Pastor’s Corner

BEING Challenge – Day 20 – The Power Of Prayer

“Undercover Boss” was a reality-based show. The CEO of a major company would put on a disguise and work alongside his/her employees. The show was entertaining, especially when the employees would give their opinions about the CEO without realizing that they were talking right to him/her! While the situations and personalities changed, what I found interesting was that the results each week seemed to follow a similar pattern. The CEO, who often considered the workers part of the “problem” why their company wasn’t succeeding, often changed his/her mind and realized the employees were hard-working, real-life people. The same became true for the workers. Once the secret was revealed, the workers were amazed that their CEO would work alongside them in order to hear their real opinions about the company. In the end, the CEO would almost always make major changes to improve the work lives of the company’s employees.

I often picture Jesus as the “Undercover CEO of the World”. Not so much that He was hidden (although sometimes hiding in plain sight is the best disguise) but, because God left His throne and came to be with us. We do not have a God who is far off but one who has experienced every temptation and trial that we have experienced. The only difference is that instead of falling into temptation or being defeated by sin, He conquered every challenge. (Hebrews 4:15)

Sometimes we think of God as this distant being who doesn’t know us or is too busy to really care about our circumstances. But, these are simply lies of the Devil and deceits of our flesh. Our God is ever present and ever ready and He does listen. All the time! Over and over again in the Bible, God’s people call on Him in prayer and He relents, listens, changes His mind (not His will) and responds to the cries of His people. Why are we so hesitant to take full advantage of this amazing blessing?

God’s will is unchanging. God’s plan for salvation cannot be adapted. God Himself is immoveable and yet, the way God interacts with us, the day-to-day outcomes are changed. The simplest illustration is that we all sin and deserve eternal punishment. Yet, each and every time a sinner repents, God forgives and grants eternal life in Christ. This doesn’t change God or His will; it does change the outcomes and it changes us!

Persistent prayer is the greatest prayer of all. One might call it a conversation. Imagine asking your parents for one thing one time, or asking them a hundred times. Which is more likely to produce an outcome that is desirable to you? God says He is influenced in a similar way. When He hears the cries of His people His heart is impacted, He experiences compassion and remembers His promises to us. In other words, God listens to our prayers and is influenced by them.

We have the ear of the creator of the whole universe. The one who speaks and all creation listens. When we speak, that same God promises to listen because He loves us. You’ve heard it said it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know. You know and have an intimate relationship with God. He begs us to utilize this relationship for our benefit and the benefit of the whole world. When our will is aligned with God’s will, nothing is impossible!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Reading for Sunday, October 2
Luke 18:1-8

Pastor’s Corner

BEING Challenge – Day 13 – Hearing God’s Voice

Have you ever wished you could hear God’s voice to gain some clarity and all that you heard were crickets? It may have been a major life decision or a tremendously difficult situation. Some of my most desperate prayers have been regarding faith in the lives of people I truly care for. In those situations, I begged God to give me the words to say or the actions to take and got what I believed to be no response.

It took me a long time in my faith journey to realize that it wasn’t that God wasn’t speaking to me or answering my prayers, it was that my ears weren’t listening to His voice. God is speaking and speaking loudly into the hearts of all people; some people close their ears, but so often faithful people who crave to hear God simply aren’t in tune.

“Faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of God.” Romans 10:17. God’s voice is loud and active, living and speaking into the world and to each of us today! God is audibly answering our prayers and addressing our daily needs for us to hear, see and know right now.

Our flesh says it is an old book with old words. The world tells us it is outdated and culturally irrelevant, even biased and downright evil. But faith and the Bible itself say the word of God is alive with the power of the Holy Spirit. While the words are unchanging, their ability to work in us is forever changing and meeting us right where we are. Are we listening?

“I created you; I formed you…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.  Fear not, for I am with you.” – God speaking to you.

These words have helped me hear God’s voice in tremendously challenging times. God himself speaking to me through the prophet Isaiah in chapter 43 and encouraging me that I am not alone. That nothing can overtake me and that God has given me everything and withholds no blessing from me even the sacrificial death of His only Son.

Jesus himself prayed out loud for me in John 17:20ff. While He is praying for His current disciples, He also prays for all people who would hear their words and come to faith. That’s me!!! Jesus prays that I will find strength through unity with God. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you… I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

These are just two examples of and endless word from God directly into our lives. If you are struggling to hear God’s voice, I would encourage no other action than to listen for it. Listen for God’s voice where He speaks directly to you–loud and clear. Listen in the Holy Bible, the living and active word of God in which the Holy Spirit works to create, sustain and strengthen faith in all God’s Children. It is amazing how loud and clear God’s speaks when we turn our ears to His voice. If you are still struggling to hear, remember last week, Community. Fellow believers walking on the journey with us are a critical part in helping us on these journeys!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Reading for Sunday, September 25
2 Timothy 3:14-17
1 John 4:1-3

Pastor’s Corner

BEING Challenge – Day 6 – Commit To Community

Last Sunday, Pastor Matt launched our fall worship emphasis by committing to a new habit of flossing his teeth daily. No, the “Being Challenge” is not a focus on oral hygiene, but it is an emphasis on healthy spiritual habits that will not only draw you closer to God relationally but will carry over into other parts of your life. Many life coaches believe flossing is a simple achievable action that develops a mindset for overall physical health and self-care. To be clear, flossing doesn’t cause these things, but it is believed that the same mindset and decision-making process carries over into other areas of life.

This is the same idea for the Being Challenge. There are spiritual habits Jesus exhibited and that others with a strong faith exhibit. These people also tend to have healthy marriages, satisfaction in life and work and children who grow into faithful adults. We could all benefit from a few habits that will make life a bit more enjoyable and grow our personal relationship with Jesus.

I am so excited that so many of you chose to be a part of the Christian community this week at Cross. We have had many students and families participate in our Sunday and Wednesday worship as well as the many small group opportunities. Usually the first few times are the most difficult. Think about the first time you pick up a weight or run a few laps. It seems impossible, maybe even discouraging, afterwards you may even be sore for a few days. But, if you don’t wait too long, the next time it is usually just a little bit easier. The same is true with our spiritual walk.

Worship services might be difficult for you or your children. Getting up on Sunday may be a challenge if you normally sleep in a little more. Maybe your whole weekend schedule needs to change. Changing rhythms and habits is difficult at first, the devil and our own flesh will try to tell us it isn’t worth it. Don’t listen. Get back after it right away and make a new rhythm or a new habit. After a while it will not feel right to start your week without hearing the Good News of Jesus in worship and receiving Holy Communion. You’ll notice that without your Christian community the negative things seem to bother you more and you forget the good things more easily.

Changing a habit isn’t about doing something easy, a habit becomes easy because our body and mind expect it. Our body and mind don’t care if it is good or bad for us in the long run. We should care. Let’s keep meeting together and encourage one another on these healthy spiritual habits to get through the initial shock of change. It won’t take long and our body, soul and mind will all be craving the spiritual food and support of our God and our faith community. I can’t wait to see you and encourage you this week!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 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 10:24-25

Scripture Reading for Sunday, September 18
Ecclesiastes 4:8-12
Mark 2:1-12

Pastor’s Corner

New Beginnings

“Habits eat willpower for breakfast.” This powerful quote by Pastor John Ortberg is a helpful reminder that the little habits we do every day without thinking will overpower any new habits that require us to think first. If you have ever moved a trash can in your home, you know what he is talking about. The habit will take you to the old location before the willpower will take you to the new location.  The Being series is here to help us start a new school year and ministry season with desire to establish or re-establish healthy habits. 

The crisp air in the morning is a refreshing reminder that fall is here and with fall comes a return to regular patterns and routines. In the summer we gladly put those routines aside for the free-spirited vacation mindset but eventually the lack of structure causes us to crave the habits and discipline of the return to school and the regularity of the ministry season.  

This week our fall season began with our Wednesday night ministry for children, youth and adults. The Cross Conversation on Intentional Parenting and spiritual mentoring was a great beginning.  This weekend our worship services return to 8:00, 9:30 and 11:00AM. Children’s ministry resumes on Sundays and our choirs return. It is a refreshing return to normal.  

This year is a bit more impactful for me as it isn’t just another fall season after a summer break. This fall season arrives after three years of disruption. Our ministry team leaders have looked long and hard at our programs and activities and are being intentional about supporting spiritual formation and leadership development through discipleship activities. We hope you and your family will be both blessed and challenged as we “Mature as Disciples of Jesus who: Walk with God, Grow in Faith Together and Love our Neighbors”.   

Our Fall sermon series is entitled “Being”. It will challenge us as individuals and as a family of faith to apply the same intentionality with our daily lives.  Simple, intentional routines will develop habits that, over time, will greatly impact our influence and personal well-being. This fall is the perfect time to start those new routines, be supported in a community that is focusing on those routines, and over time, develop habits that will keep you close to Jesus and living with purpose each and every day.   

Join together, beginning this weekend, in our Being Challenge. The goal is to simply be more comfortable and confident in the Good News of our own salvation. We will encourage one another in simple spiritual habits that will keep God’s love and grace at the center of our lives. When we “Be” with God, He works through us to encourage others around us as well. Don’t go it alone! Join us and see what God can do as we Grow in Faith Together this Fall. 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 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 10:24-25 

In Christ,  

Erik Gauss 

Scripture Reading for Sunday, September 11
John 15:1-11

Pastor’s Corner

Intentional Parenting

936 weeks. That is how long we have from the day a child or grandchild is born until they turn 18. Each week brings its own challenges. It is a challenge to simply survive each week and hope everything turns out. What if there is another way? What if a change of perspective would allow greater satisfaction and increase the likelihood of our children’s success as adults 

This week I want to invite you to take a step back from the urgency that consumes us as parents and invest in yourself. The purpose is to identify and shift from quick-fix parenting and embrace and execute intentional parenting.   

Quick-fix parents excel at solving the immediate problem. Being a quick-fix parent is satisfying because it feels like we accomplished something; our sad child is smiling, our fighting children are in a cease fire, our hurting child is no longer in pain. Occasionally the quick-fix parent is rewarded with a positive long-term result but, more often, quick-fix decisions cut short lifelong growth.   

On Wednesday September 7th we will have our first Cross Conversation of the year. After the worship service all parents are invited to consider what it looks like to intentionally parent rather than settling for the quick-fix.  We will be utilizing material put together by lifelong discipler of youth, Doug Fields and his wife Cathy.   

Doug and Cathy are as entertaining as they are informative. The best part is that the transition from quick-fix to intentional parenting is within reach for all of us! You might even be encouraged that you are on the right path already in many areas of your parenting. Watch this video to get a taste of what we will be experiencing Wednesday night.   

God, our Heavenly Father, is the only perfect parent, ever. We will not be perfect parents no matter how hard we try. Each child and family circumstance has its own unique challenges. And, at the same time, there are some simple, practical skills and perspective that will be a blessing for parents and our children as well.   

One irrefutable truth of intentional parenting that leads to lifelong impact of our children is that values are more caught than taught. Come to our opening inter-generational worship. Be present at the thing that matters most. Invest in yourself as an influential parent/mentor and make an impact your youth will always remember, just by showing up! Yes, it truly is that easy and that impactful. I can’t wait to see you all! 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 

In Christ,  

Erik Gauss 

Scripture Readings for Sunday, September 4
Philemon 121
Luke 14:25–35