Grace for Chase
Posted: Mar 8, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

So here’s a random fact about me that you may not be aware of.  I like to bowl.  I can’t say that I’m very good. But I do enjoy it.  You can imagine how many girls flocked to me in high school when they found out I was a bowler.  I had to beat them off with a stick!  Ok, I made that part up.

I’m a part of a bowling league in Cape Coral that I thoroughly enjoy.  I love the competition and have gotten the opportunity over the last few years to meet some great people that I otherwise would not have gotten the chance to.  When I was bowling this past week, I was made aware of a situation involving a young boy named Chase.  Chase was diagnosed with leukemia 2 years ago and it pains my heart to tell you that he passed away just a few days ago.  He was 8 years old.  Chase’s family will be saying goodbye at a service this weekend.  This truly is the definition of heartbreaking.

As you can imagine, Chase’s family has incurred a substantial medical bill that now leaves his parents in a challenging situation. Not only do they have to say goodbye to their superhero Chase, but they also have to deal with unbelievable costs for his care the last few years.  Because of this situation, family and friends of Chase have organized a fundraiser that will take place on Saturday, March 29th at Pin Street Bowling Center in Fort Myers.  The cost to bowl is $20 per person.  You can bowl as much as you want between 1-5 pm.  There will also be a silent auction as well as a raffle.  100% of the proceeds will go to benefit Chase’s family.  If you can’t bowl very well, join the club. It’s not about your ability to bowl.  It’s about your ability to show up, show support and have a good time.  I can’t wait to involve my kids with this and help them to understand what an absolute privilege life is and why it’s so important that we don’t take it for granted.

To be completely honest with you, I have never met little Chase.  I don’t know his parents.  Chase has lived and fought for his life for the last 2 years and I didn’t even know it.  I don’t know what it is like to have leukemia. I don’t know what it is like to be a parent of a child who has had to deal with cancer.  My youngest daughter Sadie was hospitalized for about a week when she was born with a breathing issue. No parent should have to watch their kid hooked up to that many machines.  I remember feeling overwhelmed and helpless, as it seemed that my child’s future was in the hands of physicians and it seemed like there was nothing I could do.  This family has gone through significantly more than anything I have ever experienced.  I certainly have no clue of the pain that a parent must feel having to say goodbye to their child.  No parent should have to endure that pain.

As a pastor, there are some things I don’t understand or have answers to.  I can’t give an answer as to why Chase had leukemia.  I don’t know why a God that has the ability to heal did not so for this precious little life.  I don’t know why health care coverage is so expensive or why sometimes, life is given and taken away so tragically.  Those are just a few of the questions I can’t wait to ask God someday.  Yet in spite of my questions, I still choose to trust God. Why?  Because He is God and I am not.

I was reading a verse in Romans earlier today that really struck a cord with this situation with Chase.  This is what Romans 8:28 says:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”

How in the world is it possible for ANYTHING good to come out of a situation as tragic as this.  I don’t know if I can necessarily answer that.  What I do know is that Chase has inspired hope in more people than I think anyone could possibly imagine.  He has inspired an entire community.  So often, we turn on the news and hear tragic stories that leave us feeling hopeless and confused.  We stand in the middle of chaos and stress and wonder to ourselves, “Where is God in all of this?????”

Sometimes I hear of stories like Chase and think to myself, “what good could I possibly do?”  I’m just one guy.  I don’t have the ability to cure leukemia.  I don’t have the resources to pay for the incredible cost.  I don’t have the words to reassure the family and answer the questions as to why this happened.  But instead of focusing on what I don’t have, it’s time to start focusing on what I do have.  I have the ability to bowl……..kinda.  I have a voice.  I have resources that God has blessed me with.  I have a soul.  Sometimes the way God heals the broken hearts of people and bandages their wounds is by using his followers to do it.

As his followers, it is time that we follow the example of our creator.  He is the heart mender and the burden bearer.  He wants to use us as his church to be the light of the world.  I believe with all of my heart that if Jesus was physically here on this Earth, He would be bowling for Chase on Saturday.  Why?  Because He is a God of compassion.  He doesn’t wait for us to get our lives straight before He comes and rescues us, He always makes the first move.  The good news is that Jesus will be bowling on March 29th. Why?  Because He lives in the hearts of those who strive to roll up their sleeves and shine some light in a world full of darkness.  If you would like more information on how you can get involved, please contact the church office at 239.458.0813.  You can also visit the website www.graceforchase.com to make a donation if you are unable to bowl on the 29th.

I’m bowling for Chase.  I hope to see you there.  Together, let’s make another step towards striking out cancer for good.

With Expectancy!

Corey

corey@firstassemblywest.com


Do it yourself
Posted: Aug 19, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

Wow. It’s been a ridiculously long time since I last blogged.  I think the last time I blogged was the day before the Berlin Wall fell. Ok, maybe not that long but it feels like it has been.  I was reading something today in Genesis and wanted to process a few thoughts from what I read.  Hope you enjoy and I will try and make these posts a little more regular.

I have always been fascinated by the creation story.  God creates man not because He has to but because He wants to. He creates Adam, places him in the Garden of Eden and tells him to enjoy this creation that was made entirely for him.  Eventually, God decided that it wasn’t good for man to be alone so He creates Eve.  Together, Adam and Eve are told by God to be fruitful and multiply.  So without being too graphic, God tells Adam and Eve to have sex.

In this amazing creation that Adam and Eve are now responsible for, God tells them it’s all theirs for them to enjoy.  The only rule is, you can’t eat the fruit from one tree which is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  There were limitless things they could do. Only one thing they couldn’t do.  Because humans are curious and seem to have an innate desire to rebel, Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree anyway and immediately, sin and shame are introduced into our world.

Genesis says that instantly, Adam and Eve realized they were naked. That’s usually something that is fairly obvious.  If you are naked, you know you are naked.  The only people that are surprised to be naked are those who previously consumed a ridiculous amount of alcohol and wake up not remembering much from the night before.   Upon realizing they were naked, Adam and Eve hid.  That’s what we do.  When we are embarrassed or ashamed, we hide. God comes strolling through, calls out for Adam and Eve, and they tell God they were afraid because they saw they were naked and so they hid.

I love the next part because God asks them, “Who told you that you were naked?”  Generally, I don’t need people to tell me if I am naked or not.  ”Uh, hey Steve, can you answer this question for me that I have been dying to know the answer to?  Am I naked?” Obviously, they had been naked the whole time.  But when sin came into the picture, they were made aware of a dirty word called shame.  We have all felt shame a time or two in our lives.  It’s a terrible feeling.  I understand why Adam and Eve tried to hide.  It’s what most of us do when we feel shame and regret. God tells Adam and Eve that their sin will have consequence.  He tells Adam that he will always sweat and toil in the land and that life would be challenging.  He tells Eve that childbirth will be painful.  Sin most definitely has consequences.  We usually don’t think about that in the moment of temptation and weakness because just like the apple that Eve ate, sin almost always looks too appealing to pass up.

After going through the list of consequences with Adam and Eve, God does something completely shocking to me.  We read about it in Genesis 3:21  

And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.”

If I was God, and Adam and Eve had just corrupted and virtually destroyed the perfect world I had made and brought sin and shame into the picture, I would have said, “Go make your own clothes.  I didn’t sin.  You did.  You wanted that apple?  I hope it was good.  I hope it was a good apple because now you are naked and ashamed.  You want to take your shame away? Go make your own clothes.” It’s a good thing I’m not God.  I absolutely love this. Adam and Eve sin. They made the mistake.  This wasn’t God’s responsibility to fix.  And yet in spite of his being disappointed in the decisions of Adam and Eve, He still loves them enough to make them clothes to cover their nakedness.

What a perfect picture of foreshadowing leading into what Jesus was going to do for us.  God didn’t cause sin.  But He paid the price tag that sin requires.  Why? Because He loves you too much to allow sin and shame to define you.  Yes. Sin has consequences.  But underneath all of our bad choices lies a God who is willing to clothe us when we are naked and die for us when we need a redeemer.  I’m so glad that God didn’t say to Adam and Eve “Do it Yourself.” We can’t do it ourselves.  We never could and we never will.

With Expectancy!

Corey


What’s going down at West
Posted: Feb 28, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

Spring is almost in the air!  Can you feel it?  Well probably not.  Living in Southwest Florida, every day feels like spring with the exception of the swamp like muggy summer days but I digress.  Hope all is well with you and your family.

We are gearing up for a HUGE weekend here at West.  First of all, we are continuing our “Love + Works” series this weekend with a message called, “It’s Party Time!”  Seriously…….who doesn’t love a party?  We will be talking about a party that took place in the gospels that changed a community.  Many of you had parties over the course of the last few weeks to help us collect hopefully more than 2,500 food items to be donated to under privileged children in SouthWest Florida.  I believe we will shatter that goal and you can help make that possible.  Please make sure to bring your food donations from your parties or personal collections this weekend when you come to church.  There will be drop off instructions given as soon as you pull up to the property this weekend.  In addition to bringing your food items, don’t forget to bring to church with you all of those who helped make your donation possible.  This will be a great celebration as well as a can’t miss opportunity for you to invite your unchurched friends to West.  This could be the weekend that changes their lives forever!
Baby dedication weekends are some of my most favorite of the year.  We have such a weekend coming up here on March 16, 17th.  If you have a young child that you wish to have dedicated, make sure to either check the back of the connection card or sign up at the visitor kiosk before or after service this weekend.  We will be doing the dedication in each of our 3 weekend services.  This is a great opportunity to not only dedicate your child and ask for God’s blessing on their life, but also a prayer of commissioning for you as a parent.  We know how challenging being a parent can be in our world today.  We want to invite God’s blessing and wisdom into your journey.  This is also another great opportunity to bring some people to church with you to take part in the special day of your child.
Along those same lines, West will be holding our “All things New” baptism celebration weekend on the weekend of April 6-7.  If you are a follower of Christ and have not yet been baptized in water, don’t miss this opportunity.  Baptism is a public way to let people know that your life is no longer the same.  Jesus actually commanded his followers to be baptized as a public confession of faith.  At West, we use these opportunities to celebrate the amazing things that God does in the life’s of people all over our city.  Just like the baby dedication, baptism is another incredible way to invite unchurched family and friends to a church experience.  There is no better argument for the gospel than that of a changed life.  Your baptism service could pave the way for someone close to you meeting Jesus for the first time!  Sign up this weekend on the back of the connection card or at the visitors kiosk.
We are rapidly approaching Easter which is astounding to think about.  On March 30-31, West’s Easter celebration weekend will be entitled “Who is Jesus?”  During Easter weekend, we will discuss the question that begs an answer from all.  Who is Jesus?  Is He just some guy that was able to inspire followers and create conflict with religious leaders or is He more than that?  And if He is more than just “some guy” what does that mean for you and I?  How can Jesus still be relevant 2000 years after the events of His life took place.  We will be discussing these questions and many more this Easter weekend.  All kids in attendance that weekend will get to take part in our massive Easter Egg hunt here on property as well as have the gospel story told to them in a fun and creative way.  I can’t wait to see what God will do at West this Easter season.  Due to anticipated large crowds, West will be adding a 4th worship service for our Easter service.  Those service times will be Saturday night at 6:30.  Sunday morning at 8, 9:30 and 11:15 am.  Bring as many people as you can!!!!!

This weeks volunteer spotlight is on Lanette Elliott, who is one of the nicest people we have the privileged of knowing here at West. Her heart for helping people is inspiring. We love having Lanette on both our hospitality and guest services team who always greets our visitors with a smile. She also helps in our office whenever needed, which is a huge help! Her skills are great, but her character is even greater. We are so blessed to have Lanette on our team of volunteers, thank you Lanette for everything you do!

I can’t wait to see you this weekend. :)

With Expectancy!
Pastor Corey

Life, Money & Hope
Posted: Feb 8, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

Hey West Family,

 

I hope you are ready for this because I am going to send a bunch of information your way telling you about all the exciting things that we have going on at West here over the course of the next couple of weeks.

 

We are continuing our “Life, Money & Hope” series at West this weekend with a message called, “The Fiscal Cliff.”  If you are anything like me, you probably don’t exactly know what the Fiscal Cliff really means and why it was such a big deal in this country for the past month.  This weekend, we will be teaching on finance in a challenging, funny and tense kind of way.  Make sure to bring some friends with you as we discuss the often polarizing, seldom understood topics of politics and finance.

 

Last weekend at West, we told you about an exciting opportunity we have as a church to partner with other churches and businesses around Lee Country to take part in something called Feeding Southwest Florida.  Feeding Southwest Florida is an organized effort by the churches in our community to raise over 100,000 pounds of food to be used for children all over our city.  The primary benefactors of these foods will be to those who are currently a part of the free and reduced lunch program the school offers.  While this does give children food to eat during the day, they often go home hungry without proper food at their places of residence.   We are asking 50 families at West to consider hosting feeding parties at their homes sometime during the month of February.  It’s simple.  Throw a party.  Ask your friends, neighbors and coworkers to come.  The only stipulation to them coming to your party is for them to bring as many non-perishable food items to the party as the can.

 

If you cannot throw a party or attend one, you can still help out as an individual by collecting these items over the course of the next month.  We are still in need of 20 familes willing to join Julie and I and throw a feeding party so that children can know the love of God in a practical way all over this city.  Pick up your party back at West this weekend.

 

Starting this Sunday at West during the 9:30 service, West will be teaching a class called foundations.  Foundations class is geared towards the following groups of people.

 

1)   those new to West.  This will help you get more out of your experience at West every week.

 

2)   Those new to faith.  We will teach you what a follower of Christ truly looks like and how that applies to your life today

 

3)   New Membership.  If you are interested in being a member at West, this class is the next step in that process.

 

This week’s volunteer spotlight is Andrey Gera.  Andrey is a talented individual with a willing heart who has played a key role in making our large events happen. From behind the scenes construction to late hours cleaning up, Andrey always does the job with excellence.  He always goes above and beyond the standard and we are so thankful for his continued involvement here at West.  Thanks Andrey!

 

I guess that’s all for now.  Thanks for all you do to partner with us to make a difference in the lives of so many all across our city each and every week.  The future is bright!

 

With Expectancy!

 

Pastor Corey


Life Group Weekend
Posted: Jan 25, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

Hey everybody!

I hope that you and your family are doing well as we continue getting acclimated to a new year with new opportunities.  God has done so many amazing things already in 2013 and we are only 3 weeks in!  We are continuing to see new faces all the time and our attendance has been over 500 for 3 weeks in a row!
Please do whatever you can to make it to our Life Group Weekend at West taking place this Saturday and Sunday.  I will be sharing a message with you about the importance of community and you will have a chance to sign up for one of our life groups after.  We have more group options than we have ever had ranging from home group Bible studies to activity based life groups.  All groups are geared towards helping you meet others at West that can help you grow in your relationship with Jesus.  Don’t be alone in your journey with Christ!  Life is so much better when we live it together with others.
On Sunday, February 10th, we will be starting a Brand new class at West called Foundations.  This will be a 2 week class that will run every other month during our 930 service.  If you are new to West in the last few months, this class is a must.  We will answer questions, share vision and allow you to see and hear about the opportunities for you to get the most out of your relationship with Jesus.  You can sign up for this class on the back of your connection card this weekend!
Next weekend, we will be starting a brand new series called, “Life, Money and Hope.”  To kick this series off, we have a very special guest that will be joining us via video that weekend.  You absolutely do not want to miss out on this.  During this 3 week series, we will be talking about finances in a way that will blow your mind!  Money truly is a powerful thing that can be used for incredible things.  Our focus during this series is to give you some tips to help you become more financially healthy and secure so that you can be freed up to do things with your resources that will make a difference for eternity.  This will be practical, insightful, and even funny!  We hope to see you there.
Even thought this is still a few months away, mark your calendars for March 23-24 which will be our “All Things New” baptism weekend at West.  We are hoping to baptize 50 people this weekend!  If you have never been baptized in water, this is your opportunity.  Baptism is a public way to tell others that you are different as a result of your commitment to Christ.  If you’ve been trying to find a creative way to get your friends or coworkers to church, invite them to come the weekend you get baptized.  It’s a great invitation tool!
Our 2012 giving statements will be put in the mail on Monday.  You should be receiving them by midweek next week.  Thank you for all you did to help us spread the message of the gospel in Cape Coral and around the world this past year.  Because of you, not only were we able to move into a new facility, we were able to see over 100 people give their lives to Christ!  That really is what it’s all about.
I couldn’t be more proud to have the privilege of being your pastor.  I am absolutely pumped about the opportunities that exist for us in 2013.
With Expectancy!
Pastor Corey