Completly. Committed. Follower

This tag line from the “Not a Fan” series is a great expression of the Biblical calling: to be fully committed to an impossible task. Romans 3:11 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” In our normal human condition, we cannot, do not and will not pursue God and His purposes. No one can be a Completely. Committed. Follower.

Martin Luther expresses our condition this way: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctified the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith…” I love this teaching and explanation of the Biblical truth that we are saved in spite of our greatest efforts to replace His will with our own.

It is in this faith that God is the acting agent; God calls us, God chooses us, God saves us, God forgives us, God empowers us, which frees us from obligation and guilt about our own condition and allows us to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. As people who follow Christ we do it imperfectly, and when it comes to commitment we waffle back and forth, but God is completely committed to us. He died for us because He knew we would fail to die to Him.

It is with this powerful perspective of salvation in Christ that we desire to follow Christ in an effort to be blessed to be a blessing to others. This week in worship we will each be challenged to make a commitment to follow Christ more fully. God desires to make His kingdom reign here on earth, and He desires for it to reign through you and me. Please prayerfully consider in what area or areas of your life you are not surrendered to God’s will or need to step out in faith to rely on Christ rather than our own ways.

There are many places and ministries that could be blessed by your gifts and talents. I would like you to consider the local congregation here at Cross as a place to be a blessing for Christ into the world. Every day hundreds of people, young and old, receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the ministries of Cross. I pray that you are one of them and that you might commit, any way you know how, to be a part of the kingdom work Christ is doing in and through the people of Cross.


Follower? Indeed!

While living in the college dorms I was routinely asked, “Are you saved?” At first this question caused no concern, but after the same people asked multiple times, I started to be in turmoil. I answered with all sorts of defenses: I go to church, I go to Bible study, I even read the Bible (sometimes)… Then I started doubting myself: Why can’t they tell I am a believer?

When backed into a corner, the temptation is to justify our actions to satisfy our fear; we can’t live in fear or we eventually crack! The problem is that there is no list of things we can offer to satisfy the question, “Are you a fan or follower?” There is no checklist to complete to satisfy the questions in our minds or the ones being asked in this sermon series. Every action we come up with can be performed by a fan or a follower, so how do we know?

It is good to be shaken up every once in a while, a call to action and a time of refinement. Being more faithful with our actions doesn’t make us better followers; it makes us more effective followers. What makes us better followers? Faith. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1. Faith is knowing the depth of our sin and trusting the full restoration given in Jesus Christ. Faith knows that without God we are doomed to eternal damnation, but with Him, we have forgiveness, life and salvation.

In the book of James, we are reminded that faith without works is not faith because anyone who faces death and lives is going to offer the antidote to someone else in the same situation. We can’t sit idly by while others wander aimlessly into the trap of the devil, not knowing what we know! There is no greater action to show we are followers than love: love for God for saving us in Christ and love for others.

These things take practice. We grow up learning to love ourselves above others. Disciples are called to follow Jesus by denying ourselves, taking up His cross and sharing it with the world. Not very good at this yet? We are all still growing. Check out for a great way to follow Jesus by loving others. This is a safe way to continue the journey of following the only One worthy of our faith and sharing this great news with the world! “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18.

In His service and yours, Pastor Erik Gauss

Fan, Follower, Disciple

This week was the first in the church-wide emphasis of Not a Fan.  Alicia and I are part of a brand new group that  “birthed” off of our previous group.  There are many new faces and the video lesson for the week was pretty intense.  It was a powerful group though as many people shared exactly how God was working in their life or what a struggle it is to try to follow Him.

When asked the question, “how would you describe your relationship with Jesus; Fan or Follower?” One person in our group responded “Disciple”.  That is one of those moments when I wish I would have said that so I could sound awesome!  Seriously though, the discussion after this was about the disciples that were with Jesus and how at times they sound and act like fans, and other times like fully committed followers.

If there is one right answer it is, Disciple.  Disciple means follower of or student of a teacher.  Disciple doesn’t mean perfect, it doesn’t mean without original thought, it doesn’t mean powerless, it doesn’t mean completed.  Disciple means a student who follows and learns from another.  As a student we learn things and often forget them or choose not to use them because we think we know better.  Sometimes we miss class and other times we sleep through it, but what matters is our commitment to learn, to return, to allow the teachings of our mentor to challenge us and guide our growth.

A Follower of Jesus, a Disciple of Jesus, will hear the word of God and not reject it, but allow it to reshape and reform daily.  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16.  Jesus invites us to follow Him and as such, we are empowered to respond to that invitation.  Will you admire him for a far or join Him as He teaches, trains, rebukes and corrects so that you may be built up as a continuously growing Disciple of God, that is fully equipped to Go and make more Disciples?

Lent: In like a Lion; Out like a Lamb

Facing another predicted snowstorm this weekend reminds me of this old saying:  March will come in like a lion and out like a lamb or in like a lamb and out like a lion.  Lent begins March 5 with Ash Wednesday services, Lutheran Schools’ Week and the launch of our church wide emphasis, “Not a Fan.”  Forty days later we will be in Easter, celebrating the saving work of the Lamb of God.

The season of Lent is based off of Matthew 4 where Jesus spends forty days in the wilderness, fasting and being tempted by the devil.  This period of time occurred right before Jesus began His public ministry of teaching, calling His disciples and performing miracles.  Before these forty days Jesus was relatively unknown in His time.  These days served as a time of refinement and preparation for what would lie ahead in His ministry.

It is through refinement that we become focused and effective.  The Bible calls this circumcision, cutting off the things that are not beneficial or helpful to make room for the things that are.  Over these next forty days you are invited, and even challenged, to examine your walk in the light of the truth of Holy Scripture.  The call of the lion, the devil, will be to fight it, say it is too difficult, you are too busy, or simply rebel because you are your own person.

The Lamb calls us to lay down our life for the sake of the thing that matters most:  eternal life in Christ Jesus.  We can claim our reward now — money, success, immediate gratification, or we can have joy in our purpose of pursuing and proclaiming the eternal rewards of the children of God.  We cannot serve both God and man.  “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8.  “When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  John 1:29.

To hear this week’s sermon click here.

In his service and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss