The Grace of Giving

What does grace mean? We've all heard such definitions as "grace is getting what you don't deserve, as opposed to mercy being not getting what you do deserve," or, "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." David Takle, who writes some of the material used in the Healing Center classes, says that grace means that you are God's favorite!

God isn't a judge with a sledgehammer, just waiting for an excuse to pound your head. He is someone who loves you -- who even likes you! Think about that! He loves you enough to personally remove anything that could separate you from Him. That's why Jesus went to the Cross. He even loves you enough to marry you! He calls the Church the Bride of Christ.

And do you know what? He wants you to love Him like that, too. Isaiah 54: 5a says, "For your Maker IS your husband."

When Joe decided that Beth was his favorite girl, and Beth decided that Joe was her favorite guy, they got married, so that they could spend a lifetime of giving their best to each other.

It's not just: "Maybe if I give him this fishing rod, he'll let me buy that dress!" or "What do you need more grocery money for? You just bought groceries last month!" but giving, for the sheer joy of seeing the other's joy in the gift -- and in the giver.

This is how God loves us, and He would so love us to love Him like that. When we do this, setting aside money for our vision or for a new home for the church won't seem like a strain or a drain. We will have the joy of giving to God just to see the smile on His face and the delight in His eyes.

Good news! You are God's favorite! God wants to be your favorite, too!

Father, thank You for that great news! Help each of us to learn the joy of living as Your favorite child. Forgive us, please, for believing the lie that we are Your favorite target! Help us to see You as You see us, and help us to have eyes for only You, as the bride walking down the aisle and the groom waiting at the altar have eyes only for each other. Thank You for making that love real in our lives. Amen

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6: 5; For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3: 16

Deirdre DiGirolamo

The Apostles - Age of Joy

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I went to the movie theatre a couple of weeks ago to see a much raved about blockbuster, and not long into the movie I was suddenly struck by how much the Church is like The Avengers. To clarify:

I don’t mean that Joe is like Tony Stark - donning his Iron Man suit and flying about the sanctuary, or that the coffee volunteers wear skin tight PVC suits and do back flips and cartwheels while putting out the cookies and lemonade.

The Avengers are a rag tag group of individuals, each with a (admittedly pretty impressive) unique skill set, who come together to form a cohesive unit.

The theme throughout the movie was it’s better to work together. Without Bruce Banner turning a particularly vile shade of puke-green and becoming the Hulk, the team would not have been able to defeat Ultron. If the mighty Thor had not offered to use his strength (and his hammer), the group would have faced defeat. Hawkeye’s bow and arrows, Captain America’s trusty shield ... all those powerful Super Heroes ... all undoubtably capable of doing so much alone. But put them together and they create an unequaled unstoppable force.

And what about us?

The Church is not a building where people gather.

We don’t just ‘go to church,'

We ARE the Church.

We may not be Thor, Black Widow, The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America or Hawkeye.

But we are the prophet, the evangelist, the pastor, the teacher.

We each have a unique gifting or calling. But, more than this, we ALL have a calling to be in community - the community which is the church.  Some may participate in the worship band, or help with the sound, or with children and youth ministry. Some may make sandwiches and minister to the needy in Fairfax and DC, some may be on altar guild or lead bible studies or be in prayer ministry. Some open up their homes and lives to those in need.

And what one person does today, God may call and enable another to do tomorrow.

Look again at the vision statement.

Church of the Apostles glorifies God by celebrating the healing power of the Holy Spirit through prayer, praise and worship that overflows into community, living the joy of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.  

As we continue to keep our hearts open to how God wants to use us individually and corporately to grow his church through the Destined for Joy campaign, we can also think about the future Church of the Apostles. One filled with God’s Avengers, ready to do HIS will in the community.

For church to work as God intends it to work, we all need to be ready to do our part.

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12: 19 & 20)

Lynne Harris
Media/Information Team

Your Destined for Joy Campaign Checklist

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It's Wednesday. Did you read Psalm 51:12 today?

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain in me a willing spirit.

You did if you are following the daily prayer reminders on your Destined for Joy campaign tri-fold. It is Wednesday's scripture reading under the reminder to "Pray for a Willing Heart."

The reminder to pray for a willing heart is also on your campaign bookmark for Wednesday:

Heavenly Father, You loved us enough to give Your Son for us. Help us to love You enough to give in support of the work for which Your Son died. Thank You for the Gift beyond words.

These are many other ways that you can participate in the Destined for Joy campaign as we proceed towards Unity Sunday and a time of making commitments. Our small groups are a blessing and support in providing vision clarity and enthusiasm to a great many of us. Here is a checklist of some of the other ways in which to invest in the campaign and to encourage your fellow members of Church of the Apostles:

☐ I visit the Destined for Joy campaign table every Sunday to obtain any available new resources.

☐ I regularly check the Church of the Apostles website for any new events and for materials to print out.

☐ I have watched the Vision Video and encouraged others to watch it.

☐ I read each new blog post here on "Reflections from the Campaign Trail" when it is posted.

☐ I join in the discussion by commenting on the blog posts.

☐ I share the blog posts and other campaign matters from the Church of the Apostles' Facebook page on my own page.

☐ I have shared, or am planning to share, my testimony to encourage others by contacting Alice Buck, our campaign Testimony Team Leader.

☐I am looking forward to participating in Unity Sunday on May 31.

 

Don't miss the blessing from participating in any of these simple but meaningful activities to promote our Destined for Joy campaign!

Faith McDonnell
Media/Information Team Leader

Followed by Goodness and Mercy

If you attended the Capital Campaign meeting on Sunday, April 26, you will remember this meditation on Psalm 23 that was provided by Deirdre DiGirolamo, and presented by Helen Metzger and Catherine Evans. We requested permission to reprint this insightful devotional for you here.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We have definitely seen this psalm in action for us as a congregation.  Even though we've "walked through the valley of the shadow of death" both figuratively, in the loss of our property, and literally, with the loss of many of our beloved congregants, God has been with us.  And he has "prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies" by providing us with a temporary place of worship - and even enabling us to start two more congregations!

 So why does God's goodness and mercy follow us?  Why not at least walk with us, or go ahead of us?  I've always thought of "follow" as meaning "traipse along behind," but when I looked up the original word, I discovered it means "pursue", like a lion pursuing its prey.

Picture God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit on their white horses, in red coats and hunt caps, looking at us and joyfully shouting, "Tally ho! There they go!  Bless them again!"  And look for the blessings with which they're going to shower us - both spiritual and financial - as we spend time with them during this campaign.

We are God's church, and if He has a particular place He wants us to be, He is perfectly capable of picking us up and putting us there.  We just get the fun of watching to see how He'll do it!

Father, thank You for being our Shepherd.  Forgive us for believing that we have to do this all on our own.  Keep reminding us that You are taking care of all our needs as we look to You. Open our eyes and hearts to the amazing creativity You are going to display in getting us into our new home.  We give You all the glory, rejoicing in Your pursuit of us.  We pray this in Jesus' name, through the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deirdre DiGirolamo

All I Am Is Yours

You stood before creation, Eternity in your handYou spoke the earth into motion, My soul now to stand. You stood before my failure and carried the cross for my shame My sin weighed upon your shoulders, My soul now to stand. So what could I say? And what could I do? But offer this heart, Oh God Completely to you. So I'll walk upon salvation, Your spirit alive in me This life to declare your promise, My soul now to stand. So what could I say? And what could I do? But offer this heart, Oh God Completely to you. I'll stand With arms high and heart abandoned In awe of the one who gave it all I'll stand My soul Lord to you surrendered All I am is yours. "The Stand" Jaime Jamgochian, Hillsong United

I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, all I am is Yours

But ... I’m not very good at giving to God.

I go through fits and starts. My version of the God inspired Hillsong hymn “the Stand” is roughly as follows -

“I’ll sit with arms slack and heart indifferent. About, (maybe?) as much as a third (but often less) of what I am is Yours. In denial of the one who gave it all I’ll sit My soul Lord to you hidden All I am is mine. You can have what’s left. On sundays. And possibly a few other days, depending ...”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I so easily lose focus. I get distracted by so many things. A good bottle of wine. my new fixation for Korean dramas (weird one, that), the kids, the pets, a good book ... I could go on ...

I am not saying that any of the things we do are necessarily bad. Relaxing in front of a good Korean drama (ask me about them ... you know you want to!) with a glass of merlot with my husband is often necessary after a taxing day.

But when we allow the things we like to become our obsession, then we tend to lose focus on Jesus.

This past week I have been sick. Holed up in my bed I have survived on a mix of sleep, over the counter drugs, copious amounts of water, the tender ministrations of my husband, the somewhat abstract attention of assorted daughters and my trusty laptop.

I have watched far too many episodes of my favorite korean drama (no, really ... they are good!) But ... maybe I am becoming a little over dependent?

I am feeling better now. Time to get on with real life. And real life involves abandoning all that I am. All that holds me to this life. All that I would rather do than spend time in Jesus’ presence.

Time to refocus on the vision of Church of the Apostles - to impact the community of Fairfax with the love of Jesus.

Time to stand, with arms high and heart abandoned to God.

All I am (my time, my money, my life) is Yours.

There are so many ways we can do that. Learn more by clicking on all the relevant links about the Destined for Joy campaign. Ask questions. Join a small group. Be involved.

God can use us all, if we stand before Him, abandoned, willing and ready to serve.

Lynne Harris
Media/Information Team

The Joy is for All!

Have you gotten involved in the Destined for Joy campaign yet?

Remember that the joy promised to us by the Lord in the vision that He has given to our church is for all. When we catch the vision, we rejoice. And we discover what role we can play in bringing the vision to life.

In the book of Nehemiah, it took Ezra the priest reading the Book of the Law to the people for many hours before they caught the vision! Ezra “read it aloud from daybreak till noon . . . in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” (Nehemiah 8:3) The chapter goes on to say that the other priests, the Levites, “instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there . . . . making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.” (8:7-8)

Once the people “understood the words that had been made known to them,” Nehemiah says they “went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy.” (8:12) They understood God’s vision for them and were filled with the joy of the Lord. They responded to their new understanding of God’s law by worshipping the Lord, celebrating with a great festival, confessing their sins, and covenanting with the Lord to live out the vision that He had given to them to be His Holy people.

Well, unlike Ezra the priest, our priest, Father Joe, has not “stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion,” (8:4) reading the church’s vision statement to us from daybreak till noon! But he has shared it with us, and now he is devoting sermon time to delve more deeply into the vision God has given to us who are living the joy of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

There is an opportunity to learn more about the Destined for Joy campaign, and how its goal is to enable us to live out our vision, at the campaign meeting tomorrow, April 26, after the 3:30 service. That meeting – open to one and all – takes place after the 3:30 service. Sunday, April 26. Bill Collins, our Destined for Joy campaign director, wrote to urge everyone to come to the meeting. If you have not RSVP’d for supper already, you will have to bring your own food, but don’t let that stop you from hearing the exciting updates from the campaign teams.

We even have our own “Levites” to help us share our ideas about living out and overflowing with the joy of Jesus at Church of the Apostles, Anglican, in the HIS Joy small groups that will occur in May. Maybe you have never been in a small group before, or, like me, you belonged to a small group in years’ past, but your group disbanded and you never took the time to join another. I am really looking forward to being a part of a small group once again when I participate in a HIS Joy small group. You can sign up here.

Finally, if you have not yet decided on a way to participate in the Destined for Joy campaign, here is something very simple you can do that would be a big help! We are putting together a Fact Sheet of frequently (or even infrequently) asked questions about the campaign and the vision and we need your help. You can send all your questions to me, Faith McDonnell, at fmcdonnell@theird.org. You don’t have to just ask “nuts and bolts” questions about money and properties. Feel free to be creative and curious about all of the aspects of the vision. But please do this quickly! We are finishing the Fact Sheet very soon!

The end of Nehemiah 10 talks about first fruits, something we have been discussing lately at Apostles. As part of their response to the Lord’s word to them, the people promised to bring the first fruits of their crops and fruit trees to the house of the Lord every year, and many other first fruits as well. Like them, when we become excited about and committed to sharing Christ’s love, “we will not neglect the house of our God.” (10:39)

Faith McDonnell
Media/Information Team Leader

Joy is Like the Rain

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With spring comes the rain, making it possible for everything to become lush and green again after a long hibernation.  As I sit down to write this post, I hear the rain beating gently on the window behind me.  It’s a comforting sound that brings a sense of peace, and makes the house seem that much cozier.

For most summers growing up, I attended a Methodist camp in Pennsylvania, where I learned a simple song (which you can hear here), whose lyrics didn't make sense at the time.

I saw rain drops on my window, joy is like the rain. Laughter runs across my pane, slips away and comes again. Joy is like the rain. I saw clouds upon a mountain, joy is like a cloud. Sometimes silver, sometimes gray, always sun not far away. Joy is like a cloud. I saw Christ in wind and thunder, joy is tried by storm. Christ asleep within my boat, whipped by wind, yet still afloat. Joy is tried by storm. I saw rain drops on a river, joy is like the rain. Bit by bit the river grows, ’til all at once it overflows. Joy is like the rain. ("Joy is Like the Rain," Miriam Therese Winter, Medical Mission Sisters, 1966)

Back then, I didn’t understand how joy was like rain or clouds, much less what it meant to be “tried by storm.”  (It wasn’t till years later that I realized the laughter was running across my pane, not my pain – but by then I could appreciate the wordplay.)  But time and experience have a way of revealing such things, and I know now that joy is like that gentle, reassuring rain that brings new life.  Joy reminds us, too, that our hope, like the light and warmth of the sun, is never far away even when it is obscured.  And though our joy is tried by storm, Christ is with us in our boat even when we’re being tossed about.  As we mature in our faith, joy grows within us until it overflows.

Joy doesn’t promise us blue skies, calm seas, or a problem-free existence.  But joy finds its source in Christ, the one who is with us in the boat even when our problems overwhelm us.  He is our joy, and he commands our destiny.

Bill Bremmer
Media/Information Team

Giving Out of Poverty and Great Joy

At our congregation meeting on March 15, our capital campaign cheerleader, Randy Watts, reminded us (from 2 Corinthians 8) of the churches in Macedonia that gave generously to the church at Jerusalem, which was under persecution. Those first-century Macedonians were under some kind of trial as well. Even so, Paul wrote,

In a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. (2 Corinthians 8:2)

What odd and contrasting elements for the Macedonians to give out of—not wealth, or even middle-class comfort, but (1) extreme poverty and (2) abundance of joy! What kind of math formula is that? That’s like 2+2=5.

Paul also wrote, “They gave according to their means … and beyond their means, of their own accord” (verse 3). They gave beyond what they could afford … willingly.

And he wrote, “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us” (verse 5). I love that!

Finally, Paul called their giving “an act of grace” (verse 6) and exhorted the Corinthians, “See that you excel in this act of grace also” (verse 7).

So, like the Macedonian Christians, we can give generously out of

  • Serious trials
  • Extreme poverty
  • Great joy
  • Willing hearts

And also:

  • We are giving ourselves—to the Lord and to one another.
  • Giving is an act of grace.
  • God wants us to excel in this grace.

So …

Lord, thank You for sustaining and rescuing us in our trials. We thank You for the joy that overflows within us at Church of the Apostles. Thank You for the love we have for You and for one another. Would You enable us to excel in this grace of giving? Show each one of us what to give—whether money or something else—and let the resources You have given us flow from willing hearts into this local expression of the Body of Christ to which You have called us. Thank You! In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Jane Campbell
Media/Information Team

Racing Towards Joy

There is a saying: Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.

I am sitting at my kitchen table writing this, with my legs propped up on another chair; an ice pack nestled against my left knee. I have just been for a run.

I hurt.

I am the person who doesn’t do running. My way of staying (comparatively) fit involves taking a couple of dogs for a 25 minute walk every day or so. I run up and down the stairs quite a few times a day. Occasionally there will be a short lived bout of using our elliptical for its given purpose - (not just as a convenient structure on which to place my clothes.)

But running?

No.

I don’t do running.

Except now I do. (Sort of)

What changed my mind?

It was because someone said “I am doing this, will you do it with me?”

Usually I would dig my heels in and give the usual “I don’t do running” excuses.

And I tried.

But my friend didn’t give in.

And eventually I decided to try it.

And now, although my knee hurts and my muscles ache, I am glad I started. My friend and I hope to carry on with this running lark, and get better, and get good enough not only to be (and stay) fitter, but also to run a 5K ... and who knows, maybe eventually further. (Just don’t hold your breath on that one)

Sometimes it takes an effort to get started on something. We dig our heels in and don’t want to be bothered. It is far more comfortable sitting on the couch than running that 5K. But once we get motivated. Once someone encourages us and accompanies us along the way, it can actually begin to be fun.

The new home groups for the Destined for Joy campaign will be up and running (excuse the pun) soon. They will provide a fun way to mix socially with others from the Church, do bible studies together, and get to know more about the campaign. Have you signed up? The journey towards the future that God has planned for Church of the Apostles is about to begin.

Time to get up out of our comfy chairs, put on our running shoes and join the race to our destiny ... living the joy of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior - and sharing the power of His saving grace within the community.

Lynne Harris
Media/Information Team

Jesus Commands Our Destiny

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“In Christ Alone” – it’s one of our favorite hymns at Church of the Apostles. We sang it joyfully on Easter, with a great celebration breaking out on the lines: Then bursting forth in glorious day/Up from the grave He rose again!

I’ve loved this hymn by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend since the first time I sang it, in 2003 at New Wineskins for Global Missions, a conference which many members of Church of the Apostles have attended over the years. The conference worship band, from England, taught “In Christ Alone” to us. Most of us had never heard it, since in those days, before the prevalence of Facebook, YouTube, and iTunes, all the great praise songs from the U.K. seemed to take a couple of years to migrate West.

At the missions conference it was deeply moving to sing: No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the pow'r of Christ in me in the company of Christians from Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Pakistan, India, and elsewhere, where to say “no fear in death” reflects a reality with which we are unfamiliar.

It was humbling to sing no power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand, standing alongside brothers in Christ with bodies scarred from torture, victorious over the most hellish “schemes of man.”

“In Christ Alone” is also Church of the Apostles’ testimony.  Through our seasons of drought and storm, we have found our hope in Christ alone -- knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior -- and  we have stood firm and stood faithful.

The hymn continues: From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. Isn’t it amazing to think that from Church of the Apostles’ “first cry” back in 1968 up till now, Jesus has been in command of our destiny? As we embrace the vision that God has given to Church of the Apostles, and work to fulfill it, we can trust that Jesus is in command, as we are “Destined for Joy” – living the joy that will overflow into our community and overflow into the world.

Faith J. H. McDonnell
Media/Information Team Leader

("In Christ Alone
 Words and Music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music)

Resting in the Lord

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When Faith asked me to write the blog post for Sunday, it felt right. Sunday is a day of rest. I can relate to that one. I love resting.

I had a conversation with a friend recently in which I confessed to being lazy. She was quick to point out I am always posting on Facebook about antics involving my pets: - dogs, cats, rabbits and snakes, not to mention four daughters, homeschooling, painting, cleaning, cooking ...  how on earth could I call myself lazy?

And it made me reevaluate things.

I may not have a full time paid job where I work outside my home, but I am constantly at work.  I did a word search for ‘work’ and found such negative sounding synonyms as labor, toil, slog, drudgery. The words alone made me tense.  Then I looked up ‘rest’.  Calm, respite, peace, stillness, cessation. Happy words.

Before Moses gets to the nitty-gritty in Exodus 35, we are reminded that:

These are the things that God has commanded you to do: Work six days, but the seventh day will be a holy rest day, God’s holy rest day.

The destined for joy campaign is going to be fun. It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to require quite a bit of (hard) work. It will be ultimately rewarding - after all we are destined for JOY!

But, when we get bogged down in the relentless activity that inevitably surrounds a capital campaign, let’s remember that before Moses told the people that God asked for a free-will offering, he reminded them that God also COMMANDED them to rest, relax, breathe and have a quiet time. When we rest in the Lord, we are not being lazy. We are recharging our batteries and listening to what God has to tell us.

Lynne Harris
Media/Information Team

Combining Our Gifts: Together We Can!

Years ago at Church of the Apostles, I was drawn to a need in the bulletin for volunteers for Grate Patrol. But I knew others would respond and they wouldn’t need me. The next week I saw the notice again. Again I didn’t respond. I knew they wouldn’t need me now. And the next week….

After a few weeks I thought, Maybe they really do need me. And I summoned the courage to call someone (our own Faith!) to volunteer, hoping I wasn’t too late.

I worked with Grate Patrol for a decade or so. I loved to talk and pray with guys on the streets of D.C. But there was something else I thought was really cool: People who weren’t comfortable getting out of the canteen truck and talking with homeless people could serve food out the truck window, or shop back in Fairfax, or cook, or clean up—or pray.

Here’s my point. The community “overflow” we’ve seen in the last year as part of our vision—

“Church of the Apostles glorifies God by celebrating the healing power of the Holy Spirit through prayer, praise and worship that overflows into community, living the joy of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.”

—is a combination of our multiple gifts. Someone last December who wasn’t comfortable acting in “Christmas in Bethlehem” ended up inviting a dog-walking neighbor who happened to have her young niece visiting; both came to the event. Someone less comfortable talking with homeless guests at the picnic last July baked yummy fudgy brownies for them. I wasn’t comfortable leading kids in games at “Fun in the Park” last September, but I could help run the snow cone machine. (Sort of.)

And so on. We fulfill one another by being ourselves and bringing what’s in our hand.

So how will you fit into our new capital campaign, “Destined for Joy”? By bringing with a cheerful and willing heart what the Lord has given you.

Individually we can’t. Together we can.

Jane Campbell
Media/Information Team

For There Was Joy In Israel

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1 Chronicles 12 recounts the gathering together of David’s “mighty men” to defeat Saul and crown David as King over Israel. It’s one of those passages that we dread being asked to read in front of the church because we know that our fellow members will cringe in awkward empathy and fidget with their bulletins as we mangle the pronunciation of all those ancient Hebrew names – Beracah, Jashobeam, Machbannai, Shaphatiah, and a swath of similar Semitic Shibboleths until we step away from the dais in a daze.

But the interesting portion of this passage occurs after the numbing nomenclature in the final three verses, when the warriors celebrate with a great feast:

38 All these, men of war, arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with a whole heart to make David king over all Israel. Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king. 39 And they were there with David for three days, eating and drinking, for their brothers had made preparation for them. 40 And also their relatives, from as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, came bringing food on donkeys and on camels and on mules and on oxen, abundant provisions of flour, cakes of figs, clusters of raisins, and wine and oil, oxen and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.

Several things stand out in this passage that may have some relevance for us. First, these men came together “with a whole heart” to make David their king, and the people of Israel likewise “were of a single mind.” In other words, everyone was united in purpose – in both heart and mind. Second, the people came and gave provisions to these warriors out of their abundance, so much so that they had to truck them in on donkeys, camels, mules, and oxen. There was plenty to go around! Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this abundance was the result of the people’s joy – their joy in working together toward a shared goal – not even waiting until the goal was fully realized. Verse 40 states that they came with these things “for there was joy in Israel.” In other words, the abundance of their giving reflected the joy that was already in their hearts!

With so many depressing headlines, it often seems difficult to remember that we who follow Jesus are called to be joyful. Joyfulness, however, is not something that depends on our circumstance, our happenstance (that’s what “happiness” is, and that comes and goes depending on what happens to us). On the contrary, joy, like contentment, is something that is always present in the hearts of those who love God – or, at least, it should be. And if we are truly joyful, then we are also in a position to respond to God’s call to bless others and share that joy with them.

As we look toward the coming months, let’s remember that joy is not just a destination – an end of the road – that we will arrive at and be done, but rather a way of living out the love that God has placed within us. And like those mighty men of long ago, let’s look forward to inviting as many as possible to share in that abundant feast around the table of the one true King.

Bill Bremmer
Media/Information Team

Destined for Joy: The Journey Begins

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Christ is Risen! Church of the Apostles celebrates Easter Joy at George Mason University, April 5, 2015.

Do you remember this old saying: The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step?

Church of the Apostles Anglican has stepped out – in faith. We have begun a journey, a campaign, a journey, to empower us to live into the vision that God has given us. It may not be a thousand miles – although it may seem like that at times! – but as our Rector, Joe, said in his letter to each of last week, this journey is leading us to “one of the most exciting periods in our church’s history” in which God “is asking us to join Him in reaching out to our community to share His love.”

There is joy on our journey to be who and what God has called us to be, and there will be joy when we arrive at the end of our journey, because we are Destined for Joy:

  • The joy of knowing Jesus as our Savior and Lord!
  • The joy of praising God with the high praises that make the heavens shake!
  • The joy of coming before the throne of God in prayer!
  • The joy of Jesus’ love overflowing from us and out into the community!
  • The joy of Heaven meeting earth through the working of His Spirit in us!

And, as we will discover as we go through this journey together, we are destined for the joy of God gracing us with faithful, willing hearts, to give sacrificially and raise the finances we need to see God’s vision for Church of the Apostles fulfilled.

Years ago, we used to sing I am a child of destiny, that’s who I am. I am a child of destiny, bought by the Lamb. And I know where I’m going and I know whose I am. . . We are children of destiny, and that destiny is joy. Thanks be to God that at Church of the Apostles we are Destined for Joy together!

Faith J. H. McDonnell
Media/Information Team Leader

Letter From the Rector

Our rector, the Rev. Joe Acanfora, has written a letter to us all about our Destined for Joy campaign to support God’s vision for Church of the Apostles. Please read it prayerfully and respond joyfully!


Dear Church of the Apostles,

When we introduced the Steering Committee for our Destined for Joy campaign to support God’s vision for the church on Sunday, we all joined together to enter one of the most exciting periods in our church’s history. God has given us a picture of His heart and is asking us to join Him in reaching out to our community to share His love.

The Vestry and Staff have prayed, planned, and are now preparing for the future. One of the steps necessary for implementing this vision is to secure a location, a building from which we can unleash the love of Christ. We know that God will give us the resources necessary to fund the purchase of such a location. This will be one of the most far-reaching challenges in our church’s history and will cost a great deal of money, but God is calling us to do this and He will provide what is needed – He has already provided it and is now looking for willing hearts to release it back to Him. He did the same with the Israelites when constructing the “tent of meeting” as seen in Ex. 35:5. “Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution….” God gave the Israelites much wealth when they left Egypt and then asked them to use it for His purpose.

The Vestry and Staff looked for someone who could lead us successfully through this major effort. After many hours of study and presentations and after consulting with Bishop John Guernsey and others, we have prayerfully chosen STEWARDSHIP ENRICHMENT from Dallas to lead us through our Destined for Joy Campaign, because it is a scripture-based campaign with the leading of the Holy Spirit – an approach that is indigenous to Church of the Apostles. God is calling us, personally and corporately, into a more intimate, close relationship with Him from which comes a spiritual commitment to answer our financial need.

Randy Watts, our consultant from Stewardship Enrichment, has been used by God as a blessed emissary in hundreds of churches all across America to focus our attention not on money-raising, but on God. The result is in an outpouring of generous hearts that has helped churches raise the financial commitments required. The testimonies we hear from these churches about the spiritual impact on their congregations excite us even more than hearing about the financial success.

We will all be given the opportunity to be involved during the next three months. The first major and most significant activity of STEWARDSHIP ENRICHMENT is a call to prayer. Many will open their homes for Small Groups—“HIS JOY” Meetings. I hope that you will either open your home as a host family or will attend the meetings most convenient for you.

STEWARDSHIP ENRICHMENT calls for a spiritual response — prayer — to answer the financial need in the church. Begin now to pray for our church’s leadership as we plan for STEWARDSHIP ENRICHMENT and let’s pray for each other that we will find God’s will for our lives individually as a part of His will for our church.

God has great things in store for us. Heaven will meet the earth through the working of His Spirit in us. We must be ready to seek His will through prayer and be willing to follow His will in faith.

Thank you for your love and support and prayers. Let’s work together to make this a Spiritual quest that will strengthen Church of the Apostles, challenge us to “grow in the grace of giving, and lead us to a sacrificial commitment that will be “acceptable and very pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18b)

You servant in Christ Jesus,

Joseph Acanfora+ Rector Church of the Apostles, Anglican