Pastor’s Corner

Big Weekend!

In any normal year I would be writing about how Halloween is one of the biggest Mission Nights of the year!  We get to see and interact with so many of our community members, as well as make a big impression (best candy, coolest costume, most fun door greeting, etc.) on those whom we encounter.  Some years I even note that All Hallow’s Eve was first a Christian holiday before it became the modern day Halloween.  For now, I will leave that idea to stir your imagination and encourage you that Mission is the most important thing!

At the same time there are some exciting means to the mission that we are also celebrating this weekend.  The first is a Commissioning and Installation of Jan Kinsel.  Jan graduated in 2017 with her certificate as Director of Church Ministries.  She started working here through a Divine Call of the congregation this summer, but her paperwork and planning finally allow us to celebrate formally this weekend!  Join us Sunday at 8 AM as we recognize what God is doing through Jan’s leadershipto equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:12

This Sunday is Reformation Sunday where we traditionally remember the work of Martin Luther as he challenged the Church to look at itself and become more in line with the Gospel of Jesus.  The leaders of the Church refused to repent, and a full-on “Reformation” was born.  We are reminded once again this year that as a congregation we are called to remain focused on and diligent of the work of Jesus and His ministry, not the work of the Church.

Last but not least, this weekend is Commitment Sunday for our Capital Campaign.  For the last eight weeks we have been about personal spiritual evaluation.  For the last two years the devil has been working hard to get us off track.  It is time to refocus on the calling God has for us.  We are called to mature as Disciples of Jesus who Walk with God in Worship, Grow in Faith Together, and Love Our Neighbors.  For the last two years we have had a difficult time doing any of these things together.  

Even without the difficulty we have encountered to gather as a congregation, God has still been at work.  We have refocused as church and school leaders and have encouraged our congregation to do the same, to put aside the things that divide and seek unity in the midst of these trying times.  There is nothing more powerful to an unbelieving world than to see the children of God rise up in victory. 

This weekend is a big weekend because it is a weekend we have set aside to celebrate what it means to reprioritize and refocus on the things of God, to hand our worries and our fears, our doubts and our futures back to the One who has power and authority to lead us.  God is good, has promised to be faithful and only asks one thing:  for us to remain connected to Him through His Word, His community of believers and His Kingdom’s Mission (which, by the way, is just another way to say Walk, Grow and Love). 

Join us in worship this weekend.  We will celebrate God’s blessing of the Past, through the Reformation, the Present as we celebrate together, and the Future as we (re)commit to the mission of our Lord! 

“The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”  1 Thessalonians 5:24

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

He Knows Me

In the season of scary movies and creepy villains the idea that someone is watching you can be a bit disconcerting.  Most of us like our privacy for no other reason than we are uncomfortable with details of our lives being known to others.  The level of comfort is different for each of us.  Some people want to become reality TV stars and have the world watch their every move.  Others desire to move “off the grid” so no one can find them.

One area that always amazes me is the idea of “tracking” family members through their electronic devices.  Our family all have iPhones and so we share our locations with each other.  This makes life for us so much easier.  When one of us gets done with work or school or sports, we can easily see if someone is coming to pick us up or where the family is gathered for dinner or another activity.  Several in our extended family participate as well.  We love to watch our family members travel across the country in anticipation of their arrival at our home for the holidays. 

Many of you reading this right now think our family is strange.  I know because over the years you have told me you don’t like people “stalking you”, even if it is just your family.  There isn’t a right or a wrong in this circumstance; it is just different.  I too will occasionally get weirded out when my sister in Michigan will text, asking how I like the restaurant in which we are eating.  She saw us all gathered on the tracking app and thought she’d check in. 

While there is a level of discomfort with the intimacy of others knowing where you are, the beauty is that it is also comforting to know people care.  The strange text asking how things are going at the event we are attending is also quite meaningful because people you care about are caring about you.  (It is also fun to harass your sibling when they stop to use the bathroom “again” on the drive to come visit you!)

This weekend we will be exploring Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  Jesus said, “I know My sheep and My sheep know Me”.  This level of intimacy is unfamiliar for many.  It can be uncomfortable for believers and extremely creepy for unbelievers.  Why is God watching like a big brother or authoritarian?  Why doesn’t God just stay away until I need Him?  If God is watching, why did He let that happen?

Jesus’ illustration of the Good Shepherd is not one of authoritarianism but one of protector.  The idea is that sheep are sleeping at night and the shepherd is awake to deter any predators looking to kill for food or thieves looking to steal them for their own profit.  The Good Shepherd is there to deter trouble, and more than that the Good Shepherd stays and fights off those enemies.  He stays and fights until the battle is over.  He doesn’t retreat or surrender; He fights to the death.  

So why can’t God leave me alone and then come swoop in and save me when I need it?  Well, He can and He does.  But God loves you more than that.  He wants to be a part of the celebration and joys of life.  He also wants you to live free.  You don’t need to keep looking over your shoulder for the next attack from the enemy.  Jesus is there, watching for you, fighting for you, dying for you, winning the victory for you!

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, wants an intimacy with you and you with Him that rivals His relationship with the Father; They are One.  This is uncomfortable at first and, honestly, remains uncomfortable at times.  It stretches us to trust someone other than ourselves, but the reward is so great:  to have a full life, no joy robbed from you by the thief, no peace lost due to uncertainty.  A steady, comforting, powerful presence that is yours in all circumstances.  The Good Shepherd.  

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Building on the Past:  Updates

Things are starting to speed up with regards to the building plans.  As you know, the capital campaign is underway, and the building plans are moving forward.  Below are some updates on different items and how God is working the timing together.

Thrift Shop – The first major hurdle is building the Thrift Shop addition so the ministry that is happening there can continue to thrive.  Also, the off season storage for the shop is in the location where our future school building will be.  These items will need to be moved into the addition (or some other storage locations) before we can build out the main portion of the project. 

We have architectural drawings ready to be submitted to the city.  This will be our second attempt.  The first attempt was denied because of inaccurate building code information given to us by the city.  God works good in all things, and this second attempt will be a better long term solution than our first design would have been.  

The civil engineering survey is completed.  We are also praying for the plot consolidation to be approved by the city ASAP.  The Thrift Shop currently sits on two parcels instead of one.  This is largely a technicality, but if the request for expedited approval is denied, it will delay construction by four months.  

Church/School Campus – Now that summer is over and the school year is rolling we are able to meet more regularly with the architect/design team.  These meetings are filled with detailed questions and nuanced decisions about wall placements and doorway swings.  In all seriousness we have been working on the design for the dedicated Children’s Ministry area as well as the second floor learning commons.  

The capital campaign is underway.  We are all praying, as a family of faith, for the same thing.  On Commitment Sunday, October 31, we will be able to be a part of something amazing — something that impacts us all today but also the generations to come!  God is at work among us, but for the last 18 months, the devil has tried to make us all feel and be isolated from one another.  This campaign is an opportunity to get reconnected and accomplish something together we could never do on our own. 

We are not defined by our past, but we are shaped by it.  We cannot control the future, but we can influence it.  Today is the present, and we stand in a unique position to be able to receive the blessings from all who have come before us and pass on a blessing that will be a foundation for those who come after us.  

This isn’t just a building; this is a true experience about life and faith, priorities and opportunities.  May you take these moments to consider all God is doing in your life everyday and find great peace and power in His presence.  

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  Revelation 1:8

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

A Way Forward

This week we will explore one of the greatest visionaries in the Bible.  If you are trying to guess who it is, you may be thinking about famous prophets like Isaiah or Elijah.  Maybe you are thinking about a great leader like Moses or a person who saw visions like Joseph.  The Sunday school answer of “Jesus” is always a great place to start as well.  But none of these is who I am talking about.

The Bible is filled with all sorts of leaders who were blessed by God in various ways.  However, there are very few we get to read about who God called to serve as a vision casting leader and then gave us insight into the process of what it means to make that vision a reality.

Nehemiah was serving a foreign king because the nation of Israel had been defeated in battle.  Nehemiah’s heart broke over all the destruction he had heard about, especially to the walls of Jerusalem.  Ezra had already led the rebuilding of the temple, but the rebuilding was still incomplete.  There was no protection and no completion without the walls.  Essentially, there was no validity to the rebuilding of the nation of Israel until the work could be protected.  There was no leadership of a nation, if the gates didn’t oversee the flow of what comes in and what goes out of the capital city.

Nehemiah had won the favor of his king through obedient and faithful service and was therefore released and equipped to rebuild the walls.  He could not do it himself.  He needed the work of the people, and the people were distracted.  Over and over again, either personal distractions, threats from the world around them and even general fatigue all plagued the work of Nehemiah. 

Nehemiah had a vision, and he had the favor of God to complete that vision.  Nehemiah shows us that the value of a leader isn’t in their specific skill and ability.  The true effectiveness of a leader is their ability to cast that vision to the people God gives to carry out that vision.  In other words, Nehemiah can’t build the wall, can’t fund the wall and can’t defeat the enemy; the people of Israel needed to do that.  Nehemiah’s role was to hold unswervingly to the vision God placed before him and remind the people over and over, no matter what came their way, that God was with them.

Nehemiah wasn’t a pastor or a major prophet or a king.  I think that makes this book even greater.  Nehemiah was a blue collar worker, a servant to a king, and by living a life faithful to God’s calling, God accomplished much through him.  Nehemiah could be any of us, could be all of us.  

God may not use you to lead a project as massive as the rebuilding of the city walls.  (This is literally a task of Biblical proportions!)  God is, however, calling you to serve faithfully right where you are.  We need to listen and not lose focus.  We need to trust and not fear.  We need to see what God sees and hear what God hears.  When our heart and mind align with the desires of our Heavenly Father, nothing is impossible.  

That is right.  The primary lesson I believe we can draw from Nehemiah isn’t a list of “five skills a great leader develops”.  Rather, the greatest leaders are simply faithful followers who share the true desires of God with others.  A person who is willing to routinely remind themselves and others that God is here, God is good, and God is for us.  We are in good hands, no matter how big or scary or impossible the enemy or goal in front of us appears.  Our God is always greater!

I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me.  And they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’”  Nehemiah 1:18

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Faithful for the Future

For several years we have been praying, planning and seeking God’s direction for our next steps as a family of faith at Cross.  I never would have guessed God’s timing (and it certainly would not have been my personal timing) that this stressful and challenging season we call “COVID” would be when God says, “The time is NOW!”  Yet, as I look back on Scripture, it makes perfect sense. 

God’s people have frequently grown complacent during seasons of prosperity and at the same time grown resilient during adversity.  It seems the “Old Adam” in all of us still gets his way on occasion.  The good news about this is that we have historical evidence, over and over again, about God proving faithful through His people during challenging times.  

Such a time as NOW! is a call to action for all God’s people during this tremendously difficult season.  Government overreach, worldwide pandemics, agenda-driven school curriculum, racial unrest, etc. should not discourage God’s people but rather call us to action. 

Now is the time when the people of God return fervently to our God and seek His strength and blessings.  We cast aside the Old Adam and embrace the New Adam, born again of water and the Holy Spirit.  This rebirth is new every morning and in every season.  

I am excited that God is using the current sin in our world as a rallying cry for His people to repent of our sin and join Him in what He is working to do.  What is it that God is trying to do?  The same thing He has been doing since the first sin:  He is working that all people would have salvation in His name.  

God is actively working in you and through me to call us to Himself, like He always has. And, He is working through us to call others to find peace and hope in Him.  Here at Cross we have been hearing and responding to God’s work for 140 years.  God has been faithful.  And He continues to work and bless us into the future!  God remains faithful.

Please join with the whole family of faith as we seek God’s leadership and our faithful response to the challenges in the world around us.  We are working together to improve and increase the ministry’s reach and impact into the world.  We have re-launched the “Building on the Past; Faithful for the Future” campaign in an effort to break ground on new facilities Spring of 2022.  

This week you should have received the campaign brochure at home.  If you did not, you can request one here:  Capital Campaign Brochure Request.  You can view a digital copy of the brochure at this link:  Digital Copy of Capital Campaign Brochure.  We also have a campaign webpage which you can find at or click here:

This journey is not just a fundraiser, but an opportunity to hear the voice of God and respond faithfully.  The eight weeks of devotions and sermons should help to refocus on God’s work in the past and His faithfulness for the future.  His voice and truth remind us, especially in the most challenging of times, that the only way to overcome evil in the world around us is to trust God’s promises and live as His people.  In so doing we remain a light to the world, and His Spirit guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.   

Such a time is NOW!  When the world needs it most, for the people of God to turn to our God and live in His faithful promises for us, and promises for the whole world through us. 

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  1 Timothy 2:3-4

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss