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."

 

 

 

Tuesday
Dec292015

January

From the Pastor's Desk:

Dear friends,
I’ve shared the following excerpt from H.A. Williams’ book “Tensions” with other believers before, but I thought I’d share it with the church here in Mattoon this month, as we begin the new year. I love the gift of seeing the Christian gospel from a new perspective. I hope you will enjoy this reading as much as I have, and have a truly blessed 2016! May our Lord continue to surprise us all with hilariously good news.
-Pastor Matthew

                                                            “THE JESTER”
                                              From Tensions by H. A. Williams

In terms of time, the eternal Lord of all order appears to be the Lord of misrule. No wonder the Pharisees, who seem to have been always wholly serious, had to have Jesus put down. He couldn’t be allowed to go on indefinitely standing everything on its head and making their piety look ridiculous. Why, in the end, they might even laugh themselves, and that would be the ultimate catastrophe!
Who in reality had ever witnessed a pious man blowing a trumpet before he put a pound note in the church box? The notion was irresponsibly misleading. And then there were camels going through the eyes of needles, not to mention camels being swallowed easily by those who choked when they swallowed a gnat. And if people did sometimes get a speck in the eye, who ever heard of a man, and an improving teacher at that, who had a log in his? And worse: idlers who were given full pay, stewards who were successful cheats, spendthrift and debauched sons being feted on their return home -what had all this pernicious nonsense to do with religion? It could only undermine the morals of society, and, being socially dangerous had to be stopped; stopped before the contagion of eternal love showed up the whole solemn system of moralism and religiosity as a complete knockabout farce. So the Jester had to be crucified.
But Eternity had the last laugh after all. For that is the final joke - the resurrection. Here are Caiaphas and all his crowd, Pilate and Herod and all theirs, sitting complacently in a state of grave and dignified self-congratulation. They have done their duty and justified the authority vested in them by efficiently disposing once and for all of a dangerous fool. He is safely dead. And with solemn calm again restored they can concentrate once more on the really serious matters to which their lives are dedicated. But behind their backs, without them having the slightest inkling of what is going on, the fool has popped up again like a Jack-in-the-box and is dancing about even more vigorously than before and even more compellingly. People here, there and everywhere are falling under his spell. But the brass hats and mitred heads and stuffed shirts are facing the other way and can’t see what is going on. So they continue with their dignified mutual congratulation and their serious business.
If that isn’t funny, nothing is. It is the supreme, the final, the ultimate joke-that than which nothing could be funnier. And since laughter, although not irresistible is none the less highly contagious, perhaps the brass hats themselves will in time catch the disease, turn around, see the joke, and laugh with the rest of creation because the kingdom of God has drawn near.

Sunday
Nov292015

December

From the Pastor's Desk:

“The Heart of the Church”
I’ll bet you have, at one time or another, visited another church that has made your home church seem a bit...lacking... by comparison. Come on, admit it! That church you visited was blessed with some cool stuff that you wish your home church had. (“A coffee bar!” “A rocking raise band!” “An enormous pipe organ!”) Or perhaps that church was doing some really cool programs that you wish your home church did. Then you returned here to FPC in Mattoon, and you started thinking how we might go about getting those things or doing those programs.
We tend to get hung up on comparisons, don’t we? We struggle with envy. We want to be like so-and-so. We want “our” church to be like that church. Forget about the work of discerning who God is calling US to be or discerning what God’s purpose for this particular church in this particular place might be, we want to skip that whole process and bounce right ahead to the end product. “Let’s just look and act like them.”
What I often fail to remember is that God had designed that specific church or person to meet the very specific mission or ministry He has for them to accomplish. Our American image of successful ministry usually involves huge crowds and impressive facilities. But we can’t all be mega-churches or nationally known Christian celebrities. What about those individuals who aren’t reached by such ministries?  Over and above appearance and behavior, the Bible teaches us that God considers the HEART. God cares about WHY we do what we do. The important matters for a church to discuss have less to do with cosmetic or programatic changes, and more to do with allowing Christ to shape our attitude and guide us in mission. A building and programs can be useful tools in sharing the gospel, but it’s far more important for a church to actually be in love with Jesus.
As the apostle Paul might say, “If we have the greatest music in town, and all the newest gadgets and tools for ministry, and the finest sermons around, but have not love, we’re nothing more than an amusing show - here today and forgotten tomorrow.”  Are we in a love relationship with Jesus as individuals and as a church? Are we talking with Him and each other about what He is calling us to accomplish? Rather than comparing this church with that church, shouldn’t we be in communion with God, asking Him to reveal the divine gifts and passions already present, and inviting Him to use them according to God’s will?
We are here for a purpose. We are here to testify to Awesome God in the unique way only FPC can. And we are united in spirit (not in competition) with every church and believer who wants God to be glorified, and lay ALL crowns and accomplishments down joyfully at His feet. God alone is worthy of such a Christmas gift!
In Christ’s grip,
Rev. Matthew Froeschle

Wednesday
Oct282015

November

From the Pastor’s Desk

God is generous. Do you doubt that? If you do, then I invite you to try a couple of very small tests and see if your opinion changes afterwards. 

Test One: Go outside, and find a solitary place. You know - a place where there are no distractions, where you can simply be alone with God. Look around and consider this: there is no other human being there to experience the beauty you are experiencing at that moment (and yes - there is beauty even on a “gloomy” day).  So who is God presenting that vista to? God is painting that picture for your eyes only. Wow.

Test Two: Have some delicious, perfectly browned turkey (or some other food you really like) and consider - why does that food taste so good? Why did God give you literally thousands of nuanced taste buds, so that eating is not only sustaining your body, but is also hugely enjoyable (too enjoyable)?

Those are but two examples that are granted to just about every human being. There are thousands more - all making the case that God is generous.  What keeps us from being as generous? Why do we “sow so sparingly” at times? Why do we hold on so tightly to things? Why do our things have such a tight hold on us?  It is in the letting go - it is in the sharing - that a thing becomes so much better. It’s a good thing to have that smile on your face, but it is an even better thing to experience the satisfaction of putting a smile on someone else’s face. That’s the kind of love that God has. That’s “agape” love.

I think part of what holds us back is our (misguided) perception that we don’t have much to give. We get so focused on our own needs and on our own wants that we forgo our mission to be cheerful givers (the Bible uses the phrase “hilarious givers”). Instead, we begin to resent any requests made of our time, talents, or resources.  “Don’t worry, little flock,” said Jesus, “the Father has been pleased to give you the KINGDOM.”  Guess what? If a beautiful natural vista or a delicious bowl of mashed potatoes weren’t nice enough gifts, consider that we have been made heirs of everything. God’s inheritance (you know, the stuff God owns that God gives to His children) consists of all things, seen and unseen, that God made. And God is most pleased to share all of that with us.  I mean, God gave us His Son. Given that God has already shared with us His most valuable gift, what do you think He would be unwilling to give? And it didn’t matter that God knew we were going to kill Jesus. God gave Himself anyway - to the unworthy, ungrateful, undeserving, sinful and needy fugitives (that’s all of us - and that’s me).

In light of this, do we still believe ourselves to be impoverished, and incapable of sharing what we’ve freely received with others? Aren’t we rather overflowing with gratitude? Shout it with me! “Thanks, Giving God!” And add an exclamation point by sowing generously.

In His Grip,
Matthew

Wednesday
Sep302015

October

From the Pastor's desk:

“Continuing the Examination"

Last month, I wrote about the importance of asking the tough questions of ourselves, and being honest with fellow believers about the “state of our soul.” It’s all too easy to go through the motions of life,without taking time to examine how we are living. But we would do well to take a time-out and ask: “Do our activities reflect our priorities?” We SAY that God is God of our lives, but what do our calendars and checkbooks and to-do lists say?

Not to be morbid, but realistically, today could be our last day here on earth - tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.  If today were our last day, what regrets would we leave behind? If today were our last day, would we be satisfied with the legacy we’d left? Would others see our lives and give glory to God?

I hope you are finding opportunities to connect with fellow believers - whether it’s with your spouse or your family - or if it’s with a close friend or Christian mentor. And I hope you are finding time each day to connect with Jesus. Otherwise, life is kind of a drag. After all, He is salt and light. Without Jesus, things get pretty bland and dull.

So - what habits would we like to develop? Why not start today? There’s a big world out there, full of people who are wondering if anyone cares about them. Can we, as individuals and as a church, testify about the love we’ve received from God? Be encouraged - God’s Spirit is there for those who ask.  Every day is an opportunity to begin anew - to choose to follow in the way of Christ. It’s not too late.

In His grip,
Pastor Matthew 

Wednesday
Aug262015

September

From the Pastor’s Desk
Rev. Matthew D. Froeschle

John Wesley, an adult convert to Christianity and the founder of the Methodist movement, would often begin his conversations with fellow believers by asking: “How are things with your soul?” It was an invitation to deep Christian sharing - beyond small talk. Such a question moves us into the arena of discipleship.

To get specific, I offer the following 20 questions (which I shamelessly stole from an online resource titled RESTORATION, produced by the Anglican Church) as an invitation to some honest spiritual examination:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words or do I exaggerate?
3 Do I pass onto another person what was told me in confidence?
4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying or self-justifying?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
12. Do I disobey God in anything?
13. Am I doing something that I feel uneasy about in my conscience?
14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
16. How do I spend my spare time?
17. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, like the Pharisee who despised the tax collector?
18. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what
am I going to do about it?
19. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
20. Is Christ real to me?

Do you have someone in your life whom you would allow to ask you those questions? Do you have someone in your life whom you could ask those questions? Would you dare to be honest in your answers?  It is good to gather for worship on Sunday mornings - and central to our community life  as believers. But if we wish to mature, we would be well advised to find “accountability partners” with whom we can have more intentional Christian conversation. It’s freeing and refreshing. I know that without those people in my life with whom I could be brutally honest, I am susceptible to self-delusion and aimless living.

Might we be courageous enough to seek out such relationships? Might we help one another follow Christ?  Remember the words of Christ: “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” God can work powerfully in our lives through such discipleship relationships. As we move forward together as a church, let us not neglect one of the greatest resources God has given us: the Spirit of Christ within another.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Matthew