Thread: Woven Throughout All Generations

In Seminary I was forced to decide what I truly believed about God. My ideas of who I thought He was and who I wanted Him to be didn’t always align with what God told me about Himself in the Bible.  Many times I found myself challenged, but by His grace I was able to believe God’s Word over my preconceived ideas.

Have you ever felt this way? What do you do when you find yourself challenged because God’s Word says one thing about God – but you want it to say something else?  Do you just ignore the parts of the Bible you don’t like?  However you face these challenges, my hope is that we can continue to deepen our journey of faith and embrace some of these more difficult moments.

January is the start of a new sermon series entitled “Thread”. In the season after Christmas and before Lent (Epiphany) we will explore some Old Testament stories and their importance in the New Testament and even today.  What is the thread that connects all those Old Testament stories and Jesus?  More importantly, what is their connection to ourselves?  We sometimes struggle to make those connections from the Bible to our daily faith.  Don’t feel alone!  Even some scholars fail to make the connection.  Some have even tried to argue that the Old Testament and the New Testament aren’t even talking about the same God.

The Story of the One True God is one of similar themes that are woven together throughout the story of humankind. During this series we will consider how those same threads and themes are currently woven into each of our lives as the story of God continues in us and through us even today!

Beginning on January 2 and 3 please join us as we study some of those Old Testament stories, find the thread to our Savior, and see how that thread continues to our everyday lives.

In His service and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is the season of joy, hope, and peace on Earth.  Can you feel it?  Is it working?  Even today more people do more charity work, make more donations, and volunteer more regularly in December than any other time of year.  The world still wants to believe, still wants joy, hope and peace on Earth, but more now than ever before in the United States, they want all these things without God.

This is not a new concept for anyone reading this. Every one of us has people we love who make decisions and choose actions without God in mind and then get upset that God isn’t with them.  These conversations are the most difficult, the most delicate.  How do we have these conversations and not turn them into a lecture or ‘ruin Christmas’ with our judgmental faith? Listen.

Listening means hearing the other person, focusing on them and loving them through their circumstance. It does not mean offering our opinion or our advice, it does not mean reminding them of their bad decisions or how they haven’t gone to church or read the bible.  Listening means putting aside our opinions and our agendas and genuinely caring for that person we love, or frequently encounter.  The more we listen and the more we care, the more likely we will be asked for our opinion, asked to speak challenging words into their life.

Listening is easier said than done, but for a believer we have a great source of strength for this challenge. On multiple occasions God speaks these very words “I have surely seen the affliction of my people, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them.”  Old Testament, New Testament and today, God hears our cries and answers our prayers.  He comes to us to help in our time of need.

This Christmas we are reminded that joy, hope and peace on Earth are not the work of man. They won’t happen because of an uptick in generosity for a month or other short term efforts.  Rather, they are gifts from God, a reality of God’s presence in us and through all who believe.  May God be with you and give you the power of His Holy Spirit this Christmas and until He returns!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Last Minute Planning!


No matter how hard we try, Alicia and I can’t seem to get the family calendar correct. Meetings, practices, games, youth group, parties, work responsibilities – you name it – something gets left off the calendar and inevitably requires our last minute attention.  Christmas season seems to heighten that issue; more items to squeeze into the same amount of space means more chances for miscommunication.

This makes me think of Mary and Joseph as they approached Bethlehem for the census. The census would need to be planned out in advance and yet they showed up 9 months pregnant with no reservations?  No family to save a place for them?  My in-laws would never have let Alicia give birth in a stable; they would have taken Alicia into their room and left me in the cold had I failed like that!  Of course there are so few details it is possible that a reasonable explanation exists.  Still, the outcome remains the same:  Mary and Joseph show up pregnant and wind up laying Jesus, the Savior of the world, in an animal feed trough.

How do you do with last minute plans? Like most of us they probably bring extra anxiety and stress as you wonder what the results will be.  Last minute changes or lack of planning will often cause a person to feel helpless and out of control.  But being open to last minute changes also allows the Spirit of God to lead you where He wants you and needs you rather than us demanding God to work within our plans.

Don’t worry; this is not an encouragement to stop planning or to embrace chaos. Rather, this is an encouragement that God’s perfection is greater than our planning.  Sometimes the most beautiful things are the ones that are the least planned.  The story of Jesus being born in a hospital delivery room doesn’t have quite the same impact.

Most important of all, when our plans fall apart that is the time when we are clearly able to see God at work. When we are successful because of the schemes of man we might think God is present, but when we are successful after all our plans fall apart, we know to give full credit to God, as we should all the time.  May this Christmas go exactly as planned, but also give you moments that cause you to give God ALL the glory.  “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Hopeless Joy


The third week of Advent is traditionally considered a week of Joy. If you do an Advent wreath, this is the week the candle is a different color.  Advent season is the four weeks leading up to Christmas where we reflect on the hopeless state of the world and its need for a Savior.  Week three is when “JOY” peaks through the fog of hopelessness and reminds us of the Gift that was given at Christmas and is ours to open every day.

Our every days are unknown to us each morning. Sure, most of us have plans from the basic get-out-of-bed to the more complex every-minute-scheduled-until-the-head-hits-the-pillow-again-at-far-too-late-an-hour.  But regardless of our plan, the day is not ours to control.  Each day is filled with its own challenges and troubles (Matthew 6:34).

In fact, our plans can go awry so often and so catastrophically that we may feel completely out of control, even hopeless. This is the scene Jesus enters into that first Christmas.  The promises of God had been so long ago.  The power of the Roman Empire tightened like a noose around Israel.  The faithful descendants of Abraham, once as numerous as the stars, were reduced to the most avid believers.  There was little hope of anything turning around anytime soon.  But everything can change quickly with God.

At the creation of the world there was literally nothing. And God spoke, and it was.  We went from nothing to a universe filled with untold glories in six days.  I think God can handle turning things around whenever He chooses.  And that is exactly what Christ did, but not the way the people had hoped for.  They thought that, like the creation, God would enter with power and might.  He entered meekly as a helpless Babe.  They thought He would overrun the Roman authorities and establish the kingdom of Israel in its place.  Even with Jesus things still seemed hopelessly chaotic.  Where is the Joy in that?

The Joy comes when Jesus calls His followers to take their attention off the world and focus squarely on Him. He reminds the believers that this world is chaotic, evil and doomed.  But we still have heart because Christ has come to overcome the devil and declare eternal victory.  He is called the Savior for a reason; without Him it is hopeless, but with Him, all men are saved.  This is where we get our Joy.  In spite of… no… BECAUSE of all the chaos and hopelessness, Love came down and rescued us.  In the midst of it all we have Joy, Hope and Peace because we are saved.  Until that day when the chaos ends completely, Peace be with you, God be with you, Joy be with you.

His servant and yours,

Erik Gauss

Picking the Perfect Present


I suck at giving presents.  Sorry for such strong language, but it is true.  I have two birthday cards in my briefcase right now that I bought two months ago and never gave them.  There are others that I never even bought.  And when it comes to Christmas?  Just give me your list so I can go get it for you.  Don’t get me wrong – I love giving presents; I am just bad at it.  I get worried the gift is not good enough or isn’t as meaningful to you as it might be to me.  I don’t want to be the guy that gives you something because I like it; I want to be the guy that gets you what you like, want or need before you even know it exists!  I put a lot of pressure on myself, and therefore I don’t succeed.

Maybe you can relate?  Maybe not with picking out gifts, but maybe with sharing Jesus.  I have spoken with many believers who want to share Jesus with others but don’t want to be bad at it.  They don’t want to disappoint God or make a fool of Christians or answer a question wrong, so they don’t say or do anything.  We fail because we don’t even try.

Jesus is the perfect present, not only for the one who receives, but for the one who gives.  Jesus is a Present that is picked, paid for and delivered right to your heart.  When you give Jesus, you don’t need to worry how it is received; He takes care of all that.  God’s Holy Spirit allows the heart and mind of the recipient to be prepared and accomplish exactly what the Gift was made to accomplish.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!   Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:57-58

We don’t give Jesus; we give ourselves to Jesus.  He gives Himself through us.  Giving to the Lord is not about convincing others to follow; it is about committing ourselves to live what we believe.  He takes care of the rest.  There are many ways to give at Christmas; everyone is asking this time of year, but God doesn’t ask for your gift.  Nothing we can give will be good enough or perfect enough.  He asks for our life – all of it – that He would redeem it, bring joy to it, and glorify His name through it so that others may know His love through us.

Please consider prayerfully, faithfully, how God is working in you, for you, with you and through you this Christmas and what it means to let Him be King of your life, the perfect Gift wrapped just for you.  Freely receiving God’s generous Gift of Jesus will free us to generously give of ourselves for His Kingdom.  The perfect gift?  It’s you!