Travel Blessings!

Hello All,

I’m not sure about your family, but normally before a road trip, we take a moment to pray together and ask the Lord to give us “travel blessings”.  As I travel quite frequently, the evening before a trip I normally pray with the kids for us all to have a blessed couple of days while I am away and for the Lord to bring us back together safely. (Normally I also encourage Silas to be the man of the house and to take good care of mommy and sister, and upon my return, he  often tells me that everything went just fine while he was the man of the house…….and by the way; “what did you get us?”)

I am sitting in the Helsinki, Finland airport between flights as I write the LIFT update for this week. For three nights and days I was more north than I have ever been, above of the Artic Circle in the Lapland region. My company’s Finnish business partner is starting new sales activity in that area. It was “winter wonderland”, reminding me of Tanya and I living our first ten years of marriage at more than 9000 feet (3000 meters) in a Colorado ski resort area.

Like most things in life, it’s not always the places that make a difference in our travels, but the people we meet along the way. I was definitely blessed this week in crossing paths and being encouraged by a couple other followers of Jesus.

The first divine encounter was with a guy sitting next to me on the flight to Lapland. I know, you’re all thinking of me as being the normal American kinda guy who strikes up a conversation with everyone he sits next to on a plane, but I have to admit, as much as I travel, I don’t speak to those around so often these days.  I am usually in the LIFT mode of preparing messages, reading or watching pod casts from other ministries. But this guy was clearly different as it’s not everyday the guy next to me opens up his Bible and starts reading the Lord’s Word. OK, I engaged in a conversation with that guy and found out that is passionate for the Lord. He’s also kind of a “tentmaking” missionary, a British guy about 30 years old, a fireman by profession, and he is passionate to share with the British people the hope of a relationship with Christ, because religion there isn’t working very well. We were both mutually encouraged to hear how the Lord is allowing us both to see people growing in faith around us. By the way, he was accompanied by his wife of 1 ½ days as they were passing up a warm beach for a rustic winter land at a warm and cozy cabin in the woods for their honeymoon!

The second divine encounter was with a young woman I wrote about last year. Her Finnish husband works for my partner company and they are a couple with strong faith celebrating their 1st anniversary in a few weeks. She is originally from Nepal and from a Muslim/Hindu family background who not only left the family to get married and live life with her husband in Finland, she also left the family faith when Jesus answered her prayer to reveal Himself to her. It was touching to hear her story and how she longs to some day share Jesus with her own people. Although her parents haven’t changed their faith at home, they have lovingly accepted her decisions and clearly see the joy in her life, which for her is a major answer to prayer as well!

As we at LIFT share life with one another and it is always encouraging to hear how the Lord is working through His children all across the world as well. I pray the Lord continues my “travel blessings” a few hours longer as I am so excited to see my family and be safe and sound at home soon!

I also look forward to worshiping at our home church this Sunday at LIFT alongside many of you! In His grip and grace,

Corey

TRIBES!

Hello All,

Revelation 7:9
9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.
 
It’s beautiful to imagine that someday in heaven believers from every nation, tribe, people and language will come together in worship in front of the Lamb, who is Jesus Christ!  It’s also beautiful to realize that numerous nations, tribes, people and languages come together in worship at LIFT each week as well! 
 
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a long zig-zag line in security at Heathrow airport’s terminal 2 (luckily the week before the unfortunate week of the chaotic terminal 5 opening)!  I found myself amazed at all the diversity of the people around me.  Perhaps 200 or 300 people, on all sides in a small space and with such variety.  Not just tall, short, skinny, heavy, young and old; but also dark skin, light skin, olive skin and everything in between.  I heard various languages left and right (as we were zig zagging within the roped rows) from Russian/Slavic, German, Asian and Arabic and some other Scandinavian sounding language.  As a nice American English accent passed by, I smiled inside until I noticed their passport was Canadian, and then smiled even more in that I was “fooled” by these fellow friendly North Americans, just a bit more north of the border than what I thought I had heard.  And of course, I did hear a bit of the Queen’s proper English as well! 
 
I couldn’t help but to just worship God at that moment! I recalled a favorite verse of one of Tanya’s best friends from the USA (via Costa Rica) that was about diverse people from every nation, tribe and tongue who would someday be in heaven praising God.  Checking back with Tanya later, she confirmed Revelation 7:9, but that day in Heathrow airport, I just praised God for the diversity as I compared it to what I have seen at LIFT- The International Church of Zug.  Although we don’t have 200-300 people each week at LIFT, we do have a broad variety of people with different citizenships, cultures, ethnicities, skin colors, and languages, and we come together to worship the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ!  As I prayed for those around me in Heathrow, I also pray for those around me at LIFT, that God will continue to bless His people and draw them to Himself and that He may receive the praise and honor from LIFT and also from every nation, tribe, people and language!  We worship a great and mighty God who loves us!
 
Looking forward to gathering our many tribes together this Sunday at LIFT 

In His grip and grace,

Corey

Unto the nations!

Hello All,

What a wonderful opportunity we have at LIFT-The International Church of Zug; to reach people of many nations!  We sometimes share on Sundays that our DNA at LIFT (in part) is evangelism and ministers plural, meaning that as Jesus gave the below written “great commission”,  it was to all believers and not just the disciples or pastors today.  You, as a BELIEVER, have a blessed role in sharing Jesus with those around you, both in your lifestyle and in your words! Yes, it’s great to bring someone to church and yes, they will be accepted at LIFT (BELONG) regardless of their faith background and yes, we will share Jesus at LIFT, but at the same time, you can take God’s love and hope and Gospel message to those around you, wherever you are. And remember, Jesus is with you always!  Read it again. 

Matthew 28:19-20
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

It is very true of LIFT that many nations are coming to us here in Zug and this is exceptional opportunity for us! At the same time, many of us GO as well and not just back to our house or workplace to share life with neighbors, friends and work colleagues, we GO to nations, both long term and short term.   

Long Term: As much as it “hurts” sometimes to hear someone may be moving back to their home country and leaving us at LIFT, it’s is also with “joy” that they can continue to live and give their faith away back in their home country!  It is great to realize God’s bigger plan that our little community at LIFT and all that we do, even the little things, make a difference both here in Zug and elsewhere. Just Walk Across The Room, the book the ladies read and now us men are going through, has been very encouraging in pointing out that the little conversations we have with people add up as God sends others into their lives to complete the story for them. You make a difference!  

Short Term: Many of you travel as well.  I am at the end of a 4 out of 5 week business travel schedule that has taken me from Wales, to the Netherlands, to Slovakia, to Vienna and next week to Athens (where Tanya fortunately gets to join me). In all those places I come across many, many people in various settings; some business settings, some casual settings and sometimes just meeting people at a shop or restaurant.  I still don’t always get it right in sharing something of spiritual value, but whether I say something or not, I encounter people. These people watch my lifestyle and actions of kindness (or rudeness) and when given the opportunity to speak, hear my voice and choice of words.  Sometimes it can be of deep spiritual value and sometimes it seems like I got nowhere, sometimes it improves their perception of a Jesus Follower and sometimes not.  

People (those around us here in Zug and those we encounter as we journey in life) are watching me … and you!  We are “speaking” to them whether we realize it or not.  Whether we get to “make a disciple out of them and baptize them” (of course God does that!), or just smile with kind eyes and a loving heart or say a prayer for them as we pass them on a street here or in a foreign land, we are GOING UNTO THE NATIONS FOR JESUS, and He is with us…….always!

One last thing, LIFT is supporting God’s work in other parts of the world like Belize, India and Africa through other believers serving Him there as well. Really, it is humbling to know that little things count and that we are part of something greater than ourselves or than our church called LIFT.  We are part of God’s plan and purpose to share his grace, love and hope to the nations and world around us, near and far!

We continue our series through 1 Timothy this Sunday.  I hope to see you there!

In His grip and grace,

Corey

"Belong"

Hello All,

As I was preparing for the message last week, regarding the first 2 verses of 1 Timothy 5, I was challenged by the Holy Spirit to “go deeper” than just contemplating on how we should treat older or younger men and women (and widows) with absolute purity.  I was reminded that as an International interdenominational church we have very different attributes as a church body that go beyond gender.  We have a mixture of nationalities, races, cultures, colors, eye shapes and passports.  We also have a mixture of church backgrounds, denominational backgrounds and at times (prayerfully much more often in the future) people that come to LIFT with no faith background and/or even another religious background such as Muslim, Hindu or other.  In the future, as we grow, so will the mixture!  THAT IS A BEAUTIFUL THOUGHT!    In fact, to imagine this, is to imagine a bunch of colorful stones and glass fragments all broken and put together into an order with a greater purpose creating a beautiful picture. Such a picture is called a Mosaic!  

Living in Switzerland, or basically anywhere in Europe for that matter, we see Mosaic art all over the place.  Often, it blends in as just something “religious”, but when one looks deeper, one can see the greater beauty made up of all the individual pieces and one realizes that it took time and a master’s skill to put together. With this in mind, I am finally understanding the word BELONG, one of our three “words” that we summarize LIFT with; BELONG, BELIEVE and BECOME*.  (*Origins via Mosaic Church- Los Angeles)

As I shared last week in the message, I would like for “everybody” in Zug (and beyond) to be welcome at LIFT and to be able to find a place to BELONG!  Like individual pieces coming together and belonging together, like a mosaic! As International foreigners living here (and Swiss too), people need a place to BELONG, and LIFT is a place where they are welcome, no matter what!  Yes, we will share about Jesus (BELIEVE) and together as individual “pieces” we can BECOME something much greater.  But for many, just BELONGing somewhere is a starting place.  As all of us BELIEVErs are living our faith as genuine followers of Jesus and His words are made true in our lives and our church, where “you will know my disciples by their love for one another”, then the BECOMING something greater is bound to happen for all of us, and for God’s glory!  

Below is our longer than three words purpose statement for LIFT which you are part of and to which you BELONG!  
 
We are “people”, with many different backgrounds, nationalities and even languages – though English is our common language – that come together
to seek to worship and glorify God through our lives, fellowship with each other, grow in our own personal faith, serve Him and each other,
and share our faith with others around us, – all for the kingdom of God in the area of Zug, Switzerland!
 
It is an honor to journey together with each of you individually and as a church together!  Great things are ahead as many are stepping up and serving one another so that together we can grow forward, and not just in the size of our facilities, but in the size of our love!

In His grip and grace,

Corey  
 
(*Origins via Mosaic Church- Los Angeles) 

Great Commission Eyes

Hello all,
 
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.  We intend to have a “practical forum” during part of the message time as we are continuing through 1 Timothy.  I hope you can join us!  

Instead of a normal “Corey thought for the week” and in light to last week’s “to the ends of the earth!” e-mail,  the following is a clipped devotion that I read recently from a pastor named Rick Warren.  It’s encouraging to me as we at LIFT- The International Church of Zug are a “living example” of international ministry that affects people both from our community of Zug and…..to the ends of the earth! 
———————
Great Commission Eyes- by Rick Warren
“If you ask me, I will give you the nations; all the people on earth will be yours.” Psalm 2:8, NCV
 
As we’ve been discussing, the opportunities for normal, everyday Christians to become involved in short-term international missions are now literally limitless. It’s never been easier in history to fulfill your commission to go to the whole world. The great barriers are no longer distance, cost, or transportation. The only barrier is the way we think. Your perspective and attitudes must shift – so that you develop Great Commission eyes —
Shift from local thinking to global thinking — God is a global God; he’s always cared about the entire world (“God so loved the world ….” John 3:16, KJV). From the beginning he’s wanted to call forth, from every nation, the people he created.
The Bible says, “From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him.” (Acts 17:26-27, CEV)
Much of the world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multi-national. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast food. Probably most of the clothes you’re wearing and much of what you ate today were produced in another country. We are more connected than we realize.
These are exciting days to be alive. There are more Christians on earth right now than ever before. Paul was right: “This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours.” (Colossians 1:6, NLT)
One of the best ways to switch to global thinking is to just get up and go on a short-term mission project to another country! There’s simply no substitute for hands-on, real life experience in another culture. Quit studying and discussing your mission and just do it! I dare you to dive into the deep end.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus gave us a pattern for involvement: “You will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.” (Acts 1:8, CEV)
His followers were to reach out to their community (Jerusalem), to their country (Judea), to other cultures (Samaria), and to other nations (everywhere in the world). Note that our commission is simultaneous, not sequential. While not everyone has the missionary gift, every Christian is called to be on a mission to all four groups in some way.
So what does this mean?
Become an Acts 1:8 Christian — Set a goal to participate in a mission project to each of the four targets: your community, your country, other cultures, and other nations. I urge you to do whatever it takes to participate in a short-term mission trip overseas as soon as possible. It will enlarge your heart, expand your vision, stretch your faith, deepen your compassion, and fill you with a kind of joy you have never experienced. It could be the turning point in your life.
Watch the news with Great Commission eyes — Wherever there is change or conflict, you can be sure that God will use it to bring people to him. People are most receptive to God when they are under tension or in transition. Because the rate of change is increasing in our world, more people are open to hearing the Good News now than ever before.
Prayer is the most important tool for your mission in the world — People may refuse our love or reject our message, but they are defenseless against our prayers. The Bible tells us to pray for opportunities to witness, for courage to speak up, for those who will believe, for the rapid spread of the message, and for more workers.
Begin praying for specific countries — World-class Christians pray for the world. Get a globe or map and pray for nations by name. Also, pray for missionaries and everyone else involved in the global harvest. Paul told his prayer partners, “You are also joining to help us when you pray for us.” (2 Corinthians 1:11, GW).
—————

In our case in Zug, the nations of the world are coming to us!  
 
In His grip and grace,

Corey