Pastor’s Corner

The Advent Of Our God

Advent is classic word that doesn’t get used too often in our everyday language. Advent is from a Latin word that means “coming” or “arrival”. In my life it is best articulated as the feeling of anticipation and anxiousness as we watch our friends and family travel towards us for the Holidays. Yes, I mean watch as the dot on Life360 or Find Friends or even Snapchat travels toward you, makes stops along the highway and finally arrives in the driveway. The Advent of our holiday celebration.

Like so many experiences today, they were the same but different in Jesus’ time. Before the birth of Jesus people were constantly watching the scriptures, the politics, nations and even the stars in the sky for the arrival of the Messiah–much like many today point to current events and declare the end of the world or that the second arrival of Jesus is coming.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) This familiar declaration of the arrival of Jesus was actually declared 700 years prior to His actual birth. The anticipation was intense!

Every day the faithful people of God would look forward to the Messiah’s arrival to deliver them from sin and tyranny. That Messiah is here and deliverance is ours. Except, instead of standing in that deliverance and living as people who have the indwelling of God, we too often forfeit those blessings and instead long for and look forward to another deliverance. Our heavenly home.

In this Advent series, we are reminded that Christ is born in us spiritually TODAY! and every day. He enters into us daily to strengthen and support us, save us and renew us. We are changed by His presence within us as we become more and more like Him in the living of our lives.

Week 1 • Be Born in Us Today Bringing Blessing (Genesis 12:2): God promises Abraham that an offspring from his line would bring blessing to all. When Jesus was born, that promise came true with an abundance.

Week 2 • Be Born in Us Today Bringing Renewal (Isaiah 40:31): The prophet Isaiah declared that a Holy One from God would be born into this world to bring renewal to all the faint and weary. Christ’s birth restores our strength that we might serve him.

Week 3 • Be Born in Us Today Bringing Guidance (Psalm 31:3): The children of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years, often doubting God’s plan for them. With the arrival of Jesus on the scene, we have a clear path to the promised land of heaven through him who is the Way.

Week 4 • Be Born in Us Today Bringing Power (Exodus 15:6): John the Baptist pointed to the power of God present in Jesus Christ. As we prepare for the birth of baby Jesus, we point others to the power at work in our lives through our Emmanuel, God with us.

Join us for the Be Born in Us Today special services for Advent on both Sundays and Wednesdays. In these services, we remember that Jesus is born and that birth is a blessing for TODAY! This week we will look at how the prophet Isaiah declared that a Holy One from God would be born into this world to bring renewal to all the faint and weary. That Holy One was Jesus. And he is born in us TODAY!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, December 4
Isaiah 40:21-31, Ephesians 1:7-10, Matthew 1:18-25

Pastor’s Corner

Thankful: For You!

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

These words are from Paul to the faithful believers in the town of Philippi. You can read them in the book of Philippians where they serve as the opening greeting in Paul’s letter to the Church. These words may also sound familiar to you because we use them as a blessing over the newly baptized. In the newly baptized, God has begun a great work that He promises to continue each and every day until it is ultimately completed on the Last Day, when Christ returns.

As God’s chosen people we still find ourselves in the in-between. We are made perfect and whole in our baptism now, today, and yet we live in a world and dwell in a flesh that isn’t quite eager to comply with the new reality. The old is gone, the new has come, but the realities of the old Adam still work against our born-again Spirit.

For this I say Thank You! Thank you to each and every one of you who battle with me and all the saints to allow the light of Christ to shine through. Thank you for shining that light through your forgiveness when I fail. Thank you for shining that light through your prayers for support. Thank you for shining that light as we work, serve, play and love our community and each other together, as a family of faith in this place.

There are no words to describe this unity of faith and Spirit except church. We are the Church, the body of Christ working together. We receive God’s blessings and those blessing overflow to one another. We support each other in times of trial, pick one another up when we fall and celebrate life’s triumphs together. All this while storming the gates of Hell and overcoming the lies and deception of the evil one.

Wow, my family and I are blessed to be a part of this community of believers. I pray God’s blessings for each of you this Thanksgiving. May you find peace in His promise to continue that good work within you until that Last Day!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, November 27
Genesis 12:1-8, Romans 4:1-8, Luke 1:39-56

Pastor’s Corner

Thank You, Will and Kayla

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) This famous passage frames for the believer that everything we experience in life has a “season”. Birth, death, war peace, laugh and weep. King Solomon writes these words, not in an effort to tell us everything is good, far from it. These words remind us that God watches over, works in and works through every experience we live.

No one anticipated Kayla and Will would be moving on from Cross at the same time. No one that is except our God who knew one season was ending and another beginning. No one knew that Kayla was going to be such a great fit here at Cross. No one that is except our God who led her to begin her full-time ministry here. No one knew Will would start here as a single man and three and a half years later leave married, with a son and having endured a three-year pandemic. No on that is except our God, the Great Physician who provided through it all.

Some seasons feel more joyous, like Kayla’s Advent Costumes or Will’s Nine Square Youth nights. Some are more challenging, like saying farewell to two servants of God and their families. But God promises that in every season we have the opportunity to grow and lean on Him for our peace and Joy.

Thank you, Kayla and Will, for sharing your life with us. We mourned deaths in your families, we celebrated weddings and baptisms. We laughed at silly videos and cried at sad announcements.

Thank you, Will and Kayla, for investing in our lives. You celebrated life’s accomplishments with our young ones of all ages. You cried when their pets died and prayed when they had sick family members. You taught them about God’s love and showed them that same love, unconditionally.

Now it is time for another season.

Kayla, we wish you well as you train and mentor the young ones of St. Peter Arlington Heights. We know that they will love you just as we have. We know that they will be blessed just as we have. We know that you will help them to grow and that they will help you to grow, just as we have. Maybe, just maybe you will learn a second song on the guitar or not since that is part of your charm. Whatever you do, do it all for the Lord and you will be blessed and be a blessing to those you serve.

Will, you and Liz and Leo are stepping out in a leap of faith. A new season in life as you consider a career change or simply a season away to heal and grow and then return to youth ministry. These seasons can be most scary, but they are also the most rewarding. When we allow God to lead us through the most difficult days, we appreciate the good days all the more as we praise His name.

There is a season for everything, not every season is easy, not every season is good. But, in every season, God is with us, working God through all things for those you love Him. May God continue to guide your steps and may you forever have joy that the seed you planted, watered and nurtured will continue to grow and bear fruit. May you also forever have peace that the Lord goes before you, preparing in advance the work He has in store for you.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, November 20
Mark 10:17-27; 2 Corinthians 8:1-10

Pastor’s Corner

Thank You!

Thanksgiving is still several weeks away, but it is never too early to start showing gratitude. Today is an easy day to show thanks as it is the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.” Originally known as Armistice Day which, in 1918, marked the official ending of World War I, we now celebrate all of our military veterans on November 11th. This day of gratitude reminds us that we have the largest and most powerful military in the world, and it is still entirely comprised of volunteers. Yes, these volunteers receive compensation, but no amount of compensation or gratitude can express the importance that these men and women play in our world to create and maintain peace and, when necessary, put their life on the line to do so.

As a follower of Jesus, the military for me has always served as a reminder about our Lord who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation. It is far too easy to think about Jesus as an image. None of us have ever met Him in person and as such, our imagination of Him can become skewed. Jesus had a mother who cried as He hung on the cross. Jesus had friends who grieved His passing. Jesus had followers that fought to protect Him. Jesus was honored as He too was laid in a tomb.

Like our military, Jesus didn’t discriminate about who he fought and died for. When you serve in the military for America you don’t fight for Christian, or Muslim. You don’t fight for any race or color. You don’t fight for any sexual identity. You fight for freedom, and the right to express your differing opinions with one another. You fight because “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..”.

While deserving of high honor and full gratitude, our military isn’t perfect. It is after all a human military which represents a nation run by humans. But, I am forever grateful of the sacrificial work they have done and continue to do which is such a great reminder of the only One to truly volunteer to put His life on the line for freedom. This freedom, however isn’t the freedom to have any opinion we want while we are alive. This freedom is freedom from death itself. A freedom to live forever with Jesus and all believers forever!

This freedom is for ALL people without exception. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) God doesn’t ask us to change before He accepts us. He doesn’t tell us to shape up or ship out. God comes along side us as we are lost in sin and deception and says “I love you, just the way you are. Follow me.”

The only army that can grant peace that lasts, true freedom, and liberty and Justice for all is the Army of God. We are each called to voluntarily sacrifice our lives as well, for the sake of saving others from sin and death. When we turn to Jesus we are commissioned to create unity through mercy and grace to our enemies. The same mercy and grace Jesus extended to us “while we were still sinners”.

Thank you, military men and women, and for all the friends and family who support and sacrifice along with them. Thank you, Jesus, for Your sacrifice which gives me freedom today and for all eternity. Thank you, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, our battle belongs to the Lord and we are blessed to make an eternal difference!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, November 13
Matthew 6:19-24; Philippians 4:10-17

Pastor’s Corner

The Boy Who Cried, “Saint!”

When we make outlandish claims, it becomes difficult for people to believe us. When we lose credibility, it doesn’t matter if we then say something profoundly accurate, people won’t believe us. This is the long, taught truth of the fable of the boy who cried “Wolf!” The boy was lonely and bored tending the sheep by himself and so he cried out “Wolf!”. The townspeople rallied to help him. He liked the attention he received from doing it so much so that he continued to do it whenever he was lonely. One day there truly was a wolf but the townspeople no longer believed the boy and didn’t come to help.

What does the boy who cried “Wolf!” have to do with All Saints’ Day? All Saints’ Day is a day we remember that the people of God are perfect in every way even though we still struggle as sinners. Countless people have noticed this reality and called the church hypocrites, or two-faced or not trustworthy.

In some ways this is true, the church is made up of sinners. St. Paul writes in his letter to Timothy that he is the foremost sinner, chief of sinners, some have said. I like to say, he was the best there has ever been at sinning. And Paul has a point; he was a murderer and that is just the beginning of his list of sins. But, St. Paul also said this in the exact same breath, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners”.

The fact that we sin doesn’t disprove our godliness. In fact, it is the very admission of the presence of sin that makes us godly. If we admit our sin Jesus takes it from us and pays the price for it on the cross. He then credits us with His godliness.

It is Paul who reminds us of the depth of his sin so that we will celebrate even more the enormity of Christ’s forgiveness and the vastness of God’s Grace. The bigger our sin, the more guilt we feel, the more we celebrate that Jesus paid the price and forgave that sin too. Jesus taught us this very truth when He told the parable of the two men whose debts were forgiven. One man’s debt was very large, one man’s debt was smaller. Jesus asked the question who would be more grateful? The one who had the greater debt forgiven.

My experience is that, for mature Christians, our issue isn’t remembering how big a sinner we were or are, it is believing that God’s grace has completely forgiven ALL our sin and that we are now truly Saints! We are afraid that we will be seen as hypocrites and be like the boy who cried “wolf”. We don’t want to lose our credibility or tarnish the name of Jesus. But that is exactly what we do when we fail to accept that we are fully forgiven. We discredit His work on the cross and give a foothold to all the false teachers who say we need to do our part.

The problem isn’t saints who sin, its saints who don’t point to Jesus. Jesus is who and what that makes us holy. It isn’t my actions, my choices or thoughts. It’s Jesus covering me with His robe of righteousness. It is Jesus washing me with the waters of baptism, it is Jesus whose blood was shed for my forgiveness. Remain humble and then boast in Jesus and His forgiveness. You are after all, His holy and forgiven saint and maybe, just maybe, another sinner might be sainted through your witness.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I (St. Paul) am the worst of them all.” 1 Timothy 1:15

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Readings for Sunday, November 6
1 John 3:1-3; Matt 5:1-12

Pastor’s Corner

Happy Hallow’s Eve!

No, the title is not a typo! Halloween is, historically, one of the most celebrated nights for the people of God. Hallow literally means holy or to make holy. We pray this word persistently every time we pray “Our Father who is in Heaven. Hallowed is your name.” Of course, it wasn’t always called Halloween. The word Halloween is a contraction of the formal name and is derived from the day AFTER Halloween.

The day AFTER Halloween, November 1st, is now called All Saint’s Day. The traditional name for this day is All Hallow’s Day and is a day in the life of the Church when we remember people of faith. Specifically, we remember those who have gone before us and now rest at peace with the Lord. Baptized believers are made holy by God each and every day and yet we also still struggle with sin. When we die, we no longer struggle with sin and are only holy. The hallowed people of God we now call “saints” but the meaning is still the same.

Think of it as a Christian Memorial Day. Traditionally, the people of God would worship at Hallowmas services (think Christmas) and remember their loved ones and their sacrifice for the Kingdom of God on earth. Just like Christmas Eve today, the night before All Hallow’s Day became equally as sacred to celebrate together. Many would worship at night on the eve before All Hallow’s Day then hold vigil at their sainted loved one’s grave until the next morning. This Eve before became known as All Hallow’s Evening. Which eventually contracted down to Halloween.

This is still an important day in the Church. Martin Luther chose Hallow’s Eve to be the day he confronted the leadership of the Church with where they had strayed from the Bible. This became a celebration all its own called Reformation. This action of Martin Luther would cause Christians around the world to leave the Church and return to worshipping God as He taught us to in the Bible.

Unfortunately, today Halloween has become commercialized and is considered by many to be a night of evil or sorcery. This secularization of Christian holidays for worldly gain is not new to us, but it is still sad. Let’s ask Luther’s question “What does this mean?”

It means we ought to fear love and trust God enough so that we can live our faith as disciples of Jesus in the world. It means we need to remain connected together so that we do not fall into the temptations of the world. It means as beloved people of God we can go out into the world and shine light in the darkness.

Many Christians have strong feelings about Halloween. I agree with most of them, even when they don’t agree with each other. See, each of us is in a unique context and therefore have a unique opportunity to shine God’s love. Some embrace the community gathering that occurs around free candy and child centered activities. I know some Christian families that shine the light of Christ by being the house everyone talks about (Large candy bars, hunted house, etc.). I know others that don’t participate and instead have a more subdued celebration around Jesus in their home or at their church.

I believe both of these strategies can work if we do them with love toward God and love toward others. Like foods sacrificed to idols or our presence in Godless places, these can become a weakness of the flesh and we can be led astray. These strategies can also be seen as us as sheep among wolves, missionaries being sent to Godless places to bring the Gospel of Jesus to all people.

Regardless of how you feel about Halloween, it certainly is a highlighted day in our society. It is a Day people talk about and plan for. Because of this, we too can participate in these conversations and allow these conversations to be a blessing. It is not easy to be a believer in a culture that increasingly is turning away from God, but there certainly are many opportunities to shine God’s light and share His love with one another.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Reading for Sunday, October 30
Romans 3:19-28

Pastor’s Corner

The Final Challenge

It is often much easier to begin something new than it is to finish something well. Some studies have found that about 8% of people who make a New Year’s resolution have kept that resolution by the end of the year. This statistic is self-reported, so the chances are that this percentage is much higher than what it actually is.

About 40 days ago we started the Being Challenge. Pastor Matt gave a rousing sermon that inspired many people to start flossing every day. I won’t ask you to report on how your results have been, but I am curious if you have made and followed through on any changes to your habits over these 40 days? Personally, I have improved on a couple of habits, including prioritizing prayer. I am literally praying right now that I will be able to maintain and improve on these habits I have begun. I am also praying for each of you.

If you haven’t yet begun a new spiritual habit, or ceased an old neutral or negative habit, I would strongly encourage you to do so now, before this series ends. We have established tremendous momentum with regards to what habits, why those habits and how to implement those habits over the last 40 days. The worst thing that we can do now is move on to the next series and not change anything in our life habits.

I am not over exaggerating here. In Matthew 7, Jesus tells a parable about the wise and foolish builder. The difference between the two wasn’t if they went to Bible study or to worship services. The difference between the two is that the wise man “put into practice” what he had learned. “And everyone who hears these words of mine [Jesus] and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” Matthew 7:26

Sometimes we don’t put it into practice because we don’t try; sometimes we try hard and fail. Jesus, the prophets, the apostles and all of Scripture agree that the issue of trying and failing is common to us all. Left alone we will all succumb to the frailties of our broken and cursed flesh. Praise be to God that we have a Savior and His name is Jesus! In Christ our sins are removed and in Christ’s Church we are encouraged to live out that forgiveness with gratitude toward God and grace toward one another.

Living in the grace, we are encouraged to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. So here is some encouragement and an invitation to get connected to one another. If you are tired, discouraged or even overwhelmed Commit to Community to share those burdens. And Choose Church to spur you on!

We can’t do everything and we certainly can’t do it all at once. Choose one habit and make a specific and measurable goal. For example, the goal to “go to church more often”, is not measurable and doesn’t require any change. It also requires a lot of effort to try to remember how often you went to church “before”. Do you have a record of attendance? How far back do you track? See how easy it is to get lost in the weeds? Try this, “Go to 8am worship service 3 times a month”. This is a very specific and measurable goal. You will know in a few short weeks if you accomplished it. You can “reset” if you fail or even better you will be able to celebrate when you accomplish it!

Clear, simple, achievable goals that have an end date where you can celebrate and reset is a key to success. Share your victories and your challenges with others who will pick you up when you are struggling and who will celebrate your victories with you! Above all, remember that these are keystone habits that are intended to help you with the overall goal. Missing one day of prayer or two days of reading Scripture are not the problem. The problem is that too often we feel distant and discouraged in our walk of faith. These simple habits will help you feel nearer to God and one another. These habits help us remember God’s promise “I will never leave you or forsake you” Hebrews 13:5. And that promise give us joy and is worth celebrating no matter what!

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Reading for Sunday, October 23
John 4:31-38; 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Pastor’s Corner

BEING Challenge – Day 34 – Choose Church

Church is a Being thing, NOT a Doing thing.

Sometimes life is more difficult when you share it with others; sometimes it is infinitely more wonderful. The challenge is that we don’t get to know in advance which it will be.

This week, Pastor Matt and I went to a conference with hundreds of other pastors from Northern Illinois. While we were there, we studied the Holy Scripture and learned from each other different ways the people of God were living out those truths in their local congregations. In some ways the conference was required, certainly expected for us to attend. There were many other pastors who “should have been there” that weren’t. As I was also preparing for the message this weekend on “Choosing Church” from the Being Challenge I couldn’t help but see all of the similarities among the pastors that we see in the world today.

Sometimes us pastors don’t see eye to eye on everything. Sometimes we choose not to participate in the larger church context because we have enough challenges in our local churches. Sometimes it is just easier to choose not to attend. The devil tells us all of the things we will lose if we go and convinces us that the blessings won’t offset those losses.

The excuses for not going to the pastor’s conference are as varied as the reasons we don’t attend worship or engage in the life of the church–”the topic or speaker don’t sound interesting”, “it costs too much money”, “it takes too much time”, “I could do so many other things with that time”. This is the importance of the title “Choose” Church. We must choose what matters, choose what we are to prioritize, and choose what is foundational and non-negotiable in life.

For Matt and I, we could easily say we have too much to do and in fact say we have each other so we don’t need to waste time and money going to a conference. Instead, Matt and I have chosen to take those blessings and use them to serve at the conference, to bring in great speakers and have it be the best it can be. More work, not more rest, but more blessings multiplied.

Church is about recognizing the blessings we have, thanking/worshipping God for them and sharing them with one another and the world.

Church is not a commodity to be shopped or a product to be evaluated. Church is who we are. We are each individual children of God, united as one in Jesus Christ. The Bible calls us the Body of Christ united under the one head, Jesus. We are referred to as members of the body where each member does its part, not each member getting its benefit. The benefit is seeing, being and growing in the recognition that this world is bigger than my little world.

Many times, seeing the world through that larger context helps us put all of the trials of the world into perspective. Sometimes living a life in that larger context feels more challenging, especially as we fight against the demands and challenges of the world. But I have always found the blessings to outweigh the challenges. To know that I have a God who sees all of the pain, suffering and injustice I see but is also fighting against it and will one day restore justice, mercy and salvation. Nothing brings me more peace in the chaos than that.

But, I can’t always remember it and neither can you. I need you to lift my spirits just like you need Matt and I to lift yours. We need the whole body of Christ working together, not just for ourselves, but for the sake of the whole world.–for the sake of God’s Kingdom here on earth and for all eternity.

Choose Church is a lot less about the blessings we receive but about the calling we have. Yet, the true and powerful mystery is that as we choose to make room for the bigger things in life, everything gets more complicated and more peaceful all at the same time.

May the peace of God and the blessing of the Church family be yours, but just as importantly may you remember that you are that same blessing for others as you Choose to be the Church at Cross and in the world.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Reading for Sunday, October 16
Hebrews 10:24-25, Acts 2:42-47

Pastor’s Corner

BEING Challenge – Day 27 – Seek Solitude

“It is not good for man to be alone” – God. 

 Solitude and Community seem to be two opposing ideas that cannot coexist. This is for good reason. Either a person is alone or they are not alone. If a person is not alone then they are in a community, albeit a small one. This really comes from a misunderstanding of what it means to be “alone”.   

In our western culture to be alone is equated with a feeling of loneliness. A person could literally be in a crowded football arena or a worship service and claim to feel alone. A social media influencer with millions of followers can be and feel alone. Loneliness is bad, lack of meaningful social interaction is arguably a leading cause of death for humans. Human touch, community and close friendships are closely tied to a long life expectancy, right along with diet and exercise. 

Jesus often sought solitude to be alone but not because he wanted to feel lonely. Jesus sought solitude to be alone with God. Think of your closest relationships in your life. Would it be good or bad for you to spend one on one time with those people? Typically, relationships are enhanced and strengthened through quality individual time together. This time can be fun, challenging, emotional or lighthearted and all of those experiences contribute to the depth of connection and strength of the relationship.  

How often do you spend time alone with God? For most of us the answer is…not that often. Frequently the issue is when we are alone without people or activity we struggle with the worries and anxieties of life. Most of us would rather be out solving a problem than sitting alone and thinking about it. Another habit is that we wait until we are exhausted to be alone with God and then we fall asleep before any meaningful relationship is developed. When we have no other options we will resort to looking at our phone or watching a screen rather than sit still and think. 

Like any relationship, it can take time and effort to be alone with God and feel comfortable. But, once you experience the power and blessing of that relationship you will crave that time with your best friend. The answer to life’s worries and anxieties is not fixing them, it is casting them on Christ’s shoulder’s. This happens best in solitude with God because then and only then do we truly realize the thoughts and feelings that are drowning out our ability to hear God’s voice.

Every year the sixth grade students in our school go to camp. One of the activities they participate in is a star lab where the night sky is replicated by directing light onto a completely blacked out dome. The instructor asks the students what happens to the stars during the day.  Light pollution and clouds can drown out the stars, but the stars are still there even when we can’t see them. So is God. He is still calling to us and blessing us even when activity pollution and our thoughts drown out our ability to hear Him. 

Find some quiet time with God. Turn off your phone, your watch, your computer, your music. Listen to God through His Holy word, the Bible, talk to God through prayer. Share your laughs, struggles, worries. What is stopping you? Whatever it is, give THAT to God. Schedule, worries, tasks. Write them down on a to do later list. Pray about them. Set a timer at first, but for me I do this until all that I can hear is the voice of God saying, “I got this, and I got you” which is my paraphrase of 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Think of that alone time with God as an opportunity to better hear and recognize the voice of God. Once we can hear it in solitude, it becomes much easier to hear it cut through the noise of life. And let’s face it, there is a lot of noise in life.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Reading for Sunday, October 9
Mark 1:32-39

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