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
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 Some of the 4-way stops that we are accustomed to have been replaced by roundabouts.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

Thursday
Apr302015

May

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

In recent months, I have often heard people say that there is a refreshing, beautiful Spirit in our sanctuary as we gather for worship. And it’s true - I have felt it, too. When people ask me how I’m settling into Mattoon, I always mention how welcomed I have felt. I am grateful to you all for how you have adopted me and my family into your lives. That’s part of the gracious Spirit that is at work in this place - a Spirit of joy and hospitality - a Spirit of hope and peace. It’s Jesus’ Spirit.
That Spirit was here long before I arrived.
The Scriptures tell us to live by faith, not by sight. But it’s hard for us to acknowledge God’s presence when things aren’t going the way we think they should be going. It’s far easier for us to say “God is here!” when the pews are full and the sun is shining. But was God really absent when things seemed bleak? Of course not. You were praying and working and seeking God, just as we continue to do now.
Renovation work is always messy (or “rebuilding” years, like the ones my beloved Cubbies went through these last couple of baseball seasons). But good fruit is born out of hardship and patience. In God’s time, faith becomes sight.
A big part of James’ letter (which we are currently studying in worship on Sundays) is about perseverance - that dogged determination of the disciple to continue following Jesus, no matter what. Bob Handshy’s e-mail signature includes this reminder: “Don’t give up. Don’t EVER give up.” I love it! Don’t underestimate God’s ability to work even in the midst of our brokenness.
I appreciate your encouragement and your support as we partner together in God’s mission here in Mattoon. God has been so gracious to me, and I delight in using the gifts He gave me to bless you. But remember - we are ALL ministers. That Spirit of Jesus is available to all, and is within the heart of every believer. I am your pastor, but Jesus is our Lord. As we focus on Him in all circumstances, our understanding of successful ministry shifts away from the “ABCs” (Attendance, Building, and Cash) to a healthier focus on “DEF” (Discipleship, Evangelism, and Fellowship).
This season of fruitfulness is really great, though! And I confess - I’m having a lot of fun. The staff is a great team. The elders and deacons and officers of this church are faithful and prayerful. The congregation demonstrates a hunger for God’s Word and a willingness to serve. You guys are great.
In Christ’s grip,
Pastor Matthew

Friday
Mar272015

April

From the Pastor’s Desk - WORK AS WORSHIP
Scripture to consider: Ephesians 6:7

Our definition of worship is too narrow. When we think of worship, we probably think of singing songs in the sanctuary, or listening to a sermon. For most church-goers, I imagine worship is synonymous with the hour or so we gather with other Christians for prayer and study and music.
How often do you think of your daily work and daily tasks as your primary act of worship? Unless you happen to be in some “religious profession,” you will probably spend the vast majority of your time outside the church building. And that’s as it should be. God wants His people in the world - in the mission field - interacting with others and honoring God by doing good work.
Consider Jesus. Traditionally, Jesus is said to have lived for 33 years. Jesus’ public ministry is thought to have lasted 3 years. So - what did Jesus do for most of his life? He was a carpenter - a blue-collar worker. Jesus was in the habit of going to worship on the Sabbath day, but from Sunday to Friday, Jesus worshipped God by making tables and chairs. Was that wasted time? What did God teach us by spending 90% of his time doing “common labor?” An honest day’s work has great value to God!
How you go about your daily work tells God a lot more about what you think of Him than the hour you spend on Sunday mornings. God is not any more present on Sunday mornings than He is on Monday mornings or on Friday evenings. And if you manufacture that product or sell that commodity or provide that service with integrity and excellence, God is honored. For ultimately, God is your boss - not any human authority. Do your work unto Him, and it becomes an act of worship.
There is no division between “secular” and “sacred” for the Jesus-follower. Everywhere we go, we are in the presence of God. And every word we say and every action we perform tells Him how much (or how little) we think of Him. Preach about God by treating your boss or your employees as Jesus would treat them. For in the end, our actions speak louder than our words - to God and to others. Your work is worship.
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Matthew

Friday
Feb272015

MARCH

from the Pastor’s Desk - A prayer for Lent

Dear Jesus,

You have given Yourself to us - and we have no greater treasure than the message of Your cross. At the cross, we see Your love - we see how You deal with sin - and we hear Your voice saying "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)  Money doesn’t love me - didn’t bleed for me. Why do I seek peace from it? Jesus, You said "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)  And as wonderful as my friends and family are, no one knows me like You do. You alone are able to transform me from the inside out. Thank you for the ways that You speak to me through my friends and family, but may I always know it is Your voice that heals, and You alone can truly rescue and save me.  Help me to be there for my friends and family. Speak through me. May I be a door for your grace to walk through. Make me quick to reconcile. Take any anger or resentments out of my heart and replace it with Your Spirit.  All around us there are people seeking peace - looking for truth and love. Help us to humbly guide them to You - where we have found truth and love. May we be gentle, wise, gracious, and authentic. We don’t have all the answers, but we can testify to what You have done in our lives.  We are imperfect, and there are things in our lives that suppress Your Spirit’s work in and through us. Make us sick of lesser things: those salt water pleasures that do not satisfy our thirst for the living water You alone provide. Prune us. Train our lives upon the trellis of Your cross. Make us eager to share the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  You have provided many things for us as a people - as a church here in Mattoon. We are blessed with faithful men and women willing to serve You and each other. We are blessed with an amazing building, and with the means to accomplish missions for You. We are blessed in order to be a blessing, not just to be comfortable and secure. You have given us a mission. Help us to see where our gifts and the world’s needs intersect. Keep us looking out the window, and not just in the mirror.  To you alone be the glory. May this church be at Your service - and for the glory of Your Kingdom. My we be a friend to our fellow believers in Christ, and may we welcome all who are looking for peace - looking for You. Amen.

 

Thursday
Jan292015

February

From the Pastor’s Desk
Scripture focus: Mark 4:3-20


The comic strip cat Garfield once called February “the Monday of months.” The skies tend to be gray, the weather tends to be cold, and it’s usually a bit soggy or slushy. By February, we’re fairly weary of the winter season, and more than ready for the flowers of spring.
In our spiritual lives, there are sometimes long Februaries, when the joy of life seems muted. There are seasons in which our daily prayers and Bible studies don’t bring us the emotional satisfaction they do at other times. We trudge through our spiritual exercises with wet socks and sniffles. The aroma of divinely baked bread doesn’t penetrate our stuffed noses, and we wonder if the spring will ever arrive.
I believe that it is during these February times that the genuineness of our faith in God has a chance to be made evident. Will we continue to follow Jesus and keep our prayer times and Bible times when there’s no obvious benefit to us? Will we give up on Jesus when God is no longer providing the warm fuzzies?
Jesus often spoke in parables, and one of the most famous of his parables is the one about the sower casting seed about willy-nilly. Some of the seed lands on the path, and never sinks in. Other seed falls among the thorns, and is choked out by competing interests. Some of the seed lands among the rocks, where it quickly takes root, but lacks depth, and so don’t survive the harsh seasons of life.
February times test the depth of our faith. Have we allowed God’s Word to take root, or are we too easily shaken by surface conditions? On the surface, there may be little tangible evidence of a living faith. Things may feel cold and gray and dead. But beneath that surface, if that seed is still being nourished, those February times will result in amazing growth. In God’s time, those practiced habits of remaining faithful in prayer and Bible reading (even in the cold) will result in soul transformation.
Don’t give up on love when the surface happiness and excitement isn’t evident. Joy runs deeper than happiness, and love becomes real when it is no longer dependent on circumstance, but springs from a deeply rooted place within.
Yours in Christ’s love,
Pastor Matthew