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."

 

 

 

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

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