“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

“Behind the Art”

For a guy like me who still draws with stick figures at age 37 (ok, nearly 38), who am I to know anything about art.  And as a kid who was into sports and music, I was bored just thinking about art and drawings or staring at a painting.  Slowly over time, I’ve come to appreciate artistry and imagery of those who are blessed with such abilities, but still have no real understanding of what is good, exceptional and and/or a masterpiece.  Ultimately for me, I appreciate what is “behind the art” when it grabs my attention with the meaning of what the impression is trying to communicate (which admittedly it not too often does). 

 

This past weekend in Malta, I found myself in worship of what was behind the masterpiece that I was gazing at.  Let me be clear, I was not worshiping the art itself (it’s just a painting), but worshiping our God in heaven, who inspired the Bible, and of which this artist’s impression of Matthew 14 was created. This masterpiece has been there to share with the world for now more than 400 years.  In Valletta, Malta is the St. John’s Co-Cathedral and therein a massive canvas painting (approx. 5 meters by 4 meters) of Michelangelo Merisa da Caravaggio called “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist”, which was painted at that location in 1608.  My great Italian friend (and boss) said that we HAVE to go see this amazing painting that is so well known, otherwise I would have continued down the busy tourist streets and seaside attractions unknowingly missing out on something special.

There he was, John the Baptist, laying on the floor with a sword nearby and the executioner with dagger in hand to finish the job.  Sorry to be so descriptive, but then again, those raised with Bible lessons all know the story from Matthew 14 about Herod granting his wife’s daughter her request of the head of John the Baptist on a platter after her impressionable dance. We normally don’t really consider the gruesomeness of this reality, nor the days of John’s desperation leading up to this “spontaneous” death. The rest of the scene around John’s lifeless body also artistically brought out other points of consideration. For example, the setting was almost as if in a hallway, just outside the prison rooms, giving impression of the hastiness of the request and not a normal “staged” event in an execution chamber, or public setting.  Two other prisoners looking out their bars, perplexed at the commotion of what just happened, without warning.  Another onlooker with a seemingly un-approving look, but having to follow the orders given by the tetrarch.  A cold, dark, hastily act was portrayed in Carvaggio’s impression of the martyr’s death of John the Baptist. 

So what would cause me to “worship” God, as I stared at this painting? Of course, it is what is BEHIND the ART, not the art itself.  It was, for the last three or four years, often studying God’s Word in Matthew 11 and 14 and being impressed in particular by two contemporary Christian authors (Beth Moore and Erwin McManus) who have expanded my depth and understanding of those days before John the Baptist died. Like you and I often are in life, John was seemingly frightened and scared and even questioned his faith, although for him it was while sitting in prison before his execution.  Remember, John sent his followers to ask Jesus if Jesus was the one, or would there be another, implying that in desperation of his unknown future, he needed to hear from Jesus if Jesus was really “the One”!  For you and me, we can relate easily, as we often are unsure about what’s ahead and sometimes are filled with doubt and despair, although I’ve never been falsely convicted and awaited a death penalty… a whole another level of desperation.  But you and I aren’t John the Baptist either; the man who personally knew Jesus Christ, the man who baptized Jesus (after knowing exactly who Jesus was in stating he wasn’t worthy to baptize Jesus, but it should be vice versa). He saw the dove and heard God say “this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased”, and he, even as a baby in his mother’s womb, jumped in her stomach when Mary came into the room with Jesus in her womb. Yes, John KNEW Jesus was “the One”, and yet, still in despair needed to ask Jesus, needed to hear from Jesus……just simply needed Jesus! 

So on one hand, Jesus only spoke of the obvious things that all knew in his reply to John regarding him performing many healings and preaching the good news, but not exactly answering John’s question, nor being too comforting.  On the other hand, as the men were leaving, Jesus gave John some huge encouragement in speaking so highly of John, to the point that no human born of a woman being greater than John. But it’s that verse, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” that gives the answer.  In effect, Jesus was implying that he wasn’t going to rescue John with angels or other, and John was going to continue his purpose that our sovereign God had intended for him, and John was to deal with this reality ahead…… but be blessed by still holding on and believing what he knew, that yes, Jesus is “The One”!  In other words perhaps something like this, “John, I’m not going to come through for you in this case, but you know in your heart that it IS ME, and be blessed for not losing hope”.  And then the deep words of praise to what John had done for giving his life and ministry to advance the Kingdom like no other!

So there I was gazing at this massive painting, deeply touched by what John the Baptist had done in giving his life (even to such a death) for the Gospel message and for walking with God!  There I was, praising God in worship for his love and grace and blessings in my life, for my faith in Him, my family, friends and everything else in my life.  There I was, thinking about past difficulties that of course didn’t turn out so bad and that I had often been worried for nothing, in contrast to John the Baptist.  There I was, knowing too, that Jesus IS “The One!”, for John, for me and all of the world!  There I was, in worship of God, not a painting, as He is my reality, “behind the art” and in everything else!  
In His grip and grace,
Corey

____________________

Matthew 14
John the Baptist Beheaded
 1At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 3Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet. 6On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much 7that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10and had John beheaded in the prison. 11His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

Matthew 11
Jesus and John the Baptist
1After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. 2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” 7As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written:; ” ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

“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

Jesus IS the reason for the season! – Part II

‘Twas the night before Christmas……
Hello All,

‘Twas the night before Christmas and in a nearby Swiss house,
Not much food or toys were present, but perhaps a lil’ mouse.
When the day of Christ’s birthday came to celebrate, 
The family found a way, but compared to others, it wasn’t so great…..

Perhaps you were expecting me to again announce the Christmas Eve service on the 24th that is from 6 – 7 pm as “‘Twas the night before Christmas” but I would like to share something a friend did a couple of weeks ago which challenged my thinking of the meaning of Christmas, for those around us in our community of Zug and perhaps for those of you reading this, wherever you are.  

This friend, comfortably blessed with a nice house, enough food, Christmas gifts for family, etc., did a wonderful “random act of kindness” in thinking of others who may not have so much.  This friend took grocery items down to the local “Amt” (gov’t office building) of their “Dorf” (village), which means a very small town here in Switzerland.  Not even sure it was the right place, my friend asked if there might be others in the “Dorf” who are in need.  As most “Amts” in the local towns of Switzerland have many functions under one roof, down at that town hall was a person who accepted the grocery items and said thank you for such a thoughtful act of thinking of others.  Furthermore, the office worker said, there were two families in particular that were having a very tough time right now that the town was aware of.  Tanya and I, who live near this same area, were touched by this act of kindness for others, and also were awakened to the fact that there are others who are in need, RIGHT WHERE WE ARE!

On one hand, I am so excited how part of LIFT’s core DNA is that of missions, especially 3rd world, in serving and ministering to others.   Each year LIFT’s missions giving has grown and recently we gave approx. 13,500 Swiss Francs to our ministry partners in India, South Africa, Belize and even helped support a local Swiss teacher serving in Sudan.  This IS a wonderful gift of love and our giving to others as a mission minded church will continue into the future. But on the other hand, I too often forget about the obvious that is right in front of my eyes, those others right near by.  Too often, I see Switzerland, and especially our Canton of Zug as an affluent place, even calling Switzerland a “rich country”.  As half the world’s 6 billion inhabitant live on less than 3 Swiss Francs a day, it’s actually true, but still, there are folks around me in need, very much in need of basic daily food and life supplies. 

I’m not trying to communicate that LIFT should change our focus. We are doing a wonderful job in being a light for Christ in our community and clearly our essence of LIFT is a church body that does take the Gospel message to those around us where we live, work and play and not just try to invite someone to church so the pastor can share the message. We’re an active body that is quite bold actually!  I guess what I’m writing is that for me personally, this random act of kindness really opened up my eyes to a need to look a little closer to those around me in my community, .  Those others that live nearby, those that have kids in the same schools or sports or club teams as my kids, those others that I recognize at the shopping market or town gatherings. Yes those others need the Gospel, in words from my mouth, in actions from my lifestyle and even for some in need, in anonymous random acts of kindness that only the Lord knows about and will bless as only He blesses!  

There’s still a couple of days left before Christmas and perhaps the Lord is about to bless a family or someone in need through a random act of kindness near you too? 

Thank You, God, for blessing us all on Christmas with your love, grace and the ultimate Christmas gift ever…..JESUS! 
Jesus IS the reason for the season!

In His grip and grace,

Corey