Pastor’s Corner

Readiness Assessment

Introducing: Greg Holt

This weekend you will begin to see a new face around Cross. For at least the next month, Greg Holt will be joining us in day to day ministry. Greg is the onsite staff support for our readiness assessment.

What is a readiness assessment? Over the last several months (years really) the leadership at Cross has been looking at how we can best align our facilities with the mission and vision God has given us to help people mature as disciples that Walk with God, Grow in Faith Together and Love our Neighbor. This spring, the Ministry Feasibility Team concluded their portion of the assessment and recommended we move forward with a professional readiness assessment that could lead to a capital campaign. The Governance Board accepted their recommendation to engage with James D. Klote and Associates (JDK&A) to lead us through this effort www.jdklote.com.

Greg Holt croppedGreg Holt is the representative from JDK&A that will be on site here working with us through the month of July. Beginning the weekend of July 8th/9th we will hold focus group meetings where we will present the opportunities God has placed in front of us and what we think He is leading us to do. We need your participation. Focus groups will take place every weekend in July and a few weekday evenings and mornings. Please make time to attend one of these 45 minute meetings. Come hear about what God is doing and prayerfully give input on how we should respond!

Greg had served in full-time church work for 35 years until 2009. In 2009 he joined a global mission organization to help bring clean water to underdeveloped countries and now serves with JDK&A to help local congregations accomplish their calling and purpose.

The goal of this effort is not to just raise money. In fact, if the congregation decides this is not the time, we will not enter in to a financial campaign. The goal of this effort is to build unity as a family of faith, hear feedback from each member of the family and determine how best to make a powerful impact in Christ’s name! The world is growing increasingly more desperate every day and the people of God are called to respond with hope, healing and forgiveness. God has uniquely positioned Cross over the last 135 years and is He is still leading us to share His good news into the next generation.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
—Romans 12:2—

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

 

 

Pastor’s Corner

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Romans: Answering the Questions of Salvation

The Christian faith is constantly scrutinized for all sorts of teachings but, interestingly enough, seldom gets attention for its primary and unique teaching: salvation.  The true Christian faith is the ONLY faith which teaches a salvation that is gifted from God and not earned by behaviors of mankind.  This teaching is called the “Gospel” or the “Good News” because it again is the only teaching of the sort.  The Christian faith is the most inclusive of ALL religions in that literally every person is eligible for salvation and is not required to achieve some status or standard in order to be saved.

How does this message get so turned around? Why are Christians accused of being closed minded when in fact we are by definition the most open minded of all people groups?  Why do so many Christians and Christian churches create rules that must be followed?  And, how do we help people around us to understand we don’t hate sinners, but rather count ourselves amongst them?

The next several weeks we will be walking through Romans to hear how Paul taught the faith and its most central teaching: salvation.  We will address these key questions:  What saves us?  Who needs salvation?  Why are some saved and not others?  How do I know I am saved?

Understanding how God answers these questions will help you answer the questions of neighbors, co-workers, family members, and your own heart. Our hope is not that you will become an expert evangelist who will convert people to Christianity.  Rather, it is that you will better grasp the power of the Gospel and the hope it has for us all.  The devil is constantly at work attempting to confuse and blur this life saving truth so that people will run from it.  But, through His Word, God continues to speak to all who will listen about the freedom, love, healing, hope and strength provided through a powerful relationship with our divine Creator.  Join us this summer and make it a summer that will change the rest of eternity.

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”  Romans 1:16-17

Pastor’s Corner

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Trinity and Me

Theology and the nuanced teaching of God can oftentimes feel unimportant or worse, make God seem distant from us. This weekend is a weekend that historically has been dedicated to the celebration and teaching of God’s nature.  Trinity Sunday invites us to ponder and pray about how God reveals Himself as one God in three Persons.  But why does this matter to me?  This weekend we will try to help bring home the importance and unique teaching that the God of the Bible offers and why it matters for each of us!

God is three distinct Persons, no One of Them like the Other, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of us in creation is a unique individual, no one of us like the other.  Each of us bring a different and needed value to this world and our relationships.  Each Person of the Trinity is able to act of Their own accord, yet none of Them operates outside of the will of “God.”  Each of us is able to act on our own but often act within agreed upon parameters for the sake of a greater good.

God is one. God also tells us we are one with Him and each other.  We are the whole Christian Church working together as one.  Marriages and friendship in Christ are strengthened as we work together as one.  The only way to resolve conflict is to recognize those that seem to be against us are truly part of us.  The strength to do this can only come when we recognize we are part of God Himself.

What amazing results come from the individuality we each have? What powerful impact can we make when we work together in Christ for the glory of God?  What could this unstoppable love and purpose accomplish when we live smack in the middle of our individuality and our unity together in Christ?

God’s teachings about Himself are a gift to us so we can better live out our identity as His creation and His beloved children. Let’s take some time this week to ponder and embrace the Triune nature of God and the blessing He is to us as we live our lives as a reflection of that unity and uniqueness.

“The glory that You have given Me (Jesus) I have given to them (those who believe), that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.”  John 17:22-23

 

 

Pastor’s Corner

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With all the recent graduations and life transitions that happen at the beginning of summers, I thought it would be a good time to update where some of our recent graduates from Cross ministries have found themselves in their journey of faith and desire to ensure the next generation knows all about what Jesus has done – and continues to do!

Rose (Gilbert) Adle and Rebekah (Gilbert) Curtis are both deaconesses and have authored LadyLike: Living Biblically.

Eric Baker recently completed his college studies and is now a worship director in Austin, Texas.

Sean Baker served as a missionary in Slovakia and the Czech Republic and is entering Seminary in St. Louis, studying to become a pastor in the Lutheran Church.

Alissa (Johnson) Bocek serves as a teacher here at Cross!

Andy Busch is Assistant Pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Minot, North Dakota.

Anita (Shields) Clausing is an LCMS missionary in Kenya.

Raymond Dubert serves at Our Savior Way in Broadlands, Virginia.

David Fiala is in charge of missionary recruitment at the Office of International Missions for the Lutheran Church in St. Louis.

Jack Gilbert is Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin.

Joel Gilbert is a teacher at Lutheran High School South in St. Louis.

Elizabeth Grzan will continue her studies at Concordia, St. Paul, Minnesota toward becoming a Lutheran school teacher.

Bekah Hahn will continue her studies at Concordia, Wisconsin toward becoming a Lutheran school teacher.

Josiah Hahn has completed his college studies and will start this fall as a teacher at St. Peter Lutheran School in Schaumburg.

Brett Hardecopf is Principal of St. John Lutheran School in Elk River, Minnesota.

Nathan Jensen has completed his studies and now serves as a worship/youth director in Peoria.

Heather (Batt) Klemp is a teacher at Trinity Lutheran School in Wahiawa, Hawaii.

Karla (Thanepohn) Leidecker is a teacher at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Eastpointe, Michigan.

Victoria Mueller is a teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School, Freeport.

Jason Steffenson will continue his studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.

David Thanepohn serves as Youth Leader and production coordinator here at Cross!

Lisa (Thanepohn) Troxel serves as a Lutheran school teacher in Michigan.

Dwight Wyeth (Roseann Dubert) will be serving as Vicar at Cross Lutheran Church in New Braunfels, Texas.

This list doesn’t begin to address the almost countless number of people impacted by the message of Jesus Christ and living it out in their daily lives as mom, dad, business person or neighbor. Maybe you know someone I’ve left off this list.  If so, please let us know so we can include them in our prayers.  And, I pray this list will encourage you in the work we continue to do together that impacts the kingdom of God generation after generation!

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Pastor’s Corner

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It’s Finally Here!

The school year is complete this week for Cross and for many other local schools. Memorial Day weekend is officially the “unofficial” start of summer, camping and cookouts. Many students and teachers have been looking forward to this moment—the anticipation has brought out the best (and worst) us all. But now, it is all in the past as the transition to summer is in full swing.

On June 4th, the Church will enter the season of Pentecost. This is a season when we celebrate and participate with the first disciples at the arrival of the long awaited Holy Spirit. The anticipation of the arrival of the Holy Spirit has brought out the best and worst in the children of God.  The Holy Spirit finally came to the believers 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus, 10 days after His ascent into heaven.

This long, often agonizing wait caused Peter to go back to fishing, Thomas to doubt and others to question. But the wait also allowed for the selection of Matthias to replace Judas, the reinstatement of Peter after his betrayal and the time to refocus on what God said rather than the thoughts of man (Luke 24:25)

As summer approaches and school ends there is a little more “time” in the schedule. Our natural temptation is to fill it up with things to do. I know summer often feels more chaotic than peaceful. That is because we are so uncomfortable waiting. We don’t like to wait for God to show up any more than the Disciples did. But, we can learn from their trials!

This summer try to make some time that is unscheduled evenings, weekends, or entire weeks. Give this time to the Lord and see what He will do with it. Remember, you may need to wait for Him. Your neighbors may be too busy to connect; you may even get sad you don’t have something planned. But, then, the Holy Spirit will show up and connect you to a neighbor, or a family member, or give you the time to do something you’ve dreamed of but never “had the time for.” You may even realize this is the best summer yet because you let the Lord lead you instead of telling Him what to do and where to go.

The Disciples had to wait, and often so do we. The time of waiting can be just as valuable as the time of “doing” if we let God do what God does. Keep close to Him this summer and you will be amazed at everything He is doing and, everything He is doing through you! “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:17,21)

In Christ,
Rev. Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine?  Could you be mine?…”  Say these few sentences to anyone my age and in an instant you’ve most likely transported them back to their childhood. Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood was a television show that helped children learn about themselves, others, and the world around them.  And that theme song is still stuck in our heads!

Won’t you be my neighbor? What does it mean to be a neighbor? There is a serious problem with affordable housing in the Greater Aurora area. Even though they have good paying jobs, many working families only make$22,000 to $45,000 a year. Because of their income level, these families cannot qualify for a mortgage with a bank. Their only choice for affordable housing is often in substandard rental properties that are unhealthy and unsafe.

This is where Habitat for Humanity comes in to help. Fox Valley Habitat is a Christian housing ministry that believes in empowering working low-income families through home ownership.  They provide a hand-up, not a hand-out. Cross is one of 30 churches that has partnered together to build a home for a lady named Rubi Mata and her two daughters through an opportunity called Faith Build 2017.

On Saturday, June 3rd, the members of Cross Lutheran Church are able to take part in actually building the house for this family. From 8:30 – 4:30pm, a small team from Cross will be on the onsite, swinging hammers and putting up walls for this future home. But in order for this event to occur, you need to register TODAY! Space is limited to just 15 people, and you must be at least 16 years old to attend this first event.

There are a few steps to register for this event – so talk with Pastor Matt ASAP and he can give you a t-shirt and registration packet (you can also pick up a packet on your own in the fellowship hall). This is a perfect opportunity for our congregation to demonstrate the Good Samaritan’s love not just in word or speech, but in truth and action.  Let’s get our hands dirty and make a difference for Rubi and her kids. Won’t you be her neighbor?

Please contact Pastor Matt at mconrad@hiscross.org if you have any questions.

Pastor’s Corner

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Stay Awake!

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42

One translation says “stay awake,” another says “be ready,” and still another says “keep watch.” Do you get the idea?  God wants us to keep our eyes and ears open at all times so that we remain safe and effective in ministry until He returns.  The Greek meaning of the word is to give concentrated attention to something and be cautious so no evil will overtake you.

This definition puts in my mind a person at a military post, always watching and always vigilant because the enemy may attack at any moment. In war you never know where the enemy will strike from or when it might happen.  Imagine the relief and joy when instead of an enemy cresting the horizon it is actually reinforcements.  What joy and celebration!

So it is with us, the people of faith. We are ever vigilant, alert, and ready because the devil prowls like a roaring lion.  He is looking for a weakness in our defenses so he can get a foothold in our life.  If it is up to us, we get distracted, fall asleep at the post and become a victim of evil.  But, when we remain alert, what we notice is that Christ and the angel armies are there with us; reinforcements against the devil’s schemes and cunning ways are right there for us.  What joy and celebration!

Because we have Jesus means we have peace, but it doesn’t mean we can let down our guard. We must stay alert because the devil not only continues to attack us; he attacks the world around us.  Our story is that we have been recruited into a battle for eternity.  The war has been won; Christ is risen and eternal life is won for all who believe, but the devil continues to try to steal faith, hope and eternal life.  He works to turn souls away from God and toward anything else.

Stay awake! Tell your story, God’s story.  Help others to remain alert against the craftiness of the evil one so that, when the Lord returns, there will be much joy and a great celebration.  Joy and celebration from a people of faith so large, no one can count!

“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 before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss