STANDING STONES OF 2006

I looked back into my old files and found this writing regarding standing stones.  It is relevant to use it again with a couple of changes as we head into 2007.  What an amazing year these past 12 months have been to see how the Lord faithfully provided and blessed us at LIFT!
 
 
STANDING STONES OF 2006

Hello All,

 
This past week at LIFT was a celebration point in time, or I should say another “standing stone” in the existence of LIFT- The International Church of Zug. Our very first Christmas (Eve) services!  As we say we use the Bible and the English language as common tools to share the Gospel Message, the message of Christmas IS the Gospel! What an experience as family, to have had about 65 people gather together Christmas Eve to sing carols and hear the message of Christmas from Luke 2!

What do I mean by “standing stone”?  In the Old Testament, God’s people didn’t have computers and video recording equipment to tape and replay important events. What they did instead was take rocks, stones or pillars and stand them up or stack them up. This pile of stones, (or sometimes a huge stone) would stand tall as a MARKING POINT. Usually this coincided with a “worship service” of declaring what God had done and how this stone was to be a testimony to God. As they saw it in the future, they would remember what the Lord had done. Sometimes the stones were stood up as a statement of “changing their ways” (after a period of Godless living) and proclaiming that they turned back toward God, and the standing stone was a point to remember the commitment.

What was really cool is how these stones were a “testimony” to later generations, even sometimes hundreds of years later (or in our case millenniums later). As a family was traveling, in their culture the children knew standing stones meant something, and the kids might have asked something like “Daddy, what happened here?” And the father was able to share what the Lord God had done for their people in delivering them, etc. etc.

As we look back at this past year, or as you look back in your life, there are many standing stones. Some are stones standing as praise to wonderful blessings the Lord gave us, some are stones that are amidst very difficult times in life, but yet, they are standing there to remind us of our continued walk with our God.

Early in 2006, one great stone was stood up marking the launch of a children’s ministry that now gives our kids, the next generation of the church, a time of teaching and Biblical training during the sermon time. Thank you, Kristin and Tanya, who so selflessly have served every week in this ministry! Later in the year, CLUB LIFT was launched giving additional monthly training of our youngsters in a fun way! What a wonderful praise and perhaps these youngsters will be “living stones” with the Gospel message during their lifetime! 
 
Other stones from 2006 were the continued momentum of the ladies ministry, who had several Bible/book studies and various events throughout the year!  And the men?……or should I say A-Men?  In October we had a men’s retreat that has truly left an impact on many men who are still striving to grow in faith as stronger A-Men of God!  In the summertime, we shifted to a morning worship service time frame which has also provided LIFT with momentum and growth!  The Webster family coming alongside in leadership with the Eales’ and us Best’s has also been a huge blessing!  Of all the messages over the year, the message series about “The Body” stands out to me personally.  To have seen our LIFT body forming and working together in unity with all the parts working together for the entire body – this is the church of Jesus in action!    

As we look to the future to “conquer” life ahead of us, remember one more proclamation from a little boy of the Old Testament who turned a few stones himself: DAVID.  As a young shepherd standing before the king and stating what he was about to do in the near future, he was using standing stones from his past as a reminder of God’s hand with him:

1 Sam 17:34-37 (David before taking on Goliath)
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

Notice the standing stones of the lion and bear giving David the strength and faith to go boldly into the unknown future!
 
We serve an awesome God. “Go into 2007, and the LORD be with you!”
 
This Sunday, Ken will be sharing a message about God’s faithfulness over the past and what the Lord has shown us.  The following week, I will share the message regarding future thinking and how we walk forward in faith with the Lord as the journey continues! 

In His grip and grace,

Corey

Ephesians 3:14-21
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Unwrapping Christmas-Part 2

Unwrapping Christmas-Part 2
 
Hello All,
 
In continuation of the Unwrapping Christmas theme, I again am blessed to share another true “glimpse” of God regarding the statement from part 1.  The statement was “Even in the world, if one looks hard enough, despite the X-Mas clutter and noise, Jesus IS still there, and showing His loving gift of grace in beautiful ways.”
 
As political correctness is more and more eroding the true meaning of Christmas and in the name of tolerance of not wanting to offend anothers beliefs, wishing one Merry Christmas is being replaced with Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays.  I was so blessed that in spite of this mentality that is currently moving across the world, last Friday night I saw my true Christmas glimpse in a moment of real worship in an unexpected place.  My daughter Livia’s 4th grade class (together with another 3rd grade class) had their drama/musical presentation for parents and our little community in and near Menzingen.  These 30 or so students (a couple of them foreign and even Muslim) dressed the part and sang praises while acting out the Nativity story of Christ’s birth.  True to Matthew and Luke, they dramatized how the angels came to speak to Mary and then Joseph, how the census was announced and that they had to go to their hometown of Bethlehem, and due to no room in the inn the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger!  O.k., so a few traditional Christmas Nativity aspects were added like the 3 Wise Men there about two years too early, but still, I was encouraged to see that there are still glimpses of true Christmas to be found all around us, even in our busy world of X-Mas Holidays! 
 
I pray that you too, are blessed with moments of worship in true celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this CHRISTmas season!   
 
We look forward to celebrating Christmas together at LIFT this Sunday morning at 10 am and don’t forget the special Christmas Eve Service that will be from 5:00 to 6:00 pm! 
 
In His grip and grace,
 
Corey

Unwrapping CHRISTMAS

Hello All,
 
Unwrapping Christmas.  This is the theme of LIFT the next two weeks.   Why should we unwrap Christmas?  As most of the world celebrates “X-Mas” in one way or another, the real meaning, the real gift of CHRIST-MAS has been wrapped up and seemingly hidden in the clutter of X-Mas trees, X-Mas music, X-Mas gifts, X-Mas dinners, X-Mas candies and X-Mas working hours where all the shops are working overtime to get us in the spend our X-Mas money!  The true gift of God celebrated at CHRIST-MAS is the CHRIST!  Jesus Christ!  We will take some time as a church to unwrap the clutter, ribbon and box and celebrate Christmas together as we let His gift shine!
 
And even in the world, if one looks hard enough, despite the X-Mas clutter and noise, Jesus IS still there, and showing His loving gift of grace in beautiful ways.  I experienced a bit of true Christmas last week at my company’s X-Mas party.  O.k., on one hand it was a very splendid event at an incredible 200 year old estate house on the lake of Zurich with a 5 or 6 course meal with place settings of way too many forks and spoons causing me to have to think before eating each course, just to be sure I followed proper “etiquette”.  On the other hand, spouses weren’t included so I missed my Tanya who was home with the kids, so celebrating at this X-Mas party just wasn’t so celebrative for me.  And then it happened……… an angelic, raspy Gospel voice began to sing, and not just sing, but to truly S-I-N-G from the heart, to “Go Tell It On The Mountain That Jesus Christ Is Born!”  The entertainment booked for the evening was a woman and a man with a keyboard and two microphones and they began to lead me in worship, sitting right there at my company’s X-Mas party. 
 
During a break in their set, I walked across the room* to confirm what I already knew.  This lady wasn’t just singing words, she was singing praise from her heart.  (I know this because I asked her.)  After overhearing her talk with others, I said to her, “From the sound of your accent, I can tell we have something in common”!  She was also American and came to life hearing my English too!  Then my question, “Are you just singing words about the King, or do you know this King Jesus?”  She smiled big and said, “With all my heart, I know my Lord Jesus and it’s not just singing! My voice is a gift from God and I use this voice for Him!” 
 
So, may we all look beyond the sights and sounds of X-Mas around us and be blessed to see the true glimpses of CHRIST-Mas that are present around us, and that not just in December! 
 
We look forward to sharing Christmas together at LIFT these next two Sundays.  Don’t forget the special Christmas Eve Service that will be from 5:00 to 6:00 pm on the 24th. 
 
In His grip and grace,
 
Corey
 
* P.S. -* As FYI, after the New Year, the ladies will begin another book study called, Just Walk Across The Room, by Bill Hybels.  More info to come in January!

The journey continues!

Hello All,
 
So far so good…….the journey continues!  Our study through Ephesians thus far has been Extraordinary in many ways.   With the team preaching approach of Ken, Derek and I, it has been great to hear different perspectives and insights each week as the Lord leads us together through His word. 
 
Last week was chapter 4 on Unity, specifically the Body!  We spent some weeks in the early summer on the Body of Christ (including some verses from the Ephesians) using different illustrations on how a healthy body is supposed to function.  It was so exciting this time to use LIFT as a current, real live example as one body made up of many individual parts that are serving one another so that the whole body functions.  I could have again made up some nice illustration like a bicycle only being usable when the wheels, the gears, the sprockets, the seat and the handlebars work together as one bike to get you from point A to point B, but it was with joy to simply look around at the people of LIFT and share how we ARE many individual parts serving together as one active, functioning and growing body!  That IS Extraordinary Unity! 
 
Sunday afternoon at our first ever Club Lift (for kids 3-12) was yet another beautiful example of seeing the body work together.  Fourteen clubbers showed up and eight leaders were ready to make this first club an exciting and worthy event.  Worthy? Yes, aside of the fun and games, kids once again showed they can learn faster than adults and many quoted the first month’s verse from memory to the rest during the final group session!  Also having the International Church of Luzern (ICOL) team up with us on this is another testament of the larger Body of Christ.  The new pastor Brian Post led the music time, his teenage daughter Liza helped lead mini club and 4 of of the clu bbers were from ICOL as well! 
 
By the way, YOUTH GROUP launches next week. For those of you that are 13-18 and want to join us for bowling and more, please give us a reply or call to let us know you can come!  Saturday, 2nd of December at the Cherry Bowl in Sihlbrugg and then our home for the rest!  6:00 pm -8:30pm  
 
For all of us at LIFT, I hope to see you Sunday at Worship as Derek leads this week on chapter 5 and Extraordinary Joy!
 
In His grip and grace,
 
Corey

EXTRAORDINARY UNITY

Hello All,
 
We are making great progress through our Extraordinary journey through Ephesians.  This Sunday I continue with the team teaching and will share a message over chapter 4 entitled “Extraordinary Unity”.  As we look how we are all one part of many parts in the body of Christ, we will mainly focus on you, the individual part and we, LIFT, as the local body of many parts.  Obviously, the body of Christ is also the entire church across all of God’s creation and although I won’t focus on this too much this Sunday morning, I want to share an illustration about it now giving evidence of the fact that LIFT “IS” part of this greater body of Christ. 

When the A-Men leaders were here from South Africa, LIFT gave them a financial blessing in thankfulness of their serving us as they did.  Immediately they didn’t want to accept it, but we insisted and they said they would not keep it for themselves personally but instead share it with a special ministry that their church in South Africa has.  As part of the body of Christ, we are blessed back in truly seeing how the one of many parts really do make up the active body of Christ!  Below is a letter from South Africa.  I hope you are encouraged as well!
 
2006-11-14

Dear brothers and sisters at LIFT,

We are deeply grateful for your gift to our centre that has been handed to us by Gordon and Sue Hay. What a joy to know the ‘communion of saints’ in this way.

We have decided to use your gift to give the children who attend the centre, the opportunity of fun and laughter at a Christmas party for them on the 25th November. A member of Trinity will bring all sorts of games for the children, the youth group will organise events and competitions, the children will have lunch as well ‘party’ food and they will all receive gifts. We look forward to sending you photographs of the event.

The children who attend the centre each afternoon come from homes affected by HIV and aids and extreme poverty. We know that each one of them is on our Lords VIP list! It is our privilege to care for them. They enjoy a meal when they arrive at the centre, and have a time of prayer, worship and Bible reading. We encourage them in their lives by helping them with their school work in a cheerful and positive environment. It is very encouraging for us to experience your participation in this ministry. Thank you.

God bless you
Yours in Christ
The Drop-In Centre Team.
 
Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday (especially the kids in the afternoon at the first ever Club LIFT!)
 
In His grip and grace,
 
Corey