“In my Chevrolet”!

Hello All,
 
Okay, I admit that my inspiration in this week’s word of encouragement from Corey may be coming more from a male perspective, but since I am a man, please bear with my “car talk theology”.  Today it’s a triple tribute to Chevrolet, my dad, and our Heavenly Father.  I’m throwing in a 4th tribute to a long time Christian band, Audio Adrenaline and their song Chevette as well.
 
The Lord often has an interesting sense of timing with various things in life. For our family, this past month was seemingly NOT a very logical month for us to get a nearly new car and definitely not planned. However, due to my seemingly minor automobile mishap with our VW golf that ended in what insurance companies call “totalled”, I’m now driving a little orange Chevrolet.  What’s illogical to us, has again showed us God’s faithfulness in working out all the details and timing in ways that only the Lord can orchestrate. 
 
For sure, I realize that materialism is just about things, which cars too often become objects of too much focus (especially for men), but at the same time, there is an interesting “personality” that a car can bring into a season of life and memories for a family or individual.  Tanya & I once had a white minivan when Livia was a toddler that we all referred (still do today) to as the “viniman”, due to the cute way Livia misnamed it.  Today we call our GPS navigator by the name of “Dolly Direction”, and honestly, I like Dolly. She has been a great part of our family vacations in getting us to hard to find places in foreign countries.  Say what you want about my family’s car-isms but you know you have had them too with your family, or growing up as a kid yourself. 
 
With this as a backdrop……….here’s the triple tribute with bonus adrenaline added.
 
Tribute 1:  Chevrolet:
I have to admit, living in Switzerland and now owning another American Chevrolet sure feels good!  My first car that I drove when I got my driver’s license the day after my 16th birthday was a lil’ black Chevy Luv pickup.  I can still “sit” in that driver’s seat in my mind and “feel” the freedom and adventure that truck empowered me with…..of course my middle brother probably still isn’t completely over the fact that he had previously owned that truck before my dad “let me use it”!  I remember the winter of 1986 when my dad came home with our new family car, a new white Chevy Chevette.  Later this Chevette became mine as well (which again, my middle brother still hasn’t come to grip with the real truth of how this also became mine….but being the last of three boys and all……) I’ll always remember that Chevette, especially after tinting the windows, putting in a stereo worth twice as much as the car and adding white rim covers on the wheels. (Perhaps I should have tried to market such ideas at the time for a future TV show concept that MTV uses today?). 

Oh, the memories….I was driving that car when I met Tanya at Mesa State in Colorado.  I surely can’t forget and be thankful for the tremendous memories and blessing that our current Chevy Venture “viniman” that we brought from the USA to Switzerland 5 years ago that is still providing memories for our family that even Sarah too, our 10 month old baby, will someday recall as well, if just from the pictures!  Yep, I’m a Chevy guy at heart…..and my middle brother is a Ford guy, go figure!  (I’m sure there are few real men out there laughing about now, as you know that a Luv as a little truck, a Chevette is NOT a Corvette and a Venture is a minivan, so my manly talk isn’t really so manly, as in monster trucks and Ferraris.  But laugh all ya want ‘cause my Chevette’s two Rockford Fosgate 15 inch Punch sub-wolfers really were manly enough bass at the time and the CD player was still considered new technology then as well!)
 
Bonus Tribute: 
Audio Adrenaline’s song from 1994 called “Chevette”.  Before I continue my other tributes, I believe this one will bring many things to light of why I am writing what I am writing today, as this song has been one of my favorites since the first time I heard it soon after its release.  Obviously the memories of a new family car and faithful father impacted this guy’s faith and life as well.  It’s not about the car at all, but about a faithful father, and about a faithful God that drives us along life’s roadways.
 
LYRICS- Audio A’s song Chevette:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ht3pgS2L7M if you wanna hear it.

Twenty years ago I watched in awe as my dad drove up the driveway.
More than proud to have a brand new family car.
Thirty miles to the gallon, 0 to 60,…………….sometimes.
I remember putting down the back seat and lying in the hatchback.
Looking at the sky watching trees go by.
I was the son of a preacher, and he was a rich…………………. poor man.

No A.C. No FM, And no regrets, in my Chevette.

The winter cracked the highway and we tried to dodge the potholes.
He never promised us it would be a gentle ride.
He never had a problem though, keeping it on the narrow road.
 
Tribute 2: My dad.
Thanks Dad, not just for bringing home new family cars as part of our family’s heritage and memories, but for “bringing home” (y)our faith in God and living it in a real way along the roadways of real life.  Potholes, smooth roads, good directions or finding our way on faith, you navigated us spiritually and we three boyz arrived at the destination of true faith in Jesus long ago and now are driving those roadways with our children as well, even if one of us is in a Ford.  (Mom, thanks for always being there too….but this tribute is a guy thing this time around!)
 
Tribute 3: My Heavenly “Daddy” and His Son:
The only “vehicle” in life that really matters is the vehicle You provide for everyone in life and for life eternally: Faith, Hope and Love in You, Jesus!  May I continue the pursuit to let You drive, lead and guide my life and family as you have done beyond expectations thus far! 
 
For all, whether you own a car or take public transportation, I pray you too have found the true vehicle to navigate life’s roadways, that being Jesus Christ!  Whether you are currently on a smooth stretch of nicely paved road, or trying to make it around giant potholes that have you feeling desperate to find a better way in life, He’s always there desiring to show you the way of the road less travelled, and worth every moment of the journey with Him along the way! 
 
In His grip and grace,
Corey

We are human BEings!

Hello All,
 
I am really excited to be writing this update…..I believe as you read along you’ll understand why!   It’s been several weeks since I have had a chance to simply sit down and write from “the heart”! Although it’s normal for me to multi-task many things in life (even if I am a guy), I do admit that this year in particular has been an extremely busy season in my life trying to balance family life, work and LIFT; three areas that have all grown in responsibility this past year.  Lately, with so many recent ministry launches, special service and various other activities, I was mainly sending out announcements and not really my normal updates, which for me these updates have always been intended to be more about words of encouragement in strengthening others in faith (mine too actually) and less about specific church announcements or details. So although, I’ve been very busy, perhaps too busy the last couple months, I’ve also been very intentional to personally reflect and seek the Lord’s leading and guiding in the big picture of all that’s going on…….and getting to the heart of the matter, the Heart of Jesus!  The last two Sundays have been so refreshing to me to start this new preaching journey ahead (alongside Bedros and Ken), in sharing John’s intro and background and the first 14 verses of chapter 1 that are profoundly revealing about God, Jesus and His plan for us. Since I didn’t preach much in August and September, I was also able to really get into the Gospel of John, including studying old seminary notes and fresh researching of what was/is behind John’s Gospel.    
 
Regarding getting my heart back to the big picture during these past couple of months, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit of a great illustration that a mentor (and former seminary professor) once shared with me several years ago.  He stated, “We are human BEings, not human DOings!”  And from that statement about individual people he applied it to the church in a profound way that the church is comparable to simply “be” the church to the body and community around it, and not just “do” church.”  Meaning, too often a church can finds itself “doing” church really well with many programs, ministries, structures and services, but miss the heart issue of simply “being” the church of Jesus to one another and to the community outside the walls of the church.  This mentor was really good at breaking it down further and further, such as a typical church family that can sometimes get caught up in the “doing and not being” without even realizing it. 
 
For example:
Sunday mornings: family attends church, splits up in age specific groups where the kids go one way and parents another. 

Sunday afternoon, choir practice for mom, club activity for kids. 

Evening study group for one parent on Tuesdays, the other on Thursdays and the teen on Wednesdays…..and don’t forget the special ministry event (car wash) fund raiser on Saturday either. 
 
Of course, all these things are supposed to be and can be wonderful, spiritual and truly uplifting to building and growing a family in faith, but there is a huge difference of being in worship at church ministries versus just doing or participating in church ministries/activities, and often it may be difficult to see the difference on the outside, because it truly is more from the inside, inside the heart!  
 
By now, you may be asking yourself, “Is Corey for real here in what he’s writing?  He’s normally the high energy start up guy that has passion and gives passion to others to serve and start new ministries.  He’s the guy with a broad definition of worship and has even said snowboarding (amongst many other things) can be worship, even as a group together as long as you’re intentional to include Jesus.  And now he’s seemingly downplaying ministries in fear of authenticity, or too much is too much?” 
 
To be honest, I was actually thinking some of these questions a few weeks back myself, perhaps even doubting my own big picture vision and thinking that others may also be getting tired and worn down……..and then it happened!  It?  First, a clear “coming back to Jesus” moment in the field nearby my home while walking Samson, our dog.  Perhaps you’ve also had one of those times of a special and refreshing prayer time that the Lord gives an additional boost of the Holy Spirit touch that strengthens your faith from within your heart! That was a great morning, the kind that only comes around every few years or so.  But the Lord didn’t stop there, one by one, and then another after another, many more “its” continued to flow in with various glimpses and from several sources in and around LIFT that testified and confirmed what I truly knew in my heart the whole time; THERE IS SOMETHING ESPECIALLY AUTHENTIC AND SPIRITUALLY UPLIFTING AT LIFT AND THROUGH THE VARIOUS (AND NUMEROUS) MINISTRIES OF LIFT!  I could write a long list of very recent examples and statement of LIFT “being” an active faith church body, and not just a church “doing” church ministry; from preschool children quoting God’s Word impacting their visiting grandparents, to school kids openly living their faith in class, to teens driving forward in faith together with no fear, to ladies and men and singles serving one another or sharing things how another was impacted by God’s Word……and visitors to Switzerland who somehow found their way through our doors and were led to share with us, even with just a short glimpse, of what the Lord is “being” (ok I substituted that because they really said “doing”, but we know what they really meant!) here at this church called LIFT.  I should state, it’s not about LIFT, but about Jesus and the Gospel Message actively lived in His church here and His church(es) elsewhere as well!
 
Folks, this is my prayer and reminder to myself (although made public for all of us wherever we find ourselves in life and faith) in order to ensure that I and we keep our hearts in check with “being” a Follower of Jesus- a Christian, and not just “doing” Christianity or doing church.  The being makes all the difference!   Even if I was a bit tired and worn down as September rolled around, the Lord has re-strengthened and restored my big picture, in His own way and also through so many of YOU who have also been my inspiration in seeing you “be” strong in serving Him and LIFT in many wonderful and often quiet ways that most don’t see….although the Lord has seen and blessed it all!  Yes, we are human BEings and the being makes all the difference!
 
As I wrote in the first line, I am so excited to have been able to write this update…from the heart.  There are however a few “announcements” below of various ministries and opportunities for you to “be” a part of!
 
In His grip and grace,
Corey

“5-4-3-2-1-"GO!" -Launch and re-launch!

Hello All,

For years, LIFT’s overall theme verse has been Luke 10:2. 

Here’s verse 1, 2 and part of 3. 
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you…

I can’t express how exciting it is to see so many that have stepped up in “GO”-ing as part of the local harvest workforce!  Our growth just continues to “GO” forward and many new faces are jumping right in…….and that’s a beautiful thing!  Below are the many, many announcements of various ministries launching (or re-launching)! 

There are two reasons for this weeks update being mainly announcements:

    1) So that you can join in to attend and participate in one (or more) of the various ministries alongside others in growing in your faith! 
    2) For some, you need to be part of the “workers” and get fit in your faith by serving others in one (or more) of these various ministries.  

Have a look below and join in and/or step up and be a volunteer in helping serving in a ministry!  Most of the contact info is below so feel free to contact ministry leaders directly, or click reply and we’ll get ya connected with the information you seek!

Reminder of the work day tomorrow at LIFT starting at 9:30 with various facility projects.  And a reminder of the more important event this weekend, the Baptism service at 9:00 am down at the lake before our normal 10:00 am service at LIFT.

Re-read it above from Luke.   I believe it’s happening again right now in Zug.  Jesus IS sending us into our community around us, often in pairs (and 72 is just about true for us as well).  Note in verse 1, “where He was about to GO”.  I believe Jesus (who have been here long before LIFT of course) IS still currently GO-ing  before us in the months ahead!

The harverst IS ripe around in Zug, with countless souls in need of the Gospel and grace of Jesus!  Let’s continue to pray in asking Jesus to bring forth the workers!   And of course…….LET’S GO!  Each of us individually into our realms of influence of those around us, and together as a church into our community!

It is an honor and a privilege to serve alongside you!

In His grip and grace,

Corey

“I’m just Corey…”

Hello All,

In a world full of titles and hierarchy, I just prefer to simply be me; Corey.  Some folks might consider me a pastor at LIFT-The International Church of Zug while others might consider me a “tentmaking missionary” in Switzerland (tentmaking is a term that is in reference to how Paul in the Bible worked making tents for income as not to be a burden on his church and that I too have a secular job to provide for my personal family finances).  Most of my weekdays have my name attached to another title amongst a whole other spectrum of work colleagues at the int’l headquarter of a German company or at various business partners’ offices across several countries. Even at work, for the most part, I simply say, “I’m just Corey” when asked how to be addressed.  Aside of living in two worlds (faith and work) like a secret agent for Jesus, my second culture’s language of (Swiss) German mandates a cultural norm of being addressed in a formal way, Mr. Best, until becoming “friends” and then it’s again just Corey, but in many cases I have to be culturally sensitive to allow the other person to give me their O.K. first, to be on first name bases.  Now that I think of it, that’s kinda like Facebook waiting for confirmation to be a friend with another! In the end, it’s important for me to simply be me, Corey, regardless of titles and expectations others put on me or the circumstances around me.  What I do in life, doesn’t define who I am in life.  I am a Follower of Jesus, a Christian who’s not perfect, but by His grace, I journey in life trying the best I can to live my faith, worship and God’s love…..and give it away!

A couple days ago, my 2 worlds crossed and you could say, I “outed myself” a bit with a work colleague.  Although a couple of people at work do know about my true passion in life as part of LIFT (being a pastor there), most of the time when faith comes up in discussions at work I, of course, don’t ever share a title as a pastor or that I have a Master’s Degree in Theology.  They only know me as Corey with the title from work and as far as they are concerned in the discussion their opinion is as theologically supported as mine.  I love these faith discussions and I don’t seek to win a debate, but simply try to point people to Jesus…..not to my church. But regarding if I go to church, at one point the normal first faith question in Switzerland (and most of Europe for that matter) is whether I am Protestant or Catholic.  I’ll answer something l ike “I go to a great international, non-denomination church in Zug.  It’s a Christian church, contemporary with great music and relevant teaching……not what you’d normal expect at a church in Switzerland. We use the Bible and the English language to share the Gospel Message. It’s cool because it isn’t so focused on religion, but on a relationship with God.”  The English language and international aspects are great to keep the conversation(s) going as it’s a new fresh perspective to their “religious” background.   Well, sure enough on Tuesday, a work colleague (a non-Swiss), came and directly asked me for the directions and times of the worship services for “that Int’l church” that I go to in Zug, as I had given the above answer several months ago. I know the person well enough and engaged in a more open conversation about my involvement at LIFT. I shared that my purpose in life and moving to Switzerland wasn’t about a career move but a family and life’s purpose move of living my faith and giving it away.  What was a nice surprise back is that it seems both of us revealed that “what we do, isn’t who we are” and both of our faiths are deeper than previously shared!

So I close with two thoughts as words of encouragement for you:

1) Be YOU, and don’t let’s the world’s titles and expectations of others change who YOU are and who you desire to become as a stronger Follower of Jesus.  The Bible gives great points of being relevant to share Jesus with those around you, while at the same time, not letting the world around you influence who you are.

1 Corinthians 9:22-23  I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel,  -Paul

Romans 12:1-2  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

2) Your NAME wasn’t just chosen by your mom and dad by coincidence, it was known by God before you were ever conceived!  That’s cool.  So when I say, I’m just Corey, I realized that God knows my name, God knows me and He always has.  And when you say “I am …….(fill in your name)”  God knows you, your name and always has! Even if you share a popular name like John, Michael, Michelle or Elizabeth, you are you and God knows YOU! 

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.  -God

I’m taking off for a couple of weeks to enjoy my family and some sun (and of course some Son of God as well!)  Will pick up in a few weeks with sending another infusion of encouragement of faith (e-FUSION) headed your direction! 

In His grip and grace,

Corey

"Relationship isn't just meeting someone, but knowing someone!”

Hello all,

At LIFT, the preaching series the last months has been on the theme; “It’s about RELATIONSHIP, not about RELIGION”.  Bedros gave the message this past Sunday and wonderfully shared how a true relationship with God, through Jesus, is the point and purpose in life, not just religion or religious works and actions, whether Christian or other world religions……….it’s a about a relationship with God!  As LIFT is so multinational in our makeup, it’s wonderful to hear Biblical truths being taught through various cultural insights and perspectives.  Bedros is Armenian, but raised in Lebanon, now a Swiss national who has been in Switzlerland for about 20 years.  Hearing about muslim “religious works” from him with his Middle Eastern upbringing is very different and real versus reading about it.  As he shifted from various religious world religions and focused back to Christianity as a “religion” he wonderfully turned the focus off of religion and onto a relationship with God to what real faith is all about.  He even used an illustration including my encounter with a famous movie star from a year ago when I happened to run into George Clooney in Geneva while on business there, even getting a snap of his smiley whites (his teeth) on my cell phone.  The point is, that although I had seen and ran into him, I don’t have a relationship (or friendship) with him, nor know him.  Bedros nicely turned this around for us to reflect that although many may have a picture of God in our mind (not our phone) that just a picture of seeing Him, isn’t the same as knowing Him, and sharing life with Him, or including Him in our life. 

As I reflected on this and now put it into my own words, I think that often people only see a picture of God and miss out on walking with God and journeying with Him in life.  Like I was running around last September with my mobile phone and jokingly saying, “Hey, look who I met in Geneva”, it was with a bit of sarcasm and obvious that I didn’t really know George Clooney, I just was able to be in the right place to snap his photo.  (Maybe I shouldn’t have taken the picture, but reached out and touched his arm?  Nah, I’m not a female…..and the photo was good for some laughs afterwards!)   Often, people only see or hear about religion(s) and even “try them out” for awhile, but don’t take the opportunity to get to know the real God of the Universe.   How can you get to know God?  Go to church?  Light a candle?  Say a prayer or walk an old lady across the street (or any other good deeds)?  Although those things might not be bad things in themselves, but these religions works too often become the focus and end point in themselves (religion) and miss the real point on personally knowing God and His love for you and desire for you to include Him in your life.  Below, I’m attaching my original LIFT update from 2008 regarding the Clooney encounter which then gives insight to when I met and entered a relationship with Jesus. 

———————from Sept. 7th, 2008—————————-

I saw George Clooney, who cares?

Hello All,

It’s true, last night while in Geneva for a work function our Int’l Marketing team was touring the old city and while we were passing the Reformed Museum someone from our group asked why about 50+ people were hanging around the entrance.  It just so happened that George Clooney, Mr. Hollywood himself, was inside finishing a speech about his support of a US president candidate and was supposedly going to exit the building soon to go 20 meters across the alley into another building for his dinner event where $10,000 (or 11,000 CHF) can get you dinner in the same room with George. I’ll admit, I couldn’t help myself and since there wasn’t a massive huge crowd, I thought I’d hang out to see if he really was to walk by.  (Of course, 5 or 6 ladies from my company’s group of 15 decided to pass on the final few minutes of our guided tour as well in hopes of seeing George!)  Sure enough, 10 minutes later George walked by (with a little bit of pushing around between the security and the now 100+ people) and my strategic decision to stand right next to the door where he was going to, instead of coming from allowed me a good glimpse and a not so good picture on my cell phone of this Hollywood star.  In the end, I was close enough to have reached out and touched (which I chose not to) a huge Hollywood star. Five minutes later he was at his dinner, I was at mine and most likely we will never cross paths again………so who cares?  Really, it’s not like I got to know him or started a friendship, or even had eye contact for that matter.  So clearly he doesn’t care and I really don’t either. 

But there was a time, when I was a teen when I had the amazing opportunity to meet another famous star! At that cross road I not only crossed paths in seeing this famous star, but actually got to meet him and start a friendship and relationship that is lasting a lifetime and will even continue for eternity.  Yes, this “Star” was, is and always will be the biggest Name of all time in the biggest true movie of reality……the Star of stars, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ!  At that life changing encounter, Jesus didn’t sign a piece of paper with his autograph, nor stop for a photo, He instead signed my heart with His Blood as the ink and asked me to come with Him on a journey in which He will lead, guide and provide.  I don’t need a photo to remember Him by because He is always there for me and I can look up and see Him in my life, anytime!

Jesus said in Mark 8:34-37, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”

I’ll never forget that encounter when I first saw Jesus, when He said to come and follow Him!  George Clooney….who cares?  Jesus Christ…..  I care and so does Jesus, and so should you!

—————

Have a wonderful weekend, and if you don’t already know the most famous person to have ever walked the planet, I pray you meet Him yourself personally.  Not just a digital image on your phone, not just an occasional visit in a church, not just lighting a candle or doing a good work, but actually meeting and having a real relationship with Him in your life!  Walking, talking, reading His letters to you, laughing, crying and sometimes just holding His Hand when words can’t express what’s on your heart! Yes, a relationship with God is what He desires from you, not your acts of religion! 

In His grip and grace,

Corey