Pastor’s Corner

Trust In the Lord: Faithful For the Future

When I first arrived at Cross in 2006 there were banners hanging up that encouraged us “Step Forward in Faith.” The theme verse at the time was Proverbs 16:9, “In His heart a man plans his path, but the Lord determines his steps.” These steps have not always been quick or easy. Over the years we have tried many plans and…in the eyes of man you might even say we have failed at many of them.

When we first built this space in 1999 we thought it might one day be a future worship space. Then the housing bubble burst in 2006 and it changed a lot of things for Cross and our community.

But what happens if we look at this space with the eyes of faith? We can see many things the Lord has done. In this space our track and field teams would practice throwing shot put that would support 12 state championship seasons. Jacob’s Well, a mission plant church in Yorkville, used this space to store their worship supplies between Sundays.

Social Justice ministries like PADS and the Kendall Cares Health Clinics were supported. Lutheran Disaster response sits at the ready to support victims of natural disasters. We have built sets and displays for worship and school productions. It is here that Caring Hands Thrift Shop stages off season items and during COVID we were able to spread out in this space and allow our students to attend school in person throughout the pandemic.

None of this was in our plan, but the Lord has certainly determined our steps and we and our community have been immeasurably blessed. I believe the Lord has one more step for us to take in this space. On April 16 we will hold a congregation meeting seeking approval from you, the Committed Disciples at Cross to secure a loan and sign a contract to begin construction. Construction that will transform this space into school classrooms and new children’s ministry area.

Our current campaign is called Building on the Past; Faithful for the Future. Because that is exactly what we believe the Lord has for us to do–to build on that first step of faith taken 24 years ago by a people that were faithful for this future. Join us on Sundays in March at 9:30AM to see the plans and to ask the questions. Join together in devotion and fervent prayer this Lenten season with our Trust in the Lord Devotional. Watch our campaign videos through our app. Encourage each other by sharing your excitement and even your frustrations on this journey. Then submit it all to the Lord for His words of healing and redemption. Finally join us on April 16 as we gather to pray and vote on the next step that will keep us Faithful for the Future.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, February 26, 2023
Romans 4:13-25; Matthew 4:1-11

Pastor’s Corner

Ash Wednesday And Lent

Easter is the annual celebration of the greatest day in the history of the world. Like any other celebration, the anticipation and preparation are parts of what make the big day extra special. The build up to Easter is a 6.5 week season (40 days, not counting Sundays) called Lent.

During the season of Lent we prepare our hearts and minds to fully receive the forgiveness paid on the Cross and won in the empty tomb. We are each encouraged to pause and take an inventory of our thoughts, our faith, our choices. This internal examination of how things are going is very much like spring cleaning. Each spring we find the things that have unnecessarily accumulated, things that are not important or are taking up space, things that are broken or are collecting dust, and we discard them to make room for the things that matter most.

Lent is the faith life equivalent to spring cleaning in our homes. We look internally at sin and guilt we have held onto for too long. We consider what lesser things are taking up space that should be reserved for God. We dust off our spiritual disciplines, like prayer, worship and Scripture reading. Lent is the season to renew and reinvigorate our life of faith.

Ash Wednesday, February 22, launches the season of Lent with a special worship service. During this service participants will have the opportunity to receive ashes upon their head to remind each of us that there is clutter in our lives to be cleared up, priorities to rearrange, energy and effort to redirect, sin to be repented of. We have eternal life in Christ Jesus given to us for today and promised to us, forever.

This Lent we are entering into a season of self reflection not just for ourselves as individuals but, for our entire congregation. The theme for our season is “Trust in the Lord; Faithful for the Future.” For the past several years we have been praying, working, and sacrificing for a facility expansion that includes new school space as well as Children’s Ministry Space. This expansion will also bless our youth ministries, worship ministries and community impact in the current school spaces.

Each Sunday in March at 9:30AM, our Governance Board will be hosting a “Fireside Chat” to update the congregation on where we have been and where we hope to be headed. Each of you are asked to attend one of these chats, visit our website and work through the “trust in the Lord” devotions as a household or individual. Immediately after Easter we will hold a congregation meeting to decide to cease our building plans or to begin construction.

This is an important vote that will impact our congregation and our community. Without the expansion we will need to shrink the number of students in our school to right-size it for our current building. Without the expansion our children’s ministry will remain without dedicated space for the important work of discipling our next generation in an increasingly hostile world.

Moving forward comes with its own risks and rewards as well. Like all of life’s decisions, this too requires prayer and discernment in relationship with our Lord and our community of faith. So please, join us as we look inside our own hearts and minds to seek the Lord and His kingdom first and then, pray together as we look to trust in the Lord who is always Faithful for the Future.

“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Psalm 78:4

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, February 19, 2023
Exodus 24:18; Matthew 17:1-9; 2 Peter 1:16-21

Pastor’s Corner

Seeking God’s Direction

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4)

There are many seasons throughout my life and ministry whereas this psalm and verse became one of deep meditation. Most recently it happened again as I was, at both the same time, writing a sermon on this text and simultaneously seeking God’s direction for current and future staff members.

Several months ago we shared that Mary Neyer is retiring from the teaching ministry at the end of this school. Then in December both Will LeBeau and Kayla Olson changed their ministry direction and created two more immediate staffing vacancies.

Recently we have formed Call committees and began the process in earnest of praying, searching and discerning God’s next steps for staffing our church and school ministries. The Call process looks similar too, but feels very different from a typical secular hiring process. First, because it is bathed in prayer. Of course, we hope that each child of God would fervently pray for all life’s decisions, and yet so often we work with and for a secular company that seldom values prayer.

In addition to bathing in prayer, potential candidates do not apply for this position. The Call process begins with the congregation seeking God’s will and direction and then trusting that He will lead us to the proper candidates. This creates a sense of partnership with the Lord where we simultaneously have our plans and purposes in front of us while we are open to those same plans being refined in light of God’s will for us.

Ultimately the congregation (that’s you reading this) is responsible for extending a Call to the individuals identified and then those workers discern if God is leading them to leave where they are currently serving, to serve here in Yorkville. The entire process is designed to promote the congregation, its leadership and the trained workers of our national church body to remain mindful that we are all one in Christ Jesus. As a worker is led to a “new land” they create a season of transition and refinement in another. In all of this is God’s work.

Change is never easy and sometimes the process of change is tiring. At the same time, these seasons serve to draw us nearer to God and one another. As we seek God’s future, we must listen and lead well, we revisit His calling and the needs of our community, God provides His perfect solution in His perfect timing so we are able to “dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our life.”

Please continue to pray for and participate in the seeking of our current and future leadership needs.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, February 12, 2023
Psalm 119:1-11; Matt 5:21-37

Pastor’s Corner

Good Fear

“When trouble arises, there are some that run toward it and there are some that run away from it.” I have often heard this saying or something similar when referring to the heroic nature of first responders or military personnel. It is not good for everyone to run towards trouble, but we are thankful for those that do, because their efforts typically will minimize the damage and often saves other people. When it comes to our faith journey, God’s Word encourages us all to face our fears and that our greatest fear ought to be God Himself.

At first it seems counter intuitive to be afraid of God, but there is a purpose when the Bible says “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord” (Psalm 112:1).

We are physical people in a physical world and so often our biggest fears are physical fear. We might be afraid of injury or sickness for ourselves or others. We might be afraid of material wealth or possessions being lost or stolen or inadequate. We might fear failure in a sporting or intellectual endeavor. Our physicals fears seem big and important, and they are. But all these physical, material fears are only temporary when compared to our eternal self.

God’s Word says our greatest fear ought to be something that can impact our eternal self, as well as our physical needs. Even with this eternal perspective our human nature tends to view the Devil and his evil ways as our greatest spiritual fear. While this fear is also understandable, if we are ranking things we ought to fear, there is another spiritual being that ought to be feared even more than the Devil. Even with all his might the Devil must always bow his knee and yield to the authority of God Himself.

Romans 8 reminds us of the powerful truth that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Psalm 27 says “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall, I fear?” We tend to think of the Devil as someone to fear, and God as someone we do not need to fear. The truth is the Devil has no power where God is present and God has power over everything.

The fear of God and His commandments aren’t a fear of God destroying us, they are fears that God could destroy us. No one goes to heaven, and no one goes to hell without God’s divine judgment. The Devil has no say in this eternal judgment. The Devil’s only power is to tempt us people with falling in love with the material world and rejecting or ignoring our eternal realities. The Devil fools us into fearing loss in the world, when our only true fear ought to be losing our relationship with God.

Psalm 112:7 says that “The one who fears the Lord is never afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting the Lord.” When we fear God, our fear is correctly placed in the most powerful being in the physical and spiritual world. When we fear the Lord we realize nothing else has any power over us. When we fear the Lord we are filled with peace because we know what our God is capable of and we know what He has done for us. Our God gave up His life so we could have ours.

God’s perfect love drives out our fear of punishment and pain. Our fear of the Lord Himself leaves no room for any other fear. Instead, God’s perfect love fills us with peace. So let’s run towards the only thing we have to be afraid of and in so doing be embraced by His grace and love.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, February 5, 2023
Psalm 112:1-9; Matt 5:13-20