Favorite Verses

1. John 3:16

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

3. Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...

4. 2nd Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousnes...

5. Matthew 11:28

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

 

 

 

Thursday
May252017

June

From the Pastor's Desk:

“The Difficulty of Prayer”
by Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle
A few weeks back, I spoke with the children of our church during worship about the primacy of prayer. I shared with them the story of how once upon a time I set off in my car to make a delivery without first making sure I knew where I was going. As a result, I ended up in Wisconsin when I was supposed to be in southern Iowa. “We should talk to God first, before going about our business,” I concluded, “otherwise we may end up heading in the wrong direction.”
They got the message. “Prayer is very important.” But there’s a problem: Prayer isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes prayer may feel to us like one more unpleasant burden laid upon us by a demanding God. How can we find time and energy to focus on the unseen God? Prayer is a discipline - an exercise for which training is required. We could really use someone to motivate and teach us!
I have grown accustomed to praying publicly, because people often ask or expect me to do so. And most of the time it doesn’t bother me. But I can still find it awkward for the same reasons you would find it awkward - because I don’t know what to say - because I feel embarrassed by my “performance” - because I might stumble over words - or because it can feel unnatural.
And when I’m alone? I can find praying even harder. My mind wanders. I start thinking of other things I should be doing. Sometimes in intercessory prayer, I feel like I’m just reciting a list of names to God. Why? Doesn’t God already know who needs prayer?
And, of course, there are plenty of things to snap me out of my prayers. My cell phone “dings” with a text or an e-mail or a phone call and, like Pavlov’s dog, I’m conditioned to respond instantly to the stimuli. I take leave of the King and tap the screen.
I feel guilty that quality time with God in prayer seems to be such a low priority for me. Can you relate? I actually hope you are in a place where you can’t relate to this right now. I hope you are in a place where God feels very close and your communion with Him is sweet and intimate.  But if this is a difficult season for prayer, yet you still want to get back into a good habit, please allow me to offer a few words of encouragement.
First of all, recall that God knows how difficult it can be for us to pray. After all, Jesus was fully human, and part of the human experience is feeling isolated and being bound by our five senses. Jesus once said (from the cross): “My God, My God, why have You abandoned me?” True, Jesus had an intimate relationship with the Father, but can we assume that it came easily? 
The Bible is quite clear that God is merciful and gracious. This is not an excuse to sin, but it does offer us hope when we’re struggling to obey. And because God is gracious, God has offered us a variety of means to communicate with Him. Finding it hard to pray? There are other Christians around who have written prayers and liturgies that you can borrow (you can even use old church bulletins). Let other people give you the words. The Lord Himself offered us a prayer to start with, when we’re struggling.
There is also music (Christian radio can be helpful - but any music can be an avenue, so long as you are inviting Jesus into the conversation) and poetry (like the Psalms) that can draw us into fellowship with God. Don’t limit your definition of prayer too narrowly. Quietly enjoying a sunset or a walk or a glass of tea can be a type of prayer.  Sometimes, don’t worry so much about finding the right words or the right number of words. Perhaps you can simply pick one word - for instance, JESUS - and just repeat that word as a mantra - like breathing in and out. Or maybe you’re a writer. Sometimes I have found that writing down my thoughts in a journal can be a way of communicating with God.
These are things that have helped me. But honestly, sometimes it’s just rough, and we just have to keep trying and “power through” the dry seasons.  Sometimes you’ll feel great in prayer, sometimes you won’t. But God is always there. Don’t give up. Prayer IS very important. But I wanted to be very honest and to elaborate on that message, lest we assume that prayer will always be easy.

Wednesday
Apr262017

May

From the Pastor's Desk:

Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle
“Born into Darkness”
Scripture: John 9: 1-41

All of us are born into on darkness. Ever since the fall, we have been prey to sinful urges and a lack of healthy vision. Not all of us are physically impaired, but none of us see things as they truly are. We deceive ourselves and others through appearances. But, whether we like to admit it or not, we cannot get by on our own because we don’t know where we’re going.
In this passage from John's gospel, we read the story of Jesus and the man born blind. Notice that as the blind man makes his case before the Pharisees after the healing has taken place, he is not boasting about his own ingenuity or worthiness. Rather, he is testifying boldly about Jesus Christ.
There is quite a contrast between the man who had been blind and the Pharisees. The man who had been blind is simply telling the truth; grateful for the miracle that Jesus performed. The Pharisees, on the other hand, criticize the man, and assert their own authority. “YOU were steeped in sin at birth! How dare YOU lecture US!”
Of course, by human standards, the Pharisees are right. They are the religious leaders, they are the teachers of Israel. They have the credentials, and this formerly blind man doesn’t. It looks like supreme arrogance to tell such learned men that they’re wrong. But God knows, they were.
A humble heart recognizes its dependence on God, and understands that only God can give us back proper vision. Jesus makes the point clearly. “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
The truth is, all of us are a mess without Him. We tend to be ugly towards others, we tend to focus on ourselves, and are often consumed by our own quest for power and satisfaction. There is not one of us who deserves the love of God. As Saint Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “there is no one righteous, not one.”
If we somehow deserved mercy, it would not truly be mercy, would it? If we could somehow prove that we were completely innocent, free from guilt, pardon would be a simple matter of justice. But, as Jesus reminds us today, all are blind. The saving grace is that some realize they are helpless and therefore can be healed.  Like that blind man long ago.  And like us.
Yours in Christ,
Matthew

 

 

Saturday
Apr012017

April

From the Pastor's Desk:

“Our Easter Story”

A while ago, while at home playing proud father to Zachary, I took the opportunity to catch up on some leadership training DVDs that had been collecting dust in my office. The title of the DVD series was “Unleashed for the Gospel,” and its theme was how a deeper appreciation for the good news of Jesus Christ naturally results in spiritual maturity.
We don’t grow more and more into the likeness of Christ by human effort alone (somehow willing ourselves to change). In fact, to attempt to keep the Law of God through manipulation or fear or sheer force of will generally leads to exhaustion and despair. We could hear (or I could preach) thousands of sermons about morality without finding our souls or churches becoming much different.
However, what does seem to result in genuine change is allowing one’s mind and soul to be saturated by the immeasurable love of God, and the astonishing grace on display at the cross. Consider the character of God, and let Him inspire You.  Don’t merely despair under the requirements of the Law and be overwhelmed. The gospel was preached not just to unbelievers, but was to be continually proclaimed to believers as well. Why? Because unless we hear it and really let it soak in, we will end up with a legalistic form of Christianity that is just another burden to endure. Rather than being water that brings life, it will feel like one more impossible task on the “to do” list.
So, hear it anew: Not based on anything we have done, but because He is good and He loves us perfectly, Jesus has become our righteousness. He took the filth from us, and gave us His perfect life so that we can stand before God without fear of punishment. Believe that God loves you that much - trust that Jesus is in fact all you need - and you shall live!
Let that sink in, because it’s true. You may not always feel loved, but you definitely are. You may not see Jesus now, but you will. And though He has much to say and good lessons to teach, with each utterance comes His earnest whisper, “I love you.” That’s the essence of the gospel. That’s our Easter story.
-Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

Wednesday
Feb222017

March

From the Pastor's Desk

“God Is Our Refuge” - Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle
Suggested Scripture Reading: Luke 10: 38-42

The mistake Martha makes is such a subtle one - and we are so susceptible to it as well-intentioned believers.  We get busy doing the things we think we should be doing for God, and neglect the art of actually listening to him.  As a result, we may end up becoming more impressed by our service than by his goodness.  We may fall back into legalistic attitudes rather than joyfully living in grace.
 
There are times when we will be called to act.  We are reminded many times throughout the Scriptures that faith without actions is dead.  But if it is our intention to serve Jesus, we do well to stop and slow down long enough to hear him.
 
Psalm 46 opens by referring to God as a refuge.  God goes on in this Psalm to say to his people, “Be still and know that I am God.”
 
When Jesus called out to people, he said that he would provide them with rest - that his burden was light.  He was going to show them a new way - the way of grace - so different from the way of law that they were living by.
 
Some time ago, I remember reading a short reflection by a Christian woman who related a time in her life when she could sense that God was near, and she was certain he wanted something from her, and so she kept putting him off.  After all, she knew herself to be a sinner, and doubtless God wanted to correct her or tell her something that she should be doing but wasn’t.
 
The days and weeks went on and her awareness of God did not diminish.  Finally she could ignore God no longer.  Exasperated, she came to him in prayer and asked what he wanted.  What he wanted was to give her something - she instantly felt his love and peace and was reminded of his grace.
 
I can relate to her experience.  Sometimes when I have been neglecting my relationship with Jesus, I get to feeling guilty and overwhelmed by the feeling I’m letting God down.  That makes me less willing to spend time with him.  But when we return to Him in prayer, when we hear the gospel again, we are reminded that our God is a refuge, not a labor camp.  He is the source of our strength.
 
It was Mary, not Martha, who was becoming stronger in service that day to our Lord.  Jesus had to remind Martha that only one thing is necessary for life - and that is our connection with God - with Jesus.
In His Grip,
Matthew

Monday
Jan232017

February

From the Pastor's Desk:

“SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR”
-Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” -Matthew 4:17 (NIV)
Where is “The Kingdom of Heaven”? Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven has come near, but my vision must be poor, because most days I’m not seeing it. Instead, what I see around me is the kingdom I expect to see - the same kingdom I saw yesterday. It’s a kingdom that runs on gasoline and wealth and power and popularity. It’s a kingdom of noise and busyness and anxiety. It can be happy and filled with pleasures, but it can also be dreary, weary, and sad. Here in America, we find our kingdom filled with stuff, but somehow more stuff doesn’t bring more peace.
Maybe Jesus was telling the people that He [Jesus] was near - and where Jesus is, there is the kingdom of heaven. I could go with that, because I have never known peace like the peace that comes when I’m being intentionally present to Jesus. When you have a dear friend with you throughout the day, it makes things brighter. But I can’t see Jesus. And as to feeling Jesus’ presence - well, sometimes I do, but more often than not I don’t. I’m usually under the illusion that I am alone (despite the fact that I’m surrounded by the miracle that is life).
Perhaps some things are hard to see - not because they’re far away - but because they’re so incredibly close. How often do you see your nose during the day - when not looking in a mirror? Is it possible that we can’t see the kingdom of God because there is NO distance whatsoever between us and God? That divide has been conquered - Christ and His Kingdom are literally at hand.
If you feel far from God - if you have a hard time seeing or feeling God’s kingdom and presence - you’re not alone. But Jesus doesn’t strike me as a liar. His voice has always sounded like the voice of a true king, calling us to turn from the insanity that constitutes so much of our “visible” kingdom.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”