The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Welcome to Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church and School
Yorkville Preshool
Home Cross| Cross Get Involved lutheran preschool| lutheran preschool Forms Lutheran| Lutheran Online Giving Christian| Christian Calendar Jesus| Jesus Newsletter Yorkville| Yorkville Map

Yorkville Preshool
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Worship Times
Rev Gauss Blog
What We Believe
Sermon Series
Meet the Staff
Marriage Mentoring
Children Ministry
Youth Ministry
Small Groups
Support Groups
Stephen Ministry
Journey of Hope - Cancer Care Ministry
Cross Documents
Thrift Shop Hours
Special Events
Contact Us
Loving Arms
Prayer Requests

Yorkville Preshool

Sermon Series

This page contains links to audio files and study guides (PDF files) related to our current sermon series.

Ephesians: A Church Alive in Christ

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
A Church Alive in Christ
Ephesians 1:3–14;  Mark 6:14–20
A Church Brought Near
Jeremiah 23:1–6; Ephesians 2:11–22
A Church Being Filled
Ephesians 3:14-21
A Church United
Ephesians 4:1-16
Ephesians 4
Ephesians 4:17-5:2
Ephesians 5
Ephesians 5:22-33
Ephesians 6
Ephesians 6:10-20

We are wrapping up our Old Testament focus and heading into the Epistle of Ephesians.  What is an Epistle (The T is silent.)?  Epistle is a fancy way to say letter.  After Jesus’ death and resurrection Paul traveled the Roman Empire, teaching the Jews that the long promised Messiah had come.  The Old Covenant with God has been fulfilled, and a New Covenant sealed in Christ’s blood has been formed.  

Paul would stay in these communities and teach at the synagogue (if he was permitted) or work from people’s homes who believed this message.  Paul would typically remain in the area until a group of people had formed with local leadership and promised to continue sharing this Good News with the community.  After Paul left, these new leaders and “Christians” would encounter all types of successes and failures.  They would contact Paul for support or help or simply to celebrate what God was doing amongst them.

Paul would communicate back to the churches with answers to their questions, encouragement for their work in the Lord and continued teaching about what God had accomplished in Christ Jesus.  Occasionally these letters were saved and shared over and over again or copied and given to other churches so they could hear from the Apostle Paul as well. 

For the next seven weeks we will be reading through Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church.  Ephesians begins by reminding the people that they have been adopted by God, through Baptism, into Christ.  He then encourages them to live rooted in that adoption as God’s holy children.  He inspires them to unity of work and unity of faith.  Paul teaches that Christ died not just for the Jews, or the Church, but for the Gentiles, unbelievers outside the Church.  Finally He inspires them that living in Christ will make them better husbands, wives, children, parents, managers, co-workers, neighbors and friends. 

This is the type of encouragement we all need today.  The world tries to tell us we are lacking, we are misguided and we need to change or conform to meet some arbitrary standard that quite honestly keeps changing.  God teaches us through Ephesians that we can have joy today when we trust who God is and what He did for us.  Rooted in that faith we can be a blessing to others instead of being another voice that tells them what they lack.  When we focus on what we have and who we are, we come alive in Christ Jesus, come alive as an individual and come alive as a people working together to bring Good News to the whole world.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  Ephesians 4:15-16

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Stepping Out in Faith

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Joshua: Following God's Lead
Numbers 14:1-9; Joshua 1:1-9
The Old Testament and Holy War
Deut. 20:10-18: Luke 14:25-33
Identifying Spiritual Apathy
Judges 2:11-23
Intercepting Spiritual Apathy
Judges 6:1-16
Samuel: Learning to Listen to God
1 Samuel 3:1-10
Saul: Where is Your Confidence?
1 Samuel 8:1-22
Finding Jesus in the Old Testament
Matthew 11:1-15; Galatians 4:4-7

Last fall, when we began the His Story journey through the whole Bible, it became very clear there were more questions on the Old Testament than we had time to answer! As this summer ministry season gets in gear, we will dig deeper into a portion of the Old Testament. The hope is we will be able to spend a little more time on a smaller chunk and therefore get a few things ironed out.

We will start June 2-3 with Joshua, the leader of the Israelites after Moses dies without entering the Promised Land. Joshua is tasked with overcoming the previous objections, leaning into his faith and encouraging the whole group of Abraham s descendants to do the same. This is no small task but will require great faith and a great God who will make Himself known through Joshua.

After Joshua we will move into the era of the Judges where we will explore how God sends leaders at just the right times to accomplish just the right things. Each Judge had different skillsets to help the people overcome the particular spiritual crisis of the culture. God does this in each of our lives as well, if we let Him, in each of our own spiritual crises.

The six week Old Testament Challenge will conclude with the prophet Samuel and the selection of the first earthly king of the Israelites, Saul. This account is one of great importance; the people want an earthly king. God challenges the people to trust in God alone above all things and yet relents and gives the people what they want. What does this mean for us when we beg God for things that may not be a blessing? Why would God gift us things that are not necessarily in His plan for us? How is God able to redeem all these things and still accomplish His will for all mankind?

This more in depth look at a small portion of Old Testament teaching is sure to be one to challenge and enrich our walk of faith. Our hope in working through these accounts is to see how God interacts with humanity, points us to Jesus, and continues to be present for us today. We challenge you to join us these next few weeks by digging into the Word of God and engaging with Him like He continues to engage with us. The hope is that our faith is refined and we increasingly become a more faithful reflection of Him in our everyday lives.

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Trinity Sunday

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Trinity Sunday
Isaiah 6:1 8; Acts 2:14a,
22 36; John 3:1 17

Three Persons in One God. The Holy Trinity is a concept that is difficult for many to comprehend. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all God and have all been present since the beginning. Yet we worship the One True God. This Trinity Sunday, we explore the persons of the Trinity and their impacts on our lives. We explore Scripture to do our best to understand this mysterious concept.

Pentecost Sunday

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Pentecost Sunday
Ezekiel 37:1 14; Acts 2:1 2; 1 John 15:26 27; 16:4b 15

This Sunday, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the disciples on Pentecost. The miraculous event includes tongues of fire and speaking in tongues. Through this story, we are assured that God's Word and the saving grace of Jesus Christ are for all nations. Jesus did not come just to save the Jews and we are not called to share the Gospel with just people who are like us. We are called to make disciples of all nations. Praise God that He has given us His Spirit to equip us for that good work.


Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Called to Walk in the Light
Acts 4:32 35; Psalm 148; 1 John 1:1 2:2; John 20:19 31
Called God's Children
1 John 3:2; Acts 3:11 21; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1 7; Luke 24:36 49
Called to Love
1 John 3:17-18; Acts 4:1 12 Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16 24; John 10:11 18
Called to Overcome
1 John 4:1-4; Acts 8:26 40; Psalm 150; 1 John 4:1 11 (12 21); John 15:1 8
Called to Obey
1 John 5:2-3; Acts 10:34 48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1 8; John 15:9 17
Called to be Bold
1 John 5:13-15; Acts 1:12 26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9 15; John 17:11b 19

Christians are by definition the people of the resurrected Christ. This truth reaches its pinnacle on Easter Sunday. We celebrate the power of God made known to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! But here, now, after Easter the question becomes What does that resurrection mean for me? What does it look like to live as a person of the resurrection? What impact does this truth have in my everyday live?

The answer to these questions has been addressed by theologians and scholars for millennia. The problem is someone else s answers to these questions easily become new rules for us. In 1 John we are called to be who God has made us to be. I like the word called because it inspires but does not demand; it instructs but does not threaten.

God calls us to recognize not only who He is but also what He has done for us. In our worship of God we both admire Him because He deserves it but also thank Him for the gifts He gives to us. When we are truly thankful for the gifts we have received, we want to use them to do good or share them with others so they can have them, too. But we don t always feel like sharing.

When we are tempted to be selfish and keep the gifts for ourselves, when we are blind and believe we have earned all we have, when we look down on others for the challenges they face, God calls us to see the truth. God calls us, enlightens us to be continuously transformed from people bound by the flesh into people free in the Holy Spirit. Living in freedom is not easy in a world that wants to imprison you with jealousy or insecurity or some other inadequacy.

As people of God we are called out of the darkness and into the light. We are called to remember we are His children. We are called to forgive and receive forgiveness. We are called to love because He first loved us. These things cannot be accomplished by our will and strength but by His strength gifted to us. Join us for the next seven weeks as we hear His call and respond in faith.

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Palm Sunday
Philippians 2:5-11; John 12:12-19
Maundy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Luke 22:7-20
Good Friday Tenebrae
Luke 23:33-46; John 19:25-30; Matthew 27:45-46
Easter Sunday
Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 24:1-12

Holy Week

Another Easter is almost here! We celebrate Easter every Sunday when we declare God s forgiveness for us and when we sing His praise for giving us the victory over death. How do we make sure that Easter Sunday remains a special celebration and not just another week ? I recommend coming to the Holy Week services.

Palm Sunday reminds us of the amazing celebration that took place when Jesus entered into Jerusalem. His reputation for teaching the truth about God, His power over demons and His miraculous healings all preceded Him. The Jewish people were excited to receive Him as their King and Deliverer.

On Maundy Thursday Jesus is celebrating the sacred Passover meal with His disciples. He remembers and celebrates the deliverance God gave the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led them to the Holy Land. This is the meal where Jesus institutes Holy Communion. The service ends as we strip (clear) the altar. We remember the betrayal of His disciple.

Good Friday is dark and reflective. We ponder the death of Jesus just days after He was celebrated on Palm Sunday. This service reads through the passion or suffering of Jesus as He approaches, hangs and then dies on the cross. Throughout the service it gets darker until only the light of the single flame on the Christ candle remains. This candle is carried out for a few moments while the tomb is sealed and the world is in darkness. At the very end the candle is returned to remind us of the hope that will come on Easter morning.

Then Saturday night and Sunday morning the worship spaces are filled with flowers, light, joy and music, declaring the victory and resurrection we celebrate again! Come, join us on the journey and declare Jesus as your King, Leader through life and Conqueror of death!

Remember, this year for the first time in a long time we will have the opportunity to participate in a sunrise service. Lord of Life Lutheran Church will be hosting this service here at Cross with Pastor Sampson. The service will begin in darkness with the presentation of the Pascal candle which eventually fills the room with light as we celebrate the empty tomb!

What a story! What a week! Please take it all in as this week is why we have hope and joy in every circumstance.

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Activating God Space - Start From the Heart
Col 4:2-6; Luke 9:21-27
Activating God Space - Noticing
Gal 6:7-10; Luke 10:25-37
Activating God Space - Serving
Isaiah 58:6-10; Luke 14:12-14
Activating God Space - Listening
1 Cor. 13:1-6; Proverbs 18: 2-4;12-15
Activating God Space - Wondering
Genesis 41:1a, 14-16; Luke 24:13-27;
Activating God Space - Telling Stories
1 Peter 3:15-16; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 2 Timothy 4:2-4

Activating God Space

This weekend, we launched into Lent with our church-wide emphasis called God Space. God Space is a book by Doug Pollock that will challenge us and equip us to invite God to be present in every moment. In particular, the chapters invite us to grow deeper relationships with others around us and eventually engage in conversations about the things that matter the most.

I am pleased to lead out congregation through this as I find it to be a perfect fit for where we are as a congregation. For years, we have been praying and living as God s people in the community. I hear many people saying they have people they are praying for and growing relationships with, but wondering how to have the important conversations. God Space will equip us to do just that.

This is not an evangelism book or a bait and switch guide to spiritual conversation. Instead, it serves more as a field guide about what to do and what not to do. For example, one take away I have from this book is the quote The best way to show you are interested in what someone is saying is to actually be interested. Profound isn t it! This book helps to tear down the fear of not knowing the best strategy or having all the answers. God Space shows, with clear, real life examples, how to recognize people are interested in spiritual conversation. God Space illustrates how to let others lead the conversation and helps us be ready to share when invited to.

God Space is about helping us let go of the pressure to lead a spiritual conversation and instead, allow God Space in our conversations to do what He wills. Through prayer, noticing those around us, listening, wondering about their life and sharing when asked, we can give God Space to work while we get to enjoy what He is doing in us and through us.

Join with the congregation and other believers at Cross as we Activate God Space in each of our lives. If you are not in a Community Group, this is a perfect time to get connected. You will be able to encourage one another and work together to put into practice the skills we learn and to see things the way God sees them, not the way we think they are. Visit the kiosk on Sunday or contact the church office to get connected today!

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
This is Living - Jesus as a Boy in the Temple
1 Samuel 3:1-10; Luke 2:41-52
This is Living - Baptism
Romans 6:1 11; Mark 1:4 11
This is Living - Jesus Begins His Ministry
1 Cor. 7:29 31 (32 35); Mark 1:14 20
Thi s is Living - Jesus Heals
1 Cor. 9:16 27; Mark 1:29 39
This is Living - Transfiguration
2 Cor. 3:12 13
(14 18); 4:1 6; Mark 9:2 9

This is Living

Christmas has come and gone, so now what? Maybe you find yourself holding on to the last few days of Christmas break before re-entering reality. For many, reality has already hit with the return of work and the challenges of closing out one year and beginning another. It will probably take a little while to recover from some of the common holiday stresses like family, weight gain and the expenses of the season. Wow, sounds like we need a break from Christmas!

This Christmas and new year many of us made a commitment, a resolution if you will, to not let 2018 be the same as 2017 in some way to eat healthy, to exercise more, to find a different job, to stick to our budgets, to improve relationships, or to be more resolve with our faith. Often times the best way forward is to look back. The first Christmas and the results that came from it are a powerful help as we look for results in our lives after this Christmas.

In the days, weeks and years after the first Christmas we see people of all types and with differing challenges come to see One who was born in a manger. Immediately the shepherds come to mind as they heard of the Christ and then went and told others what they had seen. The Magi, non-Jews, of course, came from the East to see the King of the Jews, only to find He was born for them, too!

This story is retold over and over throughout the life of Christ and even more so since His death and resurrection. Come and see transforms into Go and live free in the presence of the One born in the manger, the Savior of the whole world, our Lord Jesus the Christ.

Why doesn t this transformation happen more easily like it does in the Bible? Well, the transitions are never easy, but we are also easily fooled into staying away from God with certain things because they aren t spiritual. This isn t the truth. Every battle is a spiritual battle. If not, why can t we just make the change happen? The evil one is lurking, seeking to devour and attack in our times of weakness. Whatever challenges are already piling up for you, whatever resolution you ve already failed to keep this week, whatever the goals are you have for 2018, have you considered seeing Christ in them?

Come and see what God has done so we can go and live free in Him! He will not only give us the power to transform but will cause us to be transformed. This is living! Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Corinthians 5:17

His servant and yours,

Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Isaiah 60:1 6; Ephesians 3:1 12; Matthew 2:1 12


Epiphany tells the story of the Wise Men from the East who journey to visit the newborn Christ. They have discerned that a child has been born who is "king of the Jews." Jesus' birth was not just a big event for the faithful Jews who had been waiting for the Messiah. Even the scholars of other cultures knew that something special had happened. Join us on their journey following the star.

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Christmas Eve: 3 & 5 PM Services
Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1-20
Christmas Eve: 7 & 11 PM Services
Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 1-20
Christmas Day Service
Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18

Christmas Eve/Day

Christmas is filled with memories and stories of the past. Each Christmas, we honor old traditions and make new ones. The story of Christmas is also God's story of how He left Heaven's throne to be with us. This Christmas, we invite you to slow down, remember God's story, and consider your story - the story you are writing with your life and actions today!

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Is. 64:1 9; Ps. 80:1 7; 1 Cor. 1:3 9; Mark 11:1 10 or Mark 13:24 37
Is. 40:1 11; Ps. 85; 2 Peter 3:8 14; Mark 1:1 8
Is. 61:1 4, 8 11; Ps. 126; 1 Thess. 5:16 24; John 1:6 8
2 Sam. 7:1 11, 16; Ps. 89:1 5
(19 29); Rom. 16:25 27; Luke 1:26 38

Stories of Christmas

The end of Thanksgiving means the official buildup toward Christmas has begun. Christmas songs will be on the radio, stores will lure you in with major sales and favorite Christmas shows will be on the television. The same can be said in the Church. You will see the big tree is set up and decorated in the worship space, the nativity is set up, the hallways are decorated. This season of anticipation and buildup toward Christmas is called Advent. The word advent means coming, think of the anticipation of a favorite friend or family member coming to visit.

Most of us begin to get excited for the Christmas season. We have favorite foods or activities that are traditions or that bring back good memories. During the season of Advent, this same excitement beings to grow as we remember the first time Jesus came to earth. He came as a baby in a manger and He came to save each and every one of us. We also remember Jesus has promised to come again, this second coming we anticipate and wait for during this season of advent.

We ve decided to bring these two favorites together this year for worship during our advent season. We will be using some classic Christmas stories to tell the story and build the anticipation for the true Christmas. Through the season of advent we will be remembering some of the most famous stories of Christmas; Rudolph, Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman and Polar Express.

These secular Christmas stories each teach parts of the true Christmas story. In the same way, our lives tell the Story of Christmas each day. Our hope this Advent season is that we are all able to see witness story and grow anticipation as it unfolds each day. Every week we will explore these fun memorable moments of the Christmas. We will help one other step away from the frantic nature of the season and gain deeper meaning in the stories of our own lives as we prepare the way of the Lord!

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before your face,

who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight, Mark 1:2-3

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Now Thank We All Our God
Deut. 8:1 10 Psalm 67 Phil. 4:6 20 or 1 Tim. 2:1 4 Luke 17:11 19


In the past few months our country has experienced the senseless shootings of Sunday morning churchgoers in a small Texas town and of concert attendees at a country music festival in Las Vegas, an ISIS-inspired truck attack on pedestrians and bicyclists in New York City, ongoing weekly shootings and robberies in Chicago and vicinity, the threat of nuclear war with North Korea, 3 devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and devastating wildfires in the western regions of our country. All of this has affected our country in many ways: our freedom, our security, our economy, our peace of mind to name a few. Add to this our own personal challenges, fears and struggles and, needless to say, we may not always have found it easy these past months to say as we just sang, Now Thank We All Our God . We can learn from the examples of the Apostle Paul and Pastor Martin Rinckart to find gratitude in the midst of troubles.

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Revelation 7:(2 8) 9 17; Psalm 149; 1 John 3:1 3; Matt. 5:1 12; Luke 4; Isaiah 9:1-2
UNLIKELY SAINTS: PRESENT (The Delayed Bridegroom)
Amos 5:18 24; Psalm 70 1; Thessalonians 4:13 18; Matthew 25:1 13
Ezekiel 34:11 16, 20 24; Psalm 95:1 7a; 1 Corinthians 15:20 28; Matthew 25:31 46


November 1st is a day that has been set aside as a day to remember those of great faith who have been a blessing to us. We call it All Saint's Day, and we especially remember those that have died in the faith and the legacy they have left behind. How good must you be to be called a saint?

A Christian is no more perfect than any other person. We, too, are filled with sin and failures, weaknesses and struggles. The difference is a Christian acknowledges these sins fully and receives forgiveness for them. Christ paid the price for our sins, He received the punishment we received and so we are called Saints! Fully forgiven people without the stain of sin!

Followers of Christ are, at the same time, fully sinners and fully saints. God does not require any action on our part to be deemed a saint, it only requires forgiveness earned and given to us from Christ.

The reality of being both sinner and saint isn't easy to grasp. In fact, more often than not we lean too far one way or the other. One day, I might think I am not good enough to serve God or be loved by Him. Another day I might be so excited about what Jesus has done, I think I am better than someone else. This challenge is real, and we are not alone.

Generation after generation, normal people, like you and me, are called to rest firmly in God s grace. We are called to celebrate our forgiveness and find joy in our failures. We are called to live our faith in such an authentic way that it inspires others around us, just like someone living their faith inspired us! We are called by God to be the most Unlikely Saints.

You may not think you are the one up for being such a role model. You may think your past is too great to overcome. I assure you, these things only make you MORE qualified. The more we lean on Christ s forgiveness, the more He shines through. The more we point to Him, the greater example we are to those who are furthest from Him. If you could be a Saint, live like a Saint, forgive like a Saint without God s power, you wouldn t need God.

Let's celebrate the blessings of God s faithful people who have passed down the faith to us. Together we will "spur one another on toward love and good deeds, (Hebrews 10:24). And, in the end, we will be the most unlikely of Saints together! Others will know the most unlikely gift of God's unconditional love through us.

In His service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Christian Community
Acts 2:42-47
Dependent on Grace
Galatians 2:19-21; Luke 5:20-25
Our Response to Grace
1 Peter 4:7-11; Matthew 23:23-26
The Body of Christ
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Transformed by the Word
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Talking with God
Hebrews 4:12-13; John 8:34-38; Romans 12:1-2
What's Next?
2 Timothy 3:10-17
Sola: Fide, Gratia, Scriptura
Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36; Matthew 11:12-19

Living(n)Active in Christian Community

I remember Mrs. Lentz very well. She was the mean fourth grade teacher. There was another fourth grade teacher; she was the nice one. I was hoping I got her. You already know what happened. I was scared to start school that year. Mrs. Lentz was strict and demanding with her students. Would I be smart enough, be disciplined for goofing off, have to sit in the front row because I was bad, stifled in a boring class working hard - while the other class was happy and having fun?

Mrs. Lentz indeed had high expectations, but her love and commitment to her students helped each of us achieve them. We grew as students who were able to do things we didn't think were possible: memorize multiplication, read thick books, write long papers, etc. Let me tell you it was fun learning and accomplishing things, and believe it or not, we still had parties!

Encouragement, accountability, friendship, belonging, correction are all things we all need. Sometimes we want these things; sometimes we bristle at these things. When we are completely honest with ourselves, we know that we accomplish more when there are other people alongside us to challenge us, encourage us, and correct us when we are wrong. "Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

Christian community is about intentionally putting ourselves amongst other believers so we can be encouraged to achieve more than we thought imaginable, and it's fun! Christian community gathers together regularly to be encouraged in the Word of God (Bible), to pray for each other, to celebrate with each other, and to grow deep, meaningful friendships. As this happens, we are challenged to make time for each other in our busy schedules. We are inspired to invite and welcome in others who long for the same connections.

Christian community takes time, and to be honest, sometimes it is hard work. That hard work equips and encourages us to follow Christ above all things and when we do, brings us tremendous joy and peace! When we sharpen one another in faith, we also make each other better at work, at home and in our own life desires.

This week we are launching our Christian community groups. My prayers are with the hundreds of people already committed to being in a group this fall, that God will sharpen you and use you to sharpen others. I also pray for the thousands of people who are not connected to Christian community and pray that you continue to grow in faith but also in appreciation for the many blessings that God brings when we gather together in His name. Would you consider getting connected into a Christian community group to pray, study, challenge and encourage one another in His name? I know it might sound too difficult, but I assure you the blessings of finding the right group are countless and the rewards are eternal!

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see The Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24

Living(n)Active is a seven week experience that equips and trains believers to mature as disciples who Walk with God, Grow in Faith Together and Love Our Neighbors. In these seven weeks we will foster an atmosphere of Christian community and let God lead our time together. Many genuine friendships and spiritual transformations develop within Christian community that is focused on God's Word and living it out together.

In His service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
What Saves Us? The Gospel Saves Us!
Romans 1: 8-17
What Saves Us? Faith Saves Us!
Romans 4:13-25
What Saves Us? Grace Saves Us!
Romans 5:6-15
Who Needs Salvation? Slaves to Sin!
Romans 6:12-23
Who Needs Salvation? Spiritual People!
Romans 7:1-13, 14-25a
Who Needs Salvation? All of Creation!
Romans 8:18-27
Why are Some Saved and Others Not? Justified By God! (Part 1)
Romans 8:28-39
Why are Some Saved and Others Not? Chosen By God! (Part 2)
Romans 9:1-5, 6-16
How Do I Know I Am Saved? Believe and Confess!
Romans 10:5-17
How Do I Know I Am Saved? Stumble and Don t Fall!
Romans 11:11-23
How Do I Know I Am Saved? Submit and Love Authority!
Romans 13:1-10
Live Your Purpose!
Romans 14:1-12

Romans: Answering the Questions of Salvation

The Christian faith is constantly scrutinized for all sorts of teachings but, interestingly enough, seldom gets attention for its primary and unique teaching: salvation. The true Christian faith is the ONLY faith which teaches a salvation that is gifted from God and not earned by behaviors of mankind. This teaching is called the Gospel or the Good News because it again is the only teaching of the sort. The Christian faith is the most inclusive of ALL religions in that literally every person is eligible for salvation and is not required to achieve some status or standard in order to be saved.

How does this message get so turned around? Why are Christians accused of being closed minded when in fact we are by definition the most open minded of all people groups? Why do so many Christians and Christian churches create rules that must be followed? And, how do we help people around us to understand we don t hate sinners, but rather count ourselves amongst them?

The next several weeks we will be walking through Romans to hear how Paul taught the faith and its most central teaching: salvation. We will address these key questions: What saves us? Who needs salvation? Why are some saved and not others? How do I know I am saved?

Understanding how God answers these questions will help you answer the questions of neighbors, co-workers, family members, and your own heart. Our hope is not that you will become an expert evangelist who will convert people to Christianity. Rather, it is that you will better grasp the power of the Gospel and the hope it has for us all. The devil is constantly at work attempting to confuse and blur this life saving truth so that people will run from it. But, through His Word, God continues to speak to all who will listen about the freedom, love, healing, hope and strength provided through a powerful relationship with our divine Creator. Join us this summer and make it a summer that will change the rest of eternity.

"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" Romans 1:16-17

In His service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Holy Trinity Sunday
Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; Acts 2:14a, 22-36; Matthew 28:16-20

Holy Trinity Sunday

Trinity and Me

Theology and the nuanced teaching of God can oftentimes feel unimportant or worse, make God seem distant from us. This weekend is a weekend that historically has been dedicated to the celebration and teaching of God s nature. Trinity Sunday invites us to ponder and pray about how God reveals Himself as one God in three Persons. But why does this matter to me? This weekend we will try to help bring home the importance and unique teaching that the God of the Bible offers and why it matters for each of us!

God is three distinct Persons, no One of Them like the Other, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of us in creation is a unique individual, no one of us like the other. Each of us brings a different and needed value to this world and our relationships. Each Person of the Trinity is able to act of Their own accord, yet none of Them operates outside of the will of God. Each of us is able to act on our own but often act within agreed upon parameters for the sake of a greater good.

God is one. God also tells us we are one with Him and each other. We are the whole Christian Church working together as one. Marriages and friendship in Christ are strengthened as we work together as one. The only way to resolve conflict is to recognize those that seem to be against us are truly part of us. The strength to do this can only come when we recognize we are part of God Himself.

What amazing results come from the individuality we each have? What powerful impact can we make when we work together in Christ for the glory of God? What could this unstoppable love and purpose accomplish when we live smack in the middle of our individuality and our unity together in Christ?

God's teachings about Himself are a gift to us so we can better live out our identity as His creation and His beloved children. Let's take some time this week to ponder and embrace the Triune nature of God and the blessing He is to us as we live our lives as a reflection of that unity and uniqueness.

"The glory that You have given Me (Jesus) I have given to them (those who believe), that they may be one even as We are one, 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." John 17:22-23

In His service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Pentecost Sunday
Numbers 11:24 30; Psalm 25:1 15; Acts 2:1 21; John 7:37 39

The Risen Lord Jesus Pours Out the Holy Spirit

Pentecost Sunday
From the Greek for "fiftieth day." Pentecost is the liturgical celebration of that 50th day of Easter when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, marking the birth of the church. Liturgically, Pentecost is not the beginning of a new season, but the culmination of Easter.

The Lord took "some of the Spirit" that was on Moses "and put it on the seventy elders" of Israel (Num. 11:25), and they "prophesied in the camp" (Num. 11:26). In the same way, our risen Lord Jesus poured out His Holy Spirit at the Feast of Pentecost the 50th day and the "Eighth Sunday" of Easter. When "a sound like a mighty rushing wind" and "tongues as of fire appeared" and rested on each of the 12 apostles, "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" and proclaimed "the mighty works of God" (Acts 2:2 4, 11). The Lord Jesus grants this same Spirit to His Church on earth to proclaim Him glorified on the cross and risen victorious from the grave for us sinners. From His open heart, our crucified and risen Lord pours out His Holy Spirit in "rivers of living water" (John 7:38) and invites everyone who thirsts to come to Him and drink freely (John 7:37). Through this life-giving work of the Holy Spirit, we hear our pastors "telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God" (Acts 2:11), and "everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Ascension Sunday
Acts 1:1 11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:15 23; Luke 24:44 53

The Ascended Lord Jesus Is with Us Always in His Church on Earth

After He rose from the dead, the Lord Jesus presented Himself alive to the apostles, "appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). When He ascended to the right hand of the Father, He did not orphan His Church, but He fills all things in heaven and on earth and gives gifts to His disciples. Even now, through His Church, He continues "to do and teach" (Acts 1:1), preaching "repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Luke 24:47) even "to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Though the cloud hid Jesus from the sight of His disciples then, and He remains hidden from sight even now, He remains with His people through His Gospel and Sacraments. He comes to us by the Word of His apostles, by the promise of His Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit, whom He pours out upon "the church, which is his body" (Eph. 1:22 23). In this holy Christian Church, we bless God and worship Christ with joy, for in His Church He blesses us with forgiveness, lifts us up in His hands and seats us with Himself "in the heavenly places" (Eph. 1:20).

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
Acts 17:16-31; Psalm 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13-22 ; John 14:1-21

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

God promises His followers the gift of the Holy Spirit which helps us in our time of need. The Holy Spirit, that is God dwelling in each believer, grants the power of God to each of us in every circumstance. The Holy Spirit teaches and brings to our remembrance the words of Jesus, which are the words of the Father who sent Him. These words bestow forgiveness and peace to those who keep and hold on to them in love for Jesus.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)

His Service and Yours - Pastor Matt Conrad

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Our Story: New Beginnings
Acts 1:1-5, 6-11; Acts: 4:5-13
Our Story: A New Hope: Week 28 Study
Our Story: Paul s Mission
Acts 17:22-33; Romans 1:18-25
Our Story: A New Hope: Week 29 Study
Our Story: Paul's Final Days
2 Timothy 3:10-17; Romans 15:14-20
Our Story: A New Hope: Week 30 Study
Our Story: The End of Time
Matthew 24:36-51; Revelation 21:1-4
Our Story: A New Hope: Week 31 Study

Our Story: A New Hope!

We've been walking through the Bible, learning God's Story for the last seven months. Easter marked an important reality about God's Story: It isn't just His Story; it is Our Story. The story of the Redeemer is also the story of the redeemed. The story of the Savior is also the story of the saved.

In these next few weeks after Easter, we will continue to explore His Story but with special emphasis on how it impacts Our Story. Our Story is the story of the children of God, the story of the Church, the story of the baptized believers, the story of the people who are united to Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. However you want to say it, God s Story is incomplete until it is lived out by all the parts of the Body of Christ.

What does this mean for me and for you? It means different things in that each of us has a unique design and varied pasts. We are each gifted to do and be different. At the same time we are called to be holy as God is holy. We are called to be disciples and witnesses. We are instructed to remain firm in the faith that is the Rock, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! We too are able to rise to newness of life every day, to put off the old self and to clothe ourselves in the righteousness of Christ. Our Story is not over, and neither is God's. It has only just begun, and it lasts forever! Join us for worship! Get connected to a Christian community group. Explore together with us what it means to be born again by the water and the Spirit of God, and come alive again, in Him!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17.

His Service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Jesus - A New Kingdom: The Birth of the King
Matthew 1:12-17, John 1:1-18
Jesus - A New Kingdom: Week 22 Study
Jesus - A New Kingdom: Jesus' Ministry Begins
Matthew 4:17-25; Matthew 11:1-6
Jesus - A New Kingdom: Week 23 Study
Jesus - A New Kingdom: No Ordinary Man
Matthew 5:17-20; Luke 11:33-36
Jesus - A New Kingdom: Week 24 Study
Jesus - A New Kingdom: Jesus, The Son of God
Luke 9:18-22; Luke 9:28-36
Jesus - A New Kingdom: Week 25 Study
Jesus - A New Kingdom: The Hour of Darkness
Zechariah 9:9-12; John 12:12-19
Jesus - A New Kingdom: Week 26 Study
15-APR-17 (Easter Vigil & Baptism Remembrance)
Jesus - A New Kingdom: A Hero's Hope
Exodus 14:21-25, 1 Peter 3:18-22; Romans 6:3-7
Jesus - A New Kingdom: Week 27 Study
16-APR-17 (Easter)
Jesus - A New Kingdom: A Hero's Victory
1 Corinthians 15:3-10; Matthew 27:62-66; Matthew 28:15
Jesus - A New Kingdom: Week 27 Study

His Story: Jesus - A New Kingdom

We finally made it! We are in the New Testament in our journey through His Story, God's Story. Our start to the New Testament coincides almost exactly with Lent. Throughout this next 6 weeks, until Easter, we will learn about the life and ministry of Jesus; His time on Earth, His teachings and preparation for the all important work of salvation on Easter.

We invite you to do the same and join us in rediscovering the story of Jesus' Life and ministry that led Him to the Cross and the empty tomb. What this work means for us and How Jesus teaching still leads us today! We are calling this focus on Jesus' life and ministry "Jesus: A New Kingdom". We will discover how Jesus points the leaders of the church away from their false understanding on the supremacy of the Jews and reminds them of the promise God first made with Abraham. Namely, that "all nations" would be blessed through Israel.

Jesus came to save the Jews but He also came to save all people; to build a "new kingdom" of every tribe, nation and tongue. A Kingdom that would not come and go under the power of man but an eternal kingdom that last forever. This new kingdom would be led by the one true King, Jesus Christ a descendant of David and who reigns on the throne of heaven that never falls.

Each week there are a few readings to help you prepare and to guide your thoughts to God each day. The weekly messages will be reflections and teachings off those weekly readings. In addition, Community Group study materials have been custom made by the pastors to help guide your community group and/or family study time together. This all makes for a simple yet powerful focus on how God is working in the world through His Story of old and His New Kingdom of ALL believers still today!

Many new Community Groups will be forming throughout this season. Look on the Church website or on the HisCross app in your mobile app store and register for a community group today! A simple, yet intentional focus on God's Word builds up His Kingdom today will prove beneficial for all eternity.

"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands." Revelation 7:9.

His Service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

MidWeek Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
01-MAR-17 (Ash Wed)
Book of Job: Flying Blind**
** (no audio file - PDF only) </small
Job1:1-12; Luke 4:1-13
Book of Job: Sweet Surrender
Job 1:13-21; 2 Corinthians 4:1-7; Luke 9:51-62
Book of Job: Learning to Lament
Job 3:1-26; 2 Corinthians 4:8-12; Matthew 5:1-12
Book of Job: It is Enough
Job 14:1-14; 2 Corinthians 4:13-18; Luke 7:11-17
Book of Job: Understanding How It All Works Together
Job 23:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Luke 14:25-32
Book of Job: God Speaks in the Storm
Job 38:1-11; 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Luke 8:22-25

Mid-Week Lenten Series: THE BOOK OF JOB

One of the Bible's greatest wisdom books is the book of Job. This Lent we will explore this magnificent composition that is numbered among the greatest literature of all time. The Lenten sermons will help us dig deeply into Job's central message and supporting truths. We all suffer - personally and privately. We also suffer in more public ways. A husband loses a job. A child gets divorced. A parent dies. And now, thanks to the media, we are able to see and experience more and more of the world s catastrophes and suffering. We need the Book of Job, now, more than ever.

Martin Luther asserted that "Job is magnificent and sublime as no book of Scripture." Others have called Job "the Shakespeare of the Bible." The early Christian scholar Jerome perhaps put it best when he called the Book of Job an "eel," since the more one tries to contain it, the slipperier it becomes! The purpose of our Lenten emphasis is to learn how to apply the message in Job to our lives so that the book becomes less like an eel and more like a loving companion through life's dark valleys.

Job"s most famous statement appears in 19:25, " I know that my Redeemer lives. " Christ is alive. He has conquered death and the grave. His word is sufficient. His grace is enough. His love brings comfort and healing. And this Lent these gifts come to us through the Book of Job.

Blessed Be the Name of the Lord!

In His service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
The Exile & Return: Daniel in Exile
Daniel 1:1-21
The Exile & Return: Week 18 Study
The Exile & Return: The Return Home
Haggai 1:1-8; Zechariah 1:1-6
The Exile & Return: Week 19 Study
The Exile & Return: The Queen of Courage & Beauty
Esther 4:14; Luke 4:16-21; Romans 8:28-39
The Exile & Return: Week 20 Study
The Exile & Return: Rebuilding the Walls
Malachi 3:6-12; Nehemiah 1:8-11
The Exile & Return: Week 21 Study

His Story: The Exile & Return

We are finally turning the corner. So far we have seen a lot of hope turn into disappointment and judgement as the people fail to follow God's instructions. People in great prosperity and favor; over and over again credit themselves for their success instead of God and His mercy. Over and over again God lets the people reap the reward of their efforts without God s favor. This path only ever leads to destruction. I can't tell you how many people have asked when do we finally get past all the bad stuff and get to the good stuff? Now!

But, first, we must deal with the reality of God's faithful people who are scattered all over the known world and are being persecuted in a land of unfaithfulness. How will God rebuild and reunite His people? How will He restore them to their positions of power? What do they do until all this happens?

I believe Daniel is a great book for Christians trying to succeed and thrive in today s America. Daniel is not only surrounded by unbelievers, but he also is in a land that has made laws saying his faith is illegal. While only a few such laws have passed so far in our country and most of them have been litigated to give a religious exemption of some type, the truth around us still remains. We live in a country that increasingly turns away from and rejects the truth of God and all those that adhere to His teachings.

It might be tempting to be angry that God would go back on His promises. But, God ALWAYS keeps His promises. He never removes his love and blessing from Israel and yet He doesn't force them to love Him back. In His divine love we are allowed to choose to follow our own misguided thoughts and suffer the consequences of those thoughts. He won't force us to love Him, but He is always there, ready to rescue us. It is like the further we try to run from Him the closer He gets to us so He can catch us when we fall.

Daniel remains faithful and obedient. In a time where many would rather "fight back" or "return shots over the bow" Daniel remains faithful to God and lets God determine His success. What does that look like for us? What does it look like to remain faithful to God and still be loving towards others? How can we believe wholly in the truth of God and still not be "closed minded" or "bigoted"? Believe it or not, it is possible and I think Daniel shows the way.

Better yet, Daniel shows us that when we remain faithful and trust in God alone He will fight our battles for us. And, when we win battles because He fights for us, it makes a far greater impact than when we fight them alone. By ourselves we can accomplish great things, but only as much as any man. In Him, all things are possible. Through Daniel's faithfulness and God's power a whole kingdom returned to God's favor overnight! Daniel and all God's followers were able to prosper!

God continues to work in and through His faithful followers today. If and when we pursue Him and trust in His ways He fights our battles for us and delivers nations into His hands. May God give you and me humility to trust in Him above ourselves; and faithfulness to endure all things until that day.

His Service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
The Kingdom's Fall: A Kingdom Torn in Two
1 Kings 12:3-8; 1 Kings 15:9-14, 25-26
The Kingdom's Fall: Week 14 Study
The Kingdom's Fall: God's Messengers
2 Kings 6: 8-23, Hosea 11:1-7a, 8-11
The Kingdom's Fall: Week 15 Study
The Kingdom's Fall: The Beginning of the End
2 Kings 17:7-8, 16-20; Isaiah 49:5-7
The Kingdom's Fall: Week 16 Study
The Kingdom's Fall: The Kingdom's Fall
2 Chronicles 36:15-21; Lamentations 3:22-27
The Kingdom's Fall: Week 17 Study

His Story: The Kingdom's Fall

Christmas break is over and we will continue our Journey through God's Story, the Holy Bible. As we get more familiar with His Story it helps us better understand our story, the journey of faith and life. From the beginning until now we have heard God s promise to make Israel a "great and mighty" nation and saw the promise (eventually) fulfilled under the leadership of King David and King Solomon. But, things are about to go horribly wrong.

When things go wrong, questions start to come fast and furious. What did I do? What do I do now? Why did this happen? Where is/was God? All these questions and more get asked in this next section of Scripture.

Mighty King Solomon starts to believe all the amazing things people are saying about him and starts to turn away from God. In the following generations, there are only 8 kings out of 46 listed that follow God. The rest of the kings follow the ways of man and worship other Gods. Not only that, but the once prosperous nation is split in two then ultimately conquered.

It might be tempting to be angry that God would go back on His promises. But, God ALWAYS keeps His promises. He never removes his love and blessing from Israel and yet He doesn t force them to love Him back. In His divine love we are allowed to choose to follow our own misguided thoughts and suffer the consequences of those thoughts. He won t force us to love Him, but He is always there, ready to rescue us. It is like the further we try to run from Him the closer He gets to us so He can catch us when we fall.

Come join us at Cross this month as we explore the overwhelming and almost indescribable love that God has for us. Especially when we are at our worst and certainly when we feel like He has forgotten all about us. God promised to never leave or forsake any of His children, any of us baptized into His name, and He keeps that promise especially when times are at their worst.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6

His Service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Christmas Eve (Pastor Erik Gauss): Home for Christmas
Luke 2:1-20; Micah 5:2-5a
24 & 25-DEC-16
Christmas Eve/Day (Pastor Matt Conrad): Home for Christmas
Luke 2:1-20; Micah 5:2-5a;Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-14;Isaiah 52:7-10
31-DEC-16 / 01-JAN 17
New Year's: Home for Christmas
Luke 2:25-35; Galatians 3:23-29
Epiphany: Home for Christmas
Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12

Home for Christmas!!

Christmas Blessings
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. At Christmas our culture seems to try to hide the bad with good. Food and shelter for the homeless, presents and gifts, maybe even tolerate enemies at our family gatherings. But what happens on January 1st? According to the Chicago Tribune, divorce rates skyrocket 200% - 300%. reveals that more deaths happen in January than any other month of the year. Unfortunately, it appears, covering 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.

I've started using a phrase I developed In Guatemala from what I learned there this summer; Fixing things doesn't change things. A natural desire, especially around Christmas, is to fix something that is wrong in order to make it better. But, fixing it doesn't change its nature and soon it will return to the way it was. Only God can bring about the change that is necessary to allow the new mindset and new actions to last more than a month or two.

This is best expressed in the reality that even though Jesus came to save us, many of the troubles we endure didn't get fixed. We still experience death, temptation, illness, heartache and sorrow. If God saved us why do we still endure these things? Because fixing these issues wouldn't change our nature it would only ignore our nature. Our nature is sinful and selfish, we spend lots of energy defending ourselves and protecting those we love. Yet those very protections are what end up causing hurt in the world. Only when we all lay down our rights will we truly be free and when we stop defending ourselves will we never be hurt.

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 offer that same change in circumstances to the world around us.

Christ lay down His life for us that 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

His Service and Yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
The Rise of a Kingdom: From Shepherd to King
1 Samuel 16:1, 6-13; John 15:5-8, 16
The Rise of a Kingdom: Week 11 Study
The Rise of a Kingdom: A Few Good Men and Women Begins
Psalm 51; 2 Samuel 11:1-5; 2 Samuel 12:7-10; 13
The Rise of a Kingdom: Week 12 Study
The Rise of a Kingdom: The Faith of a Foreign Women
1 Kings 11:1-8 Proverbs 3:1-12
The Rise of a Kingdom: Week 13 Study
The Rise of a Kingdom: Prayers & Their Answers
Psalm 24 NOTE:(No Sermon Study this week. Sermon Studies & Series re-starts in January.)

The Rise of a Kingdom!

This history of God s people has always been one of difficulty, yet God remained faithful to them even when the people were faithless. Israel cried out for a king, so they could be like the nations all around them. God warned them that a king would be problematic, but the people persisted and so God provided a king.

In this next session of His Story, we find Israel living in the Promised Land, with various kings ruling over them. Saul was a man s man: tall, handsome, kingly and impressive. He was just the kind of person that Israel wanted as a king. The problem was that Saul was not God s man and he finds himself cut out of the picture.

Next we have David, an unlikely choice in the eyes of the people. But God saw what the people did not. So David ends up being the king who confronts giants, lions, and kings with power and bold faith. He was a man after God s own heart.

But David was not without his own problems. He commits adultery with Bathsheba, another man s wife; and in an effort to cover up his own sin, David has Bathsheba's husband Uriah killed. While David is remembered as Israel's greatest king his story is one full of difficulty and hardship. Life was far from perfect for David's family.

Eventually David's son Solomon will follow in his father's footsteps and become king. And David does all he can to prepare the way for Solomon's task building the temple in Jerusalem, a permanent dwelling place for the presence of God.

The story of God s people living under a king is a story full of sin and the tragic consequences for sin. But woven through His Story is God s ultimate story of forgiveness and redemption. No one is righteous on their own. But God s promise to David points ahead to a perfect King; a sinless king, the King of Kings and Lord of Lord Jesus the Christ. His Story points us to look ahead to a kingdom where there is no end of righteousness or peace; and one in which all things are redeemed. Let s walk together through the next section of His Story: The Rise of a Kingdom .

His Service and Yours,
Pastor Matt Conrad

Thanksgiving /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Thanksgiving: Provision for Every Need!
Deuteronomy 8:1 10; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Luke 17:11 19

Thanksgiving! Provision for Every Need!

During their 40 years in the wilderness God allowed the children of Israel times of testing, times of need and difficulty and trial and trouble to test their will and resolve to walk humbly in His ways to help them see their need and dependence on Him, to draw them closer to Himself, to bring them to a strengthening and maturity of faith. Just as He did for them, so He does for us. Standing by us through every trouble and need; providing for us marvelously, miraculously and perfectly as He shapes and prepares our lives for eternity with Him and for useful service to Him in our life here on earth. Let us not forget to thank and praise God for all His blessings, even those we may not recognize as such at the time.

With a grateful & humble heart,
Pastor Herb Grieves

His Story: The Battle for Home

"Are we there yet?" On a long car trip, how many times do your children ask that same question over, and over and over? As Israel wandered the wilderness for 40 years, you have to wonder if Moses and Joshua heard that exact same question from God s people. Are we there yet? A lot can change in 40 years. All the people who were slaves in Egypt had died, except for two: Joshua and Caleb. Even Moses himself had passed away and did not enter into the Promised Land. And while a lot had changed over those 40 years - God had not. The promise He had made to Abraham over 600 years ago was about to turn into reality.

Now Joshua, Moses' right-hand man, was Israel's new leader. The wilderness of disobedience and defeat was behind them, and a new generation camped at Canaan's edge. The new generation of Israelites had heard the stories of God's mighty power as He rescued their ancestors from Egypt. And they too would experience God s miracle as God parted the Jordan River so they could enter into the Promised Land.

In this next section of His Story, we are going to walk with a new generation of God's people. They too will experience God s miracles and power as God goes before the people and fights for them. When Israel obeyed, God faithfully delivered her enemies into her hands. But when they failed to trust Him, they missed out on the fulfillment of God s promises.

After 40 long years, Israel finally has a place to call home. It was to be the fulfillment of God s promise to Abraham. The people were to be a holy people, set apart from their pagan neighbors. But failing to follow God and do what He asks, Israel finds that their new neighbors become a toxic influence. The people succumb to the pull of a worldly culture.

Thus begins a destructive and violent pattern of Israel s history:

  • Israel turned again and again to the worship of pagan gods
  • God brought divine judgment upon His people
  • The people cried out for God s help and deliverance
  • God raised up a savior to rescue His people.

Unfortunately, this cycle of sin became a pattern of life in Israel for the next 300 years.

We see that His Story doesn t always paint God s people in a favorable light. The story of God s people is anything but clean and wholesome. It is marked by deep sin, often with dire consequences. God is never bashful about His intention for His people. And He never tolerates sin. But God also never breaks his covenant with His people. Israel my not have fully understood God s discipline, but over and over again God brings Israel to their knees all for the purpose of bringing them back to Himself. Let s walk together through this next section of His Story: The Battle for Home.

His Service and yours,
Pastor Matt Conrad

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
His Story: Overview
John 20:24-31; 2 Timothy 3:14-17
The Beginning: Series Study
His Story: Creation: The Beginning of Life as We Know It
Genesis 1:26-31; 3:14-19
The Beginning: Week 1 Study
His Story: God Builds a Nation
Genesis 12:1-9; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-13
The Beginning: Week 2 Study
His Story: Joseph
Genesis 37:18-21, 23-24, 28; Genesis 50:15-21
The Beginning: Week 3 Study
His Story: Deliverance
Exodus 3:1-14
The Beginning: Week 4 Study
His Story: New Commands and Covenant
Exodus 20:1-21; Psalm 19:7-11
The Beginning: Week 5 Study
His Story: Wandering
Numbers 13:1-3, 25-31; 14:1-4; Numbers 14:20-24
The Beginning: Week 6 Study

His Story: The Beginning

Download/View HIS Story Reading Plan >>

His Story is a 32 week walk through major sections of the Bible. The initial idea for this series is loosely based on a book called The Story, where the Bible has been rewritten into a narrative format. While this type of Bible rewrite has a place, Pastor Matt and I(Erik) thought it best for everyone to actually read their Bible rather than a story interpreted by others. To hear God speak in His own voice is a powerful blessing. Anything you learn and jot down will be written in your Bible for later reference not in some other book. You will gain confidence as your read your own Bible and this gift will last with you forever.

When some people think of the Bible what comes to mind is sanitized stories for children. We forget that the Bible is a real book, about real people, dealing with real sins. At times, their lives were a complete mess. But God's story through the entirety of Scripture is a story of salvation how God saved His people despite the mess. The Bible doesn't whitewash the heroes of faith. It doesn't erase the things that they did. Rather we share in a story where those sins are put right out in the open for us to read so the world can know the seriousness of sin, but even more importantly, the unbelievable grace of a God who would sacrifice His Son to cover that sin.

Maybe we have some knowledge of these heroes of faith, but we struggle in connecting one story to another. In reality, all of the stories of the Bible come together to tell of God's great plan of salvation for all of humanity. It was a plan that begun with Adam and Eve; it and was carried through the Patriarchs to David; it's echoed and foreshadowed in the words of the prophets. Finally we see all the pieces fit into place in the story of Jesus the Christ, God's very own Son.

But the story isn't clean. It isn't tidy. It's a story that's full of gossips, doubters, betrayers, murders and adulterers. God doesn't approve of these things he hates all sin but this is a remarkable story of a God who can take even sinful people and work a miracle in them. It's the story of a God who loves humanity even though they fall into sin. It's the story of a God who goes to the cross for sinful man. It's the story of a God who comes to you even today with open arms. God's story is your story.

What we hope for all of you is that you would take God's story to heart. But don't do it alone! The best way to grow in this story is through community. Gather each week in worship as Pastors Matt and Erik explore a piece of God's story. Read a bit of God's Story from the Scripture each day we have a reading plan to help you be prepared for Sundays. And take part in a community group, where you can dive even deeper into the story and share how God's story intersects your own. We hope you enjoy this journey together and that all of us grow in faith together as Disciples of Jesus Christ here at Cross.

His Service and yours,
Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Faith: Heroes of Faith
Hebrews 11:1-16
Faith: Perfecter of Faith
Hebrews 11:17-31; 12:1-3
Faith: Enduring in Faith
Hebrews 12:4-24
Faith: Living in Faith
Hebrews 13:1-17
Faith: Walk-Grow-Love
Psalm 1


"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." So states the author of Hebrews in the eleventh chapter. In this four-week series on faith we will explore the teachings from Hebrews and the rich examples given regarding faithful men of old who have been commended for their faith. How do we live out the same faith today? What happens when our faith is weak? What are the results, consequences and rewards we should expect? Most importantly how do grow in the assurance of things that we cannot see, cannot measure, cannot personally experience and be able to "walk by faith, not by sight"?

His Service and yours,
Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Teachings of Jesus: Cost of Following Jesus
1 Kings 19:19-21; Luke 9:51-62
Teachings of Jesus: Sending of 72
Galatians 6:1-10, 13, 16; Luke 10:1-12
Teachings of Jesus: Good Samaritan
Luke 10:25-37
Teachings of Jesus: Mary and Martha
Genesis 18:1-10a; Luke 10:38-42
Teachings of Jesus: Lord's Prayer
Genesis 18:17-33; Luke 11:1-13
Teachings of Jesus: Parable of the Rich Fool
Ecclesiastes 1: 2, 12-14; Ecclesiastes 2: 18-19,24-26; Luke 12:13-21

The Teachings of Jesus

During the weekend services we will continue to look at the book of Luke. We will be shifting away from miracles Jesus performed and look more closely at some of the teachings He offered. Some of the teachings are encouraging, others are more challenging. Some of the teachings remind us what God has given us and others remind us what God calls believers to focus on.

This wide scope of teachings is one of the aspects that make the Christian faith unique from any other. God simultaneously calls us to actions and gives us all the tools we need to successfully accomplish those actions. In no other faith is God an active participant and contributor in your life. In no other faith does God remain pleased with us even when we fail.

In the Christian faith we are both sinner and saint at the same time. We are 100% unworthy to receive God s gifts. And at the same time 100% holy, just as our Heavenly Father is holy. One of the reasons this is possible is because God is not bound by linear time. We see ourselves going through cycles of holiness and sinfulness. "I had a good/bad week." Is one way we would evaluate how we are measuring up. God sees it all at once.

God knows your whole life; how it started and how it ends, all at the same time. He sees the hurt and sorrow and weakness and He sees the righteousness of Christ's blood poured out on you and He sees it all "now". This lack of a linear faith journey but a holistic life of faith in Christ puts Jesus teachings into a powerful new perspective.

If God already sees us as a 100% forgiven saint then why do we work so hard to be obedient? One, because we are thankful! Two, so we aren t tempted to turn away from God and three, so the world can see God through us. While eternal life with God is sealed through Christ for every believer, there are so many more whose futures are finite. Many people are pushed away from God by false teachers and self-righteous people of faith. God calls true believers to be humbly obedient, to sacrifice whatever is necessary to tear down walls and proclaim the true message of Hope to all believers.

Tune in for the next several weeks as we better acquaint ourselves to some powerful teachings of Jesus for ourselves and grow in our ability to share those same teachings with those around us. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

His Service and yours,
Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Miracles of Jesus: Healing of the Centurion's Servant
Luke 7:1-10
Miracles of Jesus: Raising Widow's Son
Luke 7:1-10
Miracles of Jesus: Forgiving Sinful Woman
Luke 7:1-10
Miracles of Jesus: Healing of the Demon Possessed Man
Luke 7:1-10

The Miracles of Jesus

mir-a-cle | 'mirk()l/'

  1. 1. An effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
  2. 2. Such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
  3. 3. A wonder; marvel.

"Do you believe in miracles?!?!" Maybe a tad overused but stunning nonetheless. The 1980 U.S. hockey team was a collection of amateurs. In the height of Russian dominance they did the impossible and defeated the team of professionals. But, this isn't a miracle; extremely unlikely, but not miraculous.

A true miracle is only possible by supernatural intervention of God. This seems very straight forward, but the more you think about it the less straight forward it is. In Biblical times Jesus healing the sick was considered miraculous. But today we have medical professionals with scientific studies to heal people. We don't need God. In Jesus' day He cast out demons and brought people from mental/emotional illness into health. Now we have therapists and medication that do the same. We don't need God.

This is where our world is. We have become so dependent on ourselves - our intellect, knowledge and science - that we overlook God's involvement. But God is still there; we still need Him. The greatest scientific researchers still cannot tell us why sometimes medications work and sometimes they don't. The greatest physicians cannot explain why one moment the tumor is present and at the next exam it is nowhere to be found.

We have been deceived into putting our trust in the person or the practice of medicine rather than the Great Physician. We trust our understanding instead of the Great Designer of the science who set it all into motion and continues to exercise sovereignty. Our dependence on God has never changed even as we discover more about His creation.

Over the next several weeks we will be looking at miracles of Jesus through the eyes of God and man. We will invite and challenge each other to see the world as God sees it and break through the veil of humanity which wants to ignore our Creator. For when we can see God we can see His mighty handiwork for what it is: truly miraculous!

"Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles and the judgments He uttered, O offspring of Israel His servant, children of Jacob, His chosen ones!" 1 Chronicles 16:11-13

His Service and yours,
Erik Gauss

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
ACTS: Empowered to Forgive (Peter)
Acts 5:25-32; John 20:19|21
ACTS: Week 1 Study
ACTS: Empowered to Believe - Conversion of Saul (Paul)
Acts 9:1|22; John 21:1|14 (15|19)
ACTS: Week 2 Study
ACTS: Empowered to Face Hardships - Persecution and Suffering (Paul)
Acts 20:17|35; John 10:22|30
ACTS: Week 3 Study
ACTS: Empowered to Start Over - Holy Spirit / Unclean Food/ Gentiles (Peter)
Acts 11:1|18; John 16:12|22
ACTS: Week 4 Study
ACTS: Empowered to Lead, Ask & Beg - Women of Faith (Paul)
Acts 16:9|15; John 16:23|33
ACTS: Week 5 Study
ACTS: Empowered for Mission - Discernment
Acts 1:1-11; Luke 24:44-53
ACTS: Week 6 Study
ACTS: Empowered with the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:1|21
ACTS: Week 7 Study
ACTS: Empowered to Live Forever (Peter)
Acts 2:14a, 22|36; John 8:48|59
ACTS: Week 8 Study

Empowered to ACT

Have you ever muttered those famous last words, |This should only take a minute,| only to have the exact opposite occur? I can only imagine that is how the disciples must have felt after Easter. Regardless of whether they were anticipating the destruction of Rome while Jesus was alive or His funeral service after His death, their mindset would have been anticipating the completion of these ACTs in their lifetime. Even after Jesus| resurrection, their language and actions indicated they anticipated Christ|s return at any moment. Now, 2000 years later we can safely say the job was a bit larger than they anticipated!

On other occasions we don|t ACT at all because we are afraid it will become a bigger task than it needs to be. I remember the joke about people not wanting to serve on a church committee because once you were on you could never get off! (Or maybe that wasn|t a joke.)

During the season after Easter we will be walking through the book of ACTS to see how the disciples responded to their tasks; to the calling God had for them, to be disciples that made more disciples. We will consider their ACTions that continue to bring results even today, 2000 years later. We will explore and see that what those first disciples did still inspires and models for us a proper response to God|s call to ACT.

Don|t have time? Too much to do? Too scared of the results? Fear not, for God is with you just as He was with them! Afraid the job will become bigger than you can handle? Perfect! It is only when the Job becomes too big for you that you realize you aren|t ACTing alone, but rather, God is with you. When I say God, I mean the Almighty God, the all-powerful, always present, all knowing, holy, righteous, perfect, unchanging, eternal, merciful, good, loving God! This same God who could be anywhere and do anything chooses to dwell within believers and guard our heart and minds. He chooses to ACT through us to make His love known to the world. Don|t think you are worthy? That is exactly why God chose you and gives you His power. He makes you worthy through the saving ACT of Jesus Christ on the cross.

While we walk through the book of ACTS we will explore what and how this all worked during the time of the first disciples. We will see how and when God fulfils His promises then, so we can be empowered in our own faith and actions now! We will do it all by the power and for the glory of our Risen Lord and King!

"But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." Acts 5:39

His Service and yours,
Erik Gauss

HolyWeek Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Maunday Thursday
Isaiah 49:7-13; Hebrews 8:6-13; Matthew 26:27-29
Good Friday
Psalm 22; Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Easter Vigil (Baptismal Remembrance)
Exodus 14:21-25; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Romans 6:3-7
Easter (Sanctuary Service)
Isaiah 55:6-13; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28:1-10
Easter (Gym Service)
1 Corinthians 15:51-58; John 20:1-18

New Life in Christ

"Christ the life of all the living, Christ the death of death our foe." This classic hymn, traditionally sung in the season of Lent, declares a very important Easter truth. Our God, the only true God, the Triune God, is a God of life. He is not the god of killers like sickness and death, despair and depression, hardship and punishment. He brings life and immortality to light! He is death to death itself and life to all living things.

Easter is celebrated in the spring as we see flower greens peeking through the previously frozen ground. New life where there once was death. We see buds popping out of dormant trees and, unfortunately, baby rabbits eating the garden! It isn|t just plant life and animal life, God brings once broken and dead souls back to life too, by breathing His Holy Spirit into them.

Our souls die when we disconnect from God, when we are far from His plan and following our own path. It is often slow and hardly noticed at first, and then suddenly we hit the bottom. The devil tries to deceive us and tell us God has abandoned us, doesn|t care about us or is disappointed in us; shame and anger attempt to enslave us to our desperation. It is then, in the suffocating weaknesses of the flesh and spirit that the quiet voice of God whispers, |It is finished, I love you!|

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen just as He said" (Luke 24:5-6)! The powerful proclamations that Christ is alive and well reminds us, that we are too! In His dying and rising we too die and rise! We no longer fear the death of our flesh or spirit; for if Christ, the death of death is for us, who or what could we possibly fear? He breathes life back into our spirit through His Holy Spirit. That which once enslaved us now seems foolish. That which once controlled us now is deemed powerless. We stand with New Life in Christ and declare; "Alleluia, Christ is Risen| And so am I!"

"This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel". 2 Timothy 1:9b-10

Have a Blessed Easter and know you, too, are alive!

His servant and yours,
Erik Gauss

MidWeek Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
10-FEB-16 (Ash Wed)
Singing with the Exiles
Isaiah 41:14-16
He Only Has Eyes for You
Isaiah 43:1-7
Isaiah 44:1-5
Breaking Down the Gates
Isaiah 45:1-8
Get Out
Isaiah 48:17-22
One Little Word Can Fell Him
Isaiah 49:1-6


Gathered by the waters of Babylon, Judean exiles wistfully wondered: Is God for real? If so, does He really care about us? What does our future hold? Will this ever change? God|s people had watched their world shatter into a million pieces. They were demoralized and disillusioned. Their disaster looked terminal.

Do you feel this way? Does it look as though your current problems are more than you can bear? Do you find yourself asking: Why did this happen? Why did God allow it? Is there any order in the world? Will God really deliver on what He said? Isaiah answers these questions in chapters 40|55 of his book.

Love to have you come explore those chapters with us! Plan now to sing with the exiles as we learn from Isaiah to walk the "Lenten way" to the cross and to the empty tomb. God promises to turn our weeping into joy and our present pain into an endless Alleluia!

Hope you can join us as we learn to walk the Lenten Way,
Nathan Fisher, Director of Worship

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Joining Jesus: What is Jesus Up To? What is the Mission of God?
Mark 1:15; Colossians 1:19-20; Revelations 21:5-14 (Joining Jesus Book: Chapters 1-2)
Joining Jesus: The River Moved! Why is the Cross Necessary to the Mission of God?
Matthew 11:19; Matthew 16:21-25; Romans 5:12,15 (Joining Jesus Book: Chapters 3-5)
Joining Jesus: Seeking What is Already Happening! The Mission has a Church!
Matthew 6:33; Matthew 28:16-20; Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 12:27 (Joining Jesus Book: Chapters 6-10)
Joining Jesus: 4 Simple Practices for Joining Jesus on His Mission
John 4:35-38; Matthew 17:5, Mark 1:14-18, Luke 4:16-21, Matthew 13:33; John 12:23-27; Matthew 7:24-27 (Joining Jesus Book: Chapters 11-13)
Joining Jesus: 5 More Simple Practices for the Mission of God Through His People
Ephesians 2:8-10; Matthew 6:9-13 (Joining Jesus Book: Chapters 14-16)
Joining Jesus: What Will Your story Be? Mission with a Little Help from Our Friends!
Matthew 9:9-13; Hebrews 10:24-25; Luke 10:36-37; Hebrews 12:1-3; Luke 10:5-7 (Joining Jesus Book: Chapters 17-19)

Joining Jesus On His Mission (Church-wide Study)

This study we are partaking in is designed to help gain important insights for joining Jesus on His mission and turn those insights into self-identified, simple actions in our everyday lives. Joining Jesus on His Mission will take us on a journey of insight and discovery for joining Jesus in the places we already live, work and go to school. Why insights and actions? The goal is to gain both insight and experience in joining Jesus on His mission during this church-wide emphasis. This is not so much a tool for Bible Study as it is a tool for Bible Doing.

The curriculum for community groups consists of video segments, with each segment lasting between eight and ten minutes. The curriculum gives participants the key "a-ha!" experiences they need to go from mission-study to mission-living.

You are encouraged to pick up a book which will correspond with the message of the weekend, a 'coaster' with key questions for the study and a leader guide for the leaders. These are on sale for $15 in the Fellowship Hall.

We are encouraging everyone to jump on board during this study. In fact, most of our Community groups are beginning the study the weekend of February 7th, so get your materials now! A group for anyone interested will be starting Sunday, February 7 at noon. Lunch and childcare will be provided. Or a young adult group will be meeting in the Youth Center Thursday, February 11 from 7 to 9 PM. Or click here - I Want to Join a Study Group Form - to let us know what group you are looking for. Contact Bill Ziech at for questions

"Lord, take me where You want me to go; Let me meet who You want me to meet; Tell me what You want me to say; And keep me out of Your way. Amen."
|The daily prayer of Father Mychal Judge, NYFD chaplain, killed in the 9/11 attack.

Weekend Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
THREAD: Wisdom
1 Kings 3:4-15; Luke 2:40-52
THREAD: Identity
Isaiah 43:1-7; Luke 3:15-22
THREAD: Bridegroom
Isaiah 62:1-5; John 2:1-11
Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6,8-10; Luke 4:16-30
THREAD: Anointed
Jeremiah 1:4-10; Luke 4:31-44


In Seminary I was forced to decide what I truly believed about God. My ideas of who I thought He was and who I wanted Him to be didn|t always align with what God told me about himself in the Bible. Many times I found myself challenged, but by His grace I was able to believe God|s Word over my preconceived ideas. Have you ever felt this way? What do you do when you find yourself challenged because God Word says one thing about God | but you want it to say something else? Do you just ignore the parts of the Bible you don|t like? However you face these challenges, my hope is that we can continue to deepen our journey of faith and embrace some of these more difficult moments.

January is the start of a new sermon series entitled |Thread|. In the season after Christmas and before Lent (Epiphany) we will explore some Old Testament stories and their importance in the New Testament and even today. What is the thread that connects all those Old Testament stories and Jesus? More importantly, what is their connection to me? We sometimes struggle to make those connections from the Bible to our daily faith. Don|t feel alone! Even some scholars fail to make the connection. Some have even tried to argue that the Old Testament and the New Testament aren|t even talking about the same God.

The Story of the One True God is one of similar themes that are woven together throughout the story of human kind. During this series we will consider how those same Threads and themes are currently woven into each of our lives as the Story of God continues in us and through us even today!

Beginning on January 3rd please join us as we study some of those Old Testament stories, find the thread to our Savior, and see how that thread continues to our everyday lives.

In Christ,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Service Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Hope is Born!
Isaiah 7:10-14; 1 John 4:7-16; Matthew 1:18-25
Martyrdom of Stephen
Acts 6:8-7:2a, 51-60; Matthew 5:1-12

Picking the Perfect Present!

I suck at giving presents. Sorry for such strong language, but it is true. I have two birthday cards in my briefcase right now that I bought two months ago and never gave them. There are others that I never even bought. And when it comes to Christmas? Just give me your list so I can go get it for you. Don|t get me wrong | I love giving presents; I am just bad at it. I get worried the gift is not good enough or isn|t as meaningful to you as it might be to me. I don|t want to be the guy that gives you something because I like it; I want to be the guy that gets you what you like, want or need before you even know it exists! I put a lot of pressure on myself, and therefore I don|t succeed.

Maybe you can relate? Maybe not with picking out gifts, but maybe with sharing Jesus. I have spoken with many believers who want to share Jesus with others but don|t want to be bad at it. They don|t want to disappoint God or make a fool of Christians or answer a question wrong, so they don|t say or do anything. We fail because we don|t even try.

Jesus is the perfect present, not only for the one who receives, but for the one who gives. Jesus is a Present that is picked, paid for and delivered right to your heart. When you give Jesus, you don|t need to worry how it is received; He takes care of all that. God|s Holy Spirit allows the heart and mind of the recipient to be prepared and accomplish exactly what the Gift was made to accomplish. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! " Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

We don|t give Jesus; we give ourselves to Jesus. He gives Himself through us. Giving to the Lord is not about convincing others to follow; it is about committing ourselves to live what we believe. He takes care of the rest. There are many ways to give at Christmas; everyone is asking this time of year, but God doesn|t ask for your gift. Nothing we can give will be good enough or perfect enough. He asks for our life | all of it | that He would redeem it, bring joy to it, and glorify His name through it so that others may know His love through us.

Please consider prayerfully, faithfully, how God is working in you, for you, with you and through you this Christmas and what it means to let Him be King of your life, the perfect Gift wrapped just for you. Freely receiving God|s generous Gift of Jesus will free us to generously give of ourselves for His Kingdom. The perfect gift? It|s you!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Midweek Date /Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
29-NOV-15 (Advent 1)
A New Hope: Hope for a Hopeless World
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Roman 15:3-14; Luke 21:25-28
06-DEC-15 (Advent 2)
A New Hope: Faith in What You Can|t See (Peace)
Malachi 3:1|7b; Philippians 1:2|11; Luke 3:1|14
13-DEC-15 (Advent 3)
A New Hope: Joy in Jesus (Pink Candle)
Zephaniah 3:14-17; Philippians 4:4|7; Luke 7:18|28
20-DEC-15 (Advent 4)
A New Hope: Love is Action
Micah 5:2|5a; Hebrews 10:5|10; Luke 1:39|45

A New Hope! - Advent 2015

The world is waiting in eager anticipation. Many Star Wars junkies are putting together their final plans for the release of the newest Star Wars movie on Dec 17th. In the Church we too are preparing for an important day in December; the arrival of Jesus, the Savior, on Christmas Day.

For a lifelong Christian, the "Trinity" can seem boring and mundane. For a new believer, it can be a source of great confusion. For all of us, the questions can come up: What difference does it really make? I believe in Jesus, the God of the Bible, so why does it matter if I talk about Him as a "Triune God"?

Since many Christians also love Star Wars (especially Pastor Matt) we thought this would be a fun way to approach Advent this year, starting November 28. Advent is a special season in the church where we prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Jesus didn|t just show up without warning, there were thousands of years of prophecy and anticipation.

For the four Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas we will explore the way God prepared the world for the arrival of Jesus. We will also consider how we can prepare to receive Him again, who comes to us God incarnate.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Holiday Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Thanksgiving! We Have So Much to Be Grateful For!
Deuteronomy 8:1|10,17-18; Philippians 4:4-7,10-13; Luke 17:11|19

Thanksgiving! We Have So Much to Be Grateful For!

God has blessed each of us in big and small ways. Often He blesses us through other people and blesses others through us. Be sure to thank someone for being a blessing to you and let them know how it has allowed you to bless others. Consider how you can be thankful to God by living your life faithfully in service to Him and our neighbors because you never know how God will use your generosity, but you can be certain He will use it to bring glory to His name.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Christ The King Sunday!: Last Sunday of the Church Year
Daniel 7:8-10, 13-14; Revelation 1:4b-8

End Times!

Last days before Christmas? Not yet, but close! Last days for this amazingly great sale? Maybe| but it will probably come around again. Last days for the entire world as we know it? YES!!!!! Really?!?!

For a lifelong Christian, the "Trinity" can seem boring and mundane. For a new believer, it can be a source of great confusion. For all of us, the questions can come up: What difference does it really make? I believe in Jesus, the God of the Bible, so why does it matter if I talk about Him as a "Triune God"?

Let me try to offer some answers to some of these questions:

It isn|t often we think about the end of the world. In fact, most of us will think about dying (and not very often) before we would think about Jesus coming again. As uncomfortable as it is, God calls us to think about the last days regularly. In fact, everything God has done he has done with the end in mind. The entirety of the bible is written for this one purpose. Faith exists to address one moment and yet we so seldom talk about it.

This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church year. A Sunday typically dedicated to remembering what God says about the last days. The problem is He says a lot more than we can fit into one weekend. In fact, almost every book of the bible says something about the end times and what it will be like or what our perspective should be about it. So what are the highlights?

  1. Everything Jesus did, He did so we could have peace about the end. Whether the end is our last breath or the arrival of Armageddon, we know how it plays out for believers.
  2. We must be ready today! Now! There was an urgency in Jesus| day; and there should still be an urgency for us today. There is much to be done and little time.
  3. The timing is God|s; not ours. There is nothing we can do to speed up or slow down the arrival of the last day. It is perfectly accounted for in God|s will.
  4. It is ours today - For believer's we have eternity today. We are part of the company of believers when we worship, serve, and endure suffering for Christ|s sake today! The full power of God is ours now and forever.
  5. Every |sign| of the end times is not the end inching closer, but serves as a reminder that any moment could be our last. Any moment the heavens burst forth and the King of creation returns.
  6. It is good! While thinking about the end may be unsettling, The Last Day is really the beginning of a new heaven and a new earth where there is no evil, death or destruction.
  7. We're on mission - until that day we are called to share the Good News of Jesus paying for our sins and earning for each repentant sinner a place in heaven forever.

War, chaos, greed, famine, disasters and many other things mark the labor pains of this creation. These pains will continue up until that last day. Each one a reminder that we need a Savior. But, also serve as a reminder that we have a Savior who has delivered us from this present evil age and brought us to everlasting life. This deliverance has already occurred in part, as we focus on the things of God more and more but, one day, will occur in full. Until then we pray "Come, Lord Jesus, come."

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Focus
Generosity: From God's Abundance
2 Corinthians 8:8-12; John 12:1-7
Generosity: Free to Depend on God
Matthew 6:25-33; Ephesians 2:8-10
Generosity: Generation to Generation
2 Corinthians 9:6-15; Exodus 3:13-15
Generosity: Giving in Love
Matthew 5:21-24; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7


Over the next few weeks our new sermon series will focus on generosity. Even announcing this topic is risky since many could choose to forget to set the alarm for services. But, I am actually quite excited about tackling this topic and I hope you|ll join me. We are using a book titled Generosity and each day is a different devotional on how God has been generous toward us, his people.

One of the things that truly excites me about this resource is that it comes at the topic in a truly Biblical, heartfelt way. One of the lines in the opening devotion says |Giving can be done begrudgingly without love. Generosity is always initiated by love. Love for God, love for others, but primarily love from God.|

God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. Motivated by love, God gave us everything. There are a lot of things I will give people but my daughter isn|t one of them. There are a lot of things I love, people I love but none of them more than my own child. Yet God gave His up for us. That is a lot of love, a lot of generosity a lot of motivation for me to consider my responses toward others.

Today, there are more non-profit organizations to support than ever before. There are more options of where to serve to improve conditions for other people in the world. There are more places to give money and time, and there are more organizations working to improve our nation than ever before. With all this work going into our nation, all these not-for-profits improving things, why is our nation becoming more and more desperate? Why are divorces, suicides, depression, drug use, anxiety, and alcoholism all on the rise in our youngest generations? Why does the richest time in America the most empty? I believe it is because we have little hope, little faith and little love.

Dive into this devotional with Pastor Matt and me and be filled with the generous love and compassion of Jesus Christ. Let it encourage you, fill you, give you peace and meaning. We try to fill our lives with things that will make us happy when the only thing that can truly give us joy, is knowing our lives are already full to overflowing in Christ Jesus. |I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.| John 10:10

His service and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Focus
Did Jesus Really Say: "I Am God"
Exodus 3:13-14, John 8:53b-59
Did Jesus Really Say: "I Want You to Be Happy"
Matthew 5:2-11, John 16:16-24
Did Jesus Really Say: "Love Everyone"
Matthew 5:43-48; Ephesians 4:11-16
Did Jesus Really Say: "Sex is Bad"
Matthew 19:1-6; Genesis 1:26-28
Did Jesus Really Say: "There is a Reason for Everything"
Matthew 10:34-39; Jeremiah 29:10-14
Did Jesus Really Say: "Bad People Go to Hell"
Matthew 13:37-43; Romans 5:6-10
Did Jesus Really Say: "I Am the Only Way"
John 14:1-6; Acts 4:8-12


"God just wants me to be happy." "Gay people are sinners!" "Love everyone; judge no one." "God has a plan for me." You've heard Christians say these sings, you|ve heard Christians ridiculed for saying these things, you may have even said these things or things like them. But should you? Should we as Jesus| followers say these things? And if so, what is meant by them? If not, what should we say? How do we know?

The cultural environment we live in is emotionally charged. Often times challenging questions are not appreciated. Worse, questions may be used against you like a weakness to attack and prove a point. This type of environment makes asking questions pointless at best and dangerous at worst. It|s time to change that.

During our current teaching series we are asking the difficult questions, the challenging questions and we will answer, not with the political agenda of man, but with the loving, truthful words of Christ. What did Jesus really say about His identity as God, sexuality, happiness, plans for the world and each individual in it, love, judgment and more. In fact, you are invited to enter the discussion in a safe way by hashtagging your spiritual questions with #didjesussay. I|ll be searching regularly on Facebook and Twitter to see what questions are out there and then answering them with what Jesus says about each.

Ask a question you have, ask a question your neighbor or a co-worker has, but get involved, ask the important questions and the not so important questions because they all matter. And, who knows, you|ll probably ask a question everyone else wanted to ask but was too afraid! " All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16

His service and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Focus
Being the Church: Rooted
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; John 6:25-31,35
Being the Church: Reconciled
2 Corinthians 5:11-21; Isaiah 53:4-6, 10-12
Being the Church: Faultless
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Being the Church: Grieved
2 Corinthians 7:5-16
Being the Church: Holy
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Luke 8:16-18


A few years ago I had the opportunity to hear a man named Reggie McNeal speak about the missional church. McNeal started his presentation sharing an interesting statistic from two recent studies. He asked, |Do you know what is the fasted growing, religious affiliation in the United States? The answer is |None|. |None| - people who do not claim any specific religious affiliation. This could be agnostic, atheist, or |nothing in particular.| In 2007 this represented 16% of the American population. Today, that number has grown to about 19%-28% depending on what part of the country you ask the question of.

As a church, sometimes our response is to try and do church better. "If only we had this program, | then we|d be growing!" "If only we worked harder to get people into the pews." But keep this in mind; our communities today have some of the best churches they|ve ever had. Our churches are doing some amazing work in the communities! Some of you have a long history here | you know what a wonderful church we have. Many of you have given a lot of time and energy to make Cross the greatest church it can be.

What if we switched our focus from trying to do church better to being the church? It|s changing our focus from what we do and focusing on what God has already done - called us the Body of Christ! We don|t have to strive to achieve this calling. God has already made it so in Jesus Christ!

This August we have a sermon series about |Being The Church|. Together we will explore Paul|s second letter to the Corinthians. We will see that life today isn|t so different from life two thousand years ago. God is still working in and through the lives of Christians, bringing the same hope and forgiveness found only in Jesus Christ. Christians still have an impact on the world as they gather around God|s Word in community | being the Body of Christ together. As God|s Word works in and through the lives of believers, we go out and do the good works that God has already prepared for us to do | not that these works win us favor with God. Rather, those works are our joyful response to what God has already called us in His Word: loved, forgiven, new creations and servants of the Lord. Being the Body of Christ in our community makes an eternal difference in the lives of those around us.

I know I am the new guy, but already I see the heart of God|s people for mission at Cross. Let|s continue to be who God has already called us to be.

"Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another|and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:19-25

In His Hands,
Pastor Matt Conrad

Pastor Matt Conrad Installation Service

On Sunday, July 19 at 3 PM in the sanctuary we had the joy and pleasure to install our new pastor, Rev. Matt Conrad! The guest speaker was Rev. Kurt Klaus, Senior Administrative Pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church, Mounds View, Minnesota (and co-best man with Pastor Erik at Pastor Matt|s wedding!). Here is Rev. Kurt Klaus|s message at this celebratory service. If you were not able to attend | or even if you did- we hope you will enjoy hearing Rev. Kurt Klaus|s message and welcome of Pastor Matt Conrad to Cross. We are so blessed to have Matt and his family here with us!!

Pastor Conrad Installation Service Message | Rev. Kurt Klaus

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Focus
FIRED UP! | Gauss / Conrad interview
Why Pastor Matt chose Cross! What excites him about coming on board!
FIRED UP! | Nathan Fisher
Mentoring through Worship
FIRED UP! | David Thanepohn
Authentic Faith
FIRED UP! | Bill Ziech
Reaching the Lost


During July, different members of the ministry team will be sharing what they are fired up about. Life can be filled with stress, unfinished projects and missed opportunities. It is easy to become frustrated or burned out with life and faith. During these times it is encouraging to hear how God is at work and bringing fruit to our labors.

God is working in many ways within our congregation and into the community. Come hear the stories, be encouraged through the challenges and reminded that God is at work for good in all we do for him. Don't get burned out, get Fired Up!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Holy Week Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
The Hurt and the Healer: A Withered Hand
Mark 3:1-6; Numbers 20:6-12
The Hurt and the Healer: Conquering Evil
Mark 3:22-30; Genesis 3:18-15
The Hurt and the Healer: A Father|s Role
Mark 5:21-43
The Hurt and the Healer: Storms of Life


This week we will begin a new series called The Hurt and the Healer. Each week will be about how Jesus brings healing to hurting people. God|s primary concern is spiritual health which leads to eternal life, but He is also concerned about wholistic health. Jesus didn|t come to bring spiritual life in a broken world; He came to bring full life and restoration to every aspect of our world. During this series we will discuss how Jesus brings physical healing, spiritual healing, emotional healing and relational healing.

Last week, this topic hit close to home in a very real way. Daniel Konrath, the 40 year old stepson of our part-time HR/Business Manager Mary Konrath, was hospitalized with pancreatitis. The situation took a turn for the worse as he seemed to develop a secondary infection which caused his lungs to fill with fluid, laboring his breathing. As the complications increased, Dan was placed in a medical coma, put on a respirator, and is being fed artificially. The family is asking for your prayers.

Dan is the father of five children and was perfectly healthy till he went into the hospital with sudden and unbearable abdominal pain. I (Pastor Erik) was privileged to meet the extended family in the ICU waiting room and pray with them. The only two people I knew were Mary and her husband, Al, yet this room filled with 25 people was eager to hear the hope that God might bring for Dan and each of them. Dan is still in a partial coma and his prognosis is |months| for a full recovery. The family has set up a GoFundMe account if you would like more information or to further support them at this time:

What are your hurts? How has Christ brought healing? How might we receive that full healing in Christ and bring hope to the world? The possibilities are endless, but first, let us come to the Cross of Christ and offer our hurts to Him for He truly cares for us. Then receive His grace that it may fill us to overflowing. "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." Nahum 1:7

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Two Worlds Collide: Life & Death
1:John 1:1-14
Two Worlds Collide: Light & Dark
1:John 1:5-2:2
Two Worlds Collide: Families & Orphans
1:John 3:1-10
Two Worlds Collide: Love & Hate
1:John 3:16-24
Two Worlds Collide: Spirit & Flesh
1:John 4:7-13
Two Worlds Collide: Angels & Demons
1:John 4:1-6
Two Worlds Collide: Victory & Defeat
1:John 5:1-8
Two Worlds Collide: Testimony of God & Man
1:John 5:9-15

Two Worlds Collide

Have you ever attended a funeral home and approached the casket confidently expecting it to be empty? Expecting the person lying in the metal box to talk back to you? Maybe you have tried to imagine what it might be like if the person sat up and was alive once again! What would your reaction be? Would you be more excited that the one you love is alive (and presumably healthy), or would you go into a state of shock?

When a dead man comes back to life, it is cause for pause. It demands us to reconsider and reevaluate everything! Death is one of the few things in life we can count on, so if it is not reliable, what do we honestly know? Consider those who have had a |near death| experience; their outlook on life can change dramatically. Easter is a day where the unthinkable becomes plausible, and if we stop to consider it, our mind can become mush.

After Easter we will walk through the book of 1 John. The theme of Two Worlds Collide is inspired by the reality that was thrust upon us at Easter. There is the physical world where death is a certainty, but there is also the spiritual world where death has no power. What does this mean for us, by the power and grace of God, to live in both worlds? Which one wins? When? How?

John has a very unique writing style; in fact, it is so unique that many don|t consider it a writing style at all but rather, a preaching style. He frequently and repetitively utilizes powerful contrasting images and concepts: light and darkness, sin and cleansing, love and hate, flesh and spirit, beginning and end. The use of this language does not mean John sees no middle ground; in fact, his overarching message is to help people find solid ground in such a polarized world. The frequency and clarity of these contrasting images allow the listener to retain more content while at the same time create a way for the message to be easily memorized and shared with others!

Beginning April 11-12, we will explore the author who brought us the book of Revelation, 1, 2 and 3 John as well as the Gospel of John. Together, along with him, we will wrestle with what it means to live in a world, two worlds, where nothing is as it seems. Where everything has another purpose, where faith and life collide, we can still find truth. " We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one and we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." John 5:19-20

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Holy Week Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
29-MAR-15 (Palm Sunday)
Receive Love: The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Receive the Meal: The Parable of the Great Banquet
Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 1:15-244
Receive the Sacrifice: The Parable of the Landowners and Tenants
Matthew 21:33-46
04-APR-15/05-APR-15 (Easter)
Receive the Promise/Receive Eternal Life: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders
Matthew 7:24-29; Luke 6:46-49

Holy Week Sermon Series: RECEIVE

Our Triune God is not a god of rules or rituals but a God of blessing. The Father created a perfect world and gave it to us. The Son gave us His life to save the world from its own selfishness. The Spirit gives us faith so we can receive the gifts God wants us to have as blessings, not burdens.

Holy Week has arrived once again. This week is the remembrance of one of the most pivotal weeks in the history of the world, a week where our Creator God did everything possible so the entire would, could receive His great gift | Himself! During this week we walk in the footsteps of Jesus and remember what He went through. The journey is very dramatic with many highs and lows. It is not easy, but it can be powerful.

Often times the special services of Holy Week can make us feel sad or guilty or heartbroken as we focus on our role in the innocent death of the Son of God. But that isn|t the point of Holy Week. If all we get out of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday is that we are awful and God is good, we miss the point. The point of Holy Week is to remind us that God is here to bless us in every circumstance| no matter what.

As the crowds misunderstood on Palm Sunday Jesus taught them how to Receive the Love of a true King. On Thursday we will Receive the Meal of Jesus| Body and Blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Friday we will Receive the Sacrifice as if it was us on that cross instead of Jesus. Saturday we Receive the Promise of Baptism that unites us with Christ in His death AND His resurrection. Then Sunday we Receive life, full life, Eternal Life !

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Midweek Lenten Series: Parables of Lent

"He spoke to them in parables! " Join us for our Lenten weekly worship series entitled, |The Parables of Lent| as we journey through some of the most well-known and beloved parables of the scriptures and discover a deeper understanding of Christ|s suffering, death, and ultimate resurrection. Revisiting these parables again, helps us to apply the divine messages of these stories to the story of our life in Christ.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Why Nobody Wants to be Around Christians Anymore!
(Church Wide Emphasis)

"They judge me."
"They|re just a bunch of hypocrites."
"If they|re an example of who God is, I don|t want anything to do with God."

This is what many people are saying about Christians. Why do they feel this way? And is there anything you can do about it? How can you help give Christians a reputation makeover? Why Nobody Wants to Be Around Christians Anymore gives you more than just answers. Inside you|ll find practical helps and real-life examples of what it means to glow your love the way Jesus did. You|ll learn how to avoid pushing people away|and how to be a magnet for God|s love instead.

Authors Thom and Joani Schultz show you how to draw people into a meaningful relationship by practicing four simple yet revolutionary acts of love|Radical Hospitality, Fearless Conversation, Genuine Humility, and Divine Anticipation. When you have an authentic, heart-felt love for others just like Jesus did, it will transform your life and the people around you. Get this book. Read it. Practice it. And watch your faith become truly magnetic.

The statistics are clear: The American church is in decline. People are leaving in astounding numbers, with no sign of a turnaround. And despite church leaders| best efforts to stem the tide, more than 80 percent of people are finding something better to do on Sunday mornings. Recent research makes a clear case that Christians are no longer highly regarded. We|re not known for our love for one another. Why? Is there hope for the future?

This groundbreaking new study will reveal how 4 acts of love (Radical Hospitality, Fearless Conversations, Genuine Humility, and Divine Anticipation) can make our faith magnetic. To Help Us Be the Church God Intended Us to Be!!

Hebrews 10:24 - Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. (NLT)

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Defining Moments: Finding Identity!
Matthew 2:1-12
Defining Moments: Finding Purpose!
Luke 2:22-40
Defining Moments: Being Chosen!
Mark 1:4-11
Defining Moments: AHA!
Defining Moments: Choosing Christ!
Mark 1:14-20
Defining Moments: Unleashing God!
Mark 9:2-9

Defining Moments

Christmas is sort of a big deal; the traveling of families, the gathering of presents, the planning of Christmas parties and celebrations around the world! Christmas ends one year and sets the tone for the New Year. If you ate a lot at Christmas - you might exercise more in the next year. If you were distant from God - you might commit to reconnecting. If family bonds are stretched - you might plan to heal old wounds.

The first Christmas, while a little less global in its celebration, was a big deal too and set in motion things that would change the future. Christmas was the first of many Defining Moments in the life of Jesus Christ, for the world, and for each of us.

For the next six (6) weeks we will explore defining moments in Jesus life and in our own lives. We will look at moments we share together like Birthdays and weddings, graduations and major purchases. We will look at private moments of faith like Baptism, salvation, and Confirmation. Knowing God|s story and knowing our story helps us as we listen and participate in the lives of others around us and as we worship our God.

One of the Defining Truths about our God is the fact He was born of a human, walked amongst us and experienced life in the very same way we do. He experienced temptation, suffered ridicule and died. He knows what life is like and He taught us how to get the most out of life and claim victory in the face of failure.

I hope to see you all as we explore the Story of Jesus life; the story of our own life and the Defining Moments that guides us. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are|yet he did not sin." Hebrews 4:15

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Isaiah: The Promise of Hope | A Plea for Help & God|s Surprising Answer
Isaiah 63:16b-19, 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist : The Promise of Peace
Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; John 1:6-8, 19-28
Elizabeth: The Promise of Joy
Isaiah 61:1-4; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; Luke 1:39-45
Gabriel & the Angels: The Promise of Love
Daniel 9:17-19; 22-24; Psalm 89:1-5 (19-29); Rom. 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38
Jesus: The Promise of Arrival
Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14;15-20
Jesus: The Promise of Arrival
Isaiah 52:7|10; Heb. 1:1|6;7|12; Luke 2:8-20
Holy Innocents: The Flight to Egypt
Jeremiah 31:15-17; Matthew 2:13-18

ADVENT SERIES: Characters of Christmas!

Advent is not a frequently used word. In fact, when searching for a definition, most refer to the season of Advent (the four weeks before Christmas). But advent is a real word, I promise. It means to come or to arrive. Advent is the season we eagerly desire Christmas to come.

Waiting for something is a long lost skill. Christmas supplies and decorations now arrive in the stores BEFORE the season of Advent. Think about that| before we begin waiting, it has already arrived. Sounds like a Hollywood movie script. Delayed gratification, better described as patience, is a gift from God. This gift comes through trusting in His timing and provision over our own timing. It goes against the nature of our flesh, which is why it is called faith.

While we wait faithfully for God|s timing to be revealed, He offers us little signs of His presence, even while we wait. These signs are not of our own human choosing (like lightning strikes or lottery winnings) but of His own promising. If we are looking faithfully for His signs, we can have encouragement to endure.

This Advent season we will focus on the journey that led up to the first Christmas through various characters. Their stories are God|s signs that Jesus is the true Messiah and that He will and now already has accomplished the purposes of God through His life.

  • Isaiah | The prophet who promised deliverance for Israel, first from Babylon and then from Rome, in Jesus| time.
  • John the Baptist | A voice in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord, the coming of Elijah.
  • Elizabeth | The cousin and mentor to Mary (Jesus| mother) who saw and focused on the signs of God.
  • Gabriel and the Angels | Messengers from God to remind us of God|s own Word.

This Advent, practice delayed gratification and trust that God can fulfill you in every circumstance.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
End Times | Faithful till the End (Walk with God Everyday)
Revelation 6:9-11;Psalm 149; 1 John 3:1|3; Matthew 5:1|12
End Times | The Kingdom of Heaven (Growing in Faith to Worry about Today | Not Tomorrow)
Amos 5:18|24; Psalm 70; Matthew 25:1|13; Revelation 3:14-18
End Times | Judgement (Love Your Neighbor- this is why we are Missional, because He is both Merciful and Just)
Zephaniah 1:7|16; Psalm 90:1|12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1|11; Revelation 20:11-15
End Times | The End AND the Beginning!
Ezekiel 34:11|16; 1 Corinthians 13:8-13; Revelation 21:1-7


The created world, where we live, is finite. It has a beginning and an end. There is a lot of discussion about both. Some people could talk till they are blue in the face about how the world began. Others could do the same about how it will all culminate. And, still others see little value in either discussion. It is times like this I like to ask, "What does God think?" We know what God values as important when we listen to what He has to say to us through the Holy Scriptures.

In the Bible, God shows that the beginning and the end of time are tremendously important. He also tells us what we should be concerned about and what we shouldn|t. In other words, sometimes we can get caught up in the "what ifs" and miss what God is trying to say. How do we distinguish God|s voice in the midst of all the voices?

One important truth is that the best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself. When Jesus comes to the Earth, He quotes the Old Testament prophesies to give clarity to His message and movement. Jesus isn|t adding to or reinterpreting the teachings of God, but rather restating and reminding us of God|s will. Revelation quotes more Bible passages than any other book in the Bible. In other words, we don|t need some brilliant theologian or poignant preacher to interpret Revelation for us. Revelation is a description of what God has already told us. There is no magic key to understand Revelation, just another layer (or six!) of depth to the way God reveals Himself to the world.

The book of Revelation starts out "The revelatory unveiling of Jesus Christ given to Him (Jesus) by God to show the servants of Jesus (us) that which ought to happen quickly." The more you know your Scriptures, the more the images and visions John sees make sense. They reveal Jesus to us more and more! They can often be easily understood by other teachings in the Scriptures and the ones that cannot don|t need radical ideas either. So, let|s dig into the Word and see what God has to say regarding what is truly important and what it means to us who eagerly await His return!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Marks of Discipleship (Mentoring)
1 Peter 5:1-4; Philippians 4:8-9; Ephesians 4:11-14
Marks of Discipleship (Being Mentored)
2 Timothy 2:1-2; 2 Timothy 1:8-14; 1 Peter 5:5-11
Marks of Discipleship (Generous Now)
2 Corinthians 8:8-9; James 2; Luke 12:22 Matthew 6:19-21
Marks of Discipleship (Generous Later)
1 Timothy 6:17-19; Luke 12:16-21
Marks of Discipleship (Mission on Big Days)
Mark 1:16-20; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
Marks of Discipleship (On Mission Every Day!)
1 Peter 4:7-11; Deuteronomy 24:17-22; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

MARKS OF DISCIPLESHIP! (Mentoring, Generosity, Missional Living)

This will be a six week teaching series that will be focusing on three of our marks of discipleship here at Cross: Mentoring, Generosity, and Missional Living. This will be an opportunity for us to take time to be thankful for the mentors we have had in our own lives; and to be challenged to consider how we are leading others in the faith. We will be reminded of God's unending generosity towards us, and be able to reflect on how that changes our perception and management of the blessings that He has given us. Lastly, we will be asking God to teach us how to be His hands and feet, His eyes and ears - not just through acts of service, but by building intentional relationships with those who are in need of the Good news! We invite you on this journey with us.

His servant and yours,
Nathan Fisher, Director of Worship

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Christian Community: Why We Need It!
Ecclesiastes 4:7-12; Hebrews 10:19-25; Matthew 4:1-11
Christian Community: Worships God | Walking With God!
1 Timothy 4:7-16; Acts 2:42-47; Matthew 5:21-24
Christian Community: Transforms Lives | Grows in Faith Together!
Romans 6:1-2, 11-14; Acts 9:1-19
Christian Community: Lives Missionally- Loves Our Neighbor!
1 Peter 4:7-11; Ephesians 4:29-5:2; Acts 10:34-38

God|s Big Plans!

Christian Community is a group of people who follow Christ as their Lord, getting together regularly to be about the Lord|s business. Often, these gatherings are thought to have a very narrow scope of acceptable activities. I have heard these groups called Bible Studies, Small Groups, Missional Communities, Support Groups, Social Clubs, and so much more! At Cross we call them community groups and the list of expected activities is broad!

In Christian Community Groups we want to be about the Lord|s business, all of it! We gather in His name, look to Him for guidance and respond in faith according to His will. If we are ONLY bible studies, or ONLY small groups or ONLY support groups the Devil wins and the power of God is kept at bay. IN Community Groups we want to be about ALL these things mentioned above!

Sound like a large task? An impossible Dream? Unrealistic expectations? A commonly used expression states that |If we could do it by ourselves, we wouldn|t need God!| The purpose of casting this giant vision for Christian Community is to remind us that God is big and He has a big vision. God|s desire is that His Kingdom would reign on earth that ALL people would come to knowledge of the truth of salvation through Christ alone.

God|s plan is to accomplish this vision through you, me, all believers (aka, the Church). Wherever two or more are gathered in His name, He is with us. We can be about His business, we can accomplish His big vision, we can live our lives as Disciples of Christ encouraging one another and impacting the world around us.

September 12-14th is our |Launch Weekend| here at Cross and for a successful Launch we need great Launch Preparations. For the next several weeks we will be casting vision and encouraging one another to get connected to community. We will be inspiring existing Christian communities to be intentional and focused on God|s big vision to make Disciples that make more Disciples. We will be challenging one another to be a focused on the Lord|s Business which is to Make Disciples that Walk with God, Grow in Faith Together and Love our Neighbors| for Jesus Sake!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
All Things Are Possible: Kingdom of Heaven!
Deuteronomy 7:6-9; Romans 8:28,31-39; Matthew 13:44-52
All Things Are Possible: Trust Without Borders!
Psalms 18:1-6; Romans 10:8-13; Matthew 14:22-33; Isaiah 55:1-5, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21
All Things Are Possible: Live Changing Faith!
Isaiah 56:1,6-8; Romans 11:1|2a, 13|15, 28|32; Matthew 15:21-28; Psalm 67

All Things Are Possible!

God is so busy; why would He listen to my prayers? What is the point in praying? Are those miracles even still possible today? I asked God, and He isn't listening. Can He, will He, really heal me? Bless me? Protect me? Will the unbelievers I love in my life ever have faith?

This week we begin a new sermon series we are calling "All Things Are Possible." The topics are coming from the Gospel of Matthew, and the focus is to encourage one another as we live out our faith. The world in its current corrupted state can be cruel and discouraging, but God's Word promises that in Him, all things are possible.

For the next several weeks we will be exploring some of these real life questions through the eyes and Words of Jesus Christ Himself. During Christ's time on Earth, He taught and performed miraculous feats. He leaves with us the guidance we need to receive those same blessings today!

The weekend of July 26th, one of our mission partners, Rev. Mark Eisold, will be our guest preacher. He will be talking about how the Kingdom of God continues to reign in our world now! His mission is to bring Christ's Gospel of forgiveness to the people of Peru.

How can the same Kingdom of God reign in your own life? In Yorkville? In our work places? In our Families? In our Neighborhoods? Yes, it is possible for God to work in and through us to let His Kingdom come now and forever.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Declaration of Dependence: What are Our Rights?
1 Corinthians 6:12-17; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Esther 4:12-14; Ruth; 1 Corinthians 12:1-3; Romans 14; Galatians
Declaration of Dependence: Dependent on One Another!
2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-14; Galatians 2:15-21; 3:10-14; Luke 7:36-50
Declaration of Dependence: Dependent on Christ!
Galatians 4:3-7; Romans 9:6-9; John 4:19-24; Psalm 81

Declaration of Dependence!

New Beginnings! Declaration of Dependence on Christ!

I am not sure how many times I have used the title "New Beginnings," but for Christ centered Christians it is a new beginning daily! We Thank God for each day and each opportunity to live in line with His will and ask for Him to graciously use us in any way He chooses. This weekend we celebrate the New Beginning of a nation founded on the principal that all people are created equal (emphasis mine). In this equality we live for our Creator and love all His creation. This weekend starts a short series on our Declaration of Dependence on Christ for New Beginnings every day and into eternity.

A New Beginning for Emily Sonstroem our DCE intern has been serving our High School ministry and Youth Ministry for nearly a year! She recently accepted a call to serve full time at Our Savior|s Way in Ashburn, VA. Congratulations to her and God|s richest blessings! We are praying for God|s guidance in our next steps to serve the youth in her absence. Many adults have stepped up to serve in the interim and we are relying on God to make clear the next steps!

Nathan Jensen has been serving at Cross as our Production Assistant, planning and leading worship on Sundays and with the youth. He will be missed as he returns to School at Hillsong in Australia! Prayers are needed to find his replacement as well. Nathan has been an encouraging presence for Nathan Fisher and our worship ministry for the past 6 months.

The Call Committee is well underway and will begin the "Initial Interview" phase this weekend! There were 15 names to start with and we have narrowed them down to 8. Initial interviews will be granted to several of these men as the committee is led to do so. Please continue to keep this process in your prayers as we look forward to a New Beginning with a second ordained minister on our team and a new leader for our Human Care and Mission Ministries!

The Facility Alignment Team has begun conversations with several potential partners to help align the facilities we have with the vision God has given us; to make mature Disciples of Christ that Walk with God, Grow in Faith Together and Love Our Neighbors. The key areas that have been identified are worship space, children/youth ministry space, and sending space that allows disciples to live out the mission and get connected to the mission opportunities Christ has placed before us.

The Cross Lutheran Foundation is in the midst of a New Beginning. Formerly known as "Expanding Ministries," the re-launch of this foundation is underway with a $50,000 challenge matching grant to fund the more than $300,000 in scholarships awarded annually with actual dollars. This effort will help ensure the financial stability of all our congregations| ministries for generations to come!

New Beginnings are not always easy; our God knows full well the challenge of a fresh start that first Easter morning. But, New Beginnings are always filled with hope in the leadership or our Lord through all of life|s joys and challenges. Please join in prayer with all the believer|s at Cross as Christ leads us, His people to accomplish His work!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
What Does God Say About| Creation Vs. Evolution?
John 1:1-5,14; Job 38-40; Genesis 1:24-31
What Does God Say About| Money???
1 John 3:16-20; 1 Chronicles 29:10-14; Ecclesiastes 5:10-15
What Does God Say About| Leadership???
Matthew 28:16-20
What Does God Say About| Sexuality???
Ephesians 4:17-24; 1 Cor. 6:18-20; Gen 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-28; Psalm 51:1-6; Psalm 51:7-12
What Does God Say About| Social Justice???
Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 13:1-7; Psalm 146:5-9; Isaiah 1:15-20

What Does God Say About |???

This is a perfect question for a believer to ask. In every way and in every circumstance, "What does God say about this?" Over the next six weeks we will be asking and answering this question regarding topics submitted by you, the people of Cross! This week we begin the new series with the topic of Creation vs. Evolution. You won't want to miss this one!

This Sunday we will also have our annual meeting. EVERYONE is invited to come celebrate this last year in ministry together and to consider how God is moving us forward in mission together. We will celebrate men's and women's ministry ramping up, children's ministry making some changes, the increased presence of LERT ministry, and many other amazing ways God has blessed.

New ministry opportunities and efforts for the upcoming year include the beginning of a couples| mentoring ministry, the calling of a Pastor of Human Care and Mission, a part time youth minister, each believer living missionally, the Facility Alignment Team and so much more. God is at work in and through the people of Cross!

God has given His Church on earth a mission: to worship Him, grow in Christian community and love the world for His sake. This journey starts in the heart and mind of every believer and quickly grows us in compassion for the world! I hope to see you Sunday after the last worship service in the large gym for a great celebration and anticipation of how God is at work in the world today for the sake of eternity.

1Timothy 2:3-4: "This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Biblical Worldview: Inerrancy of Scripture
Isaiah 55:8-11: 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 1 Peter 1:17-25
Biblical Worldview: Purpose of Suffering - Why Bad Things Happen to Good People!
Ecclesiastes 8:14-17; 1 Peter 2:19-25; 1 Peter 1:3-9; Romans 5:1; Matthew 5:43-48
Biblical Worldview: Jesus | More Than a Man!
1 Peter 2:2-10; Colossians 1:15-20; Matthew 5:17- 20
Biblical Worldview: Authority!
1 Peter 2:13-19; Gen 1:26-30; Ephesians 5:22-30 ; Matthew 22:15-22; John 10:17-19

Biblical Worldview!

Perspective: a powerful word that literally changes everything. If we change perspective, we can change our life and the world. A person of little to no hope gains hope, a person of great anger receives peace; a person with resentment offers forgiveness, a broken relationship is restored. The list goes on and on, but are we willing to see it, embrace it, and live it?

This next series goes through one of my favorite books of the Bible, 1Peter. 1 Peter resonates with me because it addresses truth and doesn|t sugar coat the reality in which we live. Some people of faith would rather not deal with truth; it is more fun to talk about joy, hope, love in a purely superficial way. 1 Peter knows faith, hope and love are earned, at a price by our Lord Jesus Christ. To live out faith, hope and love costs us our ability to be selfish and pursue treasures of this world.

1 Peter is a shorter book, so for that reason it is an easy read. It is also filled with tons of content; it gets right to the point so it is an impactful book without a lot of filler. The purpose of the book is clearly stated by the author as he summarizes his writing in the conclusion: |... I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.| 1 Peter 5:12. This is our hope for the sermon series this month: to encourage and testify to the grace of God that we could stand fast in it as the world pursues its own truth just as quickly!

Be careful! As God calls us to Himself, reveals His truth and opens our eyes, our perspectives change. As people of God we start to walk by faith, not by sight. It changes everything; it frees us and others to live by truth and not to be deceived by false understandings. It allows us to have life and live life to the full! Let|s read and work through 1 Peter together, asking God to open our hearts and minds to the truth He would reveal so our perspective of the world might be the same as the One who made it all!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
The Ongoing Mission: To Reach a Lost World with the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ
Matthew 28:16-20; Romans10:14-15; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

The Ongoing Mission of the Church!
To Reach a Lost World With the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Our theme for this past weekend|s services was |The Ongoing Mission of the Church | to Reach a Lost World with the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ|. The sermon focused on people in Church history, and those in our own Lutheran history, who answered that call and took to heart the promise of Rom. 1:16 and reached out to people of many backgrounds and cultures compelled by the love of Christ. We also noted the blessings that accompanied this faithful proclamation of the Gospel. The worship services focused on personal interviews or video interviews with each of the nine missions and missionaries that Cross Lutheran helps to support at this present time.

The challenge for this weekend was twofold: First of all, to connect our congregation with the ministry being done in other countries by our Cross-supported missionaries and to encourage continued prayer and financial support but especially to encourage people to prayerfully consider becoming a |Missionary Caregiver| through regular contact with a missionary. Secondly, and just as important, to respond to God|s call to be in mission right where we are | in Kendall County and the surrounding community. We cannot stand idly by; indifferent to the eternal future of our relatives, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, townspeople. Without Jesus Christ, their future is an unending separation from God and agony in hell; with Jesus Christ, it is a blessed and joyous life with God and His people in heaven. The love of Christ compels us to give witness to people of all ages, backgrounds and personalities; and to give totally of ourselves for Christ who died for us.

In the joy and peace of Christ, our Savior,
Pastor Herb Grieves

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Palm Sunday: Restored in Christ; Broken Majesty
Philippians 2:5-11; John 12:12-19, John 12:23-28
Good Friday: Service of Darkness
Isaiah 53:1-6; 7-12; Hebrews 4:14-16, Psalm 22
Easter Saturday: Baptism Remembrance
Exodus 14:21-25, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Romans 6:3-7
Easter Sunday: He is Risen Indeed!
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Matthew 28:1-10, Psalm 118 1-2, 14-24

Holy Week: For You, For the World!

Jesus Christ died and rose again for you! He forgave all your sins! He provides for our every need. You are invaluable to God, a treasure in a field He gave His life to purchase. You are pretty important! To the God who has everything, everything is meaningless without you.

Once you realize this, God|s overwhelming love for you grows your love for Him. This turns your world upside down. As you are drawn closer to God, you begin to value the things He values more than the things you used to think were important. You start to care whether others know Him, too. You care for people and their relationship to the Father because God cares. He loves them as much as He loves you!

God calls us to live for Him, not so we can save ourselves but so others may know His love through us. To that end we work, serve and love others right where we are and around the world as the Lord calls us.

During Easter services we will be gathering an offering for our mission partners near and far that are sharing God|s love to the world. Please consider a special gift that will go to support the efforts of these mission partners to reach people who otherwise may not know of their Father|s great love. You can find out more about these efforts on this website or in the Food Court on our Missions wall.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

MidWeek Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
05-MAR-14 - Ash Wednesday
Restored in Christ: Broken Hearts Restored
Joel 2: 12-14
Our hearts are broken in sorrow over sin; Christ restores our hearts through his forgiveness.
12-MAR-14 - Lent 1
Restored in Christ: Broken Vessels Restored
Mark 14: 1-9
A broken vessel holds costly perfume; we are broken vessels restored when Christ pays the price for us on the cross.
19-MAR-14 - Lent 2
Restored in Christ: Broken Trust Restored
Matthew 26: 14-25
Judas breaks his trust with Jesus by betraying him; our broken trust is restored through the sacrifice of Christ.
26-MAR-14 - Lent 3
Restored in Christ: Broken Bread Restored
Amos 6:1-7
Bread is broken at the Last Supper; we are restored through the Bread of Life, Jesus.
02-APR-14 - Lent 4
Restored in Christ: Broken Promises Restored
Matthew 26: 69-75
Peter|s broken promises to never deny Jesus are restored by the surpassing love of Christ.
09-APR-14 - Lent 5
Restored in Christ: Broken Justice Restored
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
A broken justice system put Jesus on the cross; we are restored when by his death we are declared not guilty.

MidWeek Lent Series: Restored in Christ!

Restored in Christ

"The season of Lent is a time for us to face together the brokenness of our lives and our world, and then turn that brokenness over to Christ so that we can be restored by Him through the cross. Written by seminary professor Joel Biermann, each service in the series focuses on a certain event in the Lenten story and takes a good, hard look at a broken element from that particular story. Coming to an understanding of how each of these broken elements in these services leads to restoration in Christ is key to understanding what it ultimately means to live today as new creations in Christ."

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
not a fan: fan or follower?
2 Timothy 1:5-10; Luke 9:18-25
not a fan: the open invitation!
Jeremiah 29:10-13; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Matthew 9:9-13
not a fan: choosing intimacy!
Luke 7:41-50; Psalm 139
not a fan: the comfortable cross!
Luke 9:57-62; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
not a fan: more than rules!
John 8:1-11; Romans 2:25-29, Matthew 23:23-28, Deuteronomy 30:15-20
not a fan: is Jesus enough?
John 6:1-1

not a fan!!!

Jesus is NOT looking for fans; He|s looking for followers, followers who understand there is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no salvation without surrender. There is no life without death. There is no believing without following.

Twenty times in the New Testament, Jesus Christ issued a compelling and challenging invitation: |Follow Me.| Jesus is not interested in mere fans. He doesn't want enthusiastic admirers. He wants completely committed followers. Built around the engaging approach of Kyle Idleman, Teaching Pas-tor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, this one of a kind small group study examines what it means to deny one|s self and truly follow Jesus.

This is not a conventional small group experience. It is a cinematic journey, a series of six mini-movies with the perspective and depth to help shape today|s believer into a first century Christ follower. Participants follow the journey of Eric Nelson, a man leading a compartmentalized triple life as a pleasure-seeking rebel, a cut-throat corporate executive and a nominal Christian. But when confronted with a near death experience, Eric embarks on a spiritual journey that transforms his commitment to Jesus Christ and tests the faith of his friends and family.

If you|re not currently in a community group, and would like to be | contact Bill Ziech, Director of Discipleship at 630/385-8112 or sign up on the bulletin board in the Food Court to get connected!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Gr8st Sermon Ever!!! Beatitudes
4th Sunday After Epiphany:
Psalms 27:1-9; Isaiah 9:2-4; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; Matthew 5:1-12
Gr8st Sermon Ever!!! Doing Good
5th Sunday After Epiphany:
Psalms. 119:17-24; Isaiah 58:5-9a; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-20
Gr8st Sermon Ever!!! All About Sin
6th Sunday After Epiphany:
Psalms 119:1-16; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians. 2:6-13; Matthew 5:21-48
Vicar Shaw|s Slides for Reference
Gr8st Sermon Ever!!! Spiritual Disciplines
7th Sunday After Epiphany:
Psalms 103:1-13; Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 6:1-18

Gr8st Sermon Ever!!!

What is the greatest sermon you have ever heard? I can|t pick just one; several come to mind, but they all have one thing in common. Each of my favorite sermons is memorable to me because it shared a timeless Biblical truth about God with a slightly different perspective. This slight perspective change didn|t help me understand God more as much as it helped me understand God is greater than my mind can comprehend! |But, as it is written, " What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him. " 1Corinthians 2:9.

A great sermon can cause us to know something we didn|t previously understand or help us to apply the truth of God into a circumstance in our current life, but no sermon can teach us anything new about God as the Bible has revealed everything we can know about God. That is unless the sermon is preached by God Himself! How do I get to hear that sermon? Come to Cross this weekend! No, I am not saying I am God, or even God like, but we are starting a series on Matthew chapter 5 which is one of the few actual recorded sermons by Jesus. It is often called the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus was standing on a hill.

In this message we are privileged to hear right from the mouth of God Himself as we ponder the challenges, joys, sorrows and truths about ourselves and the world in which we live. Most importantly, our identity as the children of God is solidified when we hear the heart and mind of our heavenly Father.

Join together as the family of God around the feet of our Lord and hear Him pour out His heart, the encouraging hope and the challenging truth. While we listen, the words of Christ will bind us together with God and one another to remind us daily of who we are and the mission He calls us to be on together.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Why Jesus?: Remove Divisions
Epiphany Day:
Matthew 2:1-12; Isaiah 60:1-5; Ephesians 3:1-6,10-12
Why Jesus?: Clear Your Mind
1st Sunday After Epiphany:
Isaiah 42:5-8, Matthew 3:13-17, Romans 6:1-14
Why Jesus?: Give Life Purpose
2nd Sunday After Epiphany:
1 Corinthians:4-9, John 1:29-42a
Why Jesus?: Mediator Between God & Man
Presentation of the Lord:
Micah 6:1-8; 1 Timothy 2:1-7

Why Jesus???

Epiphany is the time of the church year between Christmas and Lent. It|s a special time that we remember that as the wise men came to pay homage to Jesus, that Christ is not only the light for Israel, but for the whole world. It|s also a time to focus on the life and ministry of Jesus. If you are new to church, we invite you to come and learn more about this light of the world, and to come and know him more fully. If you already know the story, we invite you to come and hear it again and reflect on His mission and purpose, as we consider what His mission and purpose is for us, His church.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
The Journey: Mountain
Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44
The Journey: Forest
Psalms 72:1-7; Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12
The Journey: Desert
Psalms 146; Isaiah 35:1-10; James 5:7-11; Matthew 11:2-15
The Journey: Cave
Psalms 24; Isaiah 7:10-17; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

The Journey! (Advent Series)

In December we will be celebrating Advent, a special time of preparation for Christmas. As we prepare to joyfully celebrate Christ|s first coming, we also keep in mind and prepare for His second coming. To do so, we will be highlighting the themes and references in the Old Testament readings for the season, which are the Mountain, the Forest, the Desert, and the Cave. As we go on our spiritual journey of preparation, we will be highlighting what each of these symbols represents in the history of the church and for each one of us. Come join us on the Journey!!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Now and Not Yet
Rev. 7:9-17; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
Malachi 3:13-18; Colossians 1:13-20; Luke 23:33, 39-43
Stewardship of the Gospel
Ps. 98; 2 Thess. 3:(1-5) 6-13; Matthew 25:14-30
Practical Ways to Be Missional
Building a Missional Family
Continuing the Conversation on Stewardship of the Gospel
Return of the King
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5; Revelation 22:6-13; Luke 12:42-48

Beginning With the End in Mind!

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, 'This person began to build and wasn|t able to finish.'" Luke 14:27-30

If you want to accomplish something you need to first sit back and prepare. This isn|t always the "fun" part but it is necessary if we are going to accomplish what we set out to do! Sometimes it is just easier to not set a goal and just start working. All this requires is to be satisfied with whatever the results may bring.

Life is no different. If we want to achieve our goals and become successful we must have some idea of what the finish line looks like. "Beginning with the end in mind" is intended to help us gain a perspective that keeps us focused on the big picture while getting practical guides for our daily walk. If we take each step towards the goal, we|ll be on a path that leads to success. Join us as we consider the bigger picture, the plans God has for us and how His truths guide our lives today and every day.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Bible Heroes: David and Goliath
1 Samuel 17:38-47; Eph. 6:10-14
Bible Heroes: Rahab (Wonder Woman)
Joshua 2:1-7; Matt. 1:1-6
Bible Heroes: Noah
Gen. 6:5-9; Gen. 9:8-17; Luke 17:11-19
Bible Heroes: Gideon
Ps. 91:1-7 or 121; Judges 6:12-14, 36-40; Luke. 18:1-8
Bible Heroes: Daniel & the Lion|s Den
2 Kings 5:18-19a; Daniel 6:10-16; Mark 9:17-25


At a pastors| conference in Chicago this summer, the speaker asked us who would win a battle between Spiderman and Batman. According to our culture, Batman always wins because the man with the most toys ALWAYS wins. In addition to recapturing my attention, this comment provoked two things for me.

First, it caused me to remember the difference between how God views the world and man views the world. As a person I often judge things in the way they appear or according to worldly success. Fun, strong, attractive, smart, popular, successful and rich are all important qualities to have in our friendships. God sees none of it. Read the Bible, pray, go to church, give 10%, Bible study and volunteer are all important things for a Christian to do. God sees none of it. Nice, loyal, respectful, honest, fair, kind, peaceful, loving, happy and hard-working are all things society values in humanity. God sees none of it. God sees the world in a very different way than we do; He sees it as broken with nothing to offer. The world is rebellious and prefers to be left alone to seek its own success rather than receive full restoration from God. But God|s love is too great. He can|t stand to see us suffer and so He saves us, like any superhero would, even at the cost of His own life.

Second, I was reminded of a sermon series I have wanted to do for quite some time: to revisit some childhood heroes of the Bible and see them in a new light, the way God sees them. Too often we overvalue the greatness of the Bible heroes and undervalue the grace of God. As a result, we find ourselves unworthy of being a faith hero because of our own sin and forget about the power of forgiveness.

In Him we have full value, not because of our great talent but because of His great mercy. We are given a great gift and charged to share it with others. I hope that these next few weeks highlight the power of God at work in all of us, and that is always super!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Discipleship: Refocus - Vision Casting, Building Disciples Mission and Command
2 Chronicles 7:11-15; Luke 10:25-28; Matthew 28:16-20
Discipleship: Re-focus - Walk, Grow, Love
WALK: Romans 12:1-2; GROW: Hebrews 10:23-25; LOVE: Eph. 2:4-10

Refocus: Becoming and Making Disciples!

Fall is a time when families get back on schedule. Summer has been a bit distracting with all the activities and lack of routine. The same can be said for our faith. As we look to get back on track this fall this two part message should re-focus our attention on the thing God says matters most. In part II, we will also discuss the ways God asks us to view the world with regard to success. And what might be coming down the road for the congregation of Christians here at Cross!

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Christian Love in Action: As demonstrated by Paul, Philemon and Onesimus
Philemon 1-21

Christian Love in Action

Prayer Challenges from Today|s Sermon

1. Lord, help me to share my love for You and my faith in You with others as Philemon did. Help me to be a vessel used by You to bring Your love, joy, goodness and comfort to those who cross my path each day.

2. Lord, help me like Paul to let all my actions and decisions be governed by Your love for me and Your words to me in Holy Scripture. Help me to open my arms to be a loving, welcoming person to all who cross my path. Help me to be intentional and determined in my prayer life for others.

3. Lord, help me like Onesimus in difficult situations to follow the path of Christ-like love and, whatever the consequences, to trust in Your Holy Spirit to be with me and to lead and guide. Amen.

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Jesus Christ: Healer and Freer
Heb. 13:1-8; Luke 5:17-26; John 16:5-11

Jesus Christ is Your Healer!

The atonement made through His sacrifice on the Cross paid for your eternal salvation. Through this process He has justified you, meaning that He has made you |right| (clean, pure, spotless) in His sight having done nothing but believe by faith that He afforded His grace to you as a gift. Because of this, His church declares that you have been healed from our deepest wounds: death and the power of sin. It is from this source that He grants us faith for healing in all circumstances of our lives and commissions us to cast out darkness where it stands.

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Colossians: Healthy Teams
Col. 1:1-14
Colossians: Unhealthy Teams/ Dealing with Conflict
Col. 1:21-29
Colossians: Sharing God in Your Team
Col. 2:6-15
Colossians: (Speaking Your Mind) Being a team player.
Col. 2:16-19
Colossians: Loving Bad Teammates
Col. 3:1-11
Colossians: Marriages
Col. 3:18-24
Colossians: Moving Forward Together
Col. 4:2-6

Colossians: Team Work!

Colosse had been a vibrant and growing community, but at the time Paul writes this letter to them things are not going so well. Nearby towns had passed them by for importance, influence and affluence. It would have been easy for Paul to overlook Colosse and focus on a larger prize except for an important relationship connection. Paul had taught the faith to Epaphras (rhymes with sassafras) sometime earlier when they were in Ephesus. Epaphras was so moved by the message of salvation through Christ that he shared the Good News with many and a small church began to form.

It didn't take long and the start-up church began to struggle. The people were not working together, and their attention was divided. Some clung to the ways of their Jewish ancestry, others brought in their own opinion with little regard to the teachings of Christ. The team of believers that had formed together to advance God's mission on earth was falling apart. Paul's letter was written to the people in the church to help them become more successful at their goal. Being who God said they were, forgiven people united by grace to share the message of hope and salvation with the world! How did Paul guide them to become a stronger team? What principles can we use in our own life in the teams we are on? Can we use these same principles even if we are not the "leaders" on the team?

I am looking forward to our walk through Colossians and applying God|s leadership principles and team working strategies into our life and our congregation! Remember you can catch up online at if there are any messages you missed while on vacation. My prayer is that throughout the next six weeks, and ever our whole life, we will each grow in the reality that God declares over us; we are a team, working to together under the one head Jesus Christ. "And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." Colossians 3:18.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Galatians: "Reading the Map"
Gal. 1:1-10 - Each of us can easily get lost or wander. Scripture says get tossed about. Paul encourages us in Galatians to set our destination and get our directions through the word and Jesus Christ. Any other Gospel even if an angel teaches it, is not a gospel.
Galatians: "Adopt-A-Highway"
Gal. 1:11-24 - Paul was a complete persecutor of Christians. A murderer transformed to the most documented proclaimer of the truth. He can do that in you too. There is no "trash" in your life that He can't remove and redeem.
Galatians: "Detour"
Gal. 2:11-16 - Life brings challenges, twists and turns, disruptions. How do we view the detour as something God can use to form and sharpen us? As an opportunity for us to shine in a different setting?
Galatians: "Car Fight" or "Are We There Yet?"
Gal. 3:23-4:7 - Put up the barrier between you and the person on the bench next to you. We get so annoyed and frustrated with each other. Disappointed when others let us down. We do the same to God. We expect that He would do the same to us. But He doesn't. He tears down those barriers that divide and prohibit relationships and restores hope and trust.
Galatians: "Rest Stop:FREEDOM!"
Gal. 5:1, 13-25 - July 4th/ God calls us to cherish our freedom but we prefer to cherish the advantages freedom provides (rather than the one that provides it) We can honor the one that provides it by living free from guilt and free from sin (as much as is humanly possible).
Galatians: "On Our Best Behavior/Courteous Guest"
Gal. 6:1-10, 14-18 - When we are staying at our destination usually more people in a smaller space than we are used to. We need to be on our best behavior. Sometimes it just happens because the stresses of everyday aren't there (getting places seeing people, keeping up appearances) God calls us to live on our best behavior so others will want to be where we are (He has a big mansion so there is plenty of room.)

Galatians: Road Trip!

On An Adventure...

Any good trip begins with the end in mind. Where do we want to end up? If we just start |going| with no destination in mind, we can easily find ourselves going in circles or worse, being tossed back and forth with indecisiveness. Once we have a destination then we can determine how to get there. I typically am the kind who doesn|t stop unless someone is about to explode; of course, with three little girls in the car, the stops are more frequent.

The journey can feel like a burden; who hasn|t prayed for a time travel machine at some point in their life? Sure, the time together can get frustrating, but the memories that are created and shared are never replaced or forgotten. The detours are time consuming, but they take us places we would never go otherwise, and the thrill of successfully completing the journey is always uplifting. I can still see some of the scenery on my favorite trips. I remember many peculiar stops along the way and, of course, the harrowing escapes from some of the most intense construction zones.

Our journey in life is closely correlated with any and every trip you|ve ever been on. We need to identify where we want to end up or we|ll only be tossed about. Having a plan to get there is important, but we also need to figure out how to embrace and thrive in the detours and complications, the relational turmoil that happens along the way, and then celebrate when we arrive!

Let|s take a journey together through Galatians as Paul writes to the people, encouraging them in all aspects of life. Some weeks will be fun, others challenging, but through it all, we hope to create some memories that last for more than a lifetime.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Trinity Sunday: "In Honor and Memory of God"
Isaiah 6:1-8; Proverbs 8:1-4,22-31; Acts 2:14a, 22-36; John 8:48-59

Trinity Sunday

You know the word "Triune" or "Trinity" is not in the Bible, right?

For a lifelong Christian, the "Trinity" can seem boring and mundane. For a new believer, it can be a source of great confusion. For all of us, the questions can come up: What difference does it really make? I believe in Jesus, the God of the Bible, so why does it matter if I talk about Him as a "Triune God"?

Let me try to offer some answers to some of these questions:

The word "Trinity" keeps us on the same page. While the word never appears in the Bible, the word helps us to articulate in shorthand the way God describes Himself and His relationship: three Persons, one God; not three parts that make a whole, not three whole Gods that work as One but one God and three whole Persons uniquely the same and different at the same time.

The word "Trinity" helps defend against false teachings. Throughout history many people have claimed to get a special instruction from God. God would tell them that things in the church were wrong and that they needed changed. Sometimes they were right, and sometimes they were wrong. One way that has helped to filter the truth from the lies is the nature of God. People who describe the God of the Bible differently than the Trinity are not to be believed.

The word "Trinity" helps us understand God|s plan. God wants us all to be one just as He is One: |The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are One|| John 17:22. God|s plan is that we would recognize we are one body; when one succeeds, we all rejoice, and when one struggles, we all struggle. We are not completely independent nor are our actions autonomous from one another.

The word "Trinity" shows God|s power. God is the Creator in Heaven, Jesus walking the Earth, and the Holy Spirit in each believer all at the same time! God is dead in the grave and yet able to raise Himself back to life at the same time! The Holy Spirit, that is God dwelling in each believer, grants the power of God to each of us in every circumstance.

I pray this week, by the power of the Triune God; we would be more united than ever in doing God|s work here on Earth and being His presence to one another.

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Pentecost: The Power of the Holy Spirit
Gen. 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:23-31

Pentecost Sunday

The Holy Spirit Gives Peace

Following the flood, Noah|s descendants failed to spread out and fill the earth as God had spoken. Rather, they exalted themselves; with |one language and the same words| (Gen. 11:1) they spoke proudly and arrogantly. The Lord humbled them by confusing |the language of all the earth,| dividing and dispersing the people (Gen. 11:9). That dispersal was reversed on Pentecost Day (the fiftieth day of Easter); when God caused the one Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to be preached in a multitude of languages. |At this sound the multitude came together| (Acts 2:6), for the preaching of Christ is the primary work of the Holy Spirit, whereby He gathers people from all nations into one Church. The Holy Spirit teaches and brings to our remembrance the words of Jesus, which are the words of the Father who sent Him. These words bestow forgiveness and peace to those who keep and hold on to them in love for Jesus. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27).

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Overcome: Relational Strife
Gen. 3:16-18, James 3:7-12, Matthew 12:46-50
Overcome: Un(der)-Employment, Sin of Pride, Finance Concerns
1 Kings 17:1-9, Ps. 30, 1 Peter 4:7-11
Overcome: Addiction, Temptation
Heb. 4:14-16, 1 Cor. 10:12-13, Rev. 7:9-14
Overcome: Sexuality
1 Cor. 6:9-20, John 3:16-21
Overcome: Anxiety
Philippians. 4:4-9, Matthew 6:25-34
Overcome: Self Doubt/Insecurities
Judges 6:11-16, 1 Peter 2:9-10


He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you| Luke 24:6. This passage may mean everything or it may mean nothing to you. It may be the solution to your circumstance or it may seem completely irrelevant. So it goes in our journey of faith and life in this world. A relationship with Jesus and His teachings may be a source of great guidance in some areas of life and He may seem completely out of context with another.

God|s desire is for our faith to grow into every area of our lives. That we would grow in wisdom and maturity to allow God|s word to ring true in all circumstances. Over the next several weeks we will attempt to address some of the more common challenges in life and apply God|s timeless truth to them. The challenge in this is we want God to give us a clear answer on how to attack things when more often than not it requires internal reflection and patience. Typically we do not find ourselves in a mess overnight, it is more often a series of challenging choices that get us there. Similarly we don|t always get out of them overnight, but rather a series of faithful choices that reap God|s rewards.

Every circumstance is different; there is no one single magic bullet that fixes all things. But, at the core, all things can be addressed with the same perspective, |Christ is Risen!| If we approach all our circumstances with the understanding that they are earthly issues; that they are a result of sin and brokenness in the world, we gain a new timetable. If we view each experience as a way to live for God in a different context, we gain a new perspective. When we see the world more like God describes it and less like we want it to be, we grow immeasurably.

I look forward to letting God be our guide, to let His truth resonate in our hearts and mind, and to see how we can better be people that reflect His amazing grace, love, hope, peace, and love. The series starts this week with relationship challenges. Every one of us has them, what does God|s word say to us about them?

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Maundy Thursday: Preserve, Prepare, Perpetuate
Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:15-25, John 13:1-17
Good Friday: Buried
Amos 9:1-6;Hebrews 4:14-16;5:7-9
Tenebrae service
Easter Sunday: The Triumph of Servanthood
1 Corinthians 15:19-26; Luke 24:1-12

The Grave Is Overcome!

Immortal is a word I don|t throw around very often. It sounds like a word to describe a comic book super hero or an action movie where the star never gets injured. Immortal is a word to describe God, but it is also a word to describe yourself.

On Easter we celebrate God for who He is and what He has done. The beauty of Easter isn|t just that Jesus conquered death; it is that He did so on our behalf. 1 Corinthians 15:20 says |But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.| In other words, just like the first leaves, blooms and fruits we see this spring are a precursor to the green growth we will see all summer long, Jesus| resurrection on Easter is a precursor to the resurrection of ALL the dead on the Last Day.

God, through Christ Jesus, on the First Easter brought life and immortality to light through this Gospel (good news)! You too are immortal | not by birthright, not because of some freak accident or movie trick, but because Jesus Christ earned immortality for you. We call it a free gift, but as we remember this Holy Week (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter), it was anything but free. It was the most expensive gift anyone has ever purchased for you.

The truth that Jesus has overcome the grave truly is the greatest news we could ever hear; it means anything else we may face has lost its power: sickness, suffering, famine, brokenness, depression, fear, guilt, anxiety, purposelessness, sinfulness. Nothing has power over us; nothing has lasting authority. Yes, for a time each of these things or one in particular might get a hold of us, might get us down, might cause us grief and all kinds of trials, but when we remember the empty tomb, the empty cross, the stone rolled away, the risen Lord and His promise to us, we can trust anew these trials are only for a time.

For someone who is immortal, we can endure all things for a moment because we know it will pass and when it does, we will still be standing. The end of this trial is already at hand; the results have already been tabulated. WE WIN! Praise be to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has overcome every obstacle and gifted to us the victory! Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Week 1 Challenge: Doing Life Together
Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 133
Cultivating Authentic Community
Week 2 Challenge: Wired for Worship
Romans 12:1; Hebrews 10:24-25; Rev. 4:9-11
Developing and Committing to a Worship Lifestyle
Week 3 Challenge: Life is About Growing
Col. 2: 7; Romans 12:2; Hn 15:5, Col 1:6
Stepping Up & Committing to Spiritual Growth
Week 4 Challenge: What Will You Invest Your Life In?
Luke 16:1-13
Embrace Stewardship & a Generous Lifestyle
Week 5 Challenge: Lost & Found: Reaching Out to Your Relational World
Luke 15
Engaging in Sharing God|s Love and Gospel with Others

30 Day Church Challenge | Reach Your Potential


The Cosby Show was one of my favorite shows as a child. One of the episodes that sticks out in my head was a tap dancing |challenge| between Bill and tap legend Sandman Simms. You can view it on YouTube if you like. Every morning I wake up and read about the Special K challenge on the cereal box. The Biggest Loser challenge and many more |challenges| are all around us.

So, why not try a 30 day Church Challenge? For 30 days we will focus on what it means to be God|s people in this place we call Cross. We will pray for direction and guidance. We will study His word and we will encourage one another as we meet together.

The book is pretty |easy| as it is typically a one page reading, a few scripture verses to read, a prayer and a simple challenge! Each week has a different goal of the Christian faith to contemplate and then put into action.

I am excited about this challenge because it doesn|t necessarily ask us to do more but rather challenges us to live the faith that we have in the life we are already living. For the next 30 days are you willing to spend time prioritizing your faith? For the next 30 days are you willing to consider how God might want to bless you to be a blessing to those around you? For the next 30 days are you willing to consider how you could be a more effective part of God|s mission to give hope to all people?

Are you worried about failing? You will, so just get over that now! We all fail in one way or another, eventually. This challenge is about receiving God|s forgiveness and grace in your life so you are ready to share those same gifts with others. If you are able, get together with at least one other family to pray together and discuss the topics each week, take the Challenge and just see how God will make His presence known!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

MidWeek Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Ash Wednesday: Rescued from the Rubble
Joel 2:12-19; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6,16-21; Amos 1:1-2
- Study Guide AW
Lent 1: Upside Down
Amos 3:1-8
- Study Guide 1
Lent 2: This is the Night the Lord has Made
Amos 5:18-20
- Study Guide 2
Lent 3: Grieving for Joseph
Amos 6:1-7
- Study Guide 3
Lent 4: Locust Here, Locust There, Locusts seem to be Everywhere
Amos 7:1-6
- Study Guide 4
Lent 5: Lion Alert
Amos 7:1-6
- Study Guide 5

MidWeek Lent Series: The Next 40 Days | To Help Restore the Roar!

The next 40 days could change everything!

God has often used 40 days to transform people from our own purposes to His purposes: Noah through 40 days of rain, Moses through 40 days on Mt. Sinai, the spies through 40 days in the Promised Land, David through 40 days with Goliath, Elijah with 40 days of strength from one meal, Nineveh through 40 days of repentance, Jesus through 40 days in the wilderness, the disciples by 40 days with the resurrected Jesus, you/me/Cross through the next 40 days.

The next 40 days start February 13, Ash Wednesday, and will continue throughout the season of Lent. Would you join with me in praying to God, committing to His teachings, asking for clarity and guidance in each of our lives and the life of the church? Below is a list of ways to allow God to work in your life and the whole church through the next 40 days. Pick a couple, try them all, but most importantly, allow Christ to be the One who leads you. Let Him help restore your roar!

  • Join in the 30 Day Challenge. There are 6 short, daily devotionals per week (That|s one free make-up day!) that will culminate in the message each weekend.
  • Get into a group. The groups allow for discussion and encouraging one another toward spiritual growth!
  • Refrain out of reverence. It is a long held tradition to deny yourself for the season of Lent in remembrance of Jesus| sacrifice on the cross and fasting in the wilderness. You could participate in a fast from junk food or biting your nails or anything that would help you better appreciate the sacrifice Christ made on your behalf.
  • Pray for clarity. In your own life, lift up the same specific concern each day and ask for God to show you how He wants to reveal His glory in that circumstance. In the church, there are challenges before us and yet the opportunities are endless. What would God do through Cross if we would get out of the way and trust Him completely? What does it look like to create dedicated contemporary worship space, children and youth ministry space, and start new ministries and congregations? Would God desire us to acquire the land immediately around Cross?

Let us join together to seek God|s face and allow Him to reveal His good and perfect will. Then, by God|s grace, He will give us the courage to follow! The courage to roar!!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Epiphany: Intro to Jesus Revealed
Meaning of Epiphany: Jesus Revealed as King of the Jews and King of the World
Jesus Revealed: Son/Judge
Isaiah 43: 1-7; Romans 6:1-11; Luke 3:15-22
Jesus Revealed: Bridegroom
Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11
Jesus Revealed: Man - A Man on His mission or my mission?
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:16-30
Jesus Revealed: Healer
Jeremiah 1:-10 ( 17-19); 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13; Luke 4:31-44
Jesus Revealed: The Mountain Top
Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Hebrews 3:1-6; Luke 9:28-36

Epiphany | Jesus Revealed

Epiphany is the season of light! This may be a little strange since many of us are taking down lights after Christmas (or at least thinking about taking them down). If you look at the calendar, the shortest day of the year was December 21. The days are officially getting longer and more light is seen. More light will eventually bring warmth and growth.

Epiphany is a spiritual season where we are challenged to let the light of Christ shine in our lives. More light will eventually lead to more faith and spiritual growth. In this season we will focus on the life of Jesus, from a small child throughout His ministry on Earth, including His many miracles and more challenging teachings.

Throughout His life Jesus is revealed to the world as more than just a man but Savior, Lord and 100% true God, one with the Father in heaven. Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

Jesus is the light of the world and He shone bright in His time living among us, but what about now? Is His light shining in your life, in mine? Jesus reminds us that "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14 . God|s light continues to shine in and through Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible, but He shines in and through each believer.

It is my prayer this Epiphany that God|s people would allow Him to shine more brightly in each of us, that through each of us, the light of God|s truth would shine upon all creation!

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Why Christmas? Prophecy: Jesus Foretold
Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 19:28-40
Why Christmas? Prepare the Way of the Lord
Malachi 3:1-7b, Philippians 1:2-11, Luke 3:1-14 (15-20)
Why Christmas? Seek and Save the Lost
Zephaniah 3:14-20, Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 7:18-28 (29-35)
Why Christmas? Miracles Still Happen
Micah 5:2-5a, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45

Why Christmas??

Four weeks before Christmas, the church calendar year begins with the season of Advent. Advent means coming: God coming into the world. The long promised Savior is finally coming; the day every believer has been waiting for since that day in the Garden of Eden is finally coming. Before the first Christmas there was no official season of Advent, but God had been at work throughout history preparing for the very first Christmas.

Christmas is a holiday that we all celebrate every year, and every year we try to remember the true meaning of Christmas. I am hopeful that this year will be a little bit different: not focusing on the meaning of Christmas that we celebrate every year, but rather why God chose to work through the events of Christmas . Why didn|t He do it some other way than through a meager, unknown couple having an unknown Child that would save the world? Why not with trumpets blaring and mountains crumbling? Why not with a powerful king or military might? Why not transformation from within the church? Why with a Babe, lying in a manger?

In preparation for Christmas this season, I invite you to celebrate Advent; the coming of the Savior into the world. I invite you to celebrate Advent; the coming of the King into your life. God knew the world needed Christmas. So do you and I. Why? Let|s explore God|s answers together.

|But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.| Galatians 4:4-5

His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Marks of Discipleship: Introduction and Community
Hebrews 10: 19-25, 1 Cor. 2:6-13, Luke 5:1-11
Marks of Discipleship: Bible and Grace
Gal. 2:15-21, Heb. 4:12-13, Matthew 4:1-11, 2 Tim.3:16
Marks of Discipleship: Worship and Prayer
James 5:15-18, Romans 12:1-5, Matthew 6:5-8
Marks of Discipleship: Mentoring and Transformation
Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-13, Romans 7:21-25, 2 Tim 2:2
Marks of Discipleship: Tithing and Sharing the Good News
Matt. 23:23-24, 1Timothy 6:3-10, 17-19 , 1 Peter 3:13-17, Romans 1:16-17
Marks of Discipleship: Mentoring and Transformation
1 Peter 4:7-11, John 13:3-8, 12-17, 1 John 4:7-13,19

Marks of Discipleship

VIDEO | "This is Discipleship" >>

* Marks of Discipleship Survey * >>

What Does it Mean to Be a Disciple? To be a disciple means simply to be one who follows Christ. Literally, the word means to be a student or an apprentice. To be a disciple is to learn, but it is also to put it into practice. Peter wanted to walk on water, James and John wanted to be fishers of men, Paul longed to eradicated sinfulness from his life. To be a disciple is holistic, it is a lifestyle, and also a journey. We are never perfect and, because of that, we will always be learning.

|Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.| Philippians 3:12-14

Paul determines he is a wretched man because of his sin and that Christ should be praised for His overwhelming ability to forgive. And of course, Paul is right! But this is only part of the story; there is the whole rest of Romans and the whole rest of the Bible that we need to remember as well.

Sometimes |church| and |faith| can become a passive activity someone else does to you. Consider these two thoughts; |I go to Church| and |...straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal.| Yes, I am aware both of these thoughts are |active| but the idea of going to church is like going to a movie, or a concert. The second thought, from Philippians, shows faith and discipleship are not only things done to us but also gifts given to us that create a response reflecting the truth God has revealed.

The response of following Jesus looks very different in each of us but also has similar characteristics. The characteristics of following Jesus (discipleship) are; Walking with God in Worship, Growing in Faith Together, and Loving our Neighbors. These characteristics can take on many forms, perform many functions and are filled with variety. The effort to measure or |Mark| these characteristics, is called the |Marks of Discipleship.| This is not some new set of rules, or a list of things to do, but rather a mirror to hold up to your faith to see how things are going. And, if you are feeling |dry| in your faith or lost in your walk with God, it is my hope this tool will help you see where the devil is trying to wear you down. It is also my intention we would use this as an indicator for myself and the rest of the leadership team at Cross to see how we can best work together with you to allow God|s truth to shine more brightly for you and through you!

I look forward to this journey together and can|t wait to see how God works in and through you and me, God|s disciples, here at Cross.
His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss

Weekend Date/Audio MP3 Readings/Study Guides
Identity In Christ: Treasure
Mt. 13:44-50, Ps. 54, Rom. 5:6-11,18-19 | Study Guide Link
Identity In Christ: Temple
1 Cor. 6:12-15,19-20, 2 Chron. 6:41-42,7:1-3, Ps. 104:27-35, Mark 9:38-50, 1 Cor. 3:16-17 | Study Guide Link
Identity In Christ: Harvest Field Worker
Psalm 126, 1 Cor. 3:5-11, Mt. 9:35-38 (NIV) (workers vs. laborer words) Hymns LW# *318, 320,321,397, 404 - Bringing in the Sheaves | Study Guide Link
Identity In Christ: Slave
Romans 6:15-23, John 8:31-38, Joshua 24:14-18 | Study Guide Link

Identity in Christ

Who am I? I have asked myself this question when I act out in frustration rather than love when dealing with my children. I have asked this when I made self-serving decisions rather than those that benefitted my family or others in need. I asked this question as a young adult when I didn|t feel I really |fit in| with my family dynamics and personality (that has long since been disproven).

When we act out in a manner that is inconsistent with the norm, or when we lack a sense of belonging, this is a normal question. Paul asked this question when he famously tried to articulate the struggle he had between his flesh and his spirit: |For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.| Romans 17

Paul determines he is a wretched man because of his sin and that Christ should be praised for His overwhelming ability to forgive. And of course, Paul is right! But this is only part of the story; there is the whole rest of Romans and the whole rest of the Bible that we need to remember as well.

Yes, we are wretched sinners and God is a gracious Savior. At the same time, God saves by transformation and redemption: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:16-18. In Christ our identity is changed, not because of what we do, but because of what Christ has done. In Christ our identity is no longer about actions, but who we are. Our actions, therefore, become about integrity, not identity.

As much as I would like to try to pawn things off on my wife, Alicia, when our daughters "act up", they are our daughters, not just hers, and nothing they ever do and no action they ever take will change that. Actions may stretch our relationship or be incongruent with that identity, but it doesn|t change their identity as our daughters.

Similarly our identity as believers is rooted in Christ, and nothing we say or do will change that. Each and every person is a child of God, wholly and dearly loved. Yes, including you. Yes, that person you are wondering about right now. If you are lost or disobedient or feeling unworthy, you are still a child and your Father is still there for you. Won't you let Him be who He is so you can be who you are?

Missouri Synod LCMS

Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church and School
8609 Route 47 • Yorkville, IL 60560 • (630) 553-7335 (Church) • (630) 553-7861 (School)