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
Oct312016

November

Wednesday
Sep282016

October

From the Pastor's Desk:

“The Gospel According to a Chicago Cubs Fan”
by Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

Toby dared me to do it. Then he threatened me if I didn’t do it. So I guess I’ll do it. I’m writing this October newsletter article, and it’s going to be about Jesus AND the Chicago Cubs (Hey - Wrigley Field was built on the grounds of an old seminary - there’s a religious connection, right?).
That groan you’re hearing is from the Cardinals fans and from the non-baseball fans. You can tune out now if you want. Next month, I’ll write something more inclusive, I promise. But this month, it’s the gospel according to a Chicago Cubs fan.
Fans of the Cubs are a sort of family (Who said “pathetic”? Shame on you!) There are stories and rituals that families tell; they are passed down as part of your heritage. As Jews tell and re-tell the story of Moses delivering his people from Egypt through the crossing of the Red Sea, so Cubs fans remember how our team, long ago, won the World Series. There are no eye-witnesses left, we have to believe in things we haven’t seen ourselves. And we have faith that miracles can happen again, just as they did long ago. The Spirit is alive.
We are also well aware of the hard times - the desert wandering. For 108 years, Cubs fans have been waiting to enter the promised land - to get that championship again, but somehow the strangest things keep us from getting there (a goat? a black cat? a fan who reached out for a foul ball at the wrong time?). We’ve been close, yet somehow things fall apart at the last moment. Yet though we grumble, hope springs eternal. There’s always next year. We are learning patience while we wait for the second coming.
Now, there are very encouraging signs. We have talented players and a fun, wise coach. They’re taking things a game at a time, and recognize that it is a team effort. No one player considers their own glory more important than the goal. Teammates are humble and work together. They honor old retiring backup catcher “Grandpa Rossy” as much as they honor stars like Rizzo and Bryant. Players are versatile and can play a variety of roles as needed. The starters are willing to rest and trust others to step up. Everyone is having fun and not taking losses too seriously. That’s when amazing things happen (Did someone say “100+ wins?” Did someone say “NL Central Division Winners?”).
Doesn’t that also sound like how the church should operate? Doesn’t that sound like a good model for how the people of God can get along? Hey, we’re all on the same team. And our goal is to honor Jesus over self.
As I’m writing this, the Cubs have secured their place in the post-season, and have earned home field advantage through the National League Championship Series. But we still have no idea who’s going to be in the World Series. It’s quite possible that by the time you get around to reading this article, the World Series is already over and... gasp!... the Chicago Cubs didn’t win. Heck, as I write this, the Saint Louis Cardinals still have a chance of making the post-season via the wild card race. So who knows... maybe the Cardinals have won the World Series by now. And if that’s the case, you know what Toby and I and the rest of the Cubs-loving minority of this congregation are doing. We’re grieving and nursing our wounded egos.
But as long as one generation of Cubs fans passes on their faith to the next generation, that fighting spirit will survive. Hope springs eternal.
As it is for Cubs fans, may it be for Jesus’ team, too. Pass on your faith. Share your joy for the Lord. We Christians hope for something far more valuable, far more important, far more eternal than a shiny trophy. And in the parade that we Christians anticipate, there is room for everyone, regard-less of geography or differences, to celebrate.
“Go, Cubs, Go!” But better still, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Fill us with Your team Spirit.
Amen!

Sunday
Aug282016

September

From the Pastor's Desk:

This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?” -Isaiah 66:1 (NIV)
This verse from Isaiah makes me think of some of the beautiful skies I’ve seen in my lifetime. Visions of sunrises, sun-sets, and bright blue skies dotted with large white clouds come to mind. So do those wondrous tapestries that God paints for us at night.
One night, some years ago, stands out in my memory. I was in Nebraska, attending a “Pastor’s School” as part of my continuing education. A small group of us clergy headed out for an elective field trip around 9:00 PM to an observatory in the country, two miles or so from the Hastings College campus.
The sky was clear, and the weather was perfect. On the roof of the obser-vatory where the telescopes for star-gazing were set up, we had a heart-stopping view of the heavens, speckled with stars and planets and the millions (billions?) of galaxies that form this incredible universe we inhabit. It was an act of worship simply looking up into that vast canvas of unspeakable wonder.
“Heaven is my throne,” says God, “and the earth is my footstool.”
Compared to such a throne, how could we ever offer God a temple or a church worthy of Him? Can any human architect design a building that competes with the wildness and wonder of space, or design a footstool as exquisite as this precious planet we call home? There are some amazing cathedrals in this world, but none have a roof so high as the one God created, or have such elaborate furnishings as what this earth provides.
That said, there IS a temple that God would choose to dwell in - and one we can provide for God.
Our souls. Our hearts. Our minds. Consider the astonishing news that God longs to dwell within US; that of all the places available to God, WE are the sanctuary God desires to renovate and live within.
So - will we offer the temple of our bodies completely to God, or are we still holding onto the keys and asking that God schedule a visit when it’s convenient?
Trust me - the temple is lonely without the company of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The heart is lonely without the fellowship of Christ’s church. It’s time to open all the doors, and say “Holy Spirit, please come and make Your home in me. Let me be Your resting place, as You are mine.”
Amen.
In His grip,
Matthew

Tuesday
Jul262016

August

From the Pastor's desk:

Is First Presbyterian Church known for radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity? For that is a list of five faithful practices of fruitful congregations, according to bishop Robert Schnase of the United Methodist Church, and it’s a list I’ve used to guide my thoughts when writing church newsletter articles these last months. This time, I’m writing on that last practice: EXTRAVAGANT GENEROSITY.

We have been blessed by generations of believers here at FPC who have given generously to ministry and mission. This has been, and continues to be, a giving congregation. It’s encouraging to see the number of different missions we support, and to see the church respond to needs.

And this isn’t just in financial terms - when there’s a perceived need, the church responds in a variety of ways. You’ve used the facilities God has given us to house those displaced by severe weather. You’ve offered up your talents and your time in ministry to those in need. I’m awed by the talents and the networks that are tapped in order to benefit others. I want to encourage you by pointing out some of these things.

Of course, we are not to simply rest on our laurels. There is still much to be done for the sake of God’s Kingdom. And it’s always appropriate to consider the manner and the attitude of our giving. It’s been said that our calendars and our checkbooks are the best indicators of what we TRULY value (not just what we SAY we value).

So... are we giving God first priority, or are we giving God our leftovers? Jesus drew the distinction between the AMOUNT of money given and the VALUE of the offering. The widow gave less than a penny, but it was nearly ALL SHE HAD. Jesus considered hers the most valuable gift given that day. By comparison, those wealthy were giving huge amounts of money, but it came at minimal personal cost. They were not, in fact, as generous as they would like to have believed, for their lifestyles were affected only marginally by their giving. The poor widow was laying it all down for God.

Extravagant generosity is motivated by recognizing the extravagant generosity of God. In light of what God has to give, everything else starts to pale. So consider... how great is God, really? And how much do we really want to participate in his work in this world? Might there be more valuable ways to spend our time and resources?

The giver generally ends up feeling extremely grateful to be able to give, and far more in tune with the generous heart of God. The generous congregation better reflects the kind of God who invests in people more than anything else.

In His grip,
Pastor Matthew

Tuesday
Jun282016

July

From the Pastor's Desk:

For the past several months, I’ve been writing on the five practices of fruitful congregations, according to Methodist bishop and author, Robert Schnase. In April, I penned an article about radical hospitality. In May, I wrote about the importance of passionate worship. And last month, I wrote on the theme of intentional faith development. This month’s theme is risk-taking mission and service.

Of Schnase’s five practices, this is the one about which I feel most keenly convicted, because I’m not much of a risk-taker. And although my heroes are missionminded, I tend to be more provincial in my thinking.  “Mission” sounds scary to me, and I’d guess it sounds scary to most of you.  Maybe our understanding of mission needs to be broadened a little. A mission for Christ doesn’t necessarily mean traveling overseas or jumping into disaster relief situations. It certainly CAN mean that (and for some, that kind of adventure brings excitement and joy in service to Christ), but it doesn’t ONLY mean that. Our mission field is all around us - at work, at school, in our neighborhoods, anywhere. We are missionaries here in America (with the keen advantage of speaking the native language).

I see clearly, though, that in order for a church to really thrive, it needs to have a clearly defined sense of mission and purpose.  When congregations think only of survival, and think about bringing in new members only as a way of keeping the doors open and paying the bills, its Christ-life languishes. It’s the same in our own personal lives. Our lives were meant to be more than work, eat, sleep, repeat.  And a fear of failure will keep us in hiding, doing nothing. That’s where the risk-taking comes into play. When we risk little, the 
rewards and benefits to others will also be little. But if we have a vision that’s big enough to require some risk-taking, it will force us to increase our dependence and trust in God alone as our biggest treasure.

And in one of his parables, Jesus showed how the owner who entrusted talents to his stewards was only disappointed in the one who risked nothing, and hid his talents.  What if we take a risk and fail?  That could easily happen. But haven’t we also learned by now that it’s often through what others might consider failures (and through our own weaknesses) that God’s grace and mercy so often shine forth? And after all, the cross was considered the greatest symbol of failure possible in the Roman world until Jesus touched it and transformed its meaning.

Might we listen in our own lives, and as a people, for the voice of Christ? Is He calling us to a new mission? Perhaps there is a new risk to take - to make our hearts race - right after Jesus.

In His grip,
Pastor Matthew

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