Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Lent for All Nations!

I don’t want to bury the lead, so I’ll use it here as a teaser so maybe you will keep reading!  Cross Lutheran is headed to Acuña, Mexico in June to build a house, and you are invited!  More details below.

This Lenten season (now until Easter), we are utilizing worship materials titled “Lent for All Nations” during our Sunday morning services.  The premise is to explore the biblical relationship between Israel and surrounding foreign nations.  At the same time, we will explore modern efforts of LCMS churches to reach out to All Nations, near and far.  

When Abraham was called and blessed by God to have his offspring become a mighty nation, he was at the same time called to be a blessing to all nations.  God has never limited salvation to just one people group.  It was always God’s desire to reach all people, first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 

Throughout the world’s history it has been difficult for people of different nations and backgrounds to reach across ethnic borders and create true unity.  The selfish human nature in us all fights to preserve what we know and defend our comforts from outsiders.  This Lent we will explore what God can do when we let down our defenses and find unity in the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus. 

God doesn’t ask us to reject our nationalities and backgrounds but instead shows us that these are things that should not divide us.  Our different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, traditions and customs can bring flavor, beauty and depth to the majesty of God’s creative power.  Heaven is frequently described as a place where “every tribe, nation and tongue” praise God in unity.  

Lent is a time to remember that Jesus death was for me.  At the same time remembering it was also for every tribe, nation, tongue and person.  Jesus’ death wasn’t only for the people who were close to God already (Jews), but was for people far from Him, who rejected Him as their God (Gentiles). Jesus’ death and resurrection reminds us He is the creator of each and every one of us and loves us all!

So, this trip to Acuña, Mexico is about building a home for a family who probably isn’t like yours. We will be partnered with a ministry called Casas por Cristo (Houses for Jesus).  Casas is a well-established ministry in Mexico having started first in Juarez and now expanding to Acuña.  You can learn more about them at

The trip will depart June 12th and return on June 17th.  We will build and complete a house from ground up during the trip!  No special skill in construction is necessary and the best part is it is open to all ages!  This is a great trip for a family or a parent and child to go on together.  You can contact Pastor Matt for more information and watch our newsletter for details.

Remember God asks those who believe in Him to reach across the divide to bring unity and, by God’s grace, faith to those who do not.  His sacrifice led to our salvation and our sacrifice leads to others having the ability to have this same salvation. 

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”  Acts 13:47

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Lent

The word Lent is a strange word.  The origins of the word speak to a lengthening of days or a spring season.  (I could really use that right about now!).  I always look forward to Lent because it usually means spring is right around the corner.  Typically, by the time Easter is here Spring is here as well.   The countdown to spring begins with this 40-day season of introspection.

Just like Spring leads to an awakening of our land, the idea is that Lent would lead to an awakening of our faith.  Yes, the season of Lent is man-made but it is deeply rooted in biblical truth.  A period of 40 days was frequently a season of time where people would grow in faith and connection with God.  Noah had 40 days of rain on the Ark; Moses had 40 days on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments.  Joshua spied on the Promised Land for 40 days and God gave Nineveh 40 days to repent through Jonah and, of course, Jesus, himself, was tested for 40 days in the wilderness.     

These 40 days are difficult to endure.  Whether we want the cold to end, the pandemic to be over or Easter to be here, we need to go through the journey and process to arrive at the destination.  I’d like to invite you to consider these next 40 days as a rebirth and a renewal.  Maybe you’ve been cooped up in your home since last March; maybe you are just comfortable worshipping on line; maybe you are angry or depressed about the weather or the election.  You could be grieving the loss of a loved one or a lost celebration in the midst of all that we’ve been through. 

We have 40 more days; 40 days till Easter; 40 days till we can be outside again.  40 days and many of our most high-risk people will be vaccinated.  No, everything won’t be fixed in 40 days but, if for these next 40 days we listen and lean into God, if we listen and hear His voice, if we are faithful and boldly follow where He leads us and trust in Him for comfort and strength–in 40 more days, we will have new life and a new hope.  Our faith will blossom and bloom with the power and majesty of God almighty working in us!

Don’t let these 40 days pass you by.  Instead, dive into God’s word and pray!  Ask God the questions you’ve been meaning to ask Him and try to be faithful and obedient in an area of your life you have been resisting.  Try it for 40 days.  You will be surprised how free you will feel once Easter rolls around.  It isn’t as far away as you think!

(After 40 days in the wilderness) Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Matthew 4:10-11

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Do Not Lose Heart

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”  2 Corinthians 4:1

The winter doldrums, the extreme cold, the pandemic isolation approaching a year, the political unrest, our nation turning away from God’s truth; it might seem easier to throw in the towel than to push forward.  But, our God has conquered death and the grave!  I know my current challenges are not as insurmountable as death so I have tremendous hope.

The secret to not losing hope is to listen to the God of Life, not the lies of the word and our flesh.  Our minds are feeble, our flesh is cursed to fail; our natural mindset is to see the worst in most situations.  If this isn’t you, feel blessed!!!  The ability to have hope in the darkest most hopeless moments is the key to a long and prosperous life.  

Hope gives you a clear head, a new perspective and the ability to overcome failure and adversity.  Hope comes from God, alone.  In Psalm 62, David writes about how others intend to topple him. He says from their mouths they bless but from their hearts they curse.  This two-faced adversary can be exhausting to battle.  David finds hope in the Lord; his soul finds rest in God. 

But, how?  The difficult part isn’t knowing we should have hope and joy.  The question is how do we get it or get it back.  David addresses this issue in Psalm 16: “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure…”

To keep our eyes on the Lord is to remain focused.  I have two daughters who are able to drive now.  When they were just learning they had to learn to keep their eyes on the road because when they looked around they would veer toward wherever they were looking.  We need to look toward the Lord and veer toward Him, ALWAYS.   When we take our eyes off Him and put it on something else, we veer away from God and fixate on our worries.  

When we fixate on God, our worries become less and our joy increases for we know the Lord will never forsake us and is capable of Great things.  We know the Lord is working a greater plan than the evil that surrounds us and our heart finds peace in Him. 

Do not lose heart, we have the mercy of God and we get to proclaim the mercy of God to one another.  This is worthy of praise and celebration!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Have You Heard The Good News?

Have you ever had Good News seem bad?  I still remember when I found out a friend and neighbor from elementary school was moving.  We had become great friends because when my sisters babysat for her, I would go, too.  We had a blast, until her dad got a new job with a new house and a pool.  It was great news for them, but sad for me. 

This type of thing happens all the time, even when we think it shouldn’t.  THE Good News of Jesus seems like a no brainer; good news for everybody type of deal.  Then why does Paul in 1 Corinthians 1 call the Good News of Jesus (translated as The Gospel) “a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles”?

By listing both Jews and Gentiles, Paul includes every person in the known world except people who already believe.  The Good News is truly GREAT; so great it is hard to believe!  At the same time, this Good News turns our life upside down.  Like a new job that requires a move for the family, the Gospel is accompanied by a move of the heart and mind.  The Bible calls it transformation. 

The Good News is foolishness for an unbeliever (Gentile) because it means putting God at the center of your life when before it would have been anything except God at the center.  To change your belief system usually goes against your family of origin and typically is met with resistance and ridicule.  Think about Saul who murdered Christians and then became one.  Both the Jews and the Christians ridiculed him! 

For a Jew, the Gospel is foolish for the same reason many Christians and Christian churches don’t teach a clear Gospel message even today. The pure Gospel is that Jesus died for your sins and salvation is completely from His grace and requires no action from you.  We get no credit for being saved and receive no judgment (think condemnation, not perception) when our life doesn’t always match our faith.  In fact, scripture goes out of its way over the top to ensure we realize that we are saved by Grace, through faith, not by works, so no one can boast.

Jews at the time, and Christians today, say we believe or understand this but then we get so jealous and discontent when considering someone who doesn’t make “Godly choices” might be saved.  It is “foolish” to think God would be so gracious to forgive someone their sin who doesn’t change like I have!

We become the older brother in the Prodigal Son parable.   While it is true, the Gospel news should in fact change us, and does in fact change us, for many the road of transformation is long.  The path is rocky and rugged as the Devil works diligently to deceive, distract and destroy the new faith that has been planted.  The Good News is that Christ died for us WHILE we were still sinners.  The Gospel causes our action to change because our heart and mind and faith have already changed. 

As Christians in this world, we get worried about things we can measure.  We focus on baptism and Holy living because these are able to be witnessed and perceived.  God measures the heart and soul.  While a transformed Heart, Mind and Soul ultimately leads to transformed living, the Gospel is that forgiveness comes from confession of sin not our ability to avoid it.

When we focus too much on the “What should we be doing” part of the faith we are easily distracted from the “Who should I be hearing” part.  If we focus on doing, we might occasionally get the hearing.  If we focus on the hearing, we will always, EVENTUALLY, get the doing.

The journey of discipleship starts with hearing, “What is God trying to say to me about this?” Then, and only then, we can ask the second question “How am I going to respond?”  These are two simple questions that are anything but simplistic.  Let’s focus on proclaiming the Good News, hearing the Good News and living the Good News.  I pretty sure God is more than capable of sorting out the rest!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss