Pastor’s Corner



This summer the Gauss side of the family had a gathering on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico at a great house with an even greater location and a week of togetherness. One problem:  There was one family member who couldn’t make it.  Initially this was a bummer because we were so close to having “everyone” together.  Then we remembered it is 2018!

For the week we were together we Face-timed our missing family member. We walked the beach, watched the sunset, spotted dolphins, attended a bridal shower and even played board games together.  It truly was remarkable how much fun we had together through the power of modern technology.

The blessing of technology has allowed Baptism sponsors to make their vows from remote locations. Family and friends have attended funerals and funeral lunches, crying and laughing and finding hope in the Lord together.  Through podcasts and websites, shut-ins and travelers can stay connected to the family of faith at Cross.

In spite of all these blessings there are real challenges with “digital presence.” Digital presence can make us feel as if we are there when in reality we are missing important aspects.  The ability to touch is invaluable; a handshake, a hug, a pat on the back or a playful hair messing all improve our connectedness.  Current research continues to indicate that we have never been more connected as a society and at the same time we have never felt more alone!

There is no substitute for being physically surrounded by those who love you. The ability to participate in the group tasks of decorating or cleaning up increases bonding, purpose and belonging.  The ability to volunteer to hold someone’s jacket or look for lost keys, while simple or silly, are all part of what it means to be human, connected.

Over the last decade I have grown a deep appreciation for the ability to minister to families through text, Facebook, or video chat. We have utilized these technologies in the Call process for staff members, worship services and the like.  But they cannot replace the ministry of presence.

When people gather in physical proximity, it changes us and stretches us. We are less likely to feel alone or left out.  We are able to share meals, experiences and just “be” with one another.  Use technology to help connect, but remember, it doesn’t replace actually being connected.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 


Pastor’s Corner


Good Tension

Balance and moderation are buzz words for our culture. On one hand balance sounds good, like a well-balanced meal or a perfectly balanced cooking knife (this makes a big difference).  Carrying a heavy load is easier when it is well balanced in your arms or on your back.  Carrying a light load that is out of balance can be very tricky.

On the other hand balance is precarious. Imagine walking that tightrope wobbling back and forth as you attempt to stay in balance.  The philosophy of balance is that there is a sweet spot in life where everything comes together in harmony.  When you find the right balance it is said to get easier, which sounds great, so why not seek balance?  Ephesians 4 says the cunnings of man will sway us back and forth like waves caused by the shifting wind.  Try finding balance in that!

Balance isn’t by definition a bad thing. When our life is perceived to be in balance, we might feel more comfortable or less stressed.  But pursuing balance too easily replaces other important goals in life and can limit our impact.  The solution the Bible provides is not seeking balance but finding beauty in the tension and trials of life.

If we have a firm foundation, we don’t need balance.

The answer Scripture provides is not one of finding a perfect balance; rather it is recognizing that the devil and our desires will constantly knock us off balance. The trials of life, illness, relationships, finances, etc. will quickly and unexpectedly send troubles our way.  I am imagining the show Wipeout! where the entire purpose of the show is to cause people to have spectacular falls so those watching can laugh.  Slippery surfaces, projectiles launched at you while you try to balance, shifting and spinning surfaces are all common occurrences.

With life and the devil there are no boundaries. Family, friends, finances, faith, future will all be attacked and attack us back.  If we are trying to balance all these things and these things in balance is what we seek, we will be an easy target for the devil.  If our focus is on balancing, then we won’t focus on Jesus.

Jesus provides the foundation that ensures stability in the midst of tension. Colossians 1 says that in Jesus all things hold together.  Jesus is the glue that provides stability.  He is the firm foundation and the harbor from the storm.  In Jesus we can walk on water and redeem evil things to make them good.  With our eyes and life focused and rooted in Jesus we can attempt new things that would normally knock us off balance.  In Jesus we find strength in being out of control because then we are under His mercy.

Faith and life find their true strength when we are off balance, when we let go and land firmly in God’s grasp. God calls us to step off the land into the raging world around us and assures us as we do so we will not lose our footing.  In Christ we are balanced.  We have certainty that we will not fall, and we can embrace the tensions, the raging storms and still have peace.  In fact we will have more peace than if we lived our whole life pursuing balance.



Pastor’s Corner

Ephesians A Church Alive In Christ-Title


We are wrapping up our Old Testament focus and heading into the Epistle of Ephesians. What is an Epistle (The T is silent.)? Epistle is a fancy way to say letter.  After Jesus’ death and resurrection Paul traveled the Roman Empire, teaching the Jews that the long promised Messiah had come.  The Old Covenant with God has been fulfilled, and a New Covenant sealed in Christ’s blood has been formed.

Paul would stay in these communities and teach at the synagogue (if he was permitted) or work from people’s homes who believed this message. Paul would typically remain in the area until a group of people had formed with local leadership and promised to continue sharing this Good News with the community.  After Paul left, these new leaders and “Christians” would encounter all types of successes and failures.  They would contact Paul for support or help or simply to celebrate what God was doing amongst them.

Paul would communicate back to the churches with answers to their questions, encouragement for their work in the Lord and continued teaching about what God had accomplished in Christ Jesus. Occasionally these letters were saved and shared over and over again or copied and given to other churches so they could hear from the Apostle Paul as well.

For the next seven weeks we will be reading through Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. Ephesians begins by reminding the people that they have been adopted by God, through Baptism, into Christ.  He then encourages them to live rooted in that adoption as God’s holy children.  He inspires them to unity of work and unity of faith.  Paul teaches that Christ died not just for the Jews, or the Church, but for the Gentiles, unbelievers outside the Church.  Finally He inspires them that living in Christ will make them better husbands, wives, children, parents, managers, co-workers, neighbors and friends.

This is the type of encouragement we all need today. The world tries to tell us we are lacking, we are misguided and we need to change or conform to meet some arbitrary standard that quite honestly keeps changing.  God teaches us through Ephesians that we can have joy today when we trust who God is and what He did for us.  Rooted in that faith we can be a blessing to others instead of being another voice that tells them what they lack.  When we focus on what we have and who we are, we come alive in Christ Jesus, come alive as an individual and come alive as a people working together to bring Good News to the whole world.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  Ephesians 4:15-16


Pastor’s Corner

John 14.jpg

Not Like Everyone Else

It is hard to fit in; it isn’t any easier to stand out.  The back and forth that goes on inside us between wanting to be accepted and fit in like everyone else but also be our own person can be overwhelming.  The Bible talks about it as being “tossed to and fro,” using the image of a boat on rough waters.  The end result can make you feel sick.

God’s plan for us is to be rock solid, on firm ground, without wavering.  In fact, one of Jesus’ miracles was to calm the storm tossing the boat to and fro.  They went from a tumultuous ride to smooth sailing at the sound of God’s voice in Jesus.  That, right there, is pretty powerful to think about.  How often do we allow the voice of God to calm our nerves or sooth our soul?  I am blessed to be invited to many homes and hospitals where I come alongside someone facing illness or a medical procedure and bring God’s word of hope to them.

It doesn’t always work that easily though.  Sometimes the prayers don’t bring physical healing or a perfect procedure.  Sometimes the circumstances worsen or another wave comes at them from a different direction.  When this happens, I am reminded of a second miracle.  Jesus walked on water in the midst of the storm.  Waves were crashing all around Him; wind gusting; lightening flashing; thunder rumbling.  It was in the midst of this storm, not the absences of the storm, where Jesus, and ultimately Peter, stood their ground.

In the world around us everyone is clamoring to get ahead.  We look to produce a picture we can put on social media; a story we can impress our friends with.  We get nervous that our children are “getting behind” in sports or academics or music or socially or….  We get concerned we are getting behind at work, financially, socially and the list goes on here, too!  We get so concerned about so many earthly things, we end up causing our own waves to drown us.

Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” John 14:27. When we live and strive for the things the world and our neighbors strive after, we should not be surprised when we end up with the same results.  Jesus wants to give us something else.  Jesus wants us to see our every need is fulfilled in Him.  Our goal isn’t to get ahead, but rather to serve; to seek and save the lost.  Our goal is to see the people drowning in their own chaos and offer them salvation through Jesus Christ.

This week, we will see what happens to the Israelites when they want to be like everyone else and demand God gives them a King.  They get the same results as the nations around them.  Praise God, this opens up opportunities for God to shower them with mercy and forgiveness.  Praise God, He doesn’t give like the world gives, but rather grants forgiveness in every circumstance.

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss