Celebrating 5 Years – Kevin Wilder


Five years! Well, okay—I will start with some honesty. It’s only been two for me.

Around the time I first visited Covenant Life, I was somewhat new returning to Tampa after several years spent in another state. Life had thrown some curveballs and taken me places I hadn’t anticipated. Through unmet expectations and unexpected left turns, I found my hope in Christ’s daily mercies, new every morning. Now if only I could settle on a good local church, all would be good and well.

I expected a lot from my new church family. Sound theology. Expositional teaching. An active church body dedicated to serving one another and the outside world. Maybe a table with some decent coffee. I was hungry and eager to learn and grow, but was my checklist overly optimistic? I thought definitely so, until I finally found myself at CLC. From the first Sunday, my new friends Corey, Kaity, Lauren, Melanie and I were offered a warm welcome. Over lunch then—and several subsequent Sundays after—our group entered thoughtful discussions about the weekly sermon. Altogether our ears and hearts seemed to be collectively enamored by the Word being faithfully preached.

I promised myself to wait a while before putting down roots anywhere. As a painfully honest admission, I wanted to find a place with more marital prospects, and at the time wasn’t too optimistic this small gathering would offer me so much. But hooked on the teaching and embraced by the members, I made a hasty leap of faith. Soon I took the necessary steps toward membership. And right away it became evident this would be my new church family.

So where does this leave me, two years in and counting? The newness has worn off, yet I can’t imagine my life any different. In fact, mine bears little resemblance to how it looked prior to getting grounded in CLC. Although no local body is perfect, our church has proven itself as a place where I can continually grow in my understanding of Christ and the gospel. It’s a place where I can serve and be stretched, and see God’s goodness unfold a thousand times over. This is why it always troubles me when I hear of someone who considers church participation a burdensome activity, or an unnecessary cultural tradition. In reality, it can be a profound blessing for the Christian! As the Psalmist writes, “God settles the solitary in a home; He leads out the prisoner to prosperity…”

A week hardly passes where I don’t have lunch with a dear brother. Many days I receive a call or text, encouraging me in areas where I’m struggling. There’s a standard of godliness upheld by many men in my life who act as faithful husbands, fathers, teachers, servant-leaders and friends. From sitting under teaching in the CLI classrooms to the sanctifying experiences of loving children in CLKids, I’m a far better man than I would be otherwise.

In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic little book, Life Together, he writes: “Christian community is like the Christian’s sanctification. It is a gift of God which we cannot claim. Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, of our sanctification. What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God.”

On a constant basis, our church family reminds me of God’s divine power, granting me all I need pertaining to life and godliness (1 Peter 1:2-3). Whenever I reflect on His handiwork, I’m overcome with thankfulness. And glory to God for allowing me to play a part!

Kevin Wilder

Posted on: April 14, 2015 - 8:00AM

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