AliveIn 1897, Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was believed to be on his death bed.  Already an American legend, the death of Twain would be national news. As the legend goes, a young reporter stopped by the Clemens house to check in on him, and maybe get a scoop on this story when, to his surprise the author and comedian was not only alive but in perfect health.  In his typical style Twain gave the reporter a now famous description of the situation by quoting to the reporter, “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”  In reality it was Twain’s cousin James Ross Clemens who had been ill.

Perspectives change when someone famous dies.  Prior to death, you might anticipate the next time you will see each other and plan what you will do together.  For a famous author or musician you might look forward to their next project to be released for your entertainment.  After death, our perspective immediately looks backward because all we have left of our loved ones are memories. There will be no new experiences, conversations or new projects to consume.

Which perspective best describes your relationship with God?  Do you rely more on the past memories to make you nostalgic and feel connected through what others tell you? Or, do you enjoy each interaction with God and look forward to the next time you’ll be together?

Easter is a great reminder that Jesus is not dead, God is not dead; our best times are not behind us.  Jesus is Alive! God’s blessings, promises and hope are for today and for our future!  We look to the past. In order to get better understanding on what the endless possibilities are to meet God right where we are.  Remembering the past of God’s work in history is like getting back together with an old friend and recollecting favorite memories while at the same time creating new ones.

May this Easter be filled with many new memories.  And may the blessings of a living God be with you now and until we all meet again.  “Why do you look for the living among the dead.  He is not here, he is a live, just as he said!” Luke 24:5-6. 

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Let’s Get Started!

headerHeartThe title of this article is the title of the last chapter of the book we have been working through together as a congregation.  “Why Nobody Wants to Be around Christians Anymore” has challenged us, encouraged us and provided lots of interesting conversations.  Now it is time to put what we have learned into action!

To be fair, many of you have shared with me how you have ALREADY started putting your faith into action in meaningful ways.  One person shared how a co-worker was having trouble so this person has continued to follow up.  This has led to the co-worker opening up about some “real” things in her life.  Another person shared how they were inspired to not only pray for a co-worker but with a co-worker in need.  A third person has shared how this has given them more patience to deal with family members who don’t have the faith.

Some of my favorite stories have been when the Christian didn’t get it “right” the first time they had the chance, but then went back to the person to offer support or friendship or prayer.  These are my favorite stories because they highlight the most important reality in all this:  we aren’t perfect.  Christians aren’t perfect.  We shouldn’t try to be, and we don’t need to be.  Should we try to always be within God’s perfect will and plan?  Absolutely, but criticizing ourselves or those who aren’t doesn’t allow God or ourselves to extend grace.  Grace is what changes lives, not criticism.

So let’s get started, or keep going, or whatever the best description is.  God simply says “Go” — go forth in My name and I will be with you.  Where is He leading you?  I’d love to hear your stories.  Who knows?  They just might inspire someone else.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Frozen Review

I know this may seem a little late (or a lot late) but when Alicia and I first went to see Frozen with the family we looked at each other right away at the credits.  The Christian, biblical truth that permeates that movie is unreal.  It is difficult to believe it was on “accident” but the truth of God is available to all, many simply don’t give Him the credit.   This author does a nice job of writing up many of the Christian truths in Frozen.  In addition, the greatest truth I saw was in Elsa. She was only able to overcome her “sinful nature” when she would no longer fear herself, but instead love others.  This love was only possible because Anna first loved her. 

1 John 4:18-19 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”

His Servant and Yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Fearless Conversations

When I first heard about the “Four Acts of Love” and how they would help Christians to live out their faith, I was a little skeptical.  The “act” this week is Fearless Conversations, which immediately caused me to think it was about asking the ultimate question, “Will you go to heaven if you die?”  This was a common mission strategy in years past and one that only works in the most extreme situation.  I was reassured that wasn’t the case.

Well, then I was certain Fearless Conversations would be about encouraging believers to have the boldness to talk about their faith.  This has been another famous evangelism strategy that encourages a believer to become friends with someone with the agenda of waiting for the perfect moment to give your testimony.  Nope, wrong again!

So what exactly is a Fearless Conversation?  A Fearless Conversation is about encouraging believers that it is OK, even preferred, for us to not have all the answers!  This is the part of the book, “Why Nobody Wants to Be around Christians Anymore” that won me over.  This book constantly reminds us that our job as a Christian isn’t to make more Christians; our job as a Christian is to simply be who God has made us to be.

It is my hope that every single person who reads this book, or worships or participates in a group during this series, would gain confidence in who we are as individuals, that we would lose fear over our shortcomings and gain confidence in our God who is bigger than our weaknesses.  Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 9, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Amazing to me is that finally we are hearing that people don’t like Christians who pretend they know everything.  For years Christians have said to me they don’t know enough to be effective at talking about Jesus.  Perfect!  What helps a nonbeliever know Jesus more than anything?  A believer saying, “I don’t know either.  Let’s figure that out together.”

Admitting we need help is against our human instinct.  Admitting we can’t answer questions about faith is against our human instinct.  It is a tool the devil uses to keep us quiet until we think we “know it all.”  Let’s remain silent while we listen and then be fearless in admitting our weakness so God can do what only God can do.  “I (Paul) planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”  1 Corinthians 3:6

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss