children: Jared and Joanna. It was through this time that the Lord gave me this verse from Luke chapter 6: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” In giving me my husband Duane, God had given me back so much more than I could have dreamed or deserved.
During the summer of 1993, Duane began having headaches. But they came and went so we didn’t think too much about them. en in the fall, they got worse so I made him schedule an extensive physical which he passed with flying colors except for the migraines. ey had scheduled a CAT scan for the following week, but the day aer his physical he began having a headache which lasted for four days straight so I took him to the doctor. e emergency CAT scan on that Tuesday found a tumor in his brain. I can still remember standing in the doctor’s oﬃce with my husband and children. As the doctor was telling us the news, I can remember thinking for a split second, “Boy, do I need to tell God about this . . .” and then I remembered. “You know . . . . You already know . . . You knew it before the doctors knew it.” And a feeling of relief swept over me, that God was still in control. We were sent to Crawford Long Hospital for an MRI. I thought enough to grab my Bible, and while Duane was having the procedure I found a little room to wait in. I can remember some vague prayer
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God has promised to be my Husband and Provider and the Father to my children—and He has been. He has been amazingly faithful to us. He’s healed my heart. He’s raising my children.”
like “Oh Lord, help.” I opened my Bible and it fell open to Isaiah 54 and I read these words: Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For Your Maker is Your Husband—the Lord Almighty is His name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. And I knew in my soul that God had given these verses to me for a reason. e MRI showed that the tumor was large (25 percent the size of his brain) and fast-growing. For those of you who may know, it was an astro-glio-blastoma which I liken to the kudzu in our backyard—it comes over everything with tentacles. Surgery was Wednesday. ey tried to remove as much of the tumor as they could, but it was everywhere. By Friday the pressure in his brain was so great that they were going to put a tube in his head to release the pressure. I can remember the nurse trying to get him to raise a finger. And he couldn’t really do it. He just lay there saying “a finger, a finger.” I knew that he knew what to do, he just couldn’t make his body respond properly. So the doctors decided that this procedure was immediately necessary. And before he went unconscious . . . the last words he spoke . . . the last words he ever spoke on this earth were, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall never perish but have everlasting life.” And I just marvel at the grace and glory of God, who took a man who couldn’t move his fingers—could barely say the word—and allowed him to say the most important words of his life. e next day my husband met Jesus face to face. It is a moment I shall never, ever forget. At that time, our son was two, our daughter was nine months old. e day before his funeral I found out that I was pregnant. I had always believed that God was the giver and taker of life, but when both happen in one week, His sovereignty is hard to miss. And while I would never have chosen these circumstances for myself, I can honestly say that I never felt more in the center of
God’s will, and in the center of His love, than I did at that time. We had a boy’s name le over from when Joanna didn’t need it, and if she was a girl I had decided to name her Grace. I couldn’t think of a better name. Well Grace was born on July 17, 1994. And just to show you how God is in the details, a friend of mine was watching my children while Grace was coming into the world. She had one of those daily calendars where you rip oﬀ a page for each day. When she dropped oﬀ the children, she handed me this page from her calendar dated July 17 (Grace’s birthday). It says: Grace the freely given unmerited favor and love of God. Sometimes it is warm and happy. Sometimes it comes wrapped in a trial. He knows. God has promised to be my Husband and Provider and the Father to my children—and He has been. He has been amazingly faithful to us. He’s healed my heart. He’s raising my children. And even though during certain seasons they wished they had a daddy with skin on, I can see God meeting their needs on a daily basis. He’s become the Heavenly Father of each one, which is a huge blessing to me. Sometimes people ask me what the hardest thing is about my situation. ere are a lot of hard things, and they have changed over the years, but I think one of the hardest things is feeling so absolutely responsible for raising my children. Parenting is a daunting challenge, and single-parenting is even more daunting. I can remember early in my widowhood feeling so keenly ALONE. e one who shared my dreams was suddenly missing, and I had so much to do all by myself. One evening we were all sitting around the dinner table. I think the kids were 3, 2, and 1, and they were all jabbering away. As I looked around, I realized that I was the only one there not in a booster seat or high-chair. I was also the only one fluent in English. I can remember laughing and telling God, “Lord, I think I’m living
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in an alternate universe somewhere and I’m the only grown-up le on the planet.” Later the Lord reminded me so sweetly that I wasn’t the only grown-up at the table, that He was there during dinner, and would always be there because He’d promised never to leave me nor forsake me. A few years ago we were celebrating Easter at a friend’s house and she took a picture of my family. As I was framing it, I noticed that it was a little oﬀ center. I almost cut oﬀ the extra greenery when it dawned on me: this picture’s not oﬀ center. at space isn’t empty; it’s my Husband’s spot. And so I framed it just the way it was because when things are hard, it reminds me that even though casual observers don’t see Him, my Husband, Jesus, is here taking care of my family just like He promised He would. In 1 Kings 17 we learn that during the time of the drought, God sent Elijah to live by a stream and He ordered the ravens to feed him there. Sometimes I joke that widowhood and living a life of faith are like eating at the “Raven Café.” You never know when they’ll show up, or what they will bring, but in God’s timing, the ravens bring God’s sustenance and nourishment and provision. Our life has never made sense on paper, but as I have tried to obey Him by faith, He has always provided, and sometimes in remarkable ways. We have not had an extravagant life, but we have always had what we needed.
through the process—I just needed to trust Him. en He gave me this verse from Deuteronomy 2:31: “I have begun to deliver…Now [you!] begin to conquer and possess.” It was as if He was saying to me, “Diana, I am standing here, firmly in your future . . . . I have all kinds of blessings just waiting for you, but you can only receive them if you stand up and move forward in faith.” I immediately remembered Peter in prison, and how his chains fell oﬀ and the doors of his cell opened wide as he moved forward with the angel in obedience. I had the sense that God was calling me to move forward out of my own (self-made) prison of fear and doubt, and that I needed to make room for Him, to look for Him, to expect Him to come. So I asked Him to help me find a car, so that when He chooses to lead me to a full-time job, I will be able to take it. I started looking on the internet, and ended up buying a 10-yearold Ford Focus with 180,000 miles on it. I couldn’t aﬀord a more expensive vehicle, but I figured this one would get the kids back and forth to their jobs at Chick-fil-A. But then something amazing happened: a lovely Christian friend (who knew I was looking for a car) came up to me and said, “You are an amazing woman, and you have raised amazing children. I could never have done what you did, and I just wanted to let you know that my husband I and I would like to buy you a car.”
My future is still a mystery, there are plenty of details I have yet to figure out, and if the Lord brings me to your mind please pray that I will hear His voice and have the courage to obey Him by faith...”
Now my kids are 20, 18, and 17, and they are all taller than me! I can hardly believe that my homeschooling years are almost behind me as my youngest daughter, Grace, is a senior this year. I am so grateful to God that I was blessed to be so involved in my children’s lives for these past 18 years. But with her graduation, I need to switch from part-time to fulltime work. Like Elijah, the brook is drying up, the ravens are flying away, and I need to seek God’s will for the next stage of my life. is transition has sometimes paralyzed me with fear . . . what should I do? What if I make a wrong decision? A few months ago as I was praying about our future, I realized that my kids and I needed to be able to go in diﬀerent directions; God was clearly showing me that a second car was our logical and necessary next step. Spending money always makes me nervous, and buying a car is way out of my comfort zone, but the Lord so sweetly reminded me that I was not alone, and that He would be with me
Needless to say, I was stunned, but last March, they gave us a car! Now, I would’ve been thrilled to have a car with less than 100,00 miles on it, but they bought us a brand new Honda Civic (it had 9 miles on it when I got in it for the first time!). I’m still surprised when I see it in the garage, and every single time I drive it I am surrounded by a very tangible reminder of God’s love, provision, and presence. It is solid, safe, dependable, and such a happy blue color that when I am driving down the road (into my future!) I literally feel cradled in His hands. And I am certain that long aer the new-car smell has faded, it will remain a profound reminder that He will be with me wherever I go. My future is still a mystery, there are plenty of details I have yet to figure out, and if the Lord brings me to your mind please pray that I will hear His voice and have the courage to obey Him by faith. But for now, I know, that no matter what happens, He is a faithful Husband, and He has planned ahead for us!
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eep in all our hearts lies a thirst to be truly known in all our beauty and brokenness, yet still truly loved. Our souls are parched for this. But where do we go in our culture to quench this thirst? Even among those who love the Church, many have serious reservations that their local congregation could provide this kind of love. Horror stories of judgmental, narrow-minded, un-Christlike churchgoers muddy their memories and imaginations. Some, however, like Michele Yaquinto, dare to dream how the local church community can be that place where someone experiences the redemptive, transforming, and quenching love of God through people.
Michele dares to dream about this because she’s tasted it. Aer getting married in the summer of 2007, Michele moved to Atlanta from Michigan with her husband, a Georgia native. A couple of years later, aer a painful series of events, she found herself divorced and hurting in profound ways. It was during this time that she discovered Living Waters. Living Waters is a 28-week spiritual journey, oﬀered by e Church of e Apostles, that centers on studying Scripture, building vulnerable relationships, and experiencing grace through the body of Christ. is ministry opens its doors wide for those in need of healing from sexual sin, and Michele was initially skeptical that it would be relevant for her particular brokenness. At the sustained recommendation of friends, however, she decided to take the plunge. e atmosphere she encountered surprised her a bit: “You wouldn’t really know that people are there for some of the reasons
you get to hear about—It’s very welcoming; it’s very genuine. It’s like you’re at a friend’s house—like you’re home.” In the midst of her brokenness, she found comfort in knowing that she was not alone. Week aer week at Living Waters, Michele experienced directed teaching on relevant topics and worship through singing, followed
ApostlesLife | 13 | www.apostles.org
by intimacy with fellow believers in same-gender small groups: “Once you get into your small groups, honestly, the only way I can describe it really is that it’s the Holy Spirit at work,” said Michele. “It’s definitely apparent that it’s not just the people, and they told us that from the start. Our group leaders and assistant leaders said, ‘You know, it’s not us that will be revealing or doing anything—it’s the Holy Spirit.’ And I guess that’s what I really felt at Living Waters more than any other counseling I’ve been to.” As she embraced vulnerability and weakness, she discovered healing and strength. In this community of the poor in spirit, she encountered the Holy Spirit. At Living Waters, she began tasting the divine life that Jesus’ church is meant to experience and embody. As the New Testament puts it: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). “erefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16a). How oen do we miss out on the healing that God longs for us, because we trade His design for honest and vulnerable community for a position of posturing and performing religion? In the midst of her pain, Michele chose to walk away from the religious games that many Christians play all their lives, and began tasting God’s Spirit through His Church who satisfies thirst as He heals. At Living Waters, she found Church as it is meant to be. One of the most life-changing lessons that Living Waters began to teach her centers on the heart of God. She began realizing that her heavenly Father deeply desires for her to bring her needs—large and small—to Him. “He’s not disgusted by our weakness—He actually
wants us to rely on Him. You know, parents don’t scoﬀ at their children who need help,” says Michele. “You’re not going to yell at a poor kid because he’s three and can’t tie his shoes. You want to help him. at’s your delight—and that’s how God looks at us.” Instead of viewing herself as a disappointing burden that God begrudgingly cleans up aer, she has begun to understand her identity as a dearly loved daughter in whom God actually takes pleasure—and one whom He actually delights in teaching and transforming. rough her time at Living Waters, Michele has begun to see the way that God is conforming her to the character of Christ. A growing confidence that the God who loves her really is in control ushers peace into her life about the present and future. And God’s heart has begun to infect her heart—she is a much more loving and compassionate person than she was before her suﬀering. Michele has begun following the Triune God revealed in Jesus, who redeems us through our struggles and suﬀerings—who invites us to take up our crosses and follow Him to deep and eternal and joyful lives of resurrection. is God invites us to drink deeply so that all our deepest thirsts will be quenched. May we too have the courage to follow Michele’s example, to taste this living water now by being the vulnerable, compassionate Church for which we are all parched. livingWaters is a 28-week spiritual journey that includes worship, teaching, testimony, and small group prayer in a safe and confidential environment for those dealing with deep hurt and sinful, addictive habits. application deadline is september 21. is class will meet on tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30, October 4-april 24, 2012. sts-Jr high
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WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CR
hey came into the Crown small group
over 2,350 verses regarding money, possessions, and work.
with addictive behaviors, abandoned
We have been personally blessed by the Crown ministry
goals, strained family relationships, and
in so many ways. Our marriage has been strengthened
crumbling finances. ey le 10 weeks
through the study of God’s word and His financial princi-
later with tangible changes in behavior,
ples. By applying them to our lives, over the years we were
new energy for their goals, and new hope for their future,
able to get out of massive debt and get our financial
family relationships, and finances.
house in order, giving us greater peace of
What do you know about the Crown Financial Min-
mind. Prayers with and by our class
istries small groups? Some think the course is just about
taught us that we need God
giving more or starting to tithe. While becoming a more
and others in our lives to
joyful and generous giver is a frequent outcome, giving is
hold us accountable. e
just a small portion of Crown’s message.
sound biblical foundation
God wants us to live in alignment with His Word and
and memorization of the
will. We may give a portion of our money to God, and
Scriptures continue to come
think we’re doing great if we give 10 percent. God does not
to mind whenever we get in
want 10 percent of our money. He wants 100 percent of our
situations where we have to
obedience. God wants us to acknowledge that He owns
everything that is “ours,” and we are the stewards, or man-
choices. ey guide us toward
agers, of the resources He has entrusted to us. He wants us
wise decisions. As a result, thank-
to live our financial lives in accordance with His principles.
fully we live in God’s economy and have
Crown has deepened our relationship with the Lord,
learned to depend and trust in Him for all
putting our marriage on the same page. Our attitude about
He has lovingly provided us to manage to His
everything in our lives is fully trusted into God’s hands. It
is the most exciting way to live, knowing God is in control and in His economy lie the true riches both here and in the
sheri and allen dresser
hereaer. We thank God for having the privilege of receiv-
Crown will teach you about budgeting, debt reduction,
ing this study and then facilitating it. It is a major blessing
planning, and practical financial matters. Crown will give
in every class to see the hand of God move so tangibly
you the tools to assist you in goal-setting, planning, and
through the Scriptures.
communication in marriage. But Crown will also teach you higher lessons about understanding God’s Word, trusting
ruth and bill swaim
God, changing attitudes toward money and possessions, and
Crown is about finances, but not just about finances. Jesus
living in contentment with an eternal perspective.
knew that surrendering to Him required surrendering
Apostles will oﬀer the Crown small group starting in late Jan-
worldly desires. at’s why more of Jesus’ parables were about
uary. You may register at www.apostles.org/ministries/congre-
money than any other topic. at’s why the Bible contains
gational care/crown financial ministries. Come join us.
ApostlesLife | 15 | www.apostles.org
ROWN FINANCIAL MINISTRIES? “Before this (Crown) course, I had no hope. Now I have hope.” — cOta crown small group graduate crown financial Ministries is a 10-week course that teaches biblical stewardship of finances. class meets sunday mornings february 5-april 22, from 8:30 to 10:15, with a recommended student Orientation class on January 22 in room 620. e cost is $55 for couples or $45 for singles. rooms 242, 244
ow many of us climbed out of bed this morning and promptly put in our earplugs for a day without sound? Or wrapped our eyes with a blindfold for a fun-filled day with no sight? Or tied a hand behind our back for a le-hand-only-kind-of-day? Few of us pause very oen to consider the genius of human physiology and the beauty of all our various faculties seamlessly working together. But as soon as we consider a day (or even an hour!) without the use of something as small as our thumbs, we marvel at the diversity and design of all our wonderful parts. Scripture makes clear that the community of Jesus is no diﬀerent than our bodies. In fact, the Church itself is a body—the Body of Christ. Most famously, in 1 Corinthians 12, Christians are warned that envying the gis of others would be as nonsensical as eyes longing to be feet. God has uniquely gied all Christians to serve Him through serving others. Melissa Winter has been learning the depths of this truth through a course called OnPath. is one-on-one course with Dr. Ron Ervin provides guidance in biblically-based, critical reflection on one’s personal and professional life. “It’s a course on how to figure out what God’s will for your life is,” explains Melissa. And she would enthusiastically recommend the course to “anybody who needs direction in their life—who needs a deeper understanding of how God has made them and what plans He may have for them in the future.” With growing uncertainty about the future of our society, culture, and economy, the ranks of those needing fresh perspective
on God’s purpose for their lives are likely to be growing. Melissa decided to take the course during a “stale period” in her life aer a friend recommended it to her. During that period she was wrestling with questions large and small, ranging from career and finances to uncertainty about the future and seemingly unanswered prayers. And beneath all of those questions crept the question about her worth before God and her value to others. rough the counsel of “Dr. Ron,” however, she discovered answers in something greater than all her questions: “e course really does help you focus on [God] and not you,” says Melissa. “I think this is probably a lot of people’s struggle—at least it’s mine: All I think about is me—and I think this course got me focused on Him and His will. Focusing on who He is and what He’s done takes that focus oﬀ of me.” As she began focusing on the character of God, Melissa became more grounded in the fact that God truly loves her and more confident that He has gied her to serve others in an absolutely indispensable way. “I am unique, and He can use me.” Melissa entered into OnPath asking dozens of questions about conflicted and confusing areas of her life. Yet with his biblical perspective, genuine care, and a good dose of humor, Dr. Ron helped her turn her gaze away from herself and toward others—to embrace her unique role in the Body and begin serving God through serving others. ere and only there do we find secure and lasting joy, peace, and meaning—despite the insecure shiing sands in our world and in our hearts.
Onpath is a biblically-based life and work assessment course designed to provoke thinking and foster strategic renewal, personally and professionally. is class combines the application of scriptural principles, processes, and tools with prayer in a one-on-one setting. e cost of the course is $70 to cover the purchase of a workbook and required personality profiles. by appointment only.
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here is certainly no shortage of opportunities to fill an autumn weekend in the South. Tailgating, vacation, college football, and kids’ sports are just a sample of the litany of oﬀerings that accompany the arrival of the crisp air and vibrant foliage of fall. All of those things are good and enjoyable and aﬀord action-filled weekends. But as the Scripture tells us, while there is a time for hurry and hustle and high energy, there is also a time for rest, respite, and rejuvenation. e 2011 RE: Marriage Retreat was a fantastic oﬀering of the latter that featured
tremendous, insightful teachings from the Scripture on marriage and the relationship of husband and wife and spontaneous, enthusiastic worship flavored with humor and testimony to the work and grace of God. e highlight of the trip, though, was the quiet time together for couples, apart from the typical oﬀerings of a fall weekend. is weekend was diﬀerent. But you shouldn’t take my word for it (even though I was there). Read the words of the couples who attended and set the weekend at WinShape Retreat apart for something diﬀerent:
“Because we have only been attending Apostles since February, we really benefited from the fellowship times when we could get to know other couples. ere are some great couples at Apostles!” “Coming to this retreat at this time where a break and rest was much needed has been a big blessings for our marriage.”
“e teaching was incredible, and God did some amazing things in our hearts. e serene and peaceful atmosphere…helped us get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, calmed our hearts so God’s voice could be heard much more clearly.” “We learned so much, my husband and I have so much to talk about. With small children at home and the stresses of life this was so needed. ank you!”
it’s not too early to plan for the next rE: Marriage retreat, which will be held november 15-17, 2012. One weekend, one purpose, immeasurable results. you won’t want to miss it. ApostlesLife | 18 | www.apostles.org
The Church of The Apostles 3585 Northside Parkway. NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30327 Phone: 404.842.0200
Worship Sunday: The Gathering of the Body: 9:00 A.M. & 10:30 A.M. Sunday Evening: 5:30 P.M. Wednesday Hour of Power: 6:15 P.M.
Discipleship Sunday: 9:00 A.M.
Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef 1781 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30309 Phone: 404.841.0100 Order: 1.800.337.5323 Web: www.leadingtheway.org