Pastor’s Corner

Thankful for You!

It doesn’t matter what you believe about COVID or any other issue facing our world; these last couple years have been exceptionally stressful for all of us.  I just want to take a few moments and thank God for YOU!  I always thank my God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4  

I often write and preach about how our faith in Christ Jesus impacts how we live.  Scripture reminds us that that living impacts others.  Today I am saying “Thank you!” to remind all of us that our actions don’t just impact unbelievers or random strangers, but in fact our actions impact fellow believers. 

It has not been an easy year in leadership.  We have been required to make countless decisions on a daily basis for the last two years.  Not a single decision has been easy and not one of them has brought unanimous agreement, yet you have all bonded together for the greater good.  You have rested your eyes on Jesus  and set an example for believers and unbelievers alike.  

Paul Goffron (our principal) and I recently sent this following excerpt to our school parents, and I thought it was appropriate to send to our worshipping congregation as well.  It is true of all of us, the family of faith at Cross, and it is worth remembering and celebrating!

Let’s Celebrate – We are a family at Cross, a large family, but a family.  We have varying opinions and varying needs, but we have unity in the one Head, Jesus Christ.  Can we celebrate that for a minute?  Paul writes this to the believers in Philippians 2:3-5:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…”

Thank you for being an awesome family of faith at Cross.  Thank you for sacrificing for one another.  It is an honor to serve in a place like this, where dirty rotten sinners submit to the Word of God and to one another, even in the most challenging of times.  None of us are even close to perfect on this; we all need to confess and forgive one another.  We all need to give Jesus our fears and put our trust in Him.  We thank God for each of you who pray for us, and we are certainly praying for you!

Thank you, Cross!  Your grace and patience inspire me to keep going.  Your truth spoken in love sharpens my decision making and Gospel proclamation.  Your actions shine the light of Christ’s love into the world and on one another.  Your prayers sustain and strengthen me when I am weak.

Take some time this week and be thankful for one another.  No, we don’t always agree on everything.  Yes, we can get on one another’s nerves.  But, we agree that Jesus Christ and His life saving gift is the top priority.  We believe our differences make us a stronger and more complete ministry for Jesus.  We believe our weakness allows God’s grace to shine even more.  For all of this and more, we are a perfect family of faith and that is something for which to be thankful. 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”  Hebrews 10:24

Thankfully serving Him and you,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner


Small, but mighty!  Less is more!  A little goes a long way!  We have all sorts of sayings to illustrate how something that may be easy to overlook might actually be “More than meets the eye!”  When we consider the New Testament book of Jude, we “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”  

One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to disguise a gift by packaging it in an unsuspecting way.  I have been known to add weight, broken glass (for sound effects), multiple layers of tape, boxes and additional wrapping.  I have separated one gift into multiple packages.  The list goes on and on in an effort to throw the unsuspecting recipient off the scent of what the gift might be.  It isn’t uncommon in our home for the most expensive gift to come in an envelope as a picture of a future trip or simply a gift card to a favorite store.

With the Book of Jude the same saying would hold true that “Big things come in small packages!”  Are you tired of the sayings yet?  We have so many ways of saying it because our temptation is to overlook the small, unassuming things and be more intrigued by larger or more attractive packaging.  

Think of Jude as a well edited essay with a word count limit.  The author uses words and illustrations that are three words long and packed with meaning.  Like “the way of Cain” referring to the multiple chapters in Genesis where we learn of the first brothers and how Cain was jealous of the relationship Abel had with their parents and with God.  A few words in Jude “might look innocent, but they pack a mean punch!”

Jude is the next-to-last book in the Bible and as such sets up the last book, Revelation.  Jude addresses the challenges and betrayal the believers will feel by the world and even other believers as they get lost in temptation and seduced away from the truth of the Lord.  Jude, believed to be the brother of Jesus, begins with a desire to celebrate the salvation we all have in Jesus, but quickly explains the need to address the hurt believers are experiencing in the world.

While a quick read of Jude (It is only 25 verses.) might cause you to be discouraged initially, I find it exceptionally helpful to know that when I hurt, I am in good company.  Jude reminds us quickly and impactfully that people have believed and fallen away throughout time.  Jude reminds us that believers are regularly rejected, persecuted, disrespected and uprooted for our faith.  BUT!!!  Jude also reminds us this is not the fault of evil people; it is the fault of the Evil One who has ensnared and deceived these people.

Jude acknowledges that there will be scoffers who seek to divide the faithful.  We are called to be faithful and rescue them from the fires of deception by showing mercy, even to our enemies.  Jude reminds us that this isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength.  That God has these circumstances and our future in His mighty, powerful and capable hands.  We are able to live with confidence, boldness, humility and mercy because our God is in control of all things. 

In the most challenging of times, and there will be times even more challenging than now, we are able to have peace.  We are able to seek and obtain unity of the believers.  We are filled with great joy, and we are able to save others who are currently far from God.  What a blessing it is that in times of trial we are able to turn our attention from everything that is going wrong and focus on what God is doing in and through us in this opportunity for truth and hope to shine through.  This “little Gospel light of mine will shine all the time!”

“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”  Jude:20-21

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

The End Is Near

“Come, Lord Jesus, come!”  I have certainly prayed this prayer, or something similar to it, countless times these past two years.  My faith has compelled me to cry out to God in exhaustion and desperation, asking the Lord of creation, “Are we there yet?”  Like a child riding in the backseat on a long road trip, the excitement of the destination creates a longing for the drudgery of the journey to come to an end. 

As a child, my family would make frequent road trips to visit extended family all around the country.  Over the years I learned to adapt.  Riding in a car for over 30 hours requires an elevated level of creativity and endurance.  When you have to turn around and drive another 30 hours back home in a few days … some might call that insanity. 

I learned to pass the time with activities, like reading a road map (yes, the old fashioned kind printed on paper).  We would read license plates of other cars, play games and listen to music.  (Watching any form of videos was quite a bit of work and might make for an interesting story, but I will save that for another time.)

All of these entertainment ideas and more still left a lot of time to fill.  But, there was one activity that almost always kept my attention:  I loved to watch the scenery.  Mountains, valleys, bridges, trees, perfect rows of endless fields, construction zones, rolling hills, landfills, wildlife, small towns, large cities, zany roadside attractions, and even the different designs of the various roadways all kept my attention, and more importantly, kept me in the moment.  There were certainly stretches of each trip where even the scenery became mundane, but it didn’t take long before there was something interesting to observe and appreciate. 

Life is very much like a long road trip for a believer.  The idea and reality of the destination is so glorious that we often long for it, and rightly so.  But the journey is pretty spectacular in its own right.  If we can figure out how to complain less and instead appreciate each part of the journey more, the trip has a very different feel to it. 

From Reformation (Halloween) until Advent (Thanksgiving) we spend some time in church thinking about the End Times.  This may not be what you first imagine it to be.  When Jesus and other prophets speak about the End Times, it isn’t about how amazing Heaven will be or how faith will fill the earth and peace will reign.  Instead the Scriptures give us a poignant reminder that life is, and will continue to be, difficult for all people, but especially believers, right up until the last day when Jesus returns.

Will it be especially difficult for believers?  Because we know what awaits at the end of the road trip.  We know the glorious plans God has for us, and we know we COULD be experiencing more of those blessings now.  We will frequently be tempted to ask God, “Are we there yet?” which translates in faith journey language to “How long till You return, Lord?”

God never tells us to stop asking.  In fact He loves when we ask because it shows we believe and have faith in the promise of eternal life.  Our Heavenly Father loves when we believe and trust Him!  Instead, when we ask how long, God reminds us that we still have work to do on this journey.  He redirects our attention from longing for the future to appreciating the present.  

When we see trouble, God sees an opportunity:  from heartache to hope, from pain to healing, from war to peace, from sin to forgiveness, from unbelief to faith.  Where we as people in our flesh desire the destination to arrive and the journey to be complete, especially in those less than thrilling times, God reminds us that in the darkest moments of longing, the Light of Christ shines brightest.  May you long for the Light of Christ in your life and in the world and, at the same time, know He is here already, working in you and me in the midst of the darkness.  How long?  In His perfect timing.  Until then, look around and see His mighty hands at work.  It is truly a sight to behold and a journey to enjoy. 

(Jesus said,) ”I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Unlikely Saints

November 1st is a day that has been set aside as a day to remember those of great faith who have been a blessing to us.  We call it All Saints’ Day, and we especially remember those who have died in the faith and the legacy they have left behind.  How good must you be to be called a Saint?

A Christian is no more perfect than any other person.  We too are filled with sin and failures, weaknesses and struggles.  The difference is a Christian fully acknowledges these sins and receives forgiveness for them.  Christ paid the price for our sins; He received the punishment we should have received and so we are called Saints!  Fully forgiven people without the stain of sin!

Followers of Christ are, at the same time, fully sinners and fully Saints.  “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”  Ephesians 2:4.  God does not require any action on our part to be deemed a Saint; it only requires forgiveness earned and given to us from Christ. 

The reality of being both sinner and Saint isn’t easy to grasp.  In fact, more often than not we lean too far one way or the other.  One day I might think I am not good enough to serve God or be loved by Him; another day I might be so excited about what Jesus has done I think I am better than someone else.  This challenge is real, and we are not alone.  (Read Romans chapters 6-8 if you want to wrestle through this very thing with Paul.)

Generation after generation normal people, like you and me, are called to rest firmly in God’s grace.  We are called to celebrate our forgiveness and find joy in our failures.  We are called to live our faith in such an authentic way that it inspires others around us, just like someone living their faith inspired us!  We are called by God to be the most Unlikely Saints.

You may not think you are the one up for being such a role model.  You may think your past is too great to overcome or you are not equipped enough for today.  I assure you, these things only make you MORE qualified.  The more we lean on Christ’s forgiveness the more He shines through.  The more we point to Him the greater example we are to those who are furthest from Him.  If you could be a Saint, live like a Saint, forgive like a Saint without God’s power, you wouldn’t need God. 

Let’s celebrate the blessings of God’s faithful people who have passed down the faith to us.  Together we will “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” Hebrews 10:24.  And, in the end, we will be the most unlikely of Saints together!  Others will know the most unlikely gift of God’s unconditional love through us.

In Christ,

Pastor Erik Gauss