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
Sep302015

October

From the Pastor's desk:

“Continuing the Examination"

Last month, I wrote about the importance of asking the tough questions of ourselves, and being honest with fellow believers about the “state of our soul.” It’s all too easy to go through the motions of life,without taking time to examine how we are living. But we would do well to take a time-out and ask: “Do our activities reflect our priorities?” We SAY that God is God of our lives, but what do our calendars and checkbooks and to-do lists say?

Not to be morbid, but realistically, today could be our last day here on earth - tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.  If today were our last day, what regrets would we leave behind? If today were our last day, would we be satisfied with the legacy we’d left? Would others see our lives and give glory to God?

I hope you are finding opportunities to connect with fellow believers - whether it’s with your spouse or your family - or if it’s with a close friend or Christian mentor. And I hope you are finding time each day to connect with Jesus. Otherwise, life is kind of a drag. After all, He is salt and light. Without Jesus, things get pretty bland and dull.

So - what habits would we like to develop? Why not start today? There’s a big world out there, full of people who are wondering if anyone cares about them. Can we, as individuals and as a church, testify about the love we’ve received from God? Be encouraged - God’s Spirit is there for those who ask.  Every day is an opportunity to begin anew - to choose to follow in the way of Christ. It’s not too late.

In His grip,
Pastor Matthew 

Wednesday
Aug262015

September

From the Pastor’s Desk
Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

John Wesley, an adult convert to Christianity and the founder of the Methodist movement, would often begin his conversations with fellow believers by asking: “How are things with your soul?” It was an invitation to deep Christian sharing - beyond small talk. Such a question moves us into the arena of discipleship.

To get specific, I offer the following 20 questions (which I shamelessly stole from an online resource titled RESTORATION, produced by the Anglican Church) as an invitation to some honest spiritual examination:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words or do I exaggerate?
3 Do I pass onto another person what was told me in confidence?
4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying or self-justifying?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
12. Do I disobey God in anything?
13. Am I doing something that I feel uneasy about in my conscience?
14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
16. How do I spend my spare time?
17. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, like the Pharisee who despised the tax collector?
18. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what
am I going to do about it?
19. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
20. Is Christ real to me?

Do you have someone in your life whom you would allow to ask you those questions? Do you have someone in your life whom you could ask those questions? Would you dare to be honest in your answers?  It is good to gather for worship on Sunday mornings - and central to our community life  as believers. But if we wish to mature, we would be well advised to find “accountability partners” with whom we can have more intentional Christian conversation. It’s freeing and refreshing. I know that without those people in my life with whom I could be brutally honest, I am susceptible to self-delusion and aimless living.

Might we be courageous enough to seek out such relationships? Might we help one another follow Christ?  Remember the words of Christ: “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” God can work powerfully in our lives through such discipleship relationships. As we move forward together as a church, let us not neglect one of the greatest resources God has given us: the Spirit of Christ within another.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew

Tuesday
Jul282015

August

“Jesus’ Faith”
From the Pastor’s Desk  --  Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle
Suggested Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:22-36

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” -Matthew 14:31 (NIV)
The story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water has been a favorite of mine, and I can no longer read it without thinking of something very profound that Christian preacher Rob Bell had to say about it some years ago.
Most of the time, we hear this story and think about the miraculous ability of Jesus to stand above the laws of nature that He created. Standing on the surface of the water, Jesus is clearly Lord of creation.
Then then the story goes on to tell of Peter stepping out of the boat. There’s another miracle! Peter is doing exactly as His Lord is doing! But quickly, poor Peter gets freaked out and starts sinking. He reaches out to Jesus for help. And after saving Peter, Jesus rebukes him. “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
I’ve heard this story preached in many ways. We are reminded to keep our eyes on Jesus instead of being overwhelmed by the troubling storms. We are reminded of our need to have faith in Jesus, and to consider how amazing He is. He’s the Lord of all! And all these points are all valid and true.
Yet there is an important message we may have overlooked. And that’s the fact that Jesus had faith in Peter.
You see, God knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus commanded Peter to come out on the water, and when Peter acted in obedience, he enacted a miracle. Is it possible that Jesus was not rebuking Peter for doubting Jesus, but rather for doubting himself?
Obviously, we are to have faith in Jesus. Our confidence is in God’s power to do all things. We boast in Jesus, not in ourselves. But when God asks us to do something, perhaps the doubt that begins to sink us is our lack of faith in ourselves. Part of having faith in God is having faith in God to work through us.
True, we are weak. We are only earthen vessels. But God has used broken men and women to do miracles throughout history. Might He be able to use us, too? Might Jesus be saying to us: “Stop doubting, and believe?”
Caught up in the Spirit of God, we too can move mountains. Remember Jesus’ promise, recorded in the fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel: “You will do even greater things than these.”

Friday
Jul032015

July

A reflection by the Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

I’m currently reading a book titled “Becoming Your Favorite Church: What the Church Can Do for God When Pastors, Lay Leaders, and People Work Together.” The authors, H.B. London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, compare the church to a sports team. The church’s owner is God, a pastor is like the coach, and the members are the players.
That first point, that the church’s owner is God, is the one I’d like to emphasize today.
Recognizing that the church belongs first and foremost to God is vital in keeping a healthy perspective as we go about the work of ministry. The most important questions don’t have to do with what WE want, but rather with what GOD wants. The church’s highest function isn’t to entertain us or comfort us or even to make us happy (though it may certainly do those things). Rather, its mission is to create and equip disciples of Jesus Christ.
At first, that may sound a little dour. But I know from experience that too much entertainment and too many creature comforts lead to a profound emptiness and sadness. God created us with a purpose that goes beyond self-indulgence. Satisfaction and fulfillment are found in walking humbly beside Jesus, and participating in His life-giving work. Seek first the kingdom of God, and then all those other things are put in their proper place.
So, what does God want to do with First Presbyterian Church? He has placed us here, and blessed us abundantly with a beautiful building and an assortment of gifted men and women of all ages. We have spiritual and financial resources. Shall we be an exclusive club? Shall we care most about institutional survival? Or might we be called to something better? Since this is God’s church, we need to consult Him often. Shall we do that together?
Jesus, You are the greatest treasure in the world. Knowing You is our greatest joy, and in You we find our only hope. Only You are able to transform our lives, and rescue us from sin and death. First Presbyterian Church belongs to You, not to us. Please, guide and direct us. May this church be a place where people come to know You, worship You, and follow You. Help us to let go of our false sense of ownership.
Forgive us when we get too hung up on what we like and what we want. You have placed us here in Mattoon. What would you have us do for this community, in this time, in this place, while we are here? Make us humble and obedient disciples. God, You are amazing. We are privileged to be among those You have called to participate in Kingdom building. You’re the owner. We’re one of Your teams. Keep us close to you, and connected in Your Spirit of love.
Amen.

Wednesday
May272015

June

From the Pastor’s Desk - Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

Back in 2003, when I lived in Norfolk, Nebraska,that city was just beginning to replace some of its older 4-way stops in town with roundabouts, in an attempt to minimize accidents and improve traffic flow.  One afternoon, I was driving behind a yellow Oldsmobile, and we came upon a brand new roundabout (at the time, it was the first and only). It became obvious that this was a first encounter for the driver in front of me. He came to a complete stop, and I could almost hear his thoughts. “What the heck is this? Who put this little round garden in the middle of the intersection?”
Unsure on how this new traffic scenario worked, he chose to ignore the change, and instead navigated the intersection as if it were still a 4-way stop. He drove STRAIGHT. Up and over the new curb, over the flowers, down the slope on the other side, and on his way, leaving a brown rut of uprooted earth in his wake. It was one of the funniest and most surprising things I’d ever encountered on the road.
It is also a helpful parable for the mainline church. The roads of our world have changed. Some of the 4-way stops that we are accustomed to have been replaced by roundabouts. And in many ways, we are like like that poor confused driver, attempting to carry on like we always have. What worked in the past, however, doesn’t always work today.
Decades ago, churches were the centers of community life, and it was assumed that everyone went. Most families could make it on one income, and Sunday Schools were full of children and volunteers. Now, most households are two-income (by necessity), and community is found in other places. People form friendships and relationship at work or through recreational activities or online - not primarily by going to church.
Let’s face it - we’re going to have to find new ways to be the church. People may not always just show up at the doors like they used to. We need to go and meet them where they are. We will have to follow the early church model rather than the institutional model.
Now, I confess that I like the institutional model (build a church - have lots of programs going on - and people will come). It seems easier - or at least familiar. It used to be a way in which we made disciples of Jesus. But we’re going to have to learn new models, too.
So how do we navigate this new world? How are we to be the church? This is not a call to put an end to our Sunday morning worship or our
programs. It’s just a reminder that these things aren’t going to automatically result in growth as they once did. It is vital to be outward focused. It is important to reach out to those around us.  “Church” happens outside the building, not just within.
We often ask “How can we get people to come to church?” We should really ask “How are we to BE the church in this world?” Making disciples of Jesus, not just filling pews, is our mission.  Is this a roundabout way of saying it?
-MDF