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 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,



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



From the Pastor's Desk:

“Addict Yourselves to No Party”
by the Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

“You were never in your lives in so critical a situation as you are at this time. It is your part to be peacemakers, to be loving and tender to all, but to addict yourselves to no party.” - John Wesley
Those words were written by the founder of the Methodist church in the late 18th Century. He was writing to preachers in America and in England in context of the American Revolution. He was giv-ing advice as to how Christians should conduct themselves in light of all the societal upheaval.
His words are astonishingly relevant. Particularly I’m impressed by the seemingly prophetic phrase “addict yourselves to no party.” Because I think that many of us have become addicted to our par-ties. We can’t get enough news - so long as its from our preferred source - and so long as it paints “the opposition party” in ugly colors.
The party we are to be concerned with above all is Jesus. And not “Republican Jesus” or “Democrat Jesus” or “Independent Jesus” or any other “Adjective Jesus.” Because let’s be honest here: most of us tend to follow the “Always Agrees with Me Jesus.” Just take a minute and ask yourself: “Is the Jesus I follow challenging me to think or to act differently, or am I following a Jesus made in my own image, who always agrees with my opinions?”
In case we haven’t noticed, we live in a world in serious need of peacemakers. Who is going to step up, if not the church that claims to follow the “Prince of Peace” who said: “Blessed are the peacemakers”? And while it’s true that Jesus said His Way would inevitably cause division in our world of swords, He promised His people the Spirit of peace.
It seems especially important that we who bear His Name serve with humility, and model a better way for our culture rather than passively reflect it. It’s too easy to get caught up in the anger and the hype. It’s far better to ask for more of God’s Spirit, and refresh the soul with the Good News.
I’m not saying that there aren’t causes worth fighting for and times to speak up. But as we do so, it’s important to check our addictions against the Spirit of Jesus. (“Consider the log in your own eye!”) And always remember: Jesus’ aim is not annihilation, but reconciliation. “The Son of God came - not to condemn the world - but to save it.”
May Jesus’ cause be our cause. Lift high the cross - where God’s justice and mercy meet. For one day, there will be only one party - and it will be the wedding party between Jesus and His church.

In His grip,



Fom the Pastor's Desk:

“Words with Friends”
by Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

Words are powerful. In the first chapter of Genesis (and at the beginning of John’s gospel), it is written that God created all things through His Word. God said “Let there be,” and there was. And ever since, even from human mouths, words have a remarkable capacity to create and restore. We can tell beautiful stories and sup-port one another.
These days, we have so many ways to put words out there. We speak, call, text, e-mail, tweet, share, forward, post, rally, write, etc. This can be a good thing. The Scriptures tell us that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45). If we are daily giving our hearts to Christ, our speech will inevitably reflect God’s heart.
But our words can also harm and destroy. We find it difficult to heed the Biblical admonition: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). In the heat of the moment, we can shoot off our mouths or type out that comment without considering how our words might misrepresent Jesus and hinder God’s Spirit.
Jesus’ brother James wrote a scathing rebuke to our sinful misuse of words. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human be-ings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My bothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).
Words also have the important power of correcting us, and rebuking our miscon-ceptions. Who in your life can tell you what you don’t want to hear… but what you most need to hear? Is this not the prophetic function of God’s Word? Is that not an important part of Christian discipleship?
I remember what Paul said to his friend Timothy: “The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).
We must avoid living in an echo chamber of people who will only agree with us. As we speak words of encouragement and support, let us also be a community that can speak, as the hymn says, “words of challenge, said with care.”
God grant us the maturity to have respectful disagreements, based in a love for Christ and the desire to build heaven’s Kingdom. It’s a crazy world. May our words be more like the powerful words of Christ. Sane, wholesome, creative, challenging, and beautiful.



From the Pastor's Desk:

“AN OUTSIDER’S PERSPECTIVE” - Rev. Matthew Froeschle
So my family and I have been living here in Mattoon for nearly three years now. Compared to the average resident, that’s a fairly short amount of time. So peo-ple will sometimes ask me how I’ve settled in. Do I like it here?  When I get this question from members of my church family, I (perhaps arrogant-ly) assume that part of the query has to do about whether or not I’m planning to remain at FPC. For the record: Yes. I believe God led me and my family here, and I hope to spend the rest of my ministry here - provided I am not a liability to the church. I am VERY blessed.
But, aside from the church community, what about the town? Well, I’ve spend most of my life in or near the Quad Cities, so I can get pretty nostalgic about east Iowa. My hometown, Bettendorf, is a growing community blessed with a LOT of resources. Plus, my parents are there, and I really miss them.
Mattoon doesn’t seem to have as many resources - or as many things to do - as there were in the QC. Many of the people who grew up in this town have moved elsewhere after graduating, on to larger cities. Here, there is a sense that our “glory days” are behind us, not in front of us. We USED TO have a big Bagel Fest - we USED TO have a busy mall - we USED TO have great parades and festivals. There is a depression or apathy that threatens to paralyze this town. There seems to be a big divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” (this is not unique to Mattoon) - maybe even a general lack of opportunities to connect with other people.
We are ripe for renewal - for a new work of God. The gospel reminds us that we are not loved on the basis of merit or our “likability," but on the basis of God’s in-credible compassion for the “down-and-out.” I know personally how crippling it can be when we focus on our “miserable” situation rather than setting our eyes on the God who died to give us life. I am confident in God’s ability to work through men and women to do amazing things - to transform individual lives and even the landscape of an entire community.
And, in case I’ve been way too pessimistic (I probably have been), I need to say that there are a LOT of really good things happening here that you may not find elsewhere. There are inspiring people committed to serving selflessly; who give and give and give to this community. Most folk here are pretty down to earth and hospitable. Already there is a potent seed of positive change at work.
There is new development - new investments - and a great deal of hope when you look for it. This makes me feel very humble and feeling very blessed to live here. Plus - this is definitely a baseball town, and I love baseball!
For now (and hopefully for years), this is our earthly home. We would do well to look honestly at what we have and what we lack as a community, and how God may work through us to make this a better place for everyone to live in. Like every community, we have unique talents and opportunities and challenges. Can we talk and work together to make Mattoon look and feel more like the Kingdom of God? According to Je-sus, that’s our mission.
In God’s grip,
Pastor Matthew
P.S. - I almost forgot to mention a big plus - that sometimes this town smells like freshly baked blueberry ba-gels, especially in the west side where we live. More of that, please!

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