Luther Rose

Happy Halloween, or as many Christians know it, Happy Reformation! Halloween is short for All Hallows’ Eve or the night before All Saints’ Day.  It is this day that Martin Luther chose to nail the 95 theses, 95 points of contention with the way the organized church was carrying out its calling to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world.  This act would come to signify the movement known as the Reformation.

This weekend we will be remembering/celebrating this day which was monumental in maintaining the truth about Christ – the truth that He completed the work of salvation for all who would believe in Him. This truth has never changed and yet we need to be reminded of it continuously lest we try to save ourselves.  It is not our nature to trust in God; it is an act of faith – faith gifted to us through the Holy Spirit given in the water and the Word!

Martin Luther led great change in the church which caused many to doubt and fear. The change caused many to leave the church or pick sides about who was right and wrong.  But ultimately, Luther’s leadership wasn’t a change at all but a return to the things that matter most.  Since 1881 Cross has gone through a lot of change, many reformations.  One thing that has always been constant is the Gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed to all who would listen; proclaiming it in many ways, styles, languages, locations, settings and situations.  Through it all, God remains faithful and draws us nearer to Him.  Come celebrate with the family of faith as we remember the faithfulness of God, celebrate the generosity of generations before us and look forward to how God will keep us faithfully proclaiming the Good News of Jesus until He returns.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:8-10

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss


untitledOver the next few weeks our new sermon series will focus on generosity. Even announcing this topic is risky since many could choose to forget to set the alarm for services.  But, I am actually quite excited about tackling this topic and I hope you’ll join me.  We are using a book titled Generosity and each day is a different devotional on how God has been generous toward us, his people.

One of the things that truly excites me about this resource is that it comes at the topic in a truly Biblical, heartfelt way. One of the lines in the opening devotion says “Giving can be done begrudgingly without love. Generosity is always initiated by love.  Love for God, love for others, but primarily love from God.”

God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.  Motivated by love, God gave us everything.  There are a lot of things I will give people but my daughter isn’t one of them.  There are a lot of things I love, people I love but none of them more than my own child.  Yet God gave His up for us.  That is a lot of love, a lot of generosity a lot of motivation for me to consider my responses toward others.

Today, there are more non-profit organizations to support than ever before. There are more options of where to serve to improve conditions for other people in the world.  There are more places to give money and time, and there are more organizations working to improve our nation than ever before.   With all this work going into our nation, all these not-for-profits improving things, why is our nation becoming more and more desperate?  Why are divorces, suicides, depression, drug use, anxiety, and alcoholism all on the rise in our youngest generations?  Why does the richest time in America the most empty?  I believe it is because we have little hope, little faith and little love.

Dive into this devotional with Pastor Matt and me and be filled with the generous love and compassion of Jesus Christ. Let it encourage you, fill you, give you peace and meaning.  We try to fill our lives with things that will make us happy when the only thing that can truly give us joy, is knowing our lives are already full to overflowing in Christ Jesus.   “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss


“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase.  It expresses the ability to address a circumstance from multiple perspectives.  Or, how about when you go to a restaurant and get the menu filled with options?  One time I had to send the waitress away THREE times before I made up my mind what to order.  Sometimes our choices are more black and white, like being healthy or lazy, being kind or selfish, Facebook or Instagram.

With so many choices in life, such a large menu to choose from, it can seem like there are many ways to “skin the cat” for our spiritual life as well.  Podcasts, home studies, worship on weekends, prayer, serving, donating financially, being kind to a neighbor, reading the Bible.  But are the choices all ours, or is there a guideline?  Are our faith decisions fifty shades of gray or are they black and white?  Are there choices that seem spiritually uplifting but actually undermine our spiritual formation?

Our faith journey must lead to a wholistic lifestyle rather than a secular lifestyle littered with spirituality.  True spiritual formation and pursuing the goals of this earth are at odds with one another.  Our world wants to say everyone is right by declaring there is no right and wrong (except in clearly heinous crimes).  Our world wants to say our bodies are our own when our faith says we were bought at a price.  The world says we must embrace all religion and “all paths” to eternity.  Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the light.  Nobody comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

Living our Christian faith means we will be viewed negatively by the world, and truly living the faith may mean we are looked down upon by others who call themselves Christian.  But, there is hope!  Living our full life in Christ means we have little joy in man’s approval and complete peace in God’s.  The more we see God, the brighter He becomes and the things of this world grow strangely dim.  In fact, we feel less sorry for ourselves and have more compassion for others who are truly lost pursuing joy that fades away.

As we live our faith and share our faith, we don’t need to be judgmental and overbearing.  In fact, what the world needs now is compassion and guidance.  The world craves to hear the truth and know there is certainty; they are just afraid to let go of what is right in front of them and trust the One who is all around them.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, our faith clings to Christ and Christ alone.

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Did Jesus Say, “Bad People Go to Hell”?

Did Jesus Say - Purple Background

Did Jesus Say, “Bad People Go to Hell”?

This weekend we are tackling the question, “Did Jesus say, ‘Bad people go to Hell’?”  I lost the coin flip.  I thought the answer to that question was too obvious.  I think the better question is, “Did Jesus say, ‘Good people go to Heaven, or to Hell’?”  I gave up debating over the question when I came to realize that the answer to the question is way more provocative than any question we could come up with.  Jesus teaches that bad people typically go to Heaven and good people typically go to Hell.  That is correct; I didn’t mistype, the proofreader didn’t fail, I am not a victim of autocorrect (this time).

In his book, “How Good Is Good Enough?,” Andy Stanley digs into this topic in a very straightforward, thought provoking matter.  In the Bible, Jesus once again challenges us to view the world and its circumstances through the eyes of God and not the eyes of man.  By using terms like “good” and “bad” we are, by definition, using words that are defined by man.

So, what is good?  One person might say ice cream; another might say ice cream is bad.  In addition, those who agree on its goodness or badness wouldn’t always agree on why it is good or bad.  A diabetic would cite the sugar; a lactose intolerant person would cite the milk proteins; still another might simply say it is bad for one reason or another.  So if we can’t agree on ice cream, how will we agree on important things like eternal life?  We don’t need to.

Thanks be to God that it isn’t up to people to decide the eternal fate of each other or even ourselves, but a righteous, holy, infallible Judge is seated on the throne to determine our fate.  Still, better yet, He has revealed the criteria by which He will grant eternal life in Heaven or eternal damnation in Hell:  perfection.  This is it — perfect people and only perfect people are in Heaven, not good people.  There is no “good” that is good enough; anything short of perfection is damnable.

So why do bad people typically go to Heaven?  If a person knows they are bad, then typically they know better and are sorry for their sins.  “If we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just and forgives us all our sins”  1 John 1:9.  We have to know we are bad to know we need forgiven.  If we don’t think we are bad (or at least not as bad as others), if we are “good enough,” then we don’t need to ask forgiveness and are called self-righteous.

God isn’t interested in what we think is good and bad; God is interested in forgiving our sins.  God desires us to turn to Him, call on His name and have an everlasting relationship with our Heavenly Father/Creator.  If you are too good for that, He loves you enough to let you go.  If you desire a relationship with Him, He’ll do whatever it takes, including die for you, so that you may be clothed in true righteousness.  “… my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness …”  Isaiah 61:10

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

God’s Plan

‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’  Jeremiah 29:11.  For thousands of years these words have been bringing comfort to God’s people, and for good reason.  The original hearers were in quite the pickle when the prophet Jeremiah assured them that God had not abandoned them.  But rest assured, it felt like it about 600 years before Jesus would walk the earth.  God’s people had been defeated in battle, ousted from their homes, their cities and nation.  They were exiled from their land and were living in captivity under a godless king.  All they had left was hope.

It is good that so many people today, 2500 years later, still get hope from these great words. Unfortunately many people are deceived by false prophets who use these same words to provide false hope.  This, too, is not new to humanity; deception by false teachers who twist the Word of God has been happening since the serpent deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Our best protection against false prophets is to focus more intently on the Word of God.  God promises for us hope and a future.  Does our hope come from God’s plan for us or from our own plan for ourselves?

Hope and prosperity:  these are things considered by many to be a gift of God and truly they are.  And yet, bad things and poverty happen to God’s people all the time.  So how does this happen?  Is bad stuff happening to us a part of God’s plan, too?  Are we to consider these evil things are outside of God’s plan?  If it is outside of God’s plan, is God no longer in control?  The devil has been preying on the questions and doubts of humanity since the beginning.  What are we to do?

Repent!  What?!?  No, seriously, repent that our desire is for our own plans, not God’s, that our sorrow is increased because we are disappointed and our fear is heightened because we doubt God’s power and promises.  Despite the appearances, Jeremiah 29:11 does not offer prosperity in the manner in which we desire; it offers prosperity according to God’s plan.  God’s plan of redemption calls for humanity to turn from its sinful ways and turn toward God, which is the definition of repentance.  His promise is that when we do and until we do, He will be waiting and willing to receive us.  ‘“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you.  You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord…”’  Jeremiah 29:12-14.

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss