Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Running on Empty

It constantly amazes me how life has simultaneously slowed down and gotten more difficult at the same time.  In the Gauss House, we frequently say “There are no easy decisions right now.”  We use this saying as a way to give other people grace and a way to give ourselves the same grace.   Essentially, it is the same thing as remembering that we all suffer from “decision fatigue.”  This is a result of having to make so many decisions and our brains are just tired; maybe our spirit is tired, too; and we struggle to make even the most straight forward of decisions. 

The best description I’ve heard to illustrate this is that we are like a pitcher of water.  We pour ourselves out for ourselves and the nourishment of others.  Isaiah 44:3 says it like this: “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.”  Refreshing water is like a long steady rain after a long dry season.  This happened just a few weeks ago when my entire yard was brown and crunchy.  After a few steady rains it is lush, soft and green again.

If we keep pouring ourselves out, like a pitcher of water, we will eventually run dry.  It is required that every once in a while, we stop and refill ourselves so we can continue to be a blessing to those around us.   While WE might run dry, our source of refreshing water and life-giving Spirit never does.   So, if God’s refreshing water never runs out, why do I feel like I’m running on empty?

Our human nature tells us that when we feel dry, we should turn inward and protect ourselves.   Most of us will stop serving, stop giving, stop focusing on others and instead focus on ourselves.  We say, “I need to be fed” and we let Jesus pour out on us.  This works for a little while, but what happens is, instead of being a pitcher that pours out life giving water, we become a stagnant swamp where the water pools and goes stale.  We can’t figure it out and we ask “Why am I so dry; so disconnected; filled with a hollow Spirit when I am so connected to Jesus?”  The answer is because we stopped pouring ourselves out.

I like to envision not just a pitcher pouring out the life-giving waters of faith.  I imagine a hole in the “bottom” of the pitcher.  This allows the water to pour into us, the pitcher, while we simultaneously are poured into by the source of all life, Jesus. 

We are literally running on empty, but never run dry.  We are able to do this when we don’t look to our own needs, but look to the needs of others.  When we pour out, not from our reserves, but from Christ who pours into us, we, too, have a never-ending source of life-giving joy.

It is a simple concept, but it isn’t an easy concept.   If it was easy, we wouldn’t need each other and we certainly wouldn’t need Jesus.  Quite the opposite.  The Devil is actively working to cut us off from this life-giving water.  He is good at what he does and through his lies and deceit we are made to feel alone and thirsty.   This isn’t true now and it isn’t ever true.  Jesus, our source of life, is pouring into us.  As we receive from Him and pour into others, we will never be thirsty again.    “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  John 6:35  

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Cherishing the Moment

I remember a gift my grandparent’s gave me as a child.  It was a limited addition pocket knife commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.  At the time, the Statue was being refurbished and this knife contained metal that was removed during the restoration.

This gift was very special to me.  I always get over-interested in major projects like that.  The pocket knife was a perfect connection for this young Boy Scout and the knife had a dedicated place on my dresser.  I thought my grandparent’s had picked out the perfect gift.

A short time later, I learned my grandparent’s had gotten this same knife for all the grandsons.   I was heartbroken.  My grandparent’s didn’t know me the way I thought they did; I wasn’t “special” anymore.

What a silly thought to believe that the gift is any less special because it was given to everyone and not just to me.  Even worse, I let this little piece of information ruin my joy.  To this day, I have no idea why it mattered, but it did and it often does.  It is special to feel important, but it is more important to know that we ARE important, especially when the feelings can be ripped away from us so easily.

In Matthew 20, people go and work in a vineyard.  Each of them gets paid a fair, generous wage and they are each pleased with this.  Unfortunately, word gets out that they all got paid the exact same amount for different amounts of work.  Suddenly, they aren’t satisfied with their wages anymore.  The joy of getting paid for their effort didn’t matter once they learned that someone else got the same amount of money as they did.

We are able to find great amounts of joy in life when we focus on the blessings we have.  Dissatisfaction comes when we focus on what we don’t have or compare ourselves to others.  The Good news is that when we are discontent we often work harder and achieve new heights that previously seemed unimaginable.  The Bad news is this disappointment often robs us of the joys and blessings God and others are pouring out on us.   Adam and Eve were perfectly content, happy and blessed in the “Good” Garden until they learned about “Evil”, then they felt like they were missing out.

If we look around, we have a lot we can be frustrated with, and no one would blame us.  But, as Christians, we know that God is right there working and blessing us hour after hour, minute after minute.  Cherish the moment; cherish the blessings; cherish the gifts God has and continues to give to you.  Cherish the tough times, too. They cause us to appreciate the good times and teach us more about what we are capable of than any other circumstance.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Deeply Rooted

“Help us, in the midst of things we do not understand, to focus on the things we do…”  So begins one of my “favorite” prayers.  Unfortunately, we do not pray this particular prayer very often because it is part of the funeral liturgy.  The context may be one of the reasons I appreciate this prayer so much.

Speaking of context, there are a lot of things going on in the world that I don’t understand right now.  When there are more questions than answers this prayer reminds me that I am Deeply Rooted.  It doesn’t matter how unbelievable things have become; the pandemic, double hurricanes, racial tension or presidential elections, I can find great stability in the things I do understand. I am Deeply Rooted in the truth of God.

As the Fall Ministry Season kicks off, we are launching a teaching series to help us all better focus on our deep roots in Christ.  Focusing on these deep roots will help us be able to make better sense of the world. We will look at what God reminds us of so we can have confidence and peace even as the winds swirl, the waters rise, the earth trembles; we have a firm foundation and deep roots.

The Word of God reminds us that authorities are put over us to do the work of God in our lives even when we disagree with them and even when they are effectively evil.  God still has power over these authorities.  When we feel our freedoms are being threatened, what does God say about being free?

God teaches us how to have strength and control when life gets out of control.  Amazingly, the answer isn’t to get control back, it is to honor Christ and serve others.  When we serve others, even when we feel we have nothing to give it causes us to focus on God.  It reminds us we are not alone in our affliction and it proves to us that we don’t need to have control over our circumstances to have control over how we respond to them.  It is easier and brings more healing when we serve, than when we just try to fix our own lives.  Blessing someone else in troubles tends to make our needs seem less significant.

When life feels too overwhelming to try to understand, we don’t have to figure out everything we don’t know.  What we know already is more than enough to give us victory and stability.  We know God loves us.  We know God is actively at work in the world.  We know that we have one another to bear our burdens and the peace of Christ to guide us through them.  We know that our sins are forgiven and God will never leave or forsake us.  We have nothing to fear, because our God is God over all.

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.” Philippians 1:19

In Christ,

Erik Gauss


Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Fall Kick-Off!

It is finally here.  Every year we kick-off our Fall ministry season.  Usually we try to throw a party and have a big push to sign up and commit to enhancing your spiritual journey with other disciples at Cross.  This year, like most things, it looks and feels a little different, but the importance of recommitting to our journey of faith together is probably more important than ever.

For the last six months, most of us have had our faith journey turn into an observational exercise at worst or a limited engagement at best.  The habits, if not intentionally addressed, will slowly erode our connection to God.  Like physical exercise strengths our body, spiritual exercise strengthens our faith.

While this Fall Kick-off won’t be as dramatic as it has been in the past, let’s still take the time and consider how we can reconnect with God and His people.  There are Small Groups and ministries starting for all ages.  There are on-site and online options available.  Our staff and volunteer leadership are committed to making it possible for you to connect and reconnect during this important time.

Starting in September we will have on-site ministry for children, youth and adults.  We will start with multigenerational outdoor worship on Wednesday at 6:30 PM under the sanctuary portico.  During worship the children and youth will be dismissed to their age appropriate instruction.  The service will continue for the adults till about 7:00 PM and then they, too, will be encouraged to have their small group ministry time or other activities.

On Sundays we will have outdoor worship services on the second and fourth Sunday of each month in both September and October.   We will be having opportunities for parents to mentor their children during the worship service to help them lead their children through worship.   This embodies the role of parents as disciple makers for their children.

This fall has made it very difficult to advertise all the options available, but more options are available this year than ever before.  Contact the church office or Bill Ziech directly to get connected to the ministry opportunity that works best for you and your family!

“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.”  Hebrews 10:24-26

In Christ,

Erik Gauss