Pastor’s Corner

Kill Them With Kindness

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”  Proverb 25:21-22 

Proverbs 25 reads like a bullet pointed list of favorite things grandma always said. In reality, it is a collection of wise sayings from King Solomon. But these are not just historical records, these sayings weren’t written down for nearly 200 years under a different ruler, King Hezekiah. In the time between Solomon and Hezekiah, a lot had happened; most notably the united nation of Israel under Solomon was divided into a northern region still called Israel and a southern kingdom called Judah. Through all of this civil war and destruction, these wise words of a former king survived. 

I believe that the wisdom shared in Proverbs 25:21-22 is one of the most difficult truths to live out. We often shorthand the wisdom with the words “I’m killing them with kindness”. The short hand is fine, it’s a heart check we need. 

The Apostle Paul quoted these particular words about being kind to our enemies in his letter to the Christians in Rome (Romans 12:20). He used it to caution them against their own vengeful hearts and clarified the meaning of this particular phrase. Killing our enemies with kindness is an effort to love them like Jesus so that their sinfulness dies and a new life is born again of the Holy Spirit. 

The burning of coals that are heaped upon our enemies are not the fires of judgement and eternal damnation (at least not at first). These coals are intended to refine our enemies like the burning coal that refined and forgave the sins of the Prophet Isaiah during his call into ministry in Isaiah Chapter 6.  

When we are truly at war with another person our heart does not typically want that person to be forgiven of all their sins. More common is the desire within us for our enemy to get what they deserve. When we try to kill our enemy with kindness often we are trying to show the other person we are better than them, that we won’t stoop to their level, or that we are the bigger person. In practice this turns our kindness into a fake display of nicety with the motive of vengeance. The strong temptation is to be “Kind” to the person when they are around us but then speak poorly of them when they are gone. Our enemies can bring out the worst in us. 

God encourages us to allow our enemies to bring out the best in us. In Mathew 5:38-48 Jesus gives us some powerful guidance on what it means to be kind to our enemies. To give the “other cheek” to someone who hits us or give a second cloak to someone who steals the first one or walk a second mile with someone who forces us to walk the first one. These acts of kindness are truly sacrificial. 

While we were still enemies of Jesus, He died on a cross as a punishment for the sins we commit against God and each other. This powerful truth has transformed the heart and mind of every Christian. This Gospel truth has poured burning coals on our heads and inspired us to live lives that honor our Creator and Savior. This is our calling and our model to “Lay down our lives” for our enemies that they may see our good works and repent of their sin and be forgiven in Christ Jesus. 

You may not be ready for that with your enemies, I know it is a daily battle for me. That is ok, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. God asks us to seek refuge in Him.  

Oh, by the way, if our enemies don’t repent even after our greatest effort to sacrifice for their salvation; Jesus promises us that they will experience His vengeance for all eternity. Until That Day, our calling is to love one another that all people might know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Starting with us and extending to all the world. 

In Christ,  

Erik Gauss 

Scripture Readings for Sunday, August 28
Hebrews 13:1-17
Luke 14:1–14

Pastor’s Corner

Disciple Faking

In his 2020 book entitled Future Church renowned church strategist Will Mancini wrote that the “Functional Great Commission” of the Christian Church in North America is “Go into all the world and make Worship attenders, baptizing them in the name of small groups and teaching them to volunteer a few hours a month.”   

On first read, this may sound a bit scathing, but Will shares this from his heart because he cares about the true Great Commission of the Christian Church. The basic premise of his book Future Church is that believers in North America today have fallen into the trap of maintaining the programs of the established church and have lost the mission of making more Disciple-makers.   

Our mission at Cross is for every person connected to Cross to mature as a Disciple of Christ who; Walk with God in Worship, Grow in Faith Together and Love their Neighbors. This weekend we will be launching our school ministry season with the installation of our new principal, the dedication of the teachers and the Blessing of the Backpacks. These are great celebrations and new beginnings for our family of faith here at Cross. I would strongly encourage you to participate in this exciting weekend.  

At the same time, participating in the activities at church does not fulfill the Commission our Lord gave to us. School, worship, bible study are the results of Disciples living together. All of these ministries may even be a place for new people to get connected and begin their discipling journey. But, to be clear, church attendance, school enrollment and more bible studies are not our GOAL. The GOAL is to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to encourage one another as we live out that salvation.  

Disciple Faking can look and feel a lot like Disciple Making. How do we tell the difference? Honestly, it is about having an open heart and mind to the Word of God leading you. A follower of Jesus must have a spirit that submits to God’s will. A spirit that submits to God’s divine will will always be an instrument of God’s divine plan. It truly is that simple, but it isn’t easy. 

The Devil loves to distract the followers of Jesus with a mission that is similar to the truth but is not actually the truth. The Devil has earned his title as the Great Deceiver, therefore, it is crucial for the people of God to be constantly listening to God through His Holy Word and looking for God at work around them. Then, to faithfully respond to God’s leadership. 

Ask yourself these two questions every day. What is God saying to me through His Holy word? How will I respond to what God is saying? If you listen and answer sincerely, you will ALWAYS be on a path of discipleship that leads to true Disciple-making. In God’s will and in God’s timing.   

May God truly bless each of us this fall ministry season and lead our community of believers for His sake. 

In Christ, 

Erik Gauss 

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20 

Scripture Readings for Sunday, August 7
Hebrews 12:4-11
Luke 13:22–30

Pastor’s Corner

August 21st is a Big Day!

You don’t want to miss the excitement on Sunday, August 21st!

  • Blessings of the Backpacks at our 8:00AM service and at our 10:30AM Summer Jam (more on that below)
  • Teacher Dedication for Shannon McGregory (Third Grade, partnering with Miss Pinnow) and Betsy Barkalow (Gym) at our 8:00AM Traditional service.
  • Installation for our principal, Brett Hardecopf, at our 8:00AM Traditional service.
  • Children’s Ministry is hosting one last hurrah of summer with Summer Jam! This family-oriented service will take place at 10:30AM in the Large Gym. We’ll be singing worship songs, playing games, and learning some lessons that help us reconnect as a family and reconnect to God. We hope you’ll join us for this high-energy experience!

Scripture Readings for Sunday, August 7
Hebrews 11:17–31; 12:1–3
Luke 12:49–53

Pastor’s Corner

Leadership at Cross

“Every true leader is a true follower. Every true follower is a true leader.” This quote, by Christian author Israelmore Ayivor, encapsulates the work of Christ’s Kingdom on earth. Jesus is the true head of the Church in Heaven and on Earth. The rest of us are organized to work together under that headship. As a pastor, my role is to lead and shepherd, but the authority to do so comes from the people of God. The people of God at Cross Lutheran have called me through prayer and the Holy Spirit to lead in accordance with the Bible.

To help ensure I lead well, by first following Jesus, we have established within our congregation a group of nine individuals who are elected through the same process of prayer and the Holy Spirit to lead me and the congregation. These individuals are asked to exemplify what it means to follow Christ. By following Christ well, we know they will also lead well since, as a family of faith, following Christ well is our top priority.

On Sunday August 14th, as part of our annual congregation meeting/celebration, we will pray and vote to elect three of the nine individuals to a three year term of service. If you click on this link, you will be able to see their pictures and learn more about their walk with Christ and their vision for what God can do through our ministries. Please take the time this week to read and to pray.

The nominating committee has prayed and interviewed all five of these individuals and believe that any of them would serve the Lord and our congregation well for the next three years. At the same time, each of them have different strengths and characteristics. God is working through you, the family of faith, to provide that direction for our congregation and ultimately for God’s Kingdom work through our congregation.

This process of selecting leaders at Cross is also a great exercise for personal decision making. Each day we make hundreds of decisions and each one of them has the possibility to lead us down God’s path as we follow Jesus or lead us astray from Jesus. No bad decision is too great for Jesus’ grace and forgiveness, but when we are walking in God’s path, we are part of a bigger purpose: a purpose to bring salvation to all people through the power of the Holy Spirit at work through us.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration and participation not only in selecting leaders to serve here at Cross, but for being a leader everyday as you follow Jesus and live as His disciple at work in the world.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Scripture Readings for Sunday, August 7
Hebrews 11:1–16
Luke 12:22–34 (35–40)