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."

 

 

 

Monday
Feb262018

March

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

Monday
Jan292018

February

From the Pastor's Desk:

20/20

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.
THREE WORDS
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.
DISCIPLESHIP
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.
EVANGELISM
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!
MISSION
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

 

 

Wednesday
Dec272017

January

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,
Matthew

Thursday
Nov302017

December

From the Pastor's Desk

I try to avoid the malls and big box stores during the month of December. I know that some people really enjoy the crowds, the sales, and the excitement of tracking down the perfect gifts. And hey, I’m no Scrooge - I like giving and receiving gifts, too. But I am an introvert at heart, and all the traf-fic and all the noise and all the people really wear me out.
When I was in high school, I had a retail job at a “Fannie May” candy store located inside the mall. I spent a lot of my December dealing with hurried, harried, frazzled, (and also with a lot of fun) peo-ple. I have also worked as a grocery store checkout clerk, and you know how exciting the grocery store gets in November and December. I would go to bed after a long shift, and continue to pack candy or scan peoples’ grocery items in my dreams.
I am grateful for those experiences. I worked with good people. And to this day, every time I go to a retail store or to County Market - especially during December - I make it a point to be exceedingly gracious to the person working the register on the other side of the counter. Why? Because I know a little about what they’re going through.
I’m sure those who have worked as waiters or waitresses know how to be better guests at restau-rants, and people who have delivered pizzas or the mail know how to better treat those men and women when they come to the door this season.
The Christmas story reminds us that God came to us in the flesh. He spent the vast majority of His life working - not preaching. He has been on our side of the counter, so to speak. He knows what it is like for us. He has carried our burdens. He has dealt with difficult people. He has laughed and cried with us. No one is more sympathetic to your situation - no one is more gracious than He is. He knows us and understands us.
What a gift it is that Jesus can so thoroughly say (and He is the ONLY one who can truly say) “I know what you’re going through. I know how you feel. I know everything about you. And I still love you.” Jesus has been where we have been, and so He treats us with great kindness.
Worn out? Sad? Lonely? Need a friend for the holidays? Jesus is perfect. He is the best gift this world have ever been given, and the only hope for salvation we have. Let’s draw near to Him this Christmas, as He drew near to us.
Oh, and please remember to be kind to those on the other side of the counter.
Yours in Christ,
Matthew

Wednesday
Nov012017

November

From the Pastor's Desk

One of the things that has been bringing life into my soul recently is a weekly commitment to a “huddle” discipleship group. Each Monday I gather with 3 or 4 other guys for about an hour to in-tentionally talk about our Christian faith and practice. We are seeking to follow Jesus’ pattern of building God-centered relationships and training one another for service.
I’ve been a part of such accountability / small groups before, and they are so life-giving. I would encourage you, as I have from the pulpit, to find or create such opportunities for yourself. Jesus never intended for us to be on our own. You need encouragement from other Christians just as much as they need it from you.
Why did we ever get fooled into thinking that following Jesus was a solitary activity - that faith was to remain completely private and individualized? That’s not the model of the Scriptures. That’s not Jesus’ way. No wonder we struggle with how we go about sharing our faith, or why it feels like we make so little progress at times. Why would Jesus bring us into a church just so we can remain alone?
If you are feeling led by the Spirit to begin seeking out such a small group, start by asking yourself: which committed Christians do I know that I enjoy spending time with? I’ve found it most helpful to find people whom I trust; with whom I can be vulnerable and confidential. Pray about it. See if those other Christians are also interested in such a connection. If so, see if you might agree on a time to meet each week - for about an hour or so.
Keep it small. Bible studies are great (we should probably seek to be a part of these as well, for the sake of continuing education!), but this is not just a group study, this is personal training. Having more than 3-5 people involved makes it difficult to truly invest in each person’s life. Speak candidly about what it looks like to follow Jesus in your life. Pray for one another - practice confidenti-ality and speak encouragement.
I pray that you will discover the life-giving joy of these kind of “huddle” fellowships. They move our focus back onto Jesus. They become communities of prayer and humility. They become a very natural means by which our faith in God can grow, and good works are born. They are safe places in which we can fail and be restored. Through them, I believe we may hear the voice of our Lord Jesus.
Of course, all good works begin with honest, simple prayer. Is this something God is calling you to pursue at this time? It may be - it may not be. I just wanted to share that this is a Christian discipline that I’m so grateful for these days. And when something is good, it’s worth sharing. Perhaps you also can share with me those disciplines that are helping you in your faith these days.


Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew

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