Pastor’s Corner


Healing Prayer

Am I the only one that finds it easier to pray for things that are hurting or wrong, broken or sick? I know all about prayers of praise and thanksgiving and I pray them often, but the majority of my prayer life is centered on people or situations in some type of need for improvement.  Some of these healing prayers are answered and some are not.  Sometimes I understand, or think I understand, why they are not answered.  Other times, God and I do not seem to be on the same page.

This disconnect that often occurs between our will and God’s will regarding difficult situations is long documented. The entire book of Job is dedicated to the fact that God was not answering Job’s prayers.  Everyone, including Job’s friends, had an opinion why during his difficult time.  James writes in his New Testament book about how the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective.  In Psalm 22 the author wrestles with the feeling that God has forsaken him and pleads for the Lord to show His face.

So what is a believer to do with prayers that are left unanswered or prayers that are answered far differently than we desired? The honest answer is simple but difficult.  We are called to trust in the work and will of God.  Trust is much more easily given when prayers are answered the way we like and when blessings are clear and abundant.  Trust is more difficult when sickness, death, poverty and misfortune are upon us or our loved ones.

Our disconnect from understanding God at work in this world comes from the reality that this world is cursed from sin. Paul writes in Romans 8 that it is “subjected to frustration.”  We are attempting to observe and interact with a loving, life giving, Holy God through a world that has been cursed and sentenced to death.  Yes, God has promised to fix things and, in fact, sent Jesus to do just that, but He has also told us that any fixing still falls short of the glory that will be revealed in the last days.

In other words, our greatest blessings, the most amazing miracles, and all answered prayers are just a sampling of what our perfect life will be like in Heaven. Because of the curse we cannot experience these blessings in full right now.  But in His mercy, God still reveals His power, mercy and love to us in various ways so we will call on Him to rescue us from this broken, fallen creation.  God listens to all our prayers and answers every one of them.  Some answers just require us to trust Him and have a little more faith.  May God grow faith in you (us) to trust Him in all circumstances!

In Him,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner


Going on Vocation

No, the title does not contain a typo.  We are all familiar with the term vacation, but the term vocation is typically less well known.  Vocation is a term that describes the different things we do in life and encourages to assign purpose or meaning to them.  For example, being a neighbor can be classified as a vocation.  This is especially true if you are intentional about being a neighbor and try to do it well.  Did you participate in the coordinated Christmas light display your neighborhood organized?  Do you shovel your front sidewalk for children or joggers to use even if you don’t?  Did you take a meal to someone who is ill or clean up your dog’s mess for the sake of others?

Vocation could be used to describe your profession and the purpose that profession has in contributing to society.  (Typically a thief or con artist is not considered a vocation, although it does fit into the broad definition).  Your station in life as a parent or child, friend or co-worker is also considered part of your vocation because those roles have an important role in bringing purposes to our world.

All this talk about vocation might cause you to want a vacation, but the real reason we are talking about it is to remember the high value God places on each of our vocations.  The world tries to rob us of joy or meaning in our life.  We are tricked into comparing our life’s work against others and getting a false sense of pride or embarrassment from those comparisons.  God wants us to remember that each and every vocation is valuable and necessary for God’s love to be made manifest in the world.

The origin of the word vocation is the word calling.  If you consider your calling in life, you might think of what you really want to do or be.  Maybe you want to be an astronaut or have ten children.  This can be a calling, but in our Christian faith we are also called by God.  Our callings in life, or vocations in life, may be chosen by us or they may be chosen for us.  Your vocation might be to fight a terminal illness with faith and dignity or walk alongside someone to help them do so.  You probably didn’t choose this vocation; it chose you.  You may have chosen to be a neighbor (as opposed to living off the grid), but we don’t often get to choose who our neighbors will be.

Vocation is certainly the calling we sense from within, but vocation is also a greater purpose that God lays over that inner calling.  God encourages, challenges and even admonishes as His children to be about our Father’s business just as He lived His life doing the same.  When we hear this as law, a “must do or else” type statement, we can become resentful or tired.  When we are able to see the vocations we find ourselves in as a gift from God, an opportunity to be His blessing in a difficult situation, we approach the same situations with different purpose.

This Epiphany season we are encouraging one another to unlock the joy of living that God desires for each of us.  A piece to unlocking that joy is hearing God call to you, His good and faithful servant, to fulfill His purposes and plan for good to be brought to each and every person in each and every circumstance.  In order to do that God is calling you to be a light in the place you are uniquely positioned to shine!


Pastor’s Corner

Abundant Life

Living the Abundant Life!

Would you describe your life as abundant? A quick look at the dictionary defines abundant as being available in large quantities or plentiful.  Would abundant be a good word to describe your life, or would the opposite be better—scarce?   I will admit that sometimes I feel like I’m “missing out” on things.  I look at Facebook or Christmas cards and see all the highlights people are sharing.  They go on trips or have experiences that are fun, but I’m not.  Am I doing something wrong?

A current movie is in the theater called Downsizing. Despite the name, it isn’t about getting fired; it is about being shrunk down in size to about four inches tall.  In this theatrical world, downsizing is all the rage, because when you are little things cost less and, therefore, you can live more “life” with less money/resources.  I haven’t seen it yet, and I don’t know if I will, but it makes me wonder what people would do to have “more” or to do “more”.

One thing that comes to mind about this movie is that, in theory, everything about life stays the same except the needs are different…smaller. Essentially, nothing changes except perspective.  Is it possible to change our perspective without actually shrinking ourselves down?  Could we possibly need less and, therefore, be happy with less?  Is it possible to take a life that feels scarce and transform it to feel abundant?   This is exactly what Life in Christ is all about!

When we are baptized into Christ our life is transformed from one who knows about Christ to one who is with Christ.  When we are with Christ, we are able to find joy and hope and peace in our eternal relationship with Him.  When we are in Christ, the same life we live takes on a whole new perspective; we find satisfaction in enjoying life in community and purpose in sharing faith with others.  The greatest gift we can offer is to pray for one another and that doesn’t cost a penny.  The most exciting journey to go on is mentoring another person in the faith.  The biggest expense is time.

Being baptized into Christ means that we can put aside the world’s mantra of YOLO (You Only Live Once) and pick up the perspective that each day is a new beginning; a new life to be lived with new experiences to enjoy.   We have an eternal life with Christ that literally offers us endless opportunities.  Whether the day brings great joy or great trials, we are blessed to be a child of God Almighty.  How could we possibly need “more” than that? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Pastor’s Corner


This Is Living

Christmas has come and gone, so now what? Maybe you find yourself holding on to the last few days of Christmas break before re-entering “reality.”  For many, reality has already hit with the return of work and the challenges of closing out one year and beginning another.  It will probably take a little while to recover from some of the common holiday stresses like family, weight gain and the expenses of the season.  Wow, sounds like we need a break from Christmas!

This Christmas and new year many of us made a commitment, a resolution if you will, to not let 2018 be the same as 2017 in some way – to eat healthy, to exercise more, to find a different job, to stick to our budgets, to improve relationships, or to be more resolve with our faith.  Often times the best way forward is to look back.  The first Christmas and the results that came from it are a powerful help as we look for results in our lives after this Christmas.

In the days, weeks and years after the first Christmas we see people of all types and with differing challenges come to see One who was born in a manger.  Immediately the shepherds come to mind as they heard of the Christ and then went and told others what they had seen.  The Magi, non-Jews, of course, came from the East to see the King of the Jews, only to find He was born for them, too!

This story is retold over and over throughout the life of Christ and even more so since His death and resurrection.  “Come and see” transforms into “Go and live free” in the presence of the One born in the manger, the Savior of the whole world, our Lord Jesus the Christ.

Why doesn’t this transformation happen more easily like it does in the Bible?  Well, the transitions are never easy, but we are also easily fooled into staying away from God with certain things because they aren’t “spiritual.”  This isn’t the truth.  Every battle is a spiritual battle.  If not, why can’t we just make the change happen?  The evil one is lurking, seeking to devour and attack in our times of weakness.  Whatever challenges are already piling up for you, whatever resolution you’ve already failed to keep this week, whatever the goals are you have for 2018, have you considered seeing Christ in them?

“Come and see” what God has done so we can “go and live free” in Him!  He will not only give us the power to transform but will cause us to be transformed.  This is living!  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” Corinthians 5:17