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."

 

 

 

Wednesday
May302018

June

From the Pastor's Desk:

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: The Spirit of the Flesh vs. The Spirit of Christ
Reflections from the Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Galatians 5:13-26 (NIV)
In some of the Old Testament battles, the Israelite army’s strategy was to spread fear and confusion among their opponent (usually a much larger army) so that the enemy army fled or turned their swords on each other. That is an effective battle strategy. If your enemy’s unity is wrecked through fear, they might just destroy themselves without you having to lift a finger.
Do you suppose our enemy, the devil, uses this strategy against us, Jesus’ church? Think about that for a moment. When we bite and devour fellow believers, who wins?
The conflict and the wars around us in the physical world are a macroscopic reflection of the deeper battle that is raging within us between the flesh (our sinful, selfish desires) and the Spirit of Christ. The spirit that we feed will become stronger. It’s foolish to complain about the conflict around us if we fail to see the source of that conflict within us.
We are in the midst of a sermon series on the fruits of the Spirit, in which God’s Word is encouraging us to remain connected to Christ, so that Jesus’ Spirit will grow within us. But we can be easily distracted into starving that Spirit. We exchange humble
listening time (prayer and Bible study and Christian fellowship) for time gathered around teachers who tell us only what we want to hear - or what is most amusing. We feed the flesh, not the Spirit.
The good news is that the fruit of the Spirit is so much more filling than the works of the flesh. Once you’ve tasted of true love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, the works of the flesh became insipid. As we call Jesus Lord, there is less space for idols.
Unity is found in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Unity is found in prayer - not just for each other, but with each other (“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” -Jesus). This is why you will hear us pastors harp about the importance of small groups and prayer fellowships in addition to Sunday morning worship. On our own, we are easy for the enemy to pick off and pick apart. Together, we are far more aware of the supremacy of Jesus.
Speaking personally, I know I am not very effective in ministry if I’m not in fellowship with spiritual friends. I need more than personal quiet time (that is vital, of course); I need the perspective other Christians bring. In Christian fellowship, fear and confusion diminish. We are far less to confuse a dear friend for an enemy if we’ve sat with them in prayer and shared communion with Jesus.
Of our emotions, attitudes, and behaviors throughout the day, let us ask: “is this the Spirit of Jesus - or the spirit of the flesh? Am I feeding the Spirit of Christ in me, or am I feeding a spirit of arrogance and self-righteousness?”
Grace and peace, dear friends! I’m so grateful for you, for your prayers and your kindnesses. I need you so much. We need each other so much. We need Jesus’ Spirit most of all. I become very joyful when I pay attention to the fruit that Jesus has already
grown in this fellowship, and I get excited when I consider how much more He can do.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew

Tuesday
Apr242018

May

From the Pastor's Desk:

I’m reading “Radical Together” by David Platt, which is a book about Jesus’ call to His church to make disciples. David writes about how everything a church does - even good things - can get in the way of ourprimary mission of teaching what Jesus taught and living as Jesus would have us live.
Film directors and editors will talk about cutting scenes out of their movies - scenes that they truly love and even invested in - for the sake of the overall story. Ultimately, if the scene doesn’t advance the plot or contribute to the overall story, it should be cut to improve the movie.
It can be difficult to part ways with the “good” in order to make room for the “better” or the “great.” As we work to build for the future here at FPC, we may need to be willing to part with good things in order to do the most important thing: make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Of everything that we do, we should be asking: “Is this helping people come to know and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord?” After all, that is our primary mission. Can we use our resources more efficiently? There are a lot of hungry and impoverished people out there. Can we justify how we are spending our time and funds in light of God’s calling?
Not long ago, I was reminded of Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches. We as a church like to focus a lot on growth - but Jesus reminded us that pruning (cutting back or cutting off some growth) is also vital for the health and fruitfulness of the vine.
Are there things we are doing that we don’t really need to be doing? Not all of visioning for the future means adding new things or new programs or new toys. Some of it may be learning to live simpler - live with less - so we can give more and invest in the things that are of primary importance to Jesus.
My own preferred style is “elegant simplicity.” God created me in such a way that I would rather do a few things really well than have a whole plate full of things that I do halfheartedly or poorly. Others are better at joyfully juggling a whole bunch of different tasks.
But regardless of our style, it’s important that our “busy-ness” is motivated by the things that motivate God. Of each thing we do as a church, we should ask: How does this program/activity contribute to bringing people to know better and more closely follow Jesus Christ as Lord?
Remind us of these things, O Lord. May we be willing to let go of certain things if we find they are keeping us from knowing You better, keeping us from giving generously to others, or getting in the way of a more God-honoring ministry.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew

Friday
Mar302018

April

From the Pastor's Desk:

Are you suffering from cabin fever?

Our winter wasn’t really that harsh, but it nevertheless  kept many of us cooped up inside for quite a while.  As sunshine and warmer weather become more abundant, we’re happy to spend more time outdoors, away from the household chores and confined spaces we occupied for a season.  Springtime is a time to open up the windows - let some fresh air in!  Better yet, it’s a time to open up the doors and go interact with the “three dimensional people.”

I think it’s quite possible to get a case of cabin fever in our soul.  Some Christian routines can be nice and comforting, but there is also a time to break out of the familiar and follow Jesus beyond the boundaries we’ve currently set for ourselves.  How might we “open up” windows so more of the Spirit can refresh our stuffy souls?  How might God be calling us to open doors and meet new people - to get outside and stretch?

I’m excited to be here at First Presbyterian Church right now as we are opening up to new ways of being the church.  Rick Mercer reminded the 20/20 team that change isn’t easy, and to expect challenges and growing pains as we move in some possible new directions as a church.  But what worthwhile projects are ever easy?  Good works always require some sacrifice and a willingness to endure through discomfort, bearing in mind that God has our best interests at heart.

My parents had to push me a bit to get out - to sign up for track & field - to try new things.  I’m grateful they did.  They knew it would be good for me, and they were right.  It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

Where might God be pushing us out the door a bit?  Fear mustn’t hinder us.  Selfish desires mustn’t motivate us.  Rather, consider just how good our Lord is.  Jesus is the beating heart of a healthy church - humble service to the community and to the larger world is our calling.  Spring is a season of new life - of dormant things starting to thrive and flourish once more.

Where is God pushing you as an individual, and where is God encouraging us as a fellowship?  I’m grateful for times of rest and quiet.  But I’m also very curious to see the good ministry that God is eager to lead us into - for our good - and for the good of His Kingdom.  Let’s go!

Yours in Christ’s Easter grace,

Pastor Matthew

Monday
Feb262018

March

From the Pastor's Desk:

“A Corrective to the Culture of Individualism”
by Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

Scripture focus: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Hello church! I’ve included the full text of this month’s scripture focus passage for your convenience below. It’s a bit lengthy, but please try to read it slowly and meditatively before moving on to the rest of this article.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.  Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts.
The apostle Paul, inspired by God, lands upon this Christ-centered analogy for the church: The church is the body of Christ. Paul challenges us to think more in terms of “we” and “us” than we think in terms of “I” and “me.” That probably does not come naturally for most of us. Especially, I would venture, this is true for those of you who, like me, grew up in the 1970s/ 1980s or later. Our parents and grandparents tended to have more of a community mindset. I, however, am part of the “ME Generation.” And with iPhones, iPads, iWhatevers, that trend of elevating the self and feeling entitled to personal privileges continues.
As a result, is it any wonder that the greatest plague of recent generations seems to be one of loneliness and isolation? Sure, we have Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and countless ways of communicating through social media, but I wonder how effective those outlets are at training us to care more for others than we care for ourselves. We’re all talking - but is anyone really listening? The Bible offers a desperately needed corrective to this cultural preoccupation with self. While it’s true that God loves you very much, God’s ultimate desire is to create a community of love. God wants us to learn how to live together, how to receive love and grace and then reciprocate it. Jesus calls people into relationships. Jesus created the church to bring in the Kingdom, He didn’t simply hand out self-help manuals.
This particular passage from 1 Corinthians says, “Stop beating yourself up” and “Stop thinking too highly of yourself.” In love, Paul is calling the church back to its main ministry of being a fellowship united in worship and service. “You’re too preoccupied with yourself. You are part of Christ’s church, and the members need you as much as you need them!” It is such a blow to God’s Kingdom when churches split or compete or when when differences between believers aren’t resolved. The devil is the only one celebrating when we vilify and distance ourselves from one another.
But when we truly hear the gospel message together, we will experience and live into God’s community of grace. Of course it’s not easy - it requires work. I am imperfect, and dependent on grace. So are you. But thankfully, it’s not about us. Jesus is our hero, and we belong to him first, then to each other. When one of us is hurting, we all suffer. When one of us celebrates, that joy is to be shared. Can we remember this passage often - especially when we’re feeling too down or too high about ourselves? We are all of us ragamuffins saved by grace. God, may Your truth serve as a corrective to our culture of individualism.

Your brother in Christ, Pastor Matthew

Monday
Jan292018

February

From the Pastor's Desk:

20/20

Your leadership team, the Session, is embarking upon a process of discernment and visioning this year. We are seeking feedback from members with regard to what things are central to our identity, what we do well, and how we might improve and adapt in the future to better serve Christ and community.
THREE WORDS
As I think in very general terms about what Jesus desires for ALL believers, three words come to mind: Discipleship, Evangelism, and Mission. They get to the core of what following Jesus is all about.
DISCIPLESHIP
Who are the friends with whom you can speak openly and honestly about life and faith? Who are the people that not only encourage you to grow closer to Jesus, but are also enjoyable for you to spend time with? It’s time to make a point to meet with those people weekly. They need you to encourage them, and you need them to challenge you. That is what Jesus modeled and practiced.  Discipleship happens inside - but mostly outside the church building. Every Monday I meet with three or four other fellow believers and we share the good, the bad, and the ugly of life as we seek to know Jesus better and obey God. This type of meeting offers refreshment, challenge, and accountability. We all need it. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can go it alone. Jesus certainly didn’t invite us into isolation. He welcomed us into community. It can get really lonely out there.
EVANGELISM
Admittedly, this is a scary word that can conjure up any number of images - both good and bad. But at its core, evangelism is simply sharing good news. And we have good news to share - God is love! But where and how shall we share the faith that means so much to us? It is God’s desire that love increase - but how can folks know of God’s love and grace if we don’t testify to it? We are to share with great respect and sensitivity, of course. After all, this isn’t about forcing anyone to believe exactly as we believe - it is shining and inviting. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have a relationship with Jesus. Shouldn’t we introduce our best friend to others?
I’m not good at this. I’m timid. But I want to get better. I don’t want to be obnoxious, but neither do I want to live my whole life and not share the good news that transforms and redeems me. I want to be motivated by love, not fear. It’s time to tell the story, not out of duty or in order to “fix” other people - but for the joy of it!
MISSION
Our mission is to serve others. We are to do what Jesus told us to do - acts of love with no strings attached. We have been instructed by our Lord Jesus to minister unto others with great humility - and especially honor those who are overlooked. All of us are missionaries. What does the mission field look like? Where are the opportunities here in Mattoon to use our unique gifts and talents in service of others?  I can be way too selfish and isolated. It’s high time to give back. I serve in Rotary, but I could do so much more to help other people and spend time outside of my living room. What about you?
Anyway - I was simply reflecting on the core values of the church. Along with the Session, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and dreams and ideas for the future. Jesus is doing great things - and new things. He is very much alive. May His body - the church - also thrive. May we embrace our core mission and the gospel we have received. May we discover the unique ways in which we can contribute to the Kingdom - in concert with all other believers.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew