Everyone has a story….and a name! Continued…..

Live It and Give It! (Zug, Switzerland)-  for March 2010
 
Hello all,

“I just want to feel like that what I am doing in life can make a difference in the world, otherwise what’s the point of just going to work, going home and doing whatever in the meantime. I have a great career and make enough money to do well.  I’m in a great relationship for nearly 10 years now; he’s a really good man and we do love each other…I believe it’s for our lifetime, but don’t feel the need to be married and change what we have.  I don’t really desire kids of my own, but one of my life’s joys is my sister’s toddler that fulfills that aspect of life. But somehow, I want to do something greater for the world” –she’s got a name as well, but I’ll only share a bit of her story. 
 
How many of you are in your mid thirties (or remember them…or someday want to imagine what your life will be like when you get there) and desire to make a real difference in the world?  I’ll admit that I do and I’ll also admit that I’m actually in my late thirties, not mid and also, the question of “if” I can still make a difference becomes more of a reality because the older I get the seemingly less time I have to do it.  As mentioned in the past couple of LIFT updates, I am on a “Sabbatical” from daily leadership of LIFT this year and during this season of life, part of my personal and intentional goal this year is to better hear “other people’s stories” and try to learn from them and what the Lord might try to communicate to me through their stories if I simply listen long enough to truly hear.
 
I love the worldly aspect of my professional life that I so often find myself in deep hearted discussions with others who have no preconceived notions that they are talking to a strong Follower of Jesus, much less a “pastor”.  During an international training program with several 2 or 3 day modules over the past year or so, I’ve gotten to know several internationals that have no idea about my “ministry habit”, but know me from my work titles and function. In such courses, a team atmosphere and actual friendships begin to form from the course discussions and the many side discussions around meals and some free times. Although I may keep my “church planter/pastor” roles a bit hidden at the work place, the aspect of being a family man with faith clearly comes out during side discussions. This openness does two things; one it opens up conversations with others about life, and secondly, it’s a message to both male and female co-workers that I value my faithful marriage relationship. So although this woman in her mid thirties shared some insight into her life with me, it was definitely within an “appropriate discussion”. That being said, it’s amazing and ironic that deep down people are all the same (whether they admit to include Jesus or not) in that they seek a deeper purpose of sense in life and also seek deeper true relationships with others. 
 
Speaking of getting a bit deeper regarding a couple of things she said in the quote above and amongst over discussions in which I found particularly insightful and meaningful:
 
-“I just want to feel like that what I am doing in life can make a difference in the world”: This theme kept coming up in that she had a huge heart for the billions across the planet that live in poverty, in need of food and water and things she takes for granted every day.  She has everything she needs in a decently wealthy country and comfortable surroundings  She wanted to somehow use her life to help others, in particular children as her sister’s toddler has grabbed her heart and motherly aspirations.
 
-“a great career and make enough money”:  It was clear to me, (and I believe she meant it) that just increasing her rank in the corporate ladder and salary wasn’t very fulfilling, which actually, for her age, she has already attained a high level and definitely within a circle of very influential people. Status and money still left her feeling empty regarding things that are considered meaningful.
 
-“a great relationship…but don’t feel the need to be married”:  Ok, this may give away her nationality, but the term for her “relationship” is a unique German language word that expresses much.  “Lebensabschnittspartner”- meaning temporary life companion, or more literally “Life – segment – partner”.  Honestly, although I really don’t like this German term, I appreciate the honesty of it. So many of today’s generation across the planet don’t value marriage and just move in together, often for a brief time, in this case the title of temporary “life-segment-partner” at least admits the truth of their expectations that it is perhaps just for a part of life, not a lifetime.  Aside of the term she used for her partner, she did express deep love and loyalty, perhaps even for a lifetime.
 
Of course, there is more to her story like a “religious” background, but no understanding of a relationship with God or Jesus, just being made to go to church until her late teen years as it was the family expectations of her parents, who seemingly also only went out of duty, not worship or a meaningful reason. There is more to her story revealing her desire for real relationships and friendships as she admitted her quick successes on FB’s Farmville in recent months showing that she’s spending too much time on cyberspace longing for contact with others and not enough in real life, except those she works with, as she’s somewhat of a workaholic at times.  Of course, during our conversation, I inserted a few words of (Godly) wisdom here and there, just not stating the Book, chapter and verse behind the wisdom and letting the wisdom speak for itself. 
 
Her story is not over…….neither is yours or mine.   In a few months, I’ll be at another training course and perhaps our side conversation will continue.  In the meantime, I can keep her in prayer and perhaps God will continue to put others into her life to continue His conversation with her.  
 
YOUR LIFE DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD! In closing, I am the eternal optimist and I really do believe that I can make a difference in the world, and believe you and your life makes a difference as well!  It’s not how big or little of a difference, but simply just making a difference one person, one story, one day at a time.   Simply take the little “insignificant” opportunities that a normal day and normal conversation bring along in living and giving our faith away.  God will take it from there…..with you…..and/or with others! 
 
 
Colossian 1:9-12a For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father
 
In His grip and grace,

Corey

Everyone has a story…and a name!

Live It and Give It! (Zug, Switzerland)-  for February 2010

Hello All,

This is my second re-write of what your about to read below.  As a preface, those that know me, I’m NOT a doom and gloom kind of guy- that’s done all too well by the news and media today in “selling” stories that need statistics and numbers to back them up.  As I mentioned in my last writing, this year I’m simply trying to look deeper into the stories of individual people, especially the ones that I find sitting in front of me, wherever that might be.  Sometimes, it’s a continuation of that meeting even if from long ago….their story is still being written, just like yours and mine.

So often today, we hear or read or watch the news regarding stories, often with massive statistics and numbers.  Stories of war ravaged nations, stories of natural catastrophes, stories of helpful entities and stories of billions and billions of currencies.   The numbers can sometimes be so large that we can’t grasp the point.  In one city on one side of the planet 60 die in a bombing at a mosque during prayer, but that story is lost to more than 100,000 dead from a catastrophe on the other side of the planet.  We hear about children dying every few seconds somewhere on the planet due to starvation or lack of water, numbering hundreds of thousands in months and/or millions in a year.  Our hearts get grabbed and we so want to help or do something significant, but feel so small and inadequate. The truth is that many are being helped in many ways by various churches or denominations (often yours or mine in ways you may not realize), humanity organizations, NGO’s (non governmental organization), governments, politicians, rock stars, movies stars and even billionaires like Bill Gates.  The truth is there are still even more not getting help.   

GRASPING THE POINT: Behind the massive statistics and numbers is “a story” (singular) of “an individual” who has “a name”. One has to go deeper to the individual story behind the larger stories, still never capable to ever really grasp the big story (although God is big enough and does that!)  I believe the reality is we too often miss the point of one single person who has a name because we’re overloaded with the data, facts, figures and numbers and missed the individual face behind it…..unless we know that face or that name personally, or connected personally (and I’m definitely not talking Facebook here).   The paragraph above has non specific stories but hypothetically looking deeper, we read right over the story of an Islamic mother who’s life will never be the same after burying her son tomorrow who was the Islamic prayer leader killed in the bombing by one of his own.  There’s 59 other mothers mourning over their lost one too, not just for the guy leading the prayer. There is a hungry man desperately trying to feed his family today, but carrying the loss that it was to late for his 3rd born son who didn’t make it past yesterday.  This man has a name, and he definitely knows the name of his children, especially the name of his 3rd born in which he wrote it on the makeshift tombstone this morning. (Again, this is hypothetically written, but even writing it, I’m getting the point all too well myself). On the positive side, how many amazing individuals make a difference one face at a time, one bowl of food at a time, to act of compassion at a time. Above only organizations are mentioned except for Bill Gates but what about the names of those that spend a lifetime living giving to another in a 3rd world country when they grew up in a western home full of convenience?  They have a name too?  Their family they left behind for most of their life knows it and so does the family they serve in their 3rd “home”land that is truly their 1st world.  What about those that do get a chance to give in an offering or go on a short term trip?  They have a name, and so do the people they meet along their journey. 

We can’t grasp the real story (singular), because we too often only get the overload of too many stories (very plural) with too many names and faces.   I can only praise and thank God that “He is God….and I am not!”  He is God and He knows every story, every face, ever detail and every hair on every head (shaven, full of lice, disease, expensive perfumed shampoo, colored, gray…yes I have a few myself)!  He grasps it and He cares!    “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you” (Jeremiah 1:5 The Message) That makes all the difference for all of us when we think we can’t make a difference, in our own story and in the story of another (singular), or even others (plural).

In closing, I’ll share something that’s not hypothetical, but a real person, with a real story and a real name.  His name is Paul, he’s a pastor.  I last saw him about 10 years ago with his 9 year old son, whose name is Silas.  At the time, Paul was a fellow pastor serving alongside my oldest brother Steve. Tanya was pregnant with our 2nd child and when we met Paul and heard him call to his 9 year old Silas running around. The “name” grabbed our hearts and the day our child was born and we learned he was a boy, we called him Silas. Today, my 9 year old son named Silas is at school in Edlibach, Switzerland.  Today, Paul and his son Silas are sitting in a jail in Haiti.  Paul and Silas are one of the 10 Americans currently being charged with child trafficking as reported in new headlines all over the world. Paul and Silas have a name, a face and a story.  Yes, knowing the names and faces of those in the stories being reported around the world makes a difference.  Yes, knowing that God knows the stories and faces of the stories being reported around the world makes a difference. 

In 2010, I’m seeking to learn through other’s stories. As this year continues, I’m a bit nervous in looking too deep into others stories…….but I believe the journey will be “beyond what words can express”, and I believe………. that’s enough words right there. 

In His grip and grace…
(and in prayer for a man named Paul and his son Silas),
 
Corey
 
PS- I don’t know the stories each of other “8 Americans” in Haiti, nor the rest of the 8 billion on the planet, but I can pray for those I don’t even know as well, because God knows them and God cares!

Words can’t express it!

Live it and Give it! (Zug, Switzerland)-  for January 2010
 
In early January, my Facebook header simple stated, “words can’t express it…..” for a little more than a week.  The rest of the statement that I didn’t post was “……being in the presence of God!” 

So far so good in twenty ten!  As I am on a “Sabbatical” this year with my family from active daily leadership at LIFT, I’m looking to “see God” as often as I can in my daily life and activities, even in the simplest of ways which are often the most profound…….when one only looks with intention to see Him!  I’m looking to “dream” of ways to impact His Kingdom, while ensuring its one heart at a time, not statistics and numbers.  In this fashion, it’s personal; personal with every person that God brings into my realm of influence.   
 
We all have a story in life and too often I want to share mine, mostly with intentions to share Him, but again, too often content with just sharing mine.  For this season in life, I hope to discover and learn about God through the stories of others and how He is working in their lives and realms of influence.  Most of you know, my work life takes me to many far away places where many people that I spend time show no signs of God in their realm, although who am I to judge from the outside, therefore, I’m hoping they’ll invite me into sharing their stories as well, perhaps in the end both they and I can see God more clearly.
 
So there you have it for the first LIFT update of 2010.  Too be honest, I’ve “written” about 10 already this year, but didn’t get out the keyboard to put them down as I just didn’t have the right “words to express it”.   If you’re ok with receiving these updates, then I pray the journey ahead this year will be of encouragement as “I try to express” the heart of God through people and the stories that I encounter, perhaps even some of mine too (because I sometimes can’t help it)! 
 
I hope your story is going well and regardless of your circumstances (wonderful, good, bad or terrible) that you can still find yourself in the presence of God and know deep within that IT IS WELL WITH YOUR SOUL!  For those that know me well, “It is well with my soul”, goes deeper than just 5 words that can’t express it completely!
 
In His grip and grace and enjoying the journey and adventure now and ahead!

Corey

PS- The morning after I wrote the above (and without Ken knowing what I wrote), I got the following text message on my phone from Ken. “Hello bru, I want you to know that I have been praying for you today that as the stories of others unfold today you will know and see our LORD’s plan unfold.”  God is so often showing us His presence when we look to Him and in this case, words do express it well!

“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