Pastor’s Corner

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Prayer and Support

Many families experience trials in our congregation, and we work hard to care for them all. We typically don’t make these concerns “public” but seek that help in smaller communities and with families they know within the congregation.  What I am going to share with you is a larger, more ongoing concern, and it is with one of our mission partners.  Jason Steffenson is a “son of the congregation” and has been attending Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.  He is one of two former Cross Lutheran School students who were enrolled in the seminary.

Jason is married to Anna, and they have two children, Johanes and Immanuel. This is Jason’s third year at the seminary, and he was participating in the Vicarage program.  Vicarage is a one year internship for those training to be a pastor in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.  Jason and his family have been serving at Trinity Lutheran Church in Centralia, Illinois.

On June 19, Jason fell and hit his head, causing a debilitating concussion. He received prompt medical attention, but the results of the impact have left him unable to perform even routine daily functions.  Since he cannot work or drive and has been experiencing seizures, he had to take a leave of absence from the seminary and his vicarage while they wait to get in to see even more medical specialists in neurology and traumatic brain injury.

This leave of absence causes many hardships for the family. As an example, they have been living in the house the church provided while on vicarage.  Thankfully the congregation has agreed to let them stay for six months while they pray and hope for healing.  Jason is no longer a student and therefore cannot receive the grants and loans that they had received because of Jason’s student status.

As you can see, this has been going on for three months already and as of now will be extended at least another six months.  We felt it was time to invoke the prayers and support of the entire congregation and the community of the Christian faith.  Please pray and ask God, the Great Physician, to show mercy to His servant, Jason, and the entire family.  Pray for strength for Anna as she cares for the two young children and Jason and attempts to also earn an income for the family.

If you would like to help in other ways, feel free to send a card to them at 10411 Shattuc Road, Centralia, IL 62801. If you would like more details, please visit Cross’ Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/crosschurch/.

You could also visit Anna’s Etsy page where she displays her wonderful creations: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FineArtbyAnnaMarie. This would be a great way to find a gift for someone you love and support a great family.

You could also visit their GoFundMe page to offer encouragement and a gift to help them offset expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/2pasvw8s.

Thank you, family of faith at Cross and for all who offer intercession on behalf of this family and ALL who suffer. Until Christ returns to restore all things we bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the will of God.  “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

creationIt is finally here, the first week of our walk through the Bible called His Story.  We are beginning at the beginning in a book called Genesis and a story about the Creation of all things that are seen and things that are unseen.  A story that says it all was completed in six mornings and six evenings, six sunrises and sunsets, six things we call days.

Holding to this assertion immediately causes people to think you believe in myths and legends.  They think it akin to Aesop’s fables with talking animals and explanations about why animals have long necks.  If you believe in six literal days people assume you also believe garden gnomes children’s toys come alive when you aren’t looking.  Why is this?  Why has the world decided that this Biblical truth is the one we should abandon? That this literal truth is one that requires us to adjust our expectations of what God can do?

Do these people who demand that a six day creation is an impossibility for God also demand we abandon our belief in a virgin birth?  In a parting of the Red Sea?  Disregard the pausing of the sun or the feeding of the five thousand?  What do they say we must do with water turning into wine or the ten plagues sent over Egypt?  For 40 years the people of Israel ate bread that came down from heaven every night, and Noah built an ark to survive a flood.   Are you aware that Jesus healed people of leprosy, chronic bleeding and demon possession?  That fish filled the nets in a few moments of trusting, that a Roman soldier’s ear was cut off and that Jesus calmed storms and He and Peter walked on water ?

Maybe I am carrying on a little bit but I hope it is helpful to illustrate the point.  The Christian faith is based on the truth that a man was dead for three days in a guarded tomb and came back to life.  He walked among the people for 40 days and then ascended into heaven on a cloud.  You know that is scientifically impossible right?!?   That after three days without breathing a person can’t come back to life.  The cells that comprise the body would all die individually much less lose the ability to work together.

Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence against a dead man reviving, there isn’t one witness, one historian, one shred of evidence that says it didn’t happen.    But, nobody picks on this fact because there were witnesses.   Hundreds, maybe even thousands of people saw it with their own eyes,  Jews, Gentiles, Apostles,  rich, poor, learned and fools all of them saw it with their own eyes.  Makes me realize why unbelievers and atheists work so hard to convince you that creation took millions of years.  It’s the only chance they got, because it’s the only miracle recorded in scripture that didn’t have witnesses.    Well it did have a witness, but who wants to believe His Story?

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30,31

His servant and your,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Growing in Faith Together

As we launch this new fall season I wanted to share some new resources we have available for you and your families or small groups to help you continue to mature as Disciples of Jesus Christ that Walk with God, Grow in Faith Together and Love Our Neighbors.

New in 2016:

Sermon Based Bible Studies are now available!  Each week you will be able to download or view on your e-device a Bible study that takes the sermon for the week and goes more in depth.  It is also intended to spur on conversation about how you are living out the biblical truths in your own lives and families.  You can find these studies on our website, www.hiscross.org, under Sermon Series or on the HisCross app in your app store!

His Story – This 32 week walk through the Bible is broken down into several shorter segments so you can make shorter commitments as different times of the year allow.  We urge you to go “all the way through” the Bible with one another at Cross as His Story guides Our Story every day.  This is also intended to help you be more comfortable having authentic spiritual conversations with the spiritually curious people God puts in your path; maybe even invite them to go through the sermon study with you at lunch!

Right Now Media – This is one of the best kept secrets at Cross!  It’s a free “Netflix” type library of Christian movies, Bible studies, sermons and children’s shows.  All this requires is an electronic device with an Internet connection and your free password.  Find out how to access this amazing free resource for ANY AGE at www.hiscross.org; click on the Right Now Media icon.

Parent Cue App – This is a free app that will send parents cues to start great spiritual conversations and activities with your children.  It also coordinates with the topics in Children’s Ministry at Cross so those conversations won’t seem to be coming out of the blue.  Search Parent Cue in your app store.

I pray these resources will be a blessing to you as well as the family of faith at Cross. If you would like to get connected to others to Grow in Faith Together with other believers, please contact the church office and we will help you find a Community Group (ministry team/Bible study) that will be blessed to have you be a part of it.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

His Story is a 32 week walk through major sections of the Bible. The initial idea for this series is loosely based on a book called The Story, where the Bible has been rewritten into a narrative format. While this type of Bible rewrite has a place, Pastor Matt and I (Erik) thought it best for everyone to actually read their Bible rather than a story interpreted by others. To hear God speak in His own voice is a powerful blessing. Anything you learn and jot down will be written in your Bible for later reference not in some other book. You will gain confidence as your read your own Bible and this gift will last with you forever.

When some people think of the Bible what comes to mind is sanitized stories for children. We forget that the Bible is a real book, about real people, dealing with real sins. At times, their lives were a complete mess. But God’s story through the entirety of Scripture is a story of salvation; how God saved His people despite the mess. The Bible doesn’t whitewash the heroes of faith. It doesn’t erase the things that they did. Rather we share in a story where those sins are put right out in the open for us to read; so the world can know the seriousness of sin, but even more importantly, the unbelievable grace of a God who would sacrifice His Son to cover that sin.

Maybe we have some knowledge of these heroes of faith, but we struggle in connecting one story to another. In reality, all of the stories of the Bible come together to tell of God’s great plan of salvation for all of humanity. It was a plan that begun with Adam and Eve; it and was carried through the Patriarchs to David; it’s echoed and foreshadowed in the words of the prophets. Finally we see all the pieces fit into place in the story of Jesus the Christ, God’s very own Son.

But the story isn’t clean. It isn’t tidy. It’s a story that’s full of gossips, doubters, betrayers, murders and adulterers. God doesn’t approve of these things – he hates all sin – but this is a remarkable story of a God who can take even sinful people and work a miracle in them. It’s the story of a God who loves humanity even though they fall into sin. It’s the story of a God who goes to the cross for sinful man. It’s the story of a God who comes to you even today with open arms. God’s story is your story.

What we hope for all of you is that you would take God’s story to heart. But don’t do it alone! The best way to grow in this story is through community. Gather each week in worship as Pastors Matt and Erik explore a piece of God’s story. Read a bit of God’s Story from the Scripture each day. We have a reading plan to help you be prepared for Sundays. And take part in a community group, where you can dive even deeper into the story and share how God’s story intersects your own. We hope you enjoy this journey together and that all of us grow in faith together as Disciples of Jesus Christ here at Cross.

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

CIA

CIAThe acronym CIA may conjure up strange images but, rest assured, CIA stands for Cross in Action! This is a congregation wide initiative to “spur one another on in love and good deeds” Hebrews 10:24.  On Saturday, October 1, we are asking people of Cross to go “out” and love our neighbors through service.

The Cross in Action (CIA) initiative is being led by a team of staff and volunteers but it needs to be a grassroots effort to be effective.  Who has God placed in your life that could use some Love?  Do you have the skills and the time to help out?  Are you willing ask others to join with you? Maybe your answer is ‘no’ to all these questions but, are you willing to help someone else love their neighbor?

Bill Ziech and a team of volunteers are gathering people and groups together, coordinating a gathering and sending celebration, and will help you to get resources to accomplish what God has put on your heart. Please fill out a CIA application or call the church office if you would like to volunteer to serve, pray or donate to make this day impactful as we go out to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the community.

Do you and/or members of your household have a life insurance policy or investment with Thrivent financial?  If so, you are eligible for two $250 grants from Thrivent to serve your neighborhood. You can use these grants to help fund CIA service opportunities or other needs that you see around you.  These funds could be used to throw a block party, thank public servants, teachers or any other opportunity you could imagine!  Please call the church office to learn more about this or go to www.thrivent.org under Actions Teams.  These grants need to be applied for, at minimum, 21 days in advance so please plan ahead.

If October 1st doesn’t work for you and your community group to serve on that day, don’t worry.  We are here to serve God in His timing, and in any way He sees fit.  Please pray for eyes to see and a heart to respond in any moment and in any season.  We will be the hands and feet of Jesus to believers and unbelievers alike because we are filled with His grace and power.  When we are weak, we are strong in Him!

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

school back toThis weekend we celebrate the beginning of the school year throughout Kendall County. We invite all current students to bring their school bags to worship this weekend. We will ask a blessing from God over them and the school year. Each child is a representative of Christ in their classroom and in their neighborhood.

Cross Lutheran School will open its doors for the 135th consecutive year of Christian education. An opening Worship Service will be held on Wednesday, August 24 at 8:45 AM to celebrate the beginning of another year.  Parents and guests are welcome to attend. What began as a one room school house with classes being taught by the pastor has flourished into our current facility with a staff of 15 dedicated teachers.  While facilities and staff have changed over these years, what has remained a constant is teaching our students the love of Jesus as their Savior and preparing them to be witnesses in faith.

Our teaching staff for the 2016-2017 school year is:

Preschool – Mrs. Alicia Gauss
Preschool – Mrs. Cathy Schmeckpeper
Preschool with Extended Care – Mrs. Kimberly Robbins
Kindergarten – Mrs. Karen Miller
First Grade – Mrs. Alissa Bocek
First Grade – Mrs. Jessi Fisher
Second Grade – Mrs. Miriam Ulrich
Third Grade – Miss Barbara Pinnow
Fourth Grade – Mrs. Sonya Lutze
Fifth Grade Homeroom/Reading – Mrs. Mary Neyer
Sixth Grade Homeroom/English – Miss Karen Schumm
Seventh Grade Homeroom/Science – Mrs. Kami Stone
Eighth Grade Homeroom/Math – Mr. Jeff Hahn
Special Education – Mrs. Jessie Mouis
Principal – Miss Susan Lopez

Our teaching staff will be supported by our school secretaries, Candy Nolan and Laura Laesch.  Also supporting our staff will be our librarian and teacher aides. We ask you to remember our students, their families and our staff in your daily prayers. We are committed to ensuring every student who wants to attend Cross is able.  Please contact the school office for more information about how to enroll at 630-553-7861.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
-1 Corinthians 16:13-14

His servant and yours,

Miss Lopez
Principal

Pastor’s Corner

whats-the-point.jpgWith the school year starting there will soon be many questions asked of teachers.  Can I use the bathroom?  Will I be graded on this?  Am I ever gonna use this in real life? What’s the point?  School is filled with distractions like relationships, recess, and discipline.   We get concerned about jumping through the hoops and what our grades are.  We often can miss the point of school if we aren’t careful.  What point?  Learning!

The same thing can happen at Church.  The activities and preferences of individuals, the relationships and politics can cause us to become distracted.  We can miss the point; to worship God with all of our life and love others in His name.

Worship is two-fold; to praise God but also to receive His gifts and to value His gifts above all others.  When we get caught up in the music, the preaching, the atmosphere, we can miss the gift God wants to give.  It is not an emotion based on human excellence or human preferences, it is an emotion based on truth.  That we have a Savior in “Jesus Christ, who died for us.  But, more than that was raised to life and is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us . Romans 8:34

The point of faith is not more than this; the humble recognition that we need a Savior from our sin and we have that Savior in Jesus Christ.  Our sin causes irreparable harm to the relationship between us and God until Jesus Christ heals it through His perfect work on the Cross and in the tomb.  Now it is repaired wholly and fully for all who believe it. In this we greatly rejoice!

So why do we make it so complicated?  That is a great question! This fall take the opportunity of the fresh start to simplify your life, your faith.  Refocus on what God has laid out before you.  Get connected to other believers to strengthen you on the journey and see what God does.  This is called worship; laying down our life in honor and service, out of thankfulness, to Him.

“…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  Romans 12:1

His service and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss