“Being a Father”

Hello all,

First of all, I need to admit that so far in 2009 my keeping up with these LIFT updates has been rather sporadic (irregular) and not quite the weekly send out of communication and encouragement to you about LIFT and faith that is used to be.  So, although I apologize for not being so consistent, I can also ensure you (which is also the underlying message of this update) that my personal priorities in faith, life, family, ministry and work commitments are in order.  This Sunday is Father’s Day and this year especially, with now having 3 children (since the birth of our daughter Sarah on the last day of 2008), it’s been a busy year for me…….but it’s also been beyond rewarding in regards to living my worship of Jesus, and I have valued and prioritized being a father more than keeping up with updates! Not doing the updates regularly has been tough for me as I perhaps “need” these updates more than you (kinda like therapy-lol) and I wish I was able to have sent out updates more consistently. (I have three partial updates that never made it out of my journal file.), But really, I have loved the whole dynamic of starting over with diapers and sleepless night those first three of months of 2009 and definitely enjoyed watching Livia and Silas pour out their older brother and sister love to their baby sister as well.  Of course, if I even think of writing anything implying “my” sleepless nights, it’s of course Tanya, my wife (and best friend in life) who obviously was/is the one who has wonderfully carried the family transition mode the most and truly lived the sleeplessness at another level that I did.

All that being said, men, especially those of you who are fathers out there, may you be blessed and LIFT-ed up by our Lord in Heaven for all you do for your wives and children!  I prayed for you today in particular and ask for anyone reading this to take a moment to pray for their father, husband, daddy, step-father, son, brother, in law(s), grand- or great-grandson that happen to be a man out there and somehow connect to you in their lives.  Go ahead…..right now take a moment and pray for your father and the men who are fathers that you are connected to in some way.  Too cool.  There are prayers of praises and encouragement.  There are prayers of asking for strength in health issues.  There are prayers of appreciation and thankfulness for such fathers.  And in reality for some, there are a few tough issues going through your heads as you may have a broken relationship or hurting relationship with your father, son, brother, grandfather, etc, etc in your life.  I just took a moment in particular to pray for those that have tough father relationship issues as well and/or those that may have never known their father.  Forgiveness is desperately needed in life’s relationships, for all and on both sides of the a broken relationship, meaning even for the one who forgives the other from their heart, even if the other doesn’t respond accordingly.   Praise God, Our Father in Heaven that He is a father who loves each and every one of us! 

So for this Father’s Day, reach out to your father and tell him you prayed for him this week and honor him in some way! 

Men that are fathers, and men that may some day be fathers, I am including below a devotion I read last week regarding being a father and our main goal in life as a father: “To Help Our Children Know God”!  As I read this the first time, a few points grabbed my attention and clearly reminded me what being a real father is all about.  I just took a moment to pray again for you and for me, but this time my prayer isn’t about this Sunday on Father’s Day in 2009, it’s in regards to next year on Father’s Day in 2010!  I not only encourage you, but I challenge you (yes, a challenge from me to you, man to man!) that over the next year, your children will grow closer in knowing God, by you becoming stronger in living your faith in a more Godly manner!  I’m in it as well, please pray for me too!  Maybe we can call this the Father’s Day liveitandgiveit 2010 Challenge. 

Read on……and go be a daddy! 
 
Fathers: Help Your Children Know God
(by Rick Warren)

“I showed what You are like to those You gave Me from the world. They belonged to You, and You gave them to Me” (John 17:6 NCV).

The world is full of sons and daughters who desperately need a father who is a spiritual leader. Is it possible your kids are among them? You can become a spiritual leader to your children by developing the characteristics that we see in Jesus as He taught His disciples for three years.

Even if you are not a father, or a mother, you will be able to lead others into the heart of God by following the example of Jesus.

First, Jesus helped the disciples to know God.
Dads, this is your number one responsibility as a father. You need to help your children get to know God because eternity hangs in the balance: life or death, heaven or hell. It is your job to help make sure your kids are introduced to God.
Look at what Jesus says: “They belonged to you.” He’s acknowledging that the disciples belonged to God; and reminding us that we don’t own our kids. They belong to God. He loans them to us for a period of time in which He wants you to parent them. Parenting, like all forms of leadership, is really about stewardship. You learn to say, “God, I am the steward of these children, whom You put into my care, and I will do what You need me to do to help them achieve their purpose.”
Notice Jesus then says, “I showed what You were like to those You gave Me.” Jesus doesn’t say, “I preached. I sermonized. I pontificated. I lectured so the disciples would know you.” He says, “I showed.” He led by example. This is one of the most sobering truths about being a parent. For right or wrong, for good or bad, whether you like it or not, your children’s idea of God is going to be largely determined by the kind of father you are. You may not like that. I may not like that, but it’s the truth.

If you are an impatient and demanding father, they’re going to think God is impatient and demanding. If you are distant and detached and never have time for your kids, they’re going to think God is distant and detached from them. If you are inconsistent and unreliable, if you break your promises, they’re going to think their heavenly Father is inconsistent and unreliable and breaks His promises.

What i s God really like?
• God is caring.
• God is close and aware of the details.
• God is consistent.
• God is competent.

If my kids are going to grow up knowing God is caring, close, consistent, and competent, then I must be caring, close, consistent, and competent. I must care about my kids enough to show them what God is like and show how they can become like Christ.

So fathers, time to go live it and give it for your kids! …..and others!  It’s an honor to be a father myself and to journey in life and faith with others like you!

In His grip and grace,  
Corey

“Include Jesus!”

Hello All,

I’m not one who’s ever really done well in making a new year’s resolution list and sticking to it……religiously! Too often by January 9th,(ok, honestly it’s probably more like the 5th) I’ve already broken my commitment to eat better or exercise more anyways and then feel guilty that I didn’t live up to the list in the first place.  But at the same time, I am one who is usually consistent in living my life with passion and desire for the Lord’s purposes, although in ways that are quite practically and applicable for everyday normal life circumstances.   In the end, my “continued” resolution in my life (including 2009) can be summed up in to simple words, “INCLUDE JESUS!”.   To set aside religion, and step into relationship every new day with God through Jesus and His Holy Spirit.
Include Jesus, when I wake up and greet Him.  Include Jesus while I drive to work in talking with Him (or singing praises to Him).  Include Jesus throughout the day, when I can often take quick moments with my mind (spiritually) to thank Him while things are going well and not just cry out for His help when things are going bad (although He loves to help when we ask to Include Jesus, even with our problems), or just say “hello” once in awhile through the day.    Include Jesus when I do take intentional times to read His Word and/or pray (head bowed, eyes closed, standing, sitting, on my knees doesn’t matter).  Include Jesus when I’m enjoying life on a snowboard or mountainbike, or watching my kids play soccer or sing or play instruments.  Include Jesus when I’m sitting around the dinner table with my family.  Include Jesus when I struggle with temptation (He’s especially needed during times such as this).  Include Jesus when I feel lonely.  Include Jesus when I’m surrounded by thousands of people in a big city somewhere.  Include Jesus while I walk my dog.  Simply INCLUDE JESUS in the simple and complex things I do during each day!
OK, I admit it may sound too simplified, but I’m sticking by these two words, Include Jesus! My prayer now is that in 365 days, I won’t have to look back and try to fake a prayer of reporting to God all the things I did for him (trying to cover all the things I didn’t) over 2009, when obviously He knew everything I did anyways.  I prefer and hope to just look back and remember walking with Him, talking with Him through the year’s journey, day in and day out!  He was, is and always will be there alongside me (and you) anyways, but it’s so much more fulfilling for me when I just INCLUDE JESUS along the way, in big and small ways!  
One of LIFT’s “Elements” is that of Fire, or clearly stated, Worship.  And by Including Jesus, in all that we do, is worshiping during our daily life alongside worshiping as a church body together on a Sunday morning, or other various church related ministries or functions.  It’s all of the above all of the time! Worship is broad and comes in many forms, even normal daily routine activities when we simply Include Jesus!  A couple of my favorite passages are below that help remind me in all of my days (and ways) to acknowledge……and Include Jesus!
Proverbs 3:5-6”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Romans 12:1 “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.”
In His grip and grace,

Corey

DRIVE-ing with Jesus

Hello All,

I’ll never forget what a fellow youth pastor shared with me years ago regarding his wife’s wonderful prayer life and “ride” with Jesus.  For work purposes, she had to DRIVE once per week about 1 1/2 hours each way and as she got into the car one morning just after kissing him goodbye, she reached across the passenger seat, grabbed the seat belt and while fastening it she said, “Buckle up Jesus, it’s time to go to work together!”.  Then she rolled up her window, backed up smiling and was already talking to Jesus (not to herself) as the car drove out of his site.  As much as he was energized by his wife’s strong faith, I too was forever changed in my perspective on praying while driving.  Ok, although I admit I haven’t actually clicked the passenger side seatbelt for Jesus like she did (I figure he’s going survive anyways!), I speak to him often while DRIVING in my car and in my life.  I think for all of us, we need simple reminders such as this to include God in our normal daily life and routine.  Even for you that take the train to work here in Swissland, just wait and see the reaction when someone approaches the “empty” seat next to you saying “Ist der Platz frei?” and you reply, “No, Jesus is sitting there next to me!”

Taking the DRIVE in life to the next level is truly figuring out how to put Jesus in the DRIVER’s seat and not just passenger seat!  (Don’t try this in your real car, but you get what I mean).  That is DRIVING by faith and takes more than just a license but also practice and experience. In fact, when one has grown up with learning to let Jesus DRIVE in their life, it’s much easier and the journey has often seen fantastic roads of glory along the way. So it’s wise for us as a church to start DRIVING lessons early in faith!  Bedros has shared the truth about GPS for those that think modern technology is the best route, as we all know we’ve “arrived at our destination” only to realize the satellites deceived us as the empty parking lot in front of the car is NOT the intended shopping mall!

By now, I hope you are asking yourself, why are all of the DRIVE-ing  words emphasized. LIFT’s new youth ministry for students ages 11 and up, called DRIVE has recently left the garage and enter the streets of real life!  I have been so excited to see the calling and passion of Dave and Jami to launch such a ministry at LIFT.  As we look around on Sunday mornings it’s clear we don’t have many students that are of these ages (about 3-5), so one might think that we should have the students first and then start the youth group.  Praise God for the faith of Dave and Jami to first step out in faith to start the ministry and give God the glory when He brings the students.  It reminds me of the Best’s and the Eales’ a few short years ago in our living room having “church” although just our two families showed up on some weeks.  Three facilities later, the Best’s and Eales’ are still gathering together to worship as a church, but with the glory of God’s faithfulness in seeing many of you each week alongside us!  So if you are a teen, I encourage you to LIFT up DRIVE and build your youth ministry together with Dave and Jami, even if some weeks there’s just a few.  If you’re a parent of a teen or know of other families with teens, I encourage you to get the word out, every other Friday night is DRIVE at LIFT.  

At heart, I’m still a youth guy who have tremendous confidence in what teenagers and young adults can do for the LORD! I’ve seen some amazing acts of love, grace and courage from those under 20!  As a church, let’s pray (even while DRIVING) for the next generation to continue to work the harvest field around us.  I can already envision some of our DRIVE students some day getting into their real cars, reaching across the passenger seat and buckling up the seatbelt, while saying, “Buckle up Jesus, it’s time to go on a DRIVE together!”         

Proverbs 22:6 -Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

In His grip and grace,

Corey

“Stones”

Hello All,

Looking back at a past update from more than a year ago, I thought I would re-send it and update it as to some current “stones” that the Lord is “standing” around us at LIFT show God’s continued faithfulness in blessing our church.  
 
(from Dec, 2006 going into 2007)
Hello All,
 
This past week at LIFT was a celebration point in time, or I should say another “standing stone” in the existence of LIFT- The International Church of Zug.  Our very first Christmas (Eve) services!  As we say we use the Bible and the English language as common tools to share the Gospel Message, the message of Christmas IS the Gospel! What an experience as family, to have had about 65 people gather together Christmas Eve to sing carols and hear the message of Christmas from Luke 2!
 
What do I mean by “standing stone”?  In the Old Testament, God’s people didn’t have computers and video recording equipment to tape and replay important events.  What they did instead was take rocks, stones or pillars and stand them up or stack them up.  This pile of stones, (or sometimes a huge stone) would stand tall as a MARKING POINT.  Usually this coincided with a “worship service” of declaring what God had done and how this stone was to be a testimony to God.  As they saw it in the future, they would remember what the Lord had done.  Sometimes the stones were stood up as a statement of “changing their ways” (after a period of Godless living) and proclaiming that they turned back toward God, and the standing stone was a point to remember the commitment.
 
What was really cool is how these stones were a “testimony” to later generations, even sometimes hundreds of years later (or in our case millenniums later).  As a family was traveling, in their culture the children knew standing stones meant something, and the kids might have asked something like “Daddy, what happened here?” And the father was able to share what the Lord God had done for their people in delivering them, etc. etc. 
 
As we look back at this past year, or as you look back in your life, there are many standing stones.  Some are stones standing as praise to wonderful blessings the Lord gave us, some are stones that are amidst very difficult times in life, but yet, they are standing there to remind us of our continued walk with our God. 
 
Early in 2006, one great stone was stood up marking the launch of a children’s ministry that now gives our kids, the next generation of the church, a time of teaching and Biblical training during the sermon time.  Thank you, Kristin and Tanya, who so selflessly have served every week in this ministry!  Later in the year, CLUB LIFT was launched giving additional monthly training of our youngsters in a fun way!  What a wonderful praise and perhaps these youngsters will be “living stones” with the Gospel message during their lifetime! 
 
Other stones from 2006 were the continued momentum of the ladies ministry, who had several Bible/book studies and various events throughout the year!  And the men?……or should I say A-Men?  In October we had a men’s retreat that has truly left an impact on many men who are still striving to grow in faith as stronger A-Men of God!  In the summertime, we shifted to a morning worship service time frame which has also provided LIFT with momentum and growth!  The Webster family coming alongside in leadership with the Eales’ and us Best’s has also been a huge blessing!  Of all the messages over the year, the message series about “The Body” stands out to me personally.  To have seen our LIFT body forming and working together in unity with all the parts working together for the entire body – this is the church of Jesus in action!    
 
As we look to the future to “conquer” life ahead of us, remember one more proclamation from a little boy of the Old Testament who turned a few stones himself: DAVID.  As a young shepherd standing before the king and stating what he was about to do in the near future, he was using standing stones from his past as a reminder of God’s hand with him: 
 
1 Sam 17:34-37 (David before taking on Goliath)
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”
 
Notice the standing stones of the lion and bear giving David the strength and faith to go boldly into the unknown future!
 
We serve an awesome God.  “Go into 2007, and the LORD be with you!”
 
——-
Now back to Sept. 18th, 2008!  We’ve seen many new stones and ways the Lord has continued to bless LIFT in the past year or so.  We established a broader leadership, the Servant Leaders (elders and deacons) in late 2007.  We have officially become a “verein” as per Swiss requirements as a legal entity/church.  We have been so blessed with the monthly use of the Kirchgemeindehaus of Zug’s protestant church.  We’ve had a lady’s retreat and 2nd A-Men retreat.  Club LIFT, working with International Church of Luzern just launched again last week with nearly 40 kids!  Many new ministries have been created including a Marriage/Couples study and soon to launch small group format.  We’ve had involvement with our community around us recently with a wedding, a funeral and just last week had our first ever Baptism service!  Yes, the Lord is blessing LIFT with stones standing all around us!              

Lastly, as we prayed together as a congregation last Sunday, we are perhaps in the middle of a major stone of provision that the Lord is leading us into in regards to a new home facility for LIFT.  So far so good as to this particular Inwil facility and very soon we should have a response back as to the owners allowing LIFT to rent this space.  The Servant Leaders are unified to continue to walk in faith into this “open door” as the Lord leads.  As soon as more information is available we will share it, of course.  Please pray for this need for LIFT regarding a larger space for us to meet and worship together.

“We serve an awesome God! Go into the next days, weeks and months and the Lord be with you!”

In His grip and grace,
 
Corey
 
—————————————-
Ephesians 3:14-21
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Step of Faith at 5 meters!

Hello All,

Hebrews 11:1- Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

I had a proud daddy moment this past weekend as both of my kids tackled fear of heights and fear of the unknown by stepping out in faith.  They weren’t sure of what to hope for (other than a safe landing) and certainly couldn’t see the future ahead (as to if it would hurt or not), but they stepped out anyways…….from the 5 meter platform at the Laettich swimming park in Baar!  For those that don’t operate in meters well, that is 5 yards plus some inches, a long, long way down if your not even 5 feet tall yourself.  Livia did it first on Friday and so excitedly shared this amazing feat of courage that evening when I got home from work.  Silas had jumped from the 3 meter on Friday and was fully supporting his sister’s claims of the bigger and scarier 5 meter that she conquered.  With a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we made our way back to the swimpark as a family and without pushing or proding, I heard Silas say to Livia (in regards to attempting the 5 meter), “I’m gonna do it too”!  Before too long, after Livia showed she could do it again, Silas walked up the ladders, made his way to the edge, looked down, and took the step of faith into the unknown!  Praise the Lord is what I was thinking, as with eyes big, full of excitement, his head with a huge smile popped up out of the water and he proudly swam to other side of the pool and climbed out a 7 year old who’d met the challenge of the 5 meter platform.  From this point on, the fear of the unknown was gone and the fun of doing it again and again continued for several more trips by both Livia and Silas.  They even challenged daddy to get up there (as it’s been a few years since my last 5 meter “fall”) to join in the action also!  As you can see the bold and underline above, after taking the step of faith and experiencing the outcome, it wasn’t a matter of faith anymore for the kids, just plain ol’fun!   Faith was only involved before stepping out the first time, afterwards it was just experiencing life as the safe (and fun) outcome was known.   

How about us in life, specifically when we come to the edge of something new and unknown and have a fear of stepping out, not knowing how it may turn out?  Sometimes we have fearful first time decisions like flying the first time, stepping off a ski lift the first time or travelling to a new place not knowing the language.  Sometimes we have major life changing decisions as well, like who we get married to, having children, relocating internationally, or changing careers.  I’m convinced, however, that the most important first decision in everyone’s life is that of choosing to believe and receive Jesus into our lives, a life of eternity.  Yes, it’s a step of faith, but a step worth taking, God promises you that.  I made that step a long time ago and yes, it was the most important step of faith I have ever made or ever will make in my lifetime.  Since then there have been many life issues and choices to make, other steps of faith, but the truth is, only the step of accepting God’s grace was the one step that counted for eternity.  After that all the other steps, especially the big ones like marrying Tanya, career choices to provide for my family, relocating to Switzerland, although still steps of faith, were decisions that thankfully I had God help guide me along the way…….just as He promised! 
 
So how about you and the greatest step of faith that anyone can take?  Go for it, just take that step (or leap) and after that, it’s not a matter of faith anymore, rather you’ll be able to look back and realize God was there to catch you the whole time, and now you’re on your life’s journey walking with God, never again alone……for all eternity!

LIFT’s Summer Season(ing) is well underway with a sharing of the Sunday messages from various leaders of LIFT. This week Robert  will be preaching and I am confident you’ll be blessed in hearing what the Lord has for you through this man of faith!  I’m looking forward to it myself! 

In His grip and grace,
 
Corey