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."






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



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



From the Pastor's Desk:

“A Corrective to the Culture of Individualism”
by Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

Scripture focus: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Hello church! I’ve included the full text of this month’s scripture focus passage for your convenience below. It’s a bit lengthy, but please try to read it slowly and meditatively before moving on to the rest of this article.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.  Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts.
The apostle Paul, inspired by God, lands upon this Christ-centered analogy for the church: The church is the body of Christ. Paul challenges us to think more in terms of “we” and “us” than we think in terms of “I” and “me.” That probably does not come naturally for most of us. Especially, I would venture, this is true for those of you who, like me, grew up in the 1970s/ 1980s or later. Our parents and grandparents tended to have more of a community mindset. I, however, am part of the “ME Generation.” And with iPhones, iPads, iWhatevers, that trend of elevating the self and feeling entitled to personal privileges continues.
As a result, is it any wonder that the greatest plague of recent generations seems to be one of loneliness and isolation? Sure, we have Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and countless ways of communicating through social media, but I wonder how effective those outlets are at training us to care more for others than we care for ourselves. We’re all talking - but is anyone really listening? The Bible offers a desperately needed corrective to this cultural preoccupation with self. While it’s true that God loves you very much, God’s ultimate desire is to create a community of love. God wants us to learn how to live together, how to receive love and grace and then reciprocate it. Jesus calls people into relationships. Jesus created the church to bring in the Kingdom, He didn’t simply hand out self-help manuals.
This particular passage from 1 Corinthians says, “Stop beating yourself up” and “Stop thinking too highly of yourself.” In love, Paul is calling the church back to its main ministry of being a fellowship united in worship and service. “You’re too preoccupied with yourself. You are part of Christ’s church, and the members need you as much as you need them!” It is such a blow to God’s Kingdom when churches split or compete or when when differences between believers aren’t resolved. The devil is the only one celebrating when we vilify and distance ourselves from one another.
But when we truly hear the gospel message together, we will experience and live into God’s community of grace. Of course it’s not easy - it requires work. I am imperfect, and dependent on grace. So are you. But thankfully, it’s not about us. Jesus is our hero, and we belong to him first, then to each other. When one of us is hurting, we all suffer. When one of us celebrates, that joy is to be shared. Can we remember this passage often - especially when we’re feeling too down or too high about ourselves? We are all of us ragamuffins saved by grace. God, may Your truth serve as a corrective to our culture of individualism.

Your brother in Christ, Pastor Matthew



From the Pastor's Desk:


Your leadership team, the Session, is embarking upon a process of discernment and visioning this year. We are seeking feedback from members with regard to what things are central to our identity, what we do well, and how we might improve and adapt in the future to better serve Christ and community.
As I think in very general terms about what Jesus desires for ALL believers, three words come to mind: Discipleship, Evangelism, and Mission. They get to the core of what following Jesus is all about.
Who are the friends with whom you can speak openly and honestly about life and faith? Who are the people that not only encourage you to grow closer to Jesus, but are also enjoyable for you to spend time with? It’s time to make a point to meet with those people weekly. They need you to encourage them, and you need them to challenge you. That is what Jesus modeled and practiced.  Discipleship happens inside - but mostly outside the church building. Every Monday I meet with three or four other fellow believers and we share the good, the bad, and the ugly of life as we seek to know Jesus better and obey God. This type of meeting offers refreshment, challenge, and accountability. We all need it. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can go it alone. Jesus certainly didn’t invite us into isolation. He welcomed us into community. It can get really lonely out there.
Admittedly, this is a scary word that can conjure up any number of images - both good and bad. But at its core, evangelism is simply sharing good news. And we have good news to share - God is love! But where and how shall we share the faith that means so much to us? It is God’s desire that love increase - but how can folks know of God’s love and grace if we don’t testify to it? We are to share with great respect and sensitivity, of course. After all, this isn’t about forcing anyone to believe exactly as we believe - it is shining and inviting. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have a relationship with Jesus. Shouldn’t we introduce our best friend to others?
I’m not good at this. I’m timid. But I want to get better. I don’t want to be obnoxious, but neither do I want to live my whole life and not share the good news that transforms and redeems me. I want to be motivated by love, not fear. It’s time to tell the story, not out of duty or in order to “fix” other people - but for the joy of it!
Our mission is to serve others. We are to do what Jesus told us to do - acts of love with no strings attached. We have been instructed by our Lord Jesus to minister unto others with great humility - and especially honor those who are overlooked. All of us are missionaries. What does the mission field look like? Where are the opportunities here in Mattoon to use our unique gifts and talents in service of others?  I can be way too selfish and isolated. It’s high time to give back. I serve in Rotary, but I could do so much more to help other people and spend time outside of my living room. What about you?
Anyway - I was simply reflecting on the core values of the church. Along with the Session, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and dreams and ideas for the future. Jesus is doing great things - and new things. He is very much alive. May His body - the church - also thrive. May we embrace our core mission and the gospel we have received. May we discover the unique ways in which we can contribute to the Kingdom - in concert with all other believers.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew





From the Pastor's Desk:

Happy New Year! I hope you found time to draw closer to our Lord Jesus and to your friends & family over the Christmas season. Moreover, I hope you found opportunity to draw nearer even to strangers and  "enemies” in the gracious Spirit of Christ, who loves all people and repairs broken relationships.
At the end of this month (January 28), we will be gathering for our annual congregational meeting. We have much to celebrate from the past year, and we will be welcoming your input as we embark on “20/20,” a season of prayer and strategic planning for God’s ministry here at FPC.
For your information, the new sign in front of our church is completely paid for, thanks to nearly $11,000 in gifts from active members, and a great return from our church’s trust fund. We wanted to gauge the church’s interest in that project before proceeding, and the support was there, so we now have a new publicity tool.
The sign is not a magic solution for increasing membership, of course, and not everyone thought this was the right time or the right use of our funds. I absolutely respect that. Even I had moments of “buyer’s remorse” while it was under construction. However, I have been getting lots of positive feedback from the community. And now that it’s up and running, I’m thrilled to have such an attractive means to keep the larger community aware of what we have going on here.
One final note on that subject: the “old” sign may likely be moved to the north side of the building after the winter. we will improve the landscaping around both signs. After all, we don’t need 2 signs along Charleston, and we want our signs to fit in with the landscaping work done in 2017.
I wanted to let you all know what was going on. And allow me to say on a personal note: I am feeling extremely grateful to have been called to serve this church. You have made the move to Mattoon totally worth it for me and for my family. We are blessed beyond our deserving. Thank you for the cards, the gifts, your sense of humor, your patience, and your love.
I want to serve you well in the years to come. I want to continue to teach what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and live that out with you. I want to be a blessing to this community, as you have been. And most especially I want more people to know Jesus, the Savior. God, grant us vision and joy. Help us draw ever closer to You, Jesus. You are worth celebrating! Amen and amen!
Yours in Christ,

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