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."

 

 

 

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

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