Jesus IS the reason for the season!

Hello All,

I know it’s a cliché, especially in the USA, but it’s true: Jesus IS the reason for the season!  It’s so true that I didn’t hesitate to have it printed on our Christmas cards this year.

For a guy who worked in management for the world’s largest retailer for 4 years after college, I recall being frustrated at the secularizing and “retailizing” of the season and gifts and money to be made.  One Christmas Eve after only having about 3 or 4 days off since Thanksgiving a month earlier, I was even challenged by a customer on my closing the store two minutes early at 5:58 and not at exactly 6:00 pm.  Perhaps he was Swiss (at the time I didn’t have my Swiss passport yet), but my watch showed the time clearly stating 5:58 and actually he was right, it was two minutes early.  I smiled back (although frustrated inside that this guy waited until the last moments to care enough to give such thoughtful and loving gifts) and stated, “Sir, perhaps you’re right, but I got 140 people in here working Christmas Eve that would love to get home to their families as soon as possible- so it’s close enough for me!”,  I then picked up the phone and again announced over the loudspeaker that it was time for all those still shopping to bring their final items to the front where our friendly cashiers were there to serve them!  And this is just a story about retail shopping and not about how the world and public places and schools are only saying “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” in fear of offending someone by saying “Merry CHRISTmas”! By the way, since I seem to be the grinch against anti Christmas-er’s my biggest pet peeve this time of the year is the term “X-Mas” that is often used in deleting the main word that counts, “C-H-R-I-S-T”!

But then it happened………..one Christmas Eve in 1997, the same year after leaving retail, I found myself in our church’s Christmas Cantata singing tenor alongside about 40 other singers in the choir.  Each following year more folks sang in the choir and even a full blown drama cast was added (including the star donkey named Flapjack) to present to our community that Jesus Christ is the reason for Christmas!  It was a wonderful highlight for our church to reach into our community to those that wouldn’t normally step foot in a church. I got to admit that this past Sunday at LIFT I was close to having a tear (just one!) form in my eyes watching those 6 or 7 lil’ LIFT’er’s dressed up as angels, shepherds and of course the baby Jesus singing Away in a Manger, knowing that in a few hours they would be singing it again but not within the walls of LIFT, but at a local international gathering that for years has had Christmas parties while intentionally leaving Jesus out.  What a blessing for those kids and their families to boldly go and share Jesus via song and drama into our community!  What a blessing for those who were reminded that Jesus is the reason for the season. 

One other thing going back to 1997 that happened and I didn’t realize it at the time.  Although out of retail, but still quite busy working hard during the Christmas season like everyone else, I realized that Tanya and I were creating our own family traditions of Christmas and passing it on to our kids and clearly including Jesus as the central role of celebrating His birth and gift from God to creation!  From the cantata at church (in which one year Tanya was the angel) followed by our family fondue, to special ornaments, to usually inviting others that didn’t have family around, to getting permits to cutting our trees (that truly looked like poor Charlie Brown trees) in the nearby forest, each and every year we somehow added a new memory, created something special for our family Christmas, just as I had as a kid myself with my mom and dad and two older brothers alongside extended family.

I realize that for many, it is such a difficult time of year as current family circumstances (or past family experiences) may not be such warm and positive memories.  But this is also the point of all of us being reminded that Jesus is the reason for the season, and for all, He is our gift of love and grace from God, who pursues us in relationship to Him……and others!  It’s never to late to make your 2008 kinda like my 1997, a fresh start to renew your love of CHRISTmas and begin new traditions for you and your family, even if they are far away (physically or relationally).  

After the first Christmas season of LIFT in 2004, when the Eales were away in South Africa and the Best’s didn’t attempt to go solo for a Christmas service, LIFT had it’s first Christmas Eve service in 2005 with mainly Christmas carols and a brief Christmas message.  It’s now our “family” tradition of LIFT and each year it’s grown.  Again this year, in our new church home at Ibelweg 18 we will have our Christmas Eve Service from 6 – 7 pm. We’re even thinking about singing the last song by candlelight (anyone know how to find 150 candles with those little white paper rings around them?).  Although many are traveling abroad, many others are coming from abroad as well to visit family here.  It’s also a great way to reach into our German speaking community around us and invite someone to come hear and sing those English Christmas carols!  

Cliché or not, I don’t mind putting “Jesus Is The Reason For The Season” on our family Christmas card. I pray that we as LIFT can also share this truth, not only on our Christmas cards, but also by our lifestyles this CHRISTmas season and give away the real gift of Christmas…..Jesus!    
His grip and grace,

Corey

The Body of Lift- Serving Together- all of us!

Romans 12:4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Hello All,

How cool it is to see the body of LIFT in action!  If it wasn’t for faith and our God who can bless beyond expectations, I would think all that has happened in the last ten weeks would nearly be unbelievable……..and yet, I do believe and our God does bless in exceptional ways! 

It’s not just that LIFT was able to find and reach a rental agreement to move into Ibelweg 18 in less than a two week process (a miracle itself in Switzerland, not to mention the prior 18 month search with no results), but it’s all of the rest of the ” LIFT BODY” working together around this move and so many other ministries all launching at the start of this school year as well that is so wonderful to see.  LIFT isn’t about a building, it’s about people, actually Followers of Jesus, who love and serve God and one another as a light of hope to our community of Zug around us! 
 
Instead of using names, I just want to thank the “LIFT BODY”, meaning our church congregation, for stepping up and serving (working) hard together to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time, and to think that we don’t even have an official church membership yet! In the last 2 months there has been a church outing, a men’s retreat with two renewed and strengthened men’s morning groups, a church relocation with moving stuff to the new place, cleaning of the old place, raising lights in the new place, ladies study launching, baby showers taking place, ladies potlucks happening, Moms & Tots group meeting, Sunday school and nursery re-launching, Club Lift re-launching, music team forming w/ practice session, a sound team forming and new equipment being sourced, a janitor team starting, volunteers setting up facility needs (cups, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc), sourcing of new chairs, physically unloading new chairs, setting up new sanctuary including new backdrop screen that was sourced and personally delivered, K-Groups organizing and launching with host locations and leaders, a new preaching study with three men team-sharing the messages through 1 Peter……and I am sure I am forgetting many other wonderful things that have happened, just in the last two months!  It’s incredible and keep in mind these things don’t just happen by one or two people, but many, including the leaders of these ministries and projects who also spent planning and coordinating beforehand. 

Way to go Jesus, whom we thank first and foremost and above all else, but also way to go LIFT and thank you all who have graciously helped serve the Lord and one another!

I’m so excited that from the beginning, and even now, LIFT’s essence is more of faith in action versus faith in structure.  Sure, LIFT has accomplished some foundational structural issues this year by forming a broader leadership, the Servant Leaders (elders/deacons) and legally becoming a Swiss Verein including getting our own bank account and finance team in order, and these are important as structure and good stewardship is necessary.  But it’s beautiful to see the heart of LIFT is that of active faith, and faith to trust that God will continue to bless and protect LIFT, even though the structure isn’t fully developed yet, as in official membership for example.  Hopefully, LIFT intends to roll out our membership plan of action in January or at the latest February, as we started the process this past June and hit the summer holiday season and held it off.  You might remember that we communicated that three things are desired, actually expected, from those that desire to be members of LIFT, what we call the LIFT BODY.  First, that one is a Follower of Jesus; a true Christian who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ to receive God’s grace and salvation. Furthermore, that as a member one would give and serve in some capacity.  Perhaps one is new to faith or coming to a church, and isn’t comfortable with officially joining?  That’s understandable, especially in Switzerland where folks are often skeptical of churches, especially a free church that’s international and not part of the State Catholic or Protestant churches. Let me be very clear, ALL ARE WELCOME AT LIFT regardless of background and faith, however we are a Christian church and will teach the Bible unashamedly.  So for all who simply want to attend, even regularly, or who may be attending a LIFT ministry such as a ladies or men’s study or K-group, they are welcome and can have a place to belong. We call this the COMMUNITY OF LIFT.  So at LIFT, we look to Jesus as the head of His church and then we have the SL-Servant Leadership of LIFT (elders and deacons), the LIFT BODY (the Followers of Jesus who give and serve) and the LIFT COMMUNITY (the ones who attend and have found a place to belong). Welcome to LIFT The International Church of Zug!  

Let’s see how things go after the new year starts with better defining the structure, but in the meantime let’s praise God and thank Him for doing great and mighty things through His church’s active faith here in Zug!  There is something special going on and what a praise to be able to be a part of it and to see God the Father and the Holy Spirit working through us at LIFT for the Name and Glory of the Son, Jesus Christ! 

We are so blessed and it is an honor to serve the Lord Jesus Christ alongside you here at LIFT!

In His grip and grace,

Corey

We are His house!

We are His house!
But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

Dear All,

What an amazing last couple of weeks in seeing a glimpse of God’s glory in the life our church here in Zug!  God moved so fast in providing a new larger meeting place for LIFT that some found us on Ibelweg 18 this past Sunday morning only after going to Vorstadt first.  Even with technology, we couldn’t keep up with God.  But, once we all were together, it was simply worship of our God who is faithful and who blesses in His perfect timing!!!

I was encouraged to come across these verses in Hebrews today regarding us, God’s people as “the house”, and notice it’s not a reference to a building. (more text below) Yes, I praise God that we have this new building on Ibelweg to rent and can even use it the other 6 days of the week for His purposes, but I praise God that LIFT has never been about a building but about people, God’s people!  As I shared in Sunday’s message (and our singing) of Moses asking God to “Show Me Your Glory”, I believe we are truly seeing a glimpse of God in action at the moment!  What a beautiful thing to see!

I could attach another map, but thanks to the wonderful servant’s heart of Dave Haefliger (and Jami alongside him), LIFT now has a new updated website with all the information on how to find us, plus much, much more!  www.liveitandgiveit.com  Thank you, Dave, for a job incredibly well done! (And all who know Dave well, know that this humble man simply serves to serve the Lord and doesn’t look for the spotlight, so I’m sure I’ll hear from him later about exposing his great work!)  Thank you, Jesus for providing this website tool to LIFT as You are always faithful beyond our expectations.

In His grip and grace,

Corey

Hebrews 3:1-6
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 

    But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

NIV

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!
 
I’m looking forward to starting the A-Men event this evening as Gordon Hay of South Africa is here to help lead us men to be stronger men of faith and integrity.  Reminder, LIFT’s Sunday morning service is at Vorstadt (not the KGH) and Sue Hay, Gordon’s wife will be giving the message and also sharing about the Drop In Centre ministry in South Africa that she helped found and that is working with poverty stricken kids, many from families dealing with AIDS/HIV. 
 
In His grip and grace,

Corey

Jesus isn't a CEO!


 
Hello all,
 
As most all of you know, Ken and I also have “day jobs” during the week aside of our passion in serving the Lord at LIFT and sharing messages each week about Jesus and the Bible.  Ken works for a division of a large Swiss bank (of course, it is Switzerland) and I work for a small (but still multi billion) German manufacturer of high end household products.  And as most of you understand very well and live it yourselves, the corporate world of international business can be very exciting and challenging in positive ways, but the negative side can be summed up nicely as a friend told me last Friday, “Corey, they call it work for a reason!”   With large companies nowadays, full of their beaurocratic structures, multiple divisions, egotistical executives and fierce competition to make more money while cutting expenses, it is common to see how people end up only performing in selfish ways with personal agendas to improve their bonus circumstances and/or their next level promotion with a new title on their business card without a care for the rest of the corporation or co-workers.  I’m not complaining, but this is a daily reality in the world.  CEO’s make and force decisions for higher profit (and often short term gains for shareholders), Vice Presidents execute the orders, but often in ways to make them look better (at a cost) to the other Vice Presidents, and downward goes similar actions at each level down the line…………just trying to model their superior’s actions, right?  Praise God that the church isn’t a corporation and all of the parts make up the body and by working together we are greater than working alone!
 
And then there is Jesus, not a CEO, but God in the flesh who “emptied” Himself of His divine powers to come and serve mankind from the bottom up.  I love this in Jesus.  He could have demanded to be called the King of Kings, He could have caused the angels to fight for Him (especially in the end to get Him off the cross), He could have played the CEO role and made compromises and deals with the politicians, rulers and high ranking church officials, He could have……….He could have……… really, He could have done whatever He wanted as He was/is God and part of the Trinity!  But He didn’t!  He instead gave of Himself and His love to serve others in a real and genuine way.  He was a friend of sinners, and a friend to you and me today.  He washed feet of those beneath Him, and He walks with us today!  He healed and gave hope to others (without a concern for a bonus, bigger home or new title on His business card) and he gives you and me hope today!  Yes, Jesus is our God and Savior, not our CEO!        

We are continuing our journey through 1 Timothy this week as Ken shares the message.  For the next weeks we will look into God’s Word regarding His qualities sought for leaders and followers of Jesus.  I hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there!   
 
In His grip and grace,

Corey