Unwrapping Christmas Traditions!

Hello All,

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!  THIS IS CHRISTmas, Jesus Christ our Lord! 

As we’ve been “Unwrapping CHRISTmas” this month and reminding ourselves that Jesus is the meaning of Christmas, I can’t help but acknowledge that also Christmas traditions, especially those you’ve lived within your own family are part of Christmas as well.

For many this time of year is again a season of joy and celebration to be shared with family.  At the same time, this time of year can be very lonely for many whose Christmas memories aren’t so joyous or current life circumstances just don’t fit with the whole “celebration” theme.    

As the verse above states, CHRISTmas is about CHRIST the Lord, born to each of us……yes, YOU! 
I pray you are blessed, each of you with the love of God in Jesus and the Holy Spirit this Christmas!  Whether you realize it or not, we truly are blessed to have a Savior in the world! Whether we are with family or alone, Jesus IS there with us and in reality, we are never alone! 

What a testimony of Christmas as well in that the Eales are hosting a Christmas meal (Bring and Share/Potluck) on Christmas day for ALL that would like to join. Regardless if you are single or a family wishing to celebrate with others, you are welcome!   You have “family” at LIFT, even if you didn’t grow up in the same home together!  Remember the special Christmas Eve service at 5:00 pm at the Kirchgemeindehaus as well.  
So, about those family traditions……  Something Tanya and I brought into our Best family Christmas many years ago was simply including the reading of Luke’s version of the “first Christmas” each Christmas Eve with our children and family or friends or who may be with us.  Yes, we too enjoy the warm decorations, candles, baked cookies and having a Christmas tree in our living room, but we do make it intentional to include that Jesus is what Christmas is truly about, a real celebration and gift of life from God to us!    

Below is this Luke 2 passage of the first Christmas!

In His grip and grace,

Corey

Luke 2
2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Servant Leaders of LIFT!

Hello all,
 
This past Sunday at LIFT, Ken and I “wrapped up” our journey through 1 Timothy with a recap overview of this New Testament book and closed the message with focus for all of us to “unwrap Christmas” and remember to share with those around us what CHRISTmas is really about; Jesus!

We started the 1 Timothy journey in late August pointing out three main themes of this letter from Paul to Timothy in Ephesus, and then week by week we went chapter by chapter and verse by verse until this past Sunday.  The three main themes are the following: 

-LIVE IT “EXTRAORDINARY! –Paul’s mentor/mentee encouragement and insisting of high standards for Timothy in faith! And for the church too!
-RESIST FALSE TEACHERS/TEACHINGS –Paul urges Timothy to equip and provide firm resistances to FT’s in Ephesus. He identifies them and the nature of their false teaching.
-A “HEALTHY” CHURCH! –Paul’s gives strong emphasis on the importance of developing quality leadership with integrity of faith, a crucial element to a healthy church! (Timothy/Titus are NOT just a church organization manual!)

The third theme, regarding developing quality leadership with integrity of faith was something that LIFT actually “lived” these past months as well in real life and in real time!  Beginning in the summer, Ken and I met with several regarding developing a broader leadership at LIFT, with the passages of 1 Timothy and Titus in mind, as to overseers and/or deacons.  Through the months since, it has been a blessed experience of stepping forward together as seven Godly men (9 including Ken and I), with their wives (and children), having shared their “desire to aspire” to lead others in growing their faith in Jesus!  Along the way, one shared how LIFT’s leadership should not be that of a corporation with the CEO and Managers at the top, but instead upside down, with the leaders, as servant leaders, serving and supporting the body.  This “servant leadership” became a focus point for us in remembering that it was Jesus, who took off his robe and put on a towel and lowered himself to serve in washing the feet of his disciples.  None of us are perfect, but all of us have the grace of God in us and it is an honor to go forward into the future together with the LIFT body to share the Gospel Message of Jesus to all in our community of Zug and wherever the Lord may lead us in life!

Your Servant Leaders of LIFT (in no particular order): Corey and Ken (co-Pastors), Trevor, Ron, Christoph, Chas, Robert, Don and Ashok

May we as LIFT pray for one another (especially for these men, their wives and families and their commitment to leadership at LIFT), may we support one another and may we all together make a difference in the Kingdom of God, especially right here in Zug.  Also pray for our facility issue of needing more space as there are a few possibilities being looked at currently. 

Of course, pray for this month of December as the world is thinking about “X-Mas presents” and as we at LIFT together with many other churches are pursuing to “unwrap CHRISTmas” in remembering that the true gift at Christmas is God’s gift of Jesus and life in Him!

In His grip and grace,

Corey

God's Word and SMS-Texting!

Hello all,

Yesterday, I was preparing to write this week’s update about LIFT’s upcoming theme for the next weeks called “Unwrapping Christmas” in reminding all of us what the real reason for the CHRISTmas season is all about, but got caught up with some things and didn’t get a chance to finish it and send it out. 

Today, I am “prompted” to share a completely different word about how the Lord works in great and mighty and very real ways, even within the realms of mobile phone technology!  A friend of mine had an intense last couple of days and after some time yesterday of mutually sharing our burdens and encouragement together, I was reminded of how strong and loving our God is, just before going to bed last night, when I saw God’s Word in Psalms posted near our refrigerator (no, I wasn’t having a late snack, but just thirsty)!  This little typed passage that my wife posted reads:

Psalms 62:11-12  One thing God has spoken,two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.
 
Being that it was too late to call my friend back, I waited until this morning and sent it via an SMS (text message) with my mobile phone.  This is where the Holy Spirit part comes in and I was clearly “prompted” to go broader and send it to several others as well.  It was as if the Spirit said, “This is God’s Word, not yours, sent it to the rest of the men in your phone”!  So I did, with prayer attached. Moments later I received an SMS reply from my friend with God’s Word; Ps 25:4-5 “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Then a few really cool things happened that made it very clear that God moves beyond what we can imagine.  First, I read a devotional that I get weekly that was all about God using SMS’s/texting (the full version is at the bottom of this e-mail), so I was encouraged by what I had already been prompted to do.  Then after 3 or 4 replies back from some men saying thanks for the encouragement, I got the following e-mail reply from Ron S*.  I hope you are blessed by what you read!

Corey:
This morning you sent me PS 62:11 “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard. that you O God are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving”. This came in the morning while I was in the bus on my way to work.

As I was reading my daily devotional that comes via e-mail, the following was today’s verse “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. – Psalm 143:8

Sometimes this just “freaks me out”. But it is also comforting to know that he cares for each and every one of us, and shows this in a very personal way. I have been struggling with “the way I should go”, though your SMS, he assures me that “His love is unfailing” and asks me to “put my trust in Him”. How can I not respond to Him in obedience and wait patiently for the Lord?
PS – you can share this with others if you like. If your were prompted to send the message this morning, I just wanted for you to know what it did.
YBIC. Ron.
 
Yes, I was “prompted” this morning! In this case it is so clear that the Holy Spirit used the Word of God via mobile phones and e-mail to touch several of us in ways that God’s strength and love can only do!

Looking forward to wrapping up 1st Timothy this Sunday with co-sharing the message with Ken and also looking forward to unwrapping Christmas these next weeks as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord!

In His grip and grace,

Corey

PS- A great SMS (Texting) read below from Dare 2 Share:
_________

God is Txting (by Greg Stier of Dare2Share Ministries International)
?4U…did you even think four or five years ago that text-o-mania would hit the world and radically change the way we communicate? From brb to bff to bfn, there are enough abbreviations being bounced off satellites to fill the universe and then some – imho anyway – based on the stat I read that indicated an average of 1 BILLION text messages are sent every week – which means that every six weeks or so there are more text messages floating around than there are people on the planet!

Of course I’m not telling anything you didn’t already know. In fact, I bet you’re texting right now – aren’t you? I know this because I’ve seen the incredible multi-task-text-with-my-eyes-closed skill of teenagers first hand. The scariest is when they are driving and texting at the same time. That’s when the most common message is this:
O no! I’m abt2 reck!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging you. In fact, I txt n drv farly ofn – dnt evn need 2 lok @ the phn!
So all this texting got me thinking. What if you and I could send a message to God? What would you ask or say to Him? Would He answer, or would He just ROFL?

Personally, I don’t think he would laugh at us for trying to communicate. God is a person, and he is absolutely crazy in love with His creation. Think about a time when you got a text from someone you really like or love…you got back as soon as you could, right? Same with Jehovah God. In fact, He has already sent us a ‘text message’ that has 774,746 words and would take you 70 hours to read out loud.

Of course I’m talking about the Bible, and because it’s not exactly a short message, I’d like to take a moment and throw in my two cents on what I think would be common text questions people might send to God, and what He would say in return.

Dear God – do u love me?
Iv e nvr quit luv’n u & nvr wil l. xpct luv, luv, &more luv! (Jeremiah 31:3)
Dear God – will u ever leave me?

Ill nvr leav e u or abandon u (Hebrews 13:5)
Dear God – do you care about my future?

4 IK the plnz I have 4 u,” sez the Lord. ” Theyre plnz 4 good not 4 dzastr, 2 give u a future & a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Dear God – I feel so guilty all the time – can u help?

If you confess ur sins 2 me, im faithful & just 2 4give ur sins & 2 cleanse u from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9)
Dear God – do u ever think about me?

My thoughts about u r rare and beautiful! u’ll nevr comprehend em! U couldn’t even bgin 2 count em – anymore than u could count the s& of the sea. (Psalm 139: 16-18)

Dear God – I’m worried and sometimes scared…can u help?
Im leavin u w/ a gift- peace of mind & heart, & the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t b troubled r afraid. (John 14:27)

See what I mean? The God of the universe loves you more than you could possibly imagine, and the best part is that He is in complete charge of the universe and knows everything about you. He’s a heavenly Daddy who is always ready and willing to listen to your cries, answer your prayers, and applaud your victories. He has a picture of you on the screen of His phone, and He waits with delight for the incredible moments when you look up to Him in faith with a message.
The next time you text, remember the ultimate communication called the Bible, written by the hand of God Himself. I promise it will be d gr8st msg u evr read!

Head: What you need to know about this truth
God is a Person who longs to communicate with His children that he loves us, will never leave us, has a plan for us, has forgiven us, always thinks about us, and gives us peace in the midst of trouble

Heart: What you need to feel about this truth
As one of God’s children, feel unique, cherished, loved, and taken care of by the God of the universe!

Hands: What you need to do about this truth
Write a response to some or all of the ‘text messages’ sent from God. Also, let other people know about the good news that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them through Jesus Christ.

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)