It's about RELATIONSHIP, not about religion!

Hello All,

As we celebrated our Risen Savior a couple weeks ago on Easter morning, LIFT also began our current preaching series, “It’s about Relationship, not about religion”. 

We are all born into “relationship” whether we want to be or not. And beyond these relationships there is God, who in His very nature is relationship; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three essenses or persons, yet together in relationship as one God!  I love going deep in contemplating and searching the Scriptures in trying to comprehend our triune, yet one God!  This is something even Paul describes as a mystery.  There are many great illustrations to help communicate and understand the the triuneness of God; two such examples being one egg with three distinct parts in its make up (hard shell, yellow core and white or clear middle, but one egg), or a tree with the trunk representing God, the unseen roots below ground representing the Holy Spirit and the branches representing Jesus. However, these still fail to encompass that the three parts of God’s trinity function separately although while still one. Meaning if you cut the trunk from the roots, the tree won’t continue to live.  Furthermore, other than splitting up the egg whites or yolk for separate recipe points, the egg parts don’t continue to function as one after separation.  But God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit have always been, are and will be one God, while their 3 essenses, or 3 persons can exist and function separately at the same time.  So, perhaps you too are seeing why I am so fascinated at the magnitude and depth of our God’s triune nature. 

What’s great news for us is that in His nature as God, existing in relationship, He pursues us (me and you) to be in relationship with Him as well, thus my mention earlier of you being born into relationship whether you want to be or not.  As we grow up, we continue to exist in relationship with others as well, whether family (immediate, extended, adoptive, foster, etc), friends, girl/boy friends, spouses, work colleagues, school mates, church family, neighbors or even getting to know the postman or local store clerk where we buy groceries, we spend our lifetime within various forms of relationships to others and to God. 

So for the next few months ahead, our preaching series at LIFT will look into various aspects of relationship, to God and others. First, however, we should ensure that we  have  a relationship with God.  As John 3:16 so simply shares His pursuit to an eternal relationship with you, providing the means through Jesus, His Son, I encourage you with this verse of such love: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life”! 

Having a relationship with God is the central point of your journey of faith, not religion……..more to come in the weeks ahead about that! 

But, just to be clear, as our LIFT kids have learned in Sunday school, beginning your relationship with God is as easy as A.B.C.!  Admit, Believe and Confess!  Admit that you’ve made mistakes, that you have sinned and can’t make it to God on your own. Believe in your heart that Jesus paid for your sins, that He died and rose again and that He is offering forgiveness and life to all who place their faith in Him. Confess with your mouth that you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, that you are accepting His forgiveness and gift of a relationship with you and that He is Lord of your life! 
In support of the ABC’s of faith, the Bible says:

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” -Romans 10:9-13

I pray you do have a relationship with God and look forward to the weeks ahead in looking to strengthen our relationship to Him and others around us in life.

In closing and as a blessing for you today and this week, especially in light of our triune but one God;

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. -2 Corinthians 13:14

In His grip and grace,

Corey 

God is Sovereign

For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
 
Psalms 71:5-6 NIV

Hello all,
As this week comes to an end, I realize once again the Lord is sovereign and that He has comforted me with His Word as the verses above ring so true in my heart and life.  Regardless of circumstances, I will praise the Lord and depend on Him.
 
Since yesterday when I got the text message from Livia saying Silas broke his arm, it’s been a tough couple of days to try and work abroad in the UK when I desperately wanted to be home with my family.  Finally I’m on a plane home (Friday evening), even blessed with switching flights to save a couple of hours, hopeful to kiss the kids before they go to sleep, especially Silas.  What was supposed to be an easy work trip for three days, turned out to hit me where it hurts the most; an emergency at home with my family, the most important aspect of my life alongside my faith in God. Thank you to those who have prayed and lifted up our family the past 24 hours.  Silas was playing on the playground equipment at school as he does most every day, when a wooden bar that he was hanging on broke, causing him to fall to the ground below and break his left arm just under the elbow. Normally for an active 8 year old this means a cast and a month of healing, but it this case it was more serious in that it was the top of the bone that is involved with the twisting motion of the lower arm and hand, thus emergency surgery and a pin from the wrist to the elbow was needed.  Praise God that the surgery went very well and the healing process begins; two months of no sports until the 2nd surgery to get the pin out (a tough task for our active Silas), and another month after that until full recovery.  I felt helpless and far away, but Tanya was strong and courageous as any mother is in the time of need for her child, taking the situation head on.  Thanks for the many text messages and e-mails and especially the prayers that we cherish and believe the Lord acted upon in aiding the doctors in wisdom and ability to perform the surgery.
 
So after a day and a half of going through the motions and presentations for my work as I just wanted to get back home and currently I am sitting on a plane approaching Zurich soon.  Just before boarding, the Lord game me a little glimpse of His love and showed me He cares about me, even in circumstances such as this.  As I was walking down the stairs to the waiting area just before boarding, I saw a small wad of folded bills with a 100 CHF note on the outside.  No one was in the stairway, and I was smooth in pocketing it before rounding the corner to the room of 30+ people so nobody knew I had it.  Do I tell the check in clerk, or do I keep it for myself? I hadn’t even looked to see how much it was, but the extra zeros with a 100 note made me think there was more in the rest of the bills.  Across the room was a man about my age searching his pockets, booklets, backpack, etc.  I knew what I had to do and I “walked across the room” and asked if he was missing something, which got a quick reply, “Yes, money!”  From there my answer perhaps meant more to me than him, in not just doing the right thing, but knowing that God IS sovereign and shows Himself in real ways.  I smiled at the man and said “Fortunately for you, and for me, Jesus IS still relevant today and I have no problems doing the right thing”, as I handed him the bills.  He smiled back and said thanks.
 
It wasn’t a life changing encounter or deep discussion of faith, but just a little thing. However, for me it was a glimpse of the beauty of God’s love in realizing I can love others, even at a time when I feel I’m the one needing to be loved.  My heart also was saying that “yes, God loves me too!” Moments later, His Word reminded me of my lifelong faith that He put in my heart, and my lifelong journey of knowing He IS in control and sovereign!   For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.
 
In His grip and grace,
 
Corey

Momma’s Boy!

Hello all,

As the youngest of three boys, the baby of the Best’s, it’s kinda by default that I am the “Momma’s Boy” of the family (which my two older brothers sometimes remind me of!) Well, I would say for all of us who are able to read this, it’s somewhat true that we all are a “Momma’s Boy or Girl” as each of us came into this world through a mother. This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I hope you take the time to communicate some love to your mother.

As I ponder how the Lord has blessed me in life specifically through my mother………what could it be, good looks? Although, I’ve seen my mom’s high school graduation picture and her beautiful looks and great eyes were definitely something that grabbed my dad’s attention shortly thereafter, but my looks (debatable as they may be) are deteriorating with age, so looks aren’t the biggest blessing I needed in life. So what is it? It’s obvious to me that the biggest blessing my mom gave me was her true faith in Jesus Christ, and her way of passing in on to me and my brothers in a consistent manner.

I have kids now too and truly want to ensure they continue in faith, so my pondering on what my mom did for me is quite relevant and a real thing for me to deeply try to understand. Knowing both of my brothers are strong in faith, well past the age of only going to church to make our parents happy, means something must have worked in how my mom did it. Theologically, it’s easy to say that of course, God caused this faith in me regardless of my mom (which is true by the way), but she faithfully played her role, and for this I am so thankful for, and believe I have one of the most wonderful and incredible moms in the world! (She’s my mom, so I can say that about her and you can tell your own mom the same; she’s your mom!)

Just last week, part of the 2 Timothy Scriptures that I shared at LIFT was verse 15 which states, “ And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. In my life, this is true, and my mom played a major role in this truth. (Thanks, Dad for your part too, but this week it’s about Mom’s day!) So just how did she pass on faith in a simple and consistent manner that was so effective? One example came to mind, which I’ll share, but really there was 20 years worth of examples from my mom that shaped me forever to be the man of faith that I am today, and her influence on my adult years is still going on, regardless if we are living a long, long distance apart. I remember at about age 7 or 8 (2nd grade) that I was scared of the dark one night and fearful to fall asleep. My great idea for taking care of this fear was sneaking down the hall and jumping into my middle brother’s bed. Of course, his perspective to this solution was different than mine as he quickly kicked me out and sent me back to my own bed, loudly enough that my mom (who was reading in bed) heard it. She reaffirmed his logic in also telling me to go back to my own room and bed. After sneaking back and repeating this another time or two (I thought my brother had fallen asleep and wouldn’t notice me), she met me in the hallway and turned on the light with her Bible in her hands. She sat down, right there in the hallway and asked what was scaring me. I don’t remember exactly what it was (the dark, the boogey man, etc, etc) but in the end, she opened her Bible and read Psalms 33:18-22, letting me how God is always there for me, watching me, protecting me like a shield and loving me. Later she shared that she didn’t have this verse planned, it just was where she opened her Bible. By the end of the next day, I had this verse memorized “into my heart” and life and even today if I am really scared, or concerned or fearful, I can hear this Word of God (via my mom’s loving way of sharing it) speak and reassure me that yes, my hope and life is in His unfailing love! The verses are below.

Whether you have a great relationship or a strained relationship with your mom, communicate God’s love and your love to your mom this Mother’s Day. Love, especially that of a mother, is from God, just as the Bible says that “God is Love”!

Have a wonderful weekend and see ya at LIFT on Sunday at Vorstadt!

In His grip and grace,

Corey

Psalms 33:18-22
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield. 
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name. 
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.

God's Word and SMS-Texting!

Hello all,

Yesterday, I was preparing to write this week’s update about LIFT’s upcoming theme for the next weeks called “Unwrapping Christmas” in reminding all of us what the real reason for the CHRISTmas season is all about, but got caught up with some things and didn’t get a chance to finish it and send it out. 

Today, I am “prompted” to share a completely different word about how the Lord works in great and mighty and very real ways, even within the realms of mobile phone technology!  A friend of mine had an intense last couple of days and after some time yesterday of mutually sharing our burdens and encouragement together, I was reminded of how strong and loving our God is, just before going to bed last night, when I saw God’s Word in Psalms posted near our refrigerator (no, I wasn’t having a late snack, but just thirsty)!  This little typed passage that my wife posted reads:

Psalms 62:11-12  One thing God has spoken,two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.
 
Being that it was too late to call my friend back, I waited until this morning and sent it via an SMS (text message) with my mobile phone.  This is where the Holy Spirit part comes in and I was clearly “prompted” to go broader and send it to several others as well.  It was as if the Spirit said, “This is God’s Word, not yours, sent it to the rest of the men in your phone”!  So I did, with prayer attached. Moments later I received an SMS reply from my friend with God’s Word; Ps 25:4-5 “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Then a few really cool things happened that made it very clear that God moves beyond what we can imagine.  First, I read a devotional that I get weekly that was all about God using SMS’s/texting (the full version is at the bottom of this e-mail), so I was encouraged by what I had already been prompted to do.  Then after 3 or 4 replies back from some men saying thanks for the encouragement, I got the following e-mail reply from Ron S*.  I hope you are blessed by what you read!

Corey:
This morning you sent me PS 62:11 “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard. that you O God are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving”. This came in the morning while I was in the bus on my way to work.

As I was reading my daily devotional that comes via e-mail, the following was today’s verse “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. – Psalm 143:8

Sometimes this just “freaks me out”. But it is also comforting to know that he cares for each and every one of us, and shows this in a very personal way. I have been struggling with “the way I should go”, though your SMS, he assures me that “His love is unfailing” and asks me to “put my trust in Him”. How can I not respond to Him in obedience and wait patiently for the Lord?
PS – you can share this with others if you like. If your were prompted to send the message this morning, I just wanted for you to know what it did.
YBIC. Ron.
 
Yes, I was “prompted” this morning! In this case it is so clear that the Holy Spirit used the Word of God via mobile phones and e-mail to touch several of us in ways that God’s strength and love can only do!

Looking forward to wrapping up 1st Timothy this Sunday with co-sharing the message with Ken and also looking forward to unwrapping Christmas these next weeks as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord!

In His grip and grace,

Corey

PS- A great SMS (Texting) read below from Dare 2 Share:
_________

God is Txting (by Greg Stier of Dare2Share Ministries International)
?4U…did you even think four or five years ago that text-o-mania would hit the world and radically change the way we communicate? From brb to bff to bfn, there are enough abbreviations being bounced off satellites to fill the universe and then some – imho anyway – based on the stat I read that indicated an average of 1 BILLION text messages are sent every week – which means that every six weeks or so there are more text messages floating around than there are people on the planet!

Of course I’m not telling anything you didn’t already know. In fact, I bet you’re texting right now – aren’t you? I know this because I’ve seen the incredible multi-task-text-with-my-eyes-closed skill of teenagers first hand. The scariest is when they are driving and texting at the same time. That’s when the most common message is this:
O no! I’m abt2 reck!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging you. In fact, I txt n drv farly ofn – dnt evn need 2 lok @ the phn!
So all this texting got me thinking. What if you and I could send a message to God? What would you ask or say to Him? Would He answer, or would He just ROFL?

Personally, I don’t think he would laugh at us for trying to communicate. God is a person, and he is absolutely crazy in love with His creation. Think about a time when you got a text from someone you really like or love…you got back as soon as you could, right? Same with Jehovah God. In fact, He has already sent us a ‘text message’ that has 774,746 words and would take you 70 hours to read out loud.

Of course I’m talking about the Bible, and because it’s not exactly a short message, I’d like to take a moment and throw in my two cents on what I think would be common text questions people might send to God, and what He would say in return.

Dear God – do u love me?
Iv e nvr quit luv’n u & nvr wil l. xpct luv, luv, &more luv! (Jeremiah 31:3)
Dear God – will u ever leave me?

Ill nvr leav e u or abandon u (Hebrews 13:5)
Dear God – do you care about my future?

4 IK the plnz I have 4 u,” sez the Lord. ” Theyre plnz 4 good not 4 dzastr, 2 give u a future & a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Dear God – I feel so guilty all the time – can u help?

If you confess ur sins 2 me, im faithful & just 2 4give ur sins & 2 cleanse u from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9)
Dear God – do u ever think about me?

My thoughts about u r rare and beautiful! u’ll nevr comprehend em! U couldn’t even bgin 2 count em – anymore than u could count the s& of the sea. (Psalm 139: 16-18)

Dear God – I’m worried and sometimes scared…can u help?
Im leavin u w/ a gift- peace of mind & heart, & the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t b troubled r afraid. (John 14:27)

See what I mean? The God of the universe loves you more than you could possibly imagine, and the best part is that He is in complete charge of the universe and knows everything about you. He’s a heavenly Daddy who is always ready and willing to listen to your cries, answer your prayers, and applaud your victories. He has a picture of you on the screen of His phone, and He waits with delight for the incredible moments when you look up to Him in faith with a message.
The next time you text, remember the ultimate communication called the Bible, written by the hand of God Himself. I promise it will be d gr8st msg u evr read!

Head: What you need to know about this truth
God is a Person who longs to communicate with His children that he loves us, will never leave us, has a plan for us, has forgiven us, always thinks about us, and gives us peace in the midst of trouble

Heart: What you need to feel about this truth
As one of God’s children, feel unique, cherished, loved, and taken care of by the God of the universe!

Hands: What you need to do about this truth
Write a response to some or all of the ‘text messages’ sent from God. Also, let other people know about the good news that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them through Jesus Christ.

LIFT- Into the Kingdom around us!

Hello All,

Many of you know about the really amazing “God-Thing” in regards to the Best and Post families who lead LIFT- The International Church of Zug (LIFT) and The International Church of Luzern (ICOL).  The Best’s left Summit County, Colorado in 2004 to Zug to start Lift and two years later, in 2006, the Post’s also left the same Summit County, Colorado (from another church within 15 minutes of the Best’s former church) to go serve at ICOL in Luzern, less than 30 minutes from Zug.  At the same time, neither family communicated or coordinated this “coincidentally” close proximity of serving God with one another. It is just as I stated at the beginning; a God-Thing! 

This past Sunday, as us Best’s wrapped up our vacation week and arrived back in Zug on Saturday night and not being expected at LIFT on Sunday, we spontaneously decided to go visit ICOL in Luzern.  It was a wonderful blessing to be around another congregation of Internationals and it was a wonderful blessing to hear the Message from Brian Post.  During his message, I realized that after more than 13 years (total) of living/serving within 30 minutes of each other, I had never heard Brian preach.  I used to work very closely with his youth pastor back in the States, sometimes on a near weekly basis, and I had heard about Brian’s great teaching/preaching ability to clearly communicate and train his congregation with the Gospel, but it took more than 13 years to make the opportunity happen to hear him in person. 

On one hand, we “work the same hours” so it isn’t easy to visit one another, but at the same time, all too often churches get too involved within the four walls of their church and may miss the blessing of fellowshipping and serving together in the larger Kingdom around them.  Too often churches, sometimes even from the same denominations, somehow think and treat the nearby churches as competition.  O.K., I’m not promoting church hopping and that people surf around from one church to the other because clearly, we should actively serve and minister within our own church body, but I do believe that as the extended Body in our community, we can be a strong light of hope and an encouragement to each other beyond our church walls!  It was wonderful and encouraging to hear Brian share from his heart live this past week…… even if it took 13 years while serving the Lord in the same proximity on two continents!

Of course, I am the eternal optimist and must also praise the Lord for so many Kingdom minded things going on around us here in Zug.  On Aug. 12th, at the Landgemeindeplatz there is a large open air community event called JesusFaescht (Jesus Festival) that the Christlicher Treffpunkt and Rotkreuz Gemeinde (two local Christian free churches) are working together in hosting for the community!  On September 30th, LIFT and Stami (Evangelische Stadtmission Zug) are having a combined bi-lingual service to intentionally bring these two congregations together to build and strengthen the relationship together.  Club LIFT- the Kids program -will launch again on Sept. 2nd and like last year, it will be a combined program of LIFT and ICOL (Luzern) working together!  Yes, the Christian churches are serving together and may God use all of us, His body with Jesus Christ as the Head, to be a voice of hope for the world around us, to be an encouragement for each other … and to ultimaltely bring glory to Himself!

This Sunday, the 5th of August and first Sunday of the month, we meet at the larger venue at the Kirchgemeindehaus of Zug’s Protestant Church.  (Imagine that, another bridge being created in working alongside another church in Zug!)

In His grip and grace,

Corey