The "Next Chapter" starts on Sep 7

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Newcomer's Gathering last Sunday!

The Frazier-Sellars opened their home for a newcomer's fellowship/dessert last Sunday evening. They live nearby the church. Their beautifully and creatively decorated home is ideally setup for a small crowd to have a lot of fun with plenty of room and activities to enjoy inside and out. 

Here are our new families:




Jeremy & Melissa Duvall with (L-R) Chloe, Josie, Maddie, Noah and Jack



Jeff & Melody Glenn with (L-R) Alistair, Hawkins, Avery and Mia

Micah & Bridget Wilson with (L-R) Corbin, Collette, Isabella and Ian.


John & Brenda were excellent and gracious  hosts, providing plenty of kid-oriented snacks, fun activities and a delectable variety of deserts and munchies. 


 Their living room has one wall that is dominated by a map that shows the favorite locales of their visitors and friends. It's a great conversation piece and makes you feel right at home as you are asked to place your own pin somewhere on the map.




There were plenty of fun things for the kids to do and yummy things to chow out on. 







Meanwhile the Adults got a chance to get to know each other. 










We all had a great time, going home with the excitement of new friends, charged up with plenty of new memories and thankful hearts for the great folks God places on our doorsteps. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Who DOESN'T want steadfast love??

“But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For You have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to You, for You, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.”  ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭59:16-17‬


Steadfast love.  Isn't that what we all want?  From our parents, from our love interest, from our children, from our friends, from our in-laws, from our boss, our employees?  Do we ever think to look to God for this craving of our soul?

The words penned by David the shepherd boy/warrior/king-to-be came at a time when he was being hunted down by the 1st king of Israel, Saul, who just happened to be his father-in-law!  Both men had been selected by God to serve as king but one (Saul) feared men more than God while the other (David) was called a man after God's own heart.  

Like Saul, David wasn't perfect but David had an overriding love and fear of God borne out of relationship with Him and an intimate knowledge of God's steadfast, firmly fixed love that comforted him, even when things seemed to be spiraling out of control.  When Saul hit his hard spots he turned to his own strength and wisdom.  When David was backed into a corner, he was already turned to God.

In which direction are you turned in times of trouble?  
Is it the same place you're turned to in your times of peace?  

Come to know the God of the Old Testament.  You'll be amazed He's the same God of the New Testament - One who is compassionate, steadfast in love and seeking to support all who are His.  

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God 
and to the steadfastness of Christ.  2 Thess 3:5

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Next Chapter, a Group Reading Adventure

A few years ago, I was challenged and moved by the idea of "Biblical Theology". I've done some reading in Systematic Theology books and enjoy their focused perspectives on major subjects and themes in the bible, covered exhaustively, subject by subject, books like Wayne Grudem's excellent "Systematic Theology". Those books are great, informative and necessary. But, I wanted to know more about how the books of the Bible fit together, how the overall story is told. That's a field of study known as "Biblical Theology".

I came across Graeme Goldsworthy's "According to Plan", an

excellent overview of the unity of the Bible, linking all 66 books together into one seamless story. It was the beginning of a new passion for me, the passion to see how every book in the Bible fit with every other, why it was there and how it is essential in telling the overarching story of God's self-revelation in the redemption of fallen man. I caught the bug! But that first book was not the easiest book to wade through. 

Ultimately, I was led to Vaughn Robert's overview of
Goldsworthy's overview, "God's Big Picture", an easy read and eminently accessible. I have others, but this is the one book that explains it all in a brief and concise manner. 

It's a great look at Biblical Theology and an essential if you're one of those that has ever wondered about the differences between  covenantal theology and dispensational theology. It doesn't directly address either, but it lays a good foundation for both perspectives. 

Furthermore, if you've ever wondered why Ruth, Esther or Jonah are in the Bible (not to mention Philemon), and what they have to do with the big picture, this is a great place to get started. 

We're going to read the book together, one chapter each
week, starting Sept 7. We're calling the program "The Next Chapter". Each Monday, I'll post a short overview of the current chapter and we can comment, question or simply read along to our heart's desire. 

If you want to join us, just pick up the book and read the forward and first chapter prior to Sep 7. You can find it on Amazon (Kindle and hard copy), CBD (e-book and hard copy) or at the WBF Bookstore. 

I hope and pray the subject matter blesses you as much as it has me. If you get a chance, drop me a note at kuvakas@gmail.com or message me on fb to let me know you're coming along. 

The next chapter is #1!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Do You See Yourself in the Israel of Old Testament?

A small group of us have been reading through the Bible using the Chronological Reading Plan. An email goes out each morning, showing the passages to be read for that day. Frequently, one of us will weigh in with a comment or two. Here are a few observations from today's readings, Isaiah 40-43.

There is good news and bad news in these chapters. First, the bad news; Israel and Judah will pay for their sin and rebellion, pay dearly. There will be war and suffering. God will not tolerate sin and idol-worship in His people. He will refine them and remove all that is unholy. Then the good news; God is holy, but He is also gracious. In time, God will redeem His people from the captivity they brought upon themselves and bring them back home. Not only will He deliver them, He will punish those who oppose them. 

By the time we work our way to Isaiah in the OT, we're beginning to see that God always delivers His people when they turn back toward Him and repent, truly repent. No matter how many times they fall away, He shows them grace when they cry out to Him with authentically contrite hearts. When we arrive at Isaiah 43:45, we see that God
does this, not for their sake, but for His

Why? 

They are clearly unworthy of such grace and continue to demonstrate this by their long history of being redeemed from suffering then turning away when times get better. Why does God put up with this? God's intention is to reveal, through the redemptive work He does in His people, His glory, His patience and His mercy. He's all about showing the world His transforming power and incredible grace toward those who are His, not becasue of their behavior, but in spite of it. His redemption is always predicated on their hearts turning toward Him, a work He alone does (Luke 1:8-17, John 1:12-13). 

We should see ourselves in the stories of Israel and Judah.
Like Abraham, who was wandering through life when God chose him to demonstrate to the world that He can transform and redeem anyone He desires, regardless of his estate in life, God chose us (John 15:16). Like Abraham, we are totally incapable of saving ourselves. Furthermore, just like Abraham, once chosen, we continue to stumble, incapable of sustaining, on our own, neither our eternal status nor holiness . 

Doesn't that pattern we see in Abraham continue through the history of Israel and in our lives as well? Abraham is chosen then stumbles but God redeems. Israel is chosen, makes its way to the Promised Land, loses it to their own lack of godliness and is restored by the miraculous hand of God? We, are called, redeemed, continue to stumble but still receive blessing and grace as long as we repent and rely on the Lord.

 Abraham, The two kingdoms...and each of us...are totally dependent upon the grace of God and His faithfulness if we are to have any hope. God reaches down out of heaven and supernaturally changes our hearts and spirits. Then, by his sustaining power and grace, enables us to continue in our walk of sanctification, all the while guaranteeing our home with Him in heaven, in spite of our weaknesses and failings, just as He delivered the Hebrews to Canaan in spite of theirs.

Praise God, He is faithful, powerful and true. Praise God, He was patient with His chosen people 3,000 years ago...just as He is patient with us today (2 Pet 3:9).  

If we fail to see ourselves in the story of Abraham and the Jews, we will fail to understand the magnitude of His grace.  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Jonah, the Reluctant Evangelist

Jonah pops up in this particular position in the timeline of Israel for a reason. For most of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles, we watch as Israel embarks on a long, persistent slide away from God with Judah following not too far behind. It seems each succeeding king, even the godly ones, slip further away from the Father. In 2 Kings 14:25, we are introduced to Jonah as a prophet of God. 

He fills another role, as well. Jonah is a little snapshot of where the two kingdoms are in their relationship with God, namely; full of themselves, openly rebellious toward Him but still being used and refined by Him for His purposes.

Jonah was probably written early in the eighth century BC during the reign of Jereboam II. By then, The Assyrians, who had a history of viciously attacking Israel, were weakening. Nineveh, situated in what is now Northern Iraq, was the home of the Assyrian king and was a huge city that was still an acute danger to Israel.

When God sends Jonah to Nineveh to prophesy over
the city, Jonah is understandably annoyed and runs in the opposite direction. After all, the Ninevites were the enemy, and a particularly nasty one at that. Why would Jonah want to see them redeemed by God? Wouldn't it be better just to let them be judged and eliminated?

On the way to Tarshish, a large port in Spain, the familiar story about Jonah being swallowed by the whale ensues. What few people notice, however, is that, due to Jonah's insistence that he is the cause of their predicament and their subsequent throwing of Jonah overboard, the sailors on the boat are delivered and begin worshiping God. I like to think of Jonah as a reluctant evangelist. 

For sure, Jonah ends up in Nineveh, in spite of his attempt to escape. He prophesies to the city and the city repents, avoiding destruction, more converts due to Jonah's reluctant preaching!

All this actually makes Jonah mad. That's where the book ends, Nineveh is saved and Jonah is upset, a rather unusual ending to an amazing story.  

Yet, we can learn much from Jonah; 
  • First, God is clearly the God of land and sea, the God of Jew and Gentile. 
  • Second, while our own heart motivation can have a huge impact on our relationship with our Father, God can still use us for His sovereign plans...in spite of us rather than because of us. 
  • Third, those who seem to be our enemies need to hear the gospel. God wants us to witness to them, not defeat them. The greatest victory will come when they turn to God and become our brothers, not when we vanquish them. 
  • Fourth, God is far more gracious than we sometimes think. Jonah earned nothing but wrath and judgment for refusing to do what God called him to do. Yet, God saved him from the whale, used him to preach His word, provided shade for him and told him the truth about himself. 
  • Fifth, ironically, Jonah accuses God of being gracious and merciful toward the Ninevites without fully realizing or appreciating the he, himself, is a beneficiary of that same grace. God could have judged him and punished him. God chose, instead to use him, in spite of his shortcomings

God can do the same with us, use us in spite of our shortcomings. Furthermore, God loved Jonah...and the Ninevites, a sobering reminder to the Body of Christ as much of the world seems to be turning into the enemy. Perhaps they are actually "fields white unto harvest." We should be careful to avoid Jonah's mindset and mistake. We should be eager to see the Ninevites of our time come to repentance.