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
Nov282018

December

From the Pastor's Desk:

There are things we really love about December. It can be fun to decorate the house, bake the cookies,
send the cards, play the music, and buy the presents. But, of course, these things are mainly window
dressing around the primary scene - the baby Immanuel in a manger.
This Advent season, we as a church are going to talk about what it means for us as Christians to celebrate
the birth of our Lord Jesus. And don’t worry: I’m not going to be critical about how people celebrate the
holidays. I’m only offering an invitation to the weary to enjoy the spiritual blessings God offers through the
Christmas story.
We Christians may miss out on the gifts of Advent and the joy of preparing more room for God in our
lives. We get caught up in many things - but are we truly worshipping Jesus So for 4 weeks, we are going
to focus on 4 things:
1. WORSHIP FULLY - we want Jesus to mean more to us by the end of the month than He does right
now. We want to reach 2019 knowing that we ended 2018 praising our awesome God.
2. SPEND LESS - we don’t want to go into debt to say “I love you” with gifts. Rather, we want to give the
gift of our PRESENCE, not just PRESENTS. You don’t need a credit card to show the people in your life
that you treasure them. And instead of spending so much money on trinkets that won’t last, why not invest
in ministries that can truly change the world?
3. GIVE MORE - not material things, but “heart things.” This can be a season for offering our words, our
time, our hands, and our souls to God and others.
4. LOVE ALL - especially those people who are forgotten or marginalized. After all, Jesus came as a poor
child in a backwards town to unimpressive parents. To understand the gospel is to treat all people as God
treats us - with acceptance and great love.
Rather than dreading the arrival of Christmas, won’t it be nice to celebrate Jesus and be intentional in our
relationships? Take that friend out for coffee! Rather than buy a gift, make time or give of your talents -
from your heart. December doesn’t need to stress us out. In fact, God intends for this season to be a gift.
“Unto you a child is born. To you a Son is given.” And one of His many names is “Prince of Peace.” May
the Peace of Christmas be with you. Let’s conspire to make this Advent different.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew

Wednesday
Oct312018

November

From the Pastor's Desk:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s posses-sion—to the praise of his glory.
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
-Ephesians 1:13-17 (NRSV)
To know Christ and to make Him known - this is at the heart of the church’s mission and ministry. After all, why call ourselves “Christian” if we are not centered in the life, death, and ministry of Je-sus Christ? What makes our faith unique among the religions of the world is that at the heart of our faith is a relationship - a personal friendship with the Word - the author of life.
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) He didn’t say, “I’ll TEACH you the way, the truth, and the life,” He said “I AM the way, the truth, and the life.” Truth is found in rela-tionship with Jesus, not just in a book.
When the apostle Paul wrote his letter (we call it “Ephesians”) to the church two millennia ago, he was expressing his desires in a prayer for the church - that they would rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit (a “deposit” guaranteeing their inheritance of eternal life) and that they would be given wis-dom and revelation SO THEY COULD KNOW CHRIST BETTER.
The more our relationship with Jesus deepens, the more our own desires will change. No more will we be striving to be “living out our religious principles,” we will be joyfully growing more alike in character and passion to our best friend and Savior Jesus.
See the difference? One method (the religious method) is “ME-focused,” concentrating on what I should and shouldn’t be doing. The other method is love-based, and relationship-focused. The glory and focus is on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of faith.
As a pastor, what I want you to know is just how good and wonderful Jesus is. I want you to be in a deep and deepening relationship with the Word - the Word who became flesh. As that relation-ship develops, it enriches ALL your other relationships - personal and professional. And then you discover your priorities changing - and your love confirmed by charitable actions.
We will make a difference. The church has power and agency to transform the world. But ONLY inasmuch as it is connected to its source - Jesus Christ.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Amen. Oh church, I pray that you will know Jesus even better by the end of this month than you do right now, at the beginning of November.
Yours in Christ’s love,
Pastor Matthew

Wednesday
Aug292018

September

From the Pastor's Desk:

MARION MEDICAL MISSION - 2018
What happens when followers of Jesus Christ in Africa and in North America unite in a mission to provide clean water to hundreds of thousands of men, wom-en, and children living in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and countless villages in that area? God is glorified. The church rejoices. Lives are saved.
Haven’t you heard of this ministry? The following definition comes directly from the official website: “Marion Medical Mission is an ecumenical, Christian, front-line, hands-on, volunteer, non-profit organization that responds to Christ’s call to serve by working hand in hand with God’s people in Africa. We show the love of Christ through projects that directly impact the African people, stressing self-help and sustainability.”
I will be heading to Africa to witness this first-hand. I am on “Team One,” a group of about 20 people from all around this country who will be there for three weeks (September 16 - October 6). We will help transport materials to the installation sites, document the well locations, and lead a well dedication service to the glory of God. Team Two will be overseas for the following three weeks. Pray for this mission! This is my first time - pray for me! I expect to be humbled by God’s love through God’s people.
For over 30 years, this God-inspired ministry has been doing what is humanly impossible. Over 4 million people have received clean water in the name of Je-sus. The cost per well has come down to about $400 as the construction meth-ods have become ever more efficient. 100% of all donated money goes to well construction, as volunteers pay their own expenses (or, in my case, have church-es backing them).
Thank you God, for this mission. Thank God for giving director Tom Logan this vision back in 1985. Thank God for the church in Africa. Thank you for taking the time to read about MMM.
For more information about this God-honoring and people-empowering ministry, visit www.mmmwater.org.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew

Friday
Jul272018

August

From the Pastor's Desk:

As you may have heard by now, I’m planning to travel to Africa this September/October to assist the Marion Medical Mission’s work of installing clean water wells in Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. Jerry Parker is a veteran of this mis-sion, as are many others. You may have partnered with MMM in the past, though financial offerings, prayers, or in other capacities. Thank you for that. This is a ministry born of God that has a huge impact.
I’m going to brag about God here. God inspired this impossible mission, and has made it fruitful. For $400, MMM can install a well that will provide fresh water for decades. Those living in remote African villages are trained to maintain the well, and are given absolute ownership of it. Because of this deep mutual respect, nearly 90% of wells installed by MMM (over the last 35 years) are still operating today, while other fancier wells installed at much greater expense (sometimes as much as $5000/well) are already falling apart within a few years.
That is not to slander well-meaning charities who truly are doing good work, but rather to speak to the effectiveness of how MMM carries out its God-centered ministry. MMM is a cooperative effort between American and African churches. This is not “toxic” charity - with one partner patronizing the other and creating de-pendency. If anything, we are humbled by the mutual love God creates. To God be the glory!
Moreover, I want to assure you that I am absolutely daunted and outside my comfort zone here, though I will be doing little more than driving and praying and meeting people. I’m not looking for admiration, I’m desperately asking for prayer for me and for the MMM. I hope this trip will be a part of my own healing and growing closer to God and God’s people everywhere, and that I can be of some practical help in some of the poorest places on this earth.
I trust that I will discover the truth of what Jesus said: “blessed are the poor.” I have a feeling that I will be far more blessed by their faith than they will ever be by mine. Just as I tend to feel here at FPC.
Yours in Christ’s love,
Matthew

Saturday
Jun302018

July

From the Pastor's Desk:

DISCIPLESHIP

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:16-20
Although there is nothing terribly wrong with churches coming up with mission or vision statements, I really resonated with something I read recently. “Jesus has already given the church a perfectly good mission statement. It’s simply this: Go and make disciples.”
Before ascending into heaven, Jesus gave us some very important truths. First of all, He reminded us that He is the ultimate authority. And He also reminded us that He will stick with us until the very end. These are extremely potent reminders, and worthy of daily/lengthy mediation.
He also gave us something very important to do - something practical and good. Help people come to know Jesus, and teach them how to live as Jesus would have us live. It is our greatest task - Jesus’ great ommission.
Our church does some very good things. But the number one thing is for us to be growing closer to Jesus and helping others to know Him better as well. Of all that we do as a church, this should be a guiding question: “Is this helping people to know and follow Jesus?”
Soon, we will be finishing up our sermon series on the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and moving on to a series on discipleship. We will be looking at how Jesus spent time with a small group of people, and guided them into a way of life that continues to nourish and sustain countless millions today.
It is my prayer that as we study this together, we shall each be inspired to find the small discipleship group that God intends for us - whether it’s a prayer group or a study group or some other Christian fellowship/accountability group that can guide us to actually live out Jesus’ way better.
And, as we are intentional in being disciples, we find ourselves equipped to go forth and make disciples. We lean on Jesus’ Spirit and wisdom. We want to be obedient and faithful to this great mission statement. Let’s not give up the habit of meeting together - let’s not make the mistake of going it all alone.
God bless you, and bask in the love of your Awesome Daddy in Heaven today and every day to come.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew