Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Follow Me

The words “Follow Me” create powerful emotions and mental images for a Christian.  These two words are filled with mystery and drama as we recollect the calling of the twelve disciples.  The questions rise in our minds about how two simple words could cause young men to leave their families, their occupations and their relationships to follow a complete stranger around Israel.  Then, as people who know how the story ends, to consider the miracles the disciples witnessed and the amazing things God did through them is truly indescribable.  

But, wait, there’s more.  

The same invitation God has given to the original twelve disciples through Jesus, He gives to us through His word.  “Follow Me.”   Jesus calls us to follow Him through the word of God in the Bible, through His word offered through another person and all this through the Holy Spirit.  In a world filled with distractions demanding our time and energy the question is, do we hear and respond to this inviting and challenging call from Jesus to Follow Him? 

Maybe the invitation was a long time ago and it has lost some of its luster.  Life and our human spirit of discontent often overlooks the things we have as it craves the things we don’t.  For a life-long Christian this can bring a sense of boredom or staleness to our faith journey.  In reality, what happens is life brings so many options that the voice of Jesus gets drowned out and the fresh challenges never even get considered.  

What would happen if you created space in your life to hear the voice of Jesus’ invitation to Follow Him?  Sure, COVID has created a lot of space in our life, but somehow the devil has managed to fill it with fear, riots, discontent, anxiety, change and uncertainty.  I am confident that God is still calling each and every one of His children to Follow Him. 

What would happen if you actually did Follow Him?  Assuming you can hear and understand the invitation in the midst of this all, what would happen if you laid down the worldly pursuit in front of you and pursued the voice of God in your life?  This is not to say parents or spouses should abandon their families, but see their families as their calling to make disciples.  That we each heard Jesus reminds us our work and life is not about self-satisfaction, but about Kingdom impact.

Jesus calls us to Follow Him, not to pursue power or wealth or prestige, but to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God, then all of these things will be added unto us.  What if we believed him and we worked to change our nation not just at the polls, but every day through Christian Love and Generosity?  What if each believer invested in the life and faith journey of young Christians and unbelievers on their spiritual journeys?

There is nothing stale about the call of Jesus to Follow Him.  In fact, it is probably the hardest thing you will ever do.  But it is also the most powerful thing you will ever do.  Jesus will use mundane, everyday activities to bring His kingdom and power into this world through you.  NO longer will you be enslaved to the pressures of the world, but you will be unleashed with the freedom of an eternal perspective.  

Ask yourself these two questions to follow Jesus every day and you will be surprised how much God will use you to make a present and eternal impact in our world.  

Where is God leading me today?

How am I going to respond to HIS leadership today?

In Christ, 

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Happy New Year! ?

Here we are, eight days into 2021 and it is already an unprecedentedly difficult year.  The events of this week can cause a person to become completely frustrated with all of humanity.  You wouldn’t be alone.  Throughout biblical history, many of God’s greatest leaders have expressed their high level of frustration with humanity and, even specifically, with the chosen people they were sent by God to lead.  

Moses frequently expressed frustration with the Israelite’s rumbling.  Jonah is famous for his objections.  Jesus’ closest twelve completely abandoned him and Jesus even calls one of them Satan.  Yes, humanity is, and always has been, capable of ignorant and horrific acts. 

What do we do when the people we look up to or the people all around us fail us, mislead us or disappoint us? God asks us to remember.  We are encouraged to remember how every single time God’s people and the people of the world failed Him, he never gave up.  God always sent a savior to call the lost people and nations back to himself.  If they would repent and turn back to God, He would show mercy.  If they rejected His prophets, His word, and even His Son God would leave us to the consequences of our own choices and actions.

It is amazing how patient God is.  He blesses us with the gifts of freedom, mercy and love then waits patiently as we destroy, ignore and abuse these great gifts.  Then, just as we realize what we’ve done, He forgives, restores and gifts again.  

The events of this week can cause us to think and feel many things, but the important thing is still how we respond.  Will we respond by trusting God all the more deeply as humanity and its institutions fail us?  Will we continue to proclaim the good news and hope of salvation, the only thing that truly frees anyone? Or, will we rely on the devices and constructs of man as we continue to wage war against ourselves?

Personally, I have continued to pray for God to keep His promise to work good even in the worst of circumstances.  I am praying that the events of this week will cause our leaders to repent from their childish ways and work together for good; that our leaders will model generosity and mercy to one another and set the example for our nation to follow. 

If our leaders repent of their foolishness, I am confident that He will grant favor to this nation.  If our leaders and we ourselves do not repent of our selfishness and instead return to the ways of the Lord I am confident that God’s love and mercy will still be with us as He patiently waits to pour out His blessings once again when we admit we need Him to lead us. 

May the Power and presence of God give you strength and peace this year and every tumultuous year to come.  

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”  Psalm 118:5-9

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Blessed Christmas 2020

God is with us!  The story of 2020 seems to be one event after another causing us to ask the age old question “God, where are you?”   Well, Christmas is finally here to remind us of the eternal answer — “I am with you!”  The child born in the manger is a gift from God; He is God!   He is God who came to save us from the heartache and brokenness of the world.  

Christmas isn’t a day to hide the bad with good.  Pretending everything is “ok” for a day doesn’t solve the problem; in fact it usually makes it worse.  According to the Chicago Tribune, divorce rates skyrocketed 200% – 300% after the first of the year.  Legacy.com reveals that more deaths happen in January than any other month of the year.  Unfortunately, it appears, pretending to cover over our own heartache doesn’t fix anything, it only delays it.

How in the world can this horrible news be titled Christmas blessings?  Please read on!

God sees our heartache and did something about it! He left His throne and came to dwell, live and experience this earthly world in the same way we have.  He didn’t come to earth for its beautiful seasons and happy people.  In other words, He came to save us, not be like us.  He only became one of us because it was necessary to accomplish His gift of salvation.

A few years ago, I went to Guatemala for a mission trip.  I learned a saying there from the missionaries “Fixing things doesn’t change things.”  It is a normal human desire to see something that is “unjust” or “inequitable” and want to fix it immediately.  This immediate solution usually makes the issue worse because it only changes the circumstance, not the sin issue that is behind it.  We can make the same mistake with our Christmas celebration.

Christmas celebrations often try to pretend everything is fixed, if even for a day.  Divided families pretend to get along and we plan to gather like there is no pandemic.  No holiday or amount of pretending will fix any of this.  BUT, God can and did bring about the power to change that which is necessary.  In Christ, we have the power to cope with and even overcome the heartache that comes from broken families and pandemic.  In Christ, we have the ability to feed the hungry and heal unjust circumstances. 

This is best expressed in the reality that, even though Jesus came to save us, many of the troubles we endure didn’t disappear.   We still experience death, temptation, illness, heartache and sorrow.  If God saved us why do we still endure these things?  Because removing these issues wouldn’t change the problem; the problem is systemic sin.  Our nature is sinful and selfish, we spend lots of energy defending ourselves and protecting those we love.   This instinct to defend and protect end up causing hurt in the world.  Only when we lay it all down and trust in God to provide; only when we truly believe He has provided it already in His Son our Savior, in the manger; will we be free and our world be changed. 

This is what happened at Christmas.   Jesus lay down His rights to the throne, His power to destroy selfish people (all of us) and became one of us, except without sin.  He came to save us by being one of us and it worked!  Everything is changed.  When we live in that truth and trust our Heavenly Father with our own lives it changes us too!  When we know He would die for us before letting us get hurt we, too, have the power to bring that same change to the world around us. 

At Christmas, God came to earth to remind us, “I am with you!” Christ laid down His life for us and we are saved; this is the Gospel.  Believing in Him allows us to lay down our lives for one another; this is the fruit of the Gospel and is made possible only by the change that occurs in us through the Holy Spirit. What a blessed gift to you and to me. 

Merry Christmas and may your full life in Christ be renewed again in Him; may your heart and mind be transformed by the Gospel and fill you with His peace.  “And when the Shepherds saw Jesus, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” Luke 2

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Toy Drive Thank You

“You are the Light of the World.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden” Matthew 5:14. Jesus doesn’t waste any time before He shared the nature of what it means to be a child of God.  In His Sermon on the Mount, which begins in chapter five, immediately after assuring the crowd of God’s blessings, Jesus shares with His disciples how their identity changes.  They become a City on a Hill that cannot be hidden. The light of which people see from far away.  Not because the city is trying to show off or be the center of attention; no, but by its nature.  It is a city, it is on a hill; it cannot be hidden, so it is with us, the children of God.

Your light has shone bright this Christmas through our Thrift Shop.  Eighty-seven families representing 216 children were able to shop for new and used toys donated in love by you!  Even greater than that, more than 20 volunteers served to be the presence of Christ to these families as they waited and shopped.  We cannot forget the Caring Hands Staff who worked long hours to get this all together!  

Among the families served were not just children but, also some grandchildren. Parents or grandparents will be able to give the children they love fun toys to unwrap at Christmas.  They will be able to see their smiles, play together with them and feel blessed to be able to experience this joy because of Christ working through His people.

One Grandparent was having a particularly difficult year as her husband was out of work.  They had a blended family so she was shopping for her own children while also shopping for her grandchildren that started living with her, not their own parents, a few months ago.  In addition, to having several extra children in the home and being out of work, the whole household had battled through COVID.  This toy drive was more than a little light in her life, it was a place to go to be loved, to have her tank refilled so she could keep loving on her family.  

That is how it goes at Caring Hands Thrift Shop.  People come for the great deals, but they keep coming for the love of Christ that is poured out by the staff, volunteers and donors.  Thank you for being a part of making it all happen.  I know it doesn’t seem like a lot.  That is because it is who you are.  You ARE the Light of the world.  God’s love for you cannot be hidden!  

A special thank you to the donations of hats, mittens, quilts and stuffed animals that were also able to be provided to families in addition to the toys!  Those families went away blessed and loved in Jesus name by the children of God.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Help this Christmas

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” – Ecclesiastes 1:9. These words of exhaustion from the “son of David”, King Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes have filled me with much needed perspective over the years. Different situations have, at times caused me to feel overwhelmed or shocked. The thought “How can this be happening” has filled my thoughts and consumed my energy. These words ground me in the truth and restore my proper focus.

Remembering that there is nothing new under the sun is about trusting that no matter how shocked or overwhelmed I might be, I have the power of Almighty God within me and He has seen this all before.  Even more comforting is that our God has declared victory over this very situation.

The Pandemic has brought many new things to our life and experiences.  We have had to make adaptations and decisions that we never could have imagined just a few short months ago.  Even with a vaccine on the horizon, we still have a way to go and challenges await.  Vaccines don’t fix economies, relationships, mental health or bring back lost loved ones; only God can do that. 

No matter what each and every day brings, God’s people have a calling. That calling is to be and bring the presence of God into the world.  The first Christmas marked the birth of the King of a new Kingdom.  John the Baptist ushered in the Kingdom of God as he prepared the way for the Lord.  Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection showed us what that kingdom can do.  The Holy Spirit gives us the power to make that kingdom known now and for all people!

This Christmas, I pray that God is making His kingdom known FOR you.  That you cling to your king and find peace, joy and strength in adversity.  He has been through this and has declared victory already for there is nothing new under the sun.  Then, by that same strength allow God to make His kingdom known THROUGH you.  Sharing hope with others in their time of greatest need.  

You, the people of God at Cross have already made a tremendous impact through our Christ over COVID funds.  Real help for people in real need.  You have blessed families with thanksgiving meals.  You have supported in-person learning in our school.  You have called and asked to adopt a family in need and offered to shop for people who are quarantined.  God is working through you in powerful ways.  

If you are struggling this year, don’t struggle alone.  Let your family of faith at Cross come alongside you as we bear one another’s burdens.  And if you, regardless of your life situation, want to bring Kingdom blessings and hope to others, prayerfully consider supporting one of our efforts this Christmas.  

First, start with prayer.  Every single one of us has that ability and any successful kingdom work needs to be bathed in prayer.  Second, consider serving at our Thrift Shop Toy Drive.  We have 100 families with 200 children signed up to shop.  Unfortunately, that is the most we are able to serve right now.  We need help before the event to sort and set up and we need help at the event on Tuesday night to help with traffic flow and assist families.  Third, if you are able, consider a donation of a new $10 toy.  This gift will make a larger impact than I can put into words. 

There is nothing New under the sun, but the Son, Jesus Christ, declares that when we die to self we are born again in Christ Jesus.  The Old has gone and the NEW has come.  While this world has nothing new to offer us except the same old troubles, God’s Kingdom is making all things new.   May your hope and faith be renewed this Christmas and may you allow God’s kingdom work to be done through you.  His Kingdom brings Good News of Great Joy even in the middle of a Pandemic.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Advent:  Voices from the Edge

A divine encounter happens when we experience something from a new perspective and it changes our outlook on the world.  Certainly, a new perspective could increase negativity as well, but for believers we ask God to keep His promise to “work good in all things.”   We must also be cautious, because often times a divine experience SEEMS like a negative experience at first.  We humans are resistant to change and do not like anything messing with our preferred life choices.  One only need to look at the ultimate divine encounter, Jesus himself, which caused many to enter a deep turmoil that led to His crucifixion.  

Through divine encounters with his word, God changes our ways in the world. At first, those encounters are strange, mystifying. Upon closer examination, however, they deepen our vision and awaken our participation in the gracious work God does in the world.

In 1961, a visitor walked into the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. He was carrying a brick. He found a painting of the crucifixion, took the brick and started to destroy the painting. In the context of our world’s increasing violence against religion, you would assume this man’s anger, his violence, his desecration of Christian art was done out of hatred for Christianity. It was not. It was done out of love for Christ. This vandalous visitor objected to the way an artist had portrayed the crucifixion of Jesus.

Salvador Dali was the artist and the painting was Christ of St. John of the Cross. In it, one sees Jesus, hanging on the cross, over the world. The problem for the visitor was not the crucifixion, but the way this crucifixion challenged him with its strangeness. Dali had changed the traditional perspective people have when they look at a crucifixion. When we see a crucifixion, we are accustomed to looking up into the face of Jesus. Dali, however, asks us, for a moment, to be situated above the cross. We look down upon Jesus, who himself is looking down upon the world. For the visitor, this stance was sacrilegious. Unholy. The painting accused of inviting one to place him/herself above Jesus. 

For others, however, this painting’s strangeness invites wonder as one sees the world-encompassing mission of God. Dali’s painting challenges preconceptions of how a crucifixion has to be seen. It creates an encounter that changes your vision and invites you to see things anew. Dali invites the viewer, for a moment, to see the crucifixion through the eyes of God the Father. Our heavenly Father looks down upon the fallen world and sees it through the eyes of his Son Jesus, dying on the cross, for all people. Seeing the crucifixion that way reminds you of the larger mission of Jesus. This mission certainly includes you (something you see when you stand in front of a traditional crucifixion looking up into the eyes of Jesus), but it is also a mission that doesn’t stop with you (something you now see when you look at Jesus on the cross hanging over the whole world). God’s love in Christ reaches to the ends of the earth.

This sermon series is built around the theme of Advent encounters. In each sermon, God’s people will hear a word of Scripture, a voice from the edge and through that word experience a reorientation toward their life experience. Someone on the edge of this world’s ways will speak and what is said will change the way God’s people live in the world. In each sermon, therefore, you will find two tensions: the tension of what it is like to hear a strange word from a strange prophet and the tension of what it is like to have that word challenge you and transform you and change the way you live as God’s people in the world.

In a sense, this sermon series is very traditional. Advent has long been considered a season of repentance and repentance means change. Reorientation.  In the midst of those who escape from life and those who celebrate an excess of life, Advent calls God’s people to a change of life: to turn from their sin, to correct their misunderstandings and to prepare for the coming of Christ. In another sense, this series will challenge us to have a divine encounter with God that is anything but traditional.

Advent has long been a time of preparation, preparation for the celebration of Christmas.  Yet the road to Christmas is anything but easy. It twists, it turns and we meet many strange figures along the way. Prophets cry out in visions. John the Baptizer preaches in the desert.  Angels appear whether you are asleep or awake. The voices are varied, the places are strange, but one thing is certain in each encounter:  God is preparing us for the celebration of the greatest encounter of all, the birth of Jesus, his Son, our Savior, the Redeemer of the world.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Thankful

Thankful means to be filled with thanks.  I like the suffix ful; Joy-ful, Grate-ful, Grace-ful, Hope-ful.  To be filled (we might say filled to overflowing) with the things of God isn’t always easy these days.  But, just because you feel a certain way, doesn’t mean it is true. 

Right now, there are so many of us, if not all of us, that are filled with stress, grief, anxiety, sadness etc.  Those feelings are real.  But, for the vast majority of us, these feelings are temporary and circumstantial.  The reality that the situation is temporary doesn’t discredit our feelings, but it can help us in the healing process as we look through the pain and focus on the truth in front of us. 

Paul teaches us to focus on out reality to be able to find peace in all circumstances. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

So I want to encourage you and me to do this same thing right now.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week lets focus on those things.  While we are truly sad for how so many things are different this year, let’s think about the blessings, the good things, the true things that God is still using to make us “ful” of all His blessings. 

I, for one, am thankful for the way we have been able to stay connected with family, friends, and our church community through technology.  No, it isn’t anything like it used to be. And, yes, I greatly miss human interaction and contact.  But, I am so thankful to be able to laugh, cry, celebrate, and simply hang out together through the wonders of modern technology.

I am Grateful for the ways this congregation has rallied together to help people in need this holiday season and throughout the pandemic.  Offerings and acts of service, even professional services donated for those who need it most. 

I am Hopeful, that God will grant relief and mercy from this pandemic soon.  I’m hopeful that soon we will no longer need to grieve the lives lost every day because of the pandemic, but instead celebrate our lives together after the pandemic. 

I am Joyful that I get to share the good news of Jesus with you and be encouraged by you.  Each day lives are being saved, poured into, and encouraged by you!  You are God’s people in this time, in this place for this purpose.  May He be Gracious unto you, and may you have the eyes to see and be reminded to think about THESE things.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Thanksgiving

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.”  These words are the beginning verses of Psalm 9.  Yes, I chose them because it is Thanksgiving this (next) weekend.  And, yes, I chose them to encourage and remind us of all the things we are thankful for, including our amazing God.  But, there are many verses that I could have chosen.  These stuck out to me for a very particular reason.

The book of Psalms is made up of various long and short poems of various topics and various authors.  It is almost like an ancient hymn book or reusable devotional guide that was shared throughout the ancient church.  Many of the psalms are set to music or have mysterious interludes included that we are unfamiliar with as these particular components have been lost in the challenges of time.  And yet, God has miraculously kept the Bible intact and unchanged throughout the same time period!

So, why Psalm 9 as the theme verse for my Thanksgiving Pastor’s Corner?  As I was reading Psalm 9 for my own devotion, I noticed the musical setting noted at the beginning of it reads as follows “For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Death of the Son.”  This psalm of Thanksgiving, is written by David, to God the great “Choir Director” to the tune entitled “the Death of the Son”.

This is an indescribably beautiful picture of redeeming that which is evil by transforming it for good.  The title and musical setting are so curious that there is much debate and over what it means.  The Hebrew language and poetic nature of the psalms both lend themselves to a lack of specificity in the meaning.  Some have said this is about David celebrating the death of Goliath “the son” instead meaning “the champion.”  However, the Psalm itself has no specific reference to this event and seems to be much more mature and comprehensive in tone than a young boy with his first victory might write.  

Some have said this is not a musical tune but a mistranslation of a musical instrument.  The ESV bible leaves it untranslated and simply writes the Hebrew words Muth-labben.”  Still others say it is somewhat inconsequential except that it points us to the victory and celebration we have in the horrific death of Christ, the Son of God.  David would have unwittingly done this a thousand years before the birth of Christ.

All of these ideas are powerful, faithful testimonies to the work of the Psalmist.  I too don’t find it particularly important which one of these ideas is correct, if any.  I find it wonderfully majestic how God is constantly working in the midst of things while we often have no idea what is going on.  

One more truth is that David did in fact have his Son die.  The son he bore with Bathsheba in his horrific affair that led to the murder of her husband and his great friend.  David was devastated at the death and wrote his famous Psalm of Confession (Psalm 51) at that time.  This certainly was no time to celebrate in David’s life.  But, Psalm 9 isn’t celebrating the death of a Son, that is just the tune to which it is sung.   Psalm 9 is celebrating the faithfulness of God.  

This Thanksgiving is hard for our family; it is likely very hard for yours as well.  Activities, traditions, gatherings my children are blessed to have experienced their entire lives are unable to happen this year.  There is a lot of grieving over the “death” of these traditions.  And yet, we are working hard to remain faithful and focused on the greatness of our God and His blessings which endure and are new every morning.  There are so many things to grieve right now, and we should.  But, we grieve as people of Hope; we know God is at work in the midst of these heartaches; we know He is working all things together for His glorious good; it is just difficult to see sometimes.  

Psalm 9 reminded me that even in “The death of a son” there is still plenty of room for thankfulness for God’s abundant blessings.  The greatest of which is the death of His Son, which assures us that all our grief and all our trials will one day, come to an end.  For this, and the blessings of each day, I am truly Thankful. 

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.”  Psalm 9:1-2

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Updates on our COVID Response

With Local, Regional and State COVID cases on the rise it seems appropriate to share some important information regarding how Cross and its ministries are continuing to share God’s love through it all. 

Worship – Currently, “Religious Services” are exempt from Illinois Mitigation Tiers.    The Governor is suggesting, but not requiring, all worship gatherings to be limited to 25 people or fewer.  We continue to experience people who need the personal interaction with God and one another.  To unnecessarily limit the gathering size would limit this essential connection for many. With the spacing available to us and the many volunteers to help with sanitization we will continue to offer on-site services as long as we can do so safely.

School – COVID cases in youth and children are also on the rise.  However, transmission seems to be happening at home and in unregulated settings, not between classmates in a properly controlled environment.  This is also our experience with our school.  The hard work and diligence to our protocols have prevented any spread among students.  We continue to see our enrollment increasing as students and families struggle with e-learning.  Please keep our team in your prayers as our staff has adapted to unprecedented demands on them during this time.  Several of our teachers have had to teach from home on quarantine, while their students are in the classroom!

Discipleship – Our children, youth and adult ministries continue on in various forms.  Some groups are meeting in person, others are meeting through technology.  We have concentrated our on-site opportunities for youth and children into Wednesday evenings. So far, we are not impacted by Tier 1 mitigation requirements, but Tier 2 would require gatherings to be no larger than 10 people.  Our team of staff and volunteers are working diligently to determine how we can keep the in-person option available to those who are blessed by it.

Thrift Shop – Currently, retail is also unrestricted through Mitigation Tiers 1 and 2.  However, our Thrift Shop remains a very popular option for people cleaning out their closets at home and for connecting with one another in these deeply isolating times.  If you would like to get out and help people, consider volunteering at our Thrift Shop! We have opportunities during the day and with limited crowds.

Christ over COVID – We recently helped a single mom who had lost her job. Our fund allowed her to catch up on utilities and receive much needed dental work.  Our fund allowed another woman, who had significantly reduced income because of her continuing health concerns and her job requiring her to work in-person, to buy groceries and pay off overdue bills and lifted her spirits in these trying times.

We are all unique creations of our Heavenly Father.  Each of us responds to crisis and challenges differently.  These differences can be a source of conflict or they can be woven together to make a beautifully completed tapestry.  Throughout its history, the church has existed to bring these differences together to accomplish more together than we can apart.  The Body of Christ, working together, requires mutual submission under our Godhead who leads us.  This is not always easy, but it is always worth it.  I am so pleased to see and hear all the great stories of support and sacrifice the people in this family, we call Cross, have been a part of.  

May God continue to lead us to work together, offer His Grace over our differences and accomplish His Kingdom goals.  May the Good News of Jesus be at the forefront of your life and mind as we share that news with the world.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Pastor’s Corner – Everlasting to Everlasting

Where did we come from?  This is the never-ending question humanity continues to ask itself.  The origin of life and the origin of the universe have driven study and research for generations.  Even when the preponderance of people believed we came from a Divine Creator, the desire for understanding that origin drove humanity’s curiosity and exploration.  

Equally as interesting, and closely related, is the question “Where are we going?” For those that believe our life and universe came from chance, the answer is more concrete—nowhere.  For those who believe in the Creator revealed in the Bible we believe we are going to eternal life.  For many others, there are many other hypotheses. 

These questions reveal something critically important about humanity; it is finite.  Humanity has a beginning and it has an end.  While none of us know exactly how much time is available for us between the beginning and the end, we know they both exist, they both matter and they both dictate how we spend our time and resources during the in between. 

 
This reality about humanity is what makes Moses encounter with God so interesting.  (Ok, maybe it was the voice coming from a burning bush that made it interesting, but stick with me.)   In Exodus 3, Moses encounters God in a very real and powerful way.  Through the Holy Scripture we are able to do the same.  As Moses encounters God he asks many of the same questions we would in that circumstance.  Who are you? What do you want with me? Why would you pick me?  Isn’t there someone better? And finally, “Where did you come from?”  

Moses asks the “Where did you come from?” question in a way you might not initially recognize in Exodus 3:13; when he asks God “Who shall I say sent me?” But see, Moses already knew it was God, the only God, the one true God.  God identified himself in the very clear and specific way He always did, as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses isn’t asking God to repeat Himself, Moses is asking more specifically, personally, who are you?  As humans, when we ask this we mean; “Give me your story.”, “Where did you come from?”, “What are you doing now?” and “Where are you going?”

God understands full well what Moses is asking and you can tell by the reply He gives “I am who I am.”  When Moses asks who are you, God essentially replies “I always was, I currently am and I always will be.”  From now until the pre-Christmas season of Advent, we will be looking at our God who is “from everlasting to everlasting.”  His eternal being transforms our limited lives and leads us into life everlasting.  We are no longer beings with a beginning and end, but instead we have a beginning and no end.  I wonder how often we live as if we will never die?  How often are we able to face our fears because we know how this story goes? How do our daily choices reflect our identity as an eternal child of the Heavenly Father?  Or, do we live just like the world around us and worry about living our best lives now?

As the world and its pressure builds all around you, I invite you to step into the transcendent power of knowing your eternal future.  You are a child of the Great I AM; our God has no beginning and no end.  He created us; we have a beginning in Him.  But, through Him we are guaranteed that our life will have no end.  Let’s live each day as if it had eternal ramifications.  Because, it truly does.   

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

In Christ,

Erik Gauss