Pastor’s Corner

Who God Is Calling

Search Committee Updates

The fall ministry season has kicked off, and the weather has finally turned to cooler temperatures and shorter days.  The behind-the-scenes work of the search committees for our congregation moves forward as well.  As you may be aware we currently are searching for two staff members to serve in our congregation, and I wanted to give an update on each of those processes.

The first is our Youth Minister position.  Since March our youth ministry position has been filled by our interim youth minister, Grant Riehle-Moeller.  We are very thankful how Grant has served the youth ministry to date.  The search committee has been meeting and preparing for interviews with potential candidates.  The committee is made up of myself, Sue Lopez, two members of the Governance Board (Nate Morel and Erica Pavlik), and two members-at-large from the congregation. The two members-at-large are Bob Patton, who is and has been a long time adult volunteer, and Nick Winkelman, a current youth serving in leadership in youth ministry.  Bill Ziech has also been serving on this committee as the supervisor for the Youth Minister.

The progress for this team has been thorough but slow.  We are currently looking for qualified candidates and are eager for your recommendations as well!  We have contacted Synod leadership, networked with people currently in youth ministry and contacted our Synod schools for names.  We continue the search and eagerly wait for the Lord’s provision.  Please continue to lift up our youth and youth ministry leadership in this time of refinement.

Our principal search committee is also formed and working to move forward.  The search committee consists of myself, three members of the Governance Board (Matt Dickson, Roxane Griesmann and Erica Pavlik), and two members-at-large.  The members-at-large are Lisa Scherer and Gandhi Schlote.  This group is a fairly representative sample of the demographics in our church and school, and I look forward to working with them.

Currently we are completing an updated job description as well as putting together the materials that will be mailed to potential principal candidates.  We are also working with Synod leadership and networking with others in the profession to identify excellent candidates.  Our hope is you will help us as well!

Please keep both of these efforts in your prayers and actively seek out people you believe might be a great addition to our team.  God works through each of us, His children, and you might be the one God uses to bring a great candidate forward.  Please submit any names or ideas to the office or one of our committee members.  And as always, pray!

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Wisdom vs Folly

Pastor’s Corner – Wisdom Is Imparted–Not Inherent

I am the youngest child in my family and not by a small amount.  My sisters, who are ten and twelve years older than me, taught me a lot about life.  Sometimes, they taught me with instruction or lectures.  Sometimes, I learned by watching them fail.  People have always said I was “wise for my age.” What they didn’t realize is that was because I always hung around with older people and learned through them.

Wisdom isn’t inherent; in other words nobody is born wise.  You can be born with an ability to learn quickly or to apply what you’ve learned.  You can be born with a sense for interpersonal skills or athleticism, but you cannot be born with wisdom.

Wisdom is imparted; in other words, wisdom is gifted and given to us by someone or something else.  You can be smart and have all sorts of ideas without wisdom.  A person can have an unlimited amount of opinions all on their own, but wisdom is learning when and how to share those thoughts and opinions.  Wisdom is developing a sense of what the consequences are of certain decisions.  Wisdom is the ability to make choices that bring about the intended results without harming others.

Wisdom is the opposite of folly. Folly is making choices and decisions based on the moment rather than what is truly beneficial.  Making decisions based on my emotions, cravings, yearnings or even needs can appear wise or seem right, but, more often than not, will lead to longer term consequences.  Similarly, wisdom might seem foolish in the moment, but will often bring about long term results.

As a simplistic example, consider watering a plant.  Someone who is smart might determine they can water the plant once a month if they put enough water on it at once.  This would lessen the work load and ensure you don’t miss a day.  Wisdom will help that person water as the plant needs, not as they desire.

Our walk with God is similar.  Folly is when we form opinions about God or what is right and wrong without ever learning or listening.  Wisdom is imparted by God in His Holy Word and gifted from others and their experiences.  We will have all sorts of opinions and ideas; some might be good, but most are uninformed folly.  God says humility is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2.)  Are you willing to admit your ideas may be wrong or under informed? If not, you will never be wise.

The ability to remain humble comes from confidence in the Lord.  A person who cannot be wrong finds security and meaning in themselves and who they are.  This is the heart of folly.  Each of us are frequently wrong, even in areas we consider ourselves to be an “expert.”  Wisdom admits our failures; folly denies them.  I want to invite you to step into wisdom and listen more than we speak, to observe and ask more than we inform; to seek truth in the only place that speaks it fully and clearly… the Word of God and apply those truths in every moment.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss


Pastor’s Corner

Words Have Power

Pastor’s Corner – Build and Destroy

I love it when I learn something, especially when I’ve been thinking about it wrong all along.  Okay, don’t get too carried away by this admission of confusion;  I wasn’t ENTIRELY wrong.  When I speak (or think) about the scripture and what it says about the tongue, I often talk about how the tongue is dangerous– like a double edged sword.  MY thought is the tongue is both good and bad, like a double edged sword.  This is not what scripture says… sort of.

The double edged sword imagery is from Hebrew where the author says the tongue is sharper than a double edged sword.  Think of the point on a double edged sword where both edges come together, able to slice in virtually every direction.  The tongue can do this, too.  The tongue can pierce right through someone, cut to the chase  and slice the heart and soul.  This image may sound bad, but it is the intention and usage of such a tool that matter.  A surgeon can use that sharp blade to save a life where a criminal will harm their victim turning the powerful tool into a weapon.

That is where the book of James comes into play.  James 3 talks about how the tongue can be used for both good and evil–building up others or destroying them with your words.  “But they are just words,” you might say; we shouldn’t let them impact us.  They do.  James likens the tongue to a sailboats rudder.  The power comes from the wind, but the impact of the wind is guided through the rudder.  James uses fire to illustrate the tongue as well.  Like a coal starts the fire, soon everything is ablaze.

Why do words impact us so?  Why can’t we stop them from hurting us? Words are the foundation of our humanity, literally.  The Word of God formed the heavens and the earth, the sun and stars, the birds and fish.  The Word of God became flesh and payed the full price of our sins.  The Word of God (the Bible) is how we know the heart of our Father, and our words (prayers) are how He knows ours.

Like many things in this world, God gives us a powerful gift and we use it for our own gain and selfish purposes rather than the intention of the one who gave us that gift.  James 3 reminds us of one of the most powerful gifts we have been given.  Words build up the body and soul of a person.  Words can encourage and inspire for good.  The words of the Good News of Jesus Christ can bring eternal life.  Or, we can destroy one another and tear one another down.  We can try to discredit others so we feel better about ourselves or momentarily gain favor in the opinions of man.

Don’t think words have true power? Look into someone’s eyes when you give them a compliment, or ask someone what the meanest thing anyone has ever said to them.  I bet they remember.   You have a gift from God that can literally change the world and ALL eternity; it is sharp and powerful and it can be used for building up or tearing down.  God gives you the choice and the opportunity to use His gifts for good.

                “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”  James 3:10

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

1 John 3.1

A Few Good Things

God doesn’t ask us for much.  The world keeps asking for more.

Perspective is a powerful thing and when it comes to navigating life, can alter your reality.  If you can change your perspective, you can change your life.  A majority of the people I encounter regularly have a Law-based perspective of God.  That is, a majority of people see God and His Church as trying to control your behavior and to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

For some people God seems like a detective trying to examine your life and find out all your guilt.  This Law-based perspective will cause people to behave for fear of punishment, but the long term impact is negative.  I believe that this is where our country is after years of Law-based instruction; people now are daring God to stop them from doing what they want.

The problems with this Law-based view are countless.  For example, God is not trying to control you; He is trying to help you remain safe and healthy.  Imagine someone telling you to stay away from certain dangerous parts of Chicago.  Are they trying to control your choices or help you make an informed decision?  If we go there just to prove we can, we put ourselves at risk.

God knows far more than we do; He sees the future and knows it already.  God designed and created us; He formed us in our mother’s womb and knows our every thought.  If God wanted to control us, He could.  Our perspective of God should not be Law-based but rather Gospel-based.  A Gospel-based perspective begins with knowing God is for you and wants you to have your best life now and forever.

God is the author and perfecter of our faith and is qualified to give us wisdom and insight into our decisions.  God knows the long term and short term impact of our decisions and gives us great advice for long term joy and happiness.  Most importantly God knows that the world never stops asking for more.

When we worship the world and its material nature, we are never satisfied.  When we worship the world and the things that it offers, we will never be content.  There is always something bigger, better, shinier; there are newer, fancier and things with more accessories.  When we measure ourselves by the world, we always see someone who has it better and we never have enough.

God knows we reap what we sow and receive the rewards we pursue.  If we pursue the world, we are never satisfied and are filled with regret.  When we pursue God and His Gospel-based perspective, we realize we are forgiven.  We trust we have all we need and are filled with contentment.  We recognize that God loves us and gives everything we could need as well as leading us in love for others.

Love God, who already loves you, and love your neighbor as yourself.  This is all God asks.  That doesn’t sound like the request of an enemy, but it certainly doesn’t give us freedom to do whatever we want.  I guess the question is who or what will receive your attention and influence your purpose and satisfaction in life?  I guess it depends on your perspective.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”  1 John 3:1 

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss