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[this was shared during the service on 5/29/22]

This has been a heavy week full of sad news.

We grieve the horrific massacre of 19 school children and 2 teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

But then in the mix of all that we were reminded of the profoundly disorienting reality that not even churches have been safe places for children and others.

Our church cooperates with a network of almost 50,000 other Baptist churches in the US called the SBC in order to send missionaries overseas, plant new churches across North America, and provide theological education. Over the last several years news stories have come out about sexual abuse in hundreds of these churches, many times covered up by the local churches. Last year at the annual meeting of all these churches it was determined to have an open, 3rd party investigation into how the Executive Committee of the SBC dealt with this knowledge. The findings of that report were released this week and they showed a pattern of protecting power over people. I want to lead us in praying about these things right now.

Heavenly Father,

In a world full of evil we know that you alone are good. When no one else can protect us, we can run to you. When no other place is safe we can always turn to you.

We trust that you are just. You only do what is right, which includes punishing wrong, both in this life and the next. People cannot escape accountability for their atrocities, even if they die. You will make sure perfect justice is enacted for all culpable in mass shootings like the one last week in Uvalde and previously in Buffalo and all the others that seem to be happening all the time.

We find comfort in the fact that you “will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing” (Eccles. 12:14). “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Lk. 12:2). We thank you for a glimpse of that this week as dark deeds have been exposed and brought into the light through the SBC Sex Abuse Task Force report.

Father, we also remember that you are merciful. We shudder to think of what our own judgment would be if it hadn’t already been meted out on Christ on the Cross. We pray for the perpetrators of abuse, that they would be stopped, prosecuted, and punished by the government authorities that you have set up. But we also pray that this would cause them to repent and turn to Christ before facing something infinitely worse.

We believe that you can work good out of evil. We’ve seen you do that through the horror of the Cross. So we pray for the churches of Uvalde this Sunday, that your Word would be preached, that people would be awakened to eternal realities and hear the eternal gospel and come to you for eternal life. We ask that as the SBC has its annual meeting in Anaheim in a couple weeks, the recommendations of the Task Force would be heeded so that restitution could be made, better systems could be put in place, and future abuse could be prevented.

Tender Father, please comfort those who are mourning right now. For the parents who lost kids, the grandparents, the siblings… have mercy. Cause them to turn ultimately to you in their pain and for their answers and not away from you to other things. For those who witnessed the carnage but were spared, bring supernatural healing to their trauma. And for all survivors including sex abuse victims who may be triggered right now, show them your pure love. Give them courage to tell their stories and bring healing.

We pray for our church, that you would deliver us from evil. Protect us for your name’s sake. Use us to be a representative of you and your character in this city and not a stumbling block. We pray that our gathering right now would not be an exercise in human religion simply furthering a human institution, but an arena of your divine, gracious activity. Speak to us in personal ways. Be honored and worshipped. May we experience a taste of heaven in our life together. And may you draw all people to yourself.

We pray for all other churches in our city that are open in your name this morning. We pray especially for Chicagoland Community Church and its witness in the North Halsted neighborhood. We pray for pastor Jon Pennington and the recent sudden loss of his father. Give him what he needs to minister to his family and keep leading his church through his sorrow. Bless our member, Jonah, as he is leading the music at that church this morning, that he would be a blessing to that congregation and aid them in lifting their hearts to you.

And we also plead for your blessing on our work among the unreached peoples of this world, living in spiritual darkness, headed to an eternity under your wrath. Help us get the gospel to them to. We intercede especially this morning for our missionaries in Japan – Dave and Rose. Keep their marriage and family relationships strong so they can lead their team with energy and focus. And we pray that you would establish the work of their hands by establishing healthy, multiplying churches on that island that is so historically closed to the gospel.

Lord, we offer all these prayers to you because we believe you hear and act in response, that you are moving in this world, accomplishing your wise and glorious plans even when it looks bleak. We pray in the name of the One who died and behold is alive for evermore – our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday Morning Prayer Meeting


Come to Jesus!



“I Must Tell Jesus”

I must tell Jesus / All of my trials
I cannot bear these burdens alone
In my distress / He kindly will help me
He ever cares and loves His own

I must tell Jesus / All of my troubles
He’s a kind and compassionate friend
If I but ask Him / He will deliver
Make of my troubles / Quickly an end

I must tell Jesus / I must tell Jesus
I cannot bear these burdens alone
I must tell Jesus / I must tell Jesus
Jesus can help me / Jesus alone

Tempted and tried I need a great Savior
One who can help my burdens to bear
I must tell Jesus / I must tell Jesus
He all my cares and sorrows will share

I must tell Jesus / I must tell Jesus
I cannot bear these burdens alone
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone




Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me,

all who labor and are heavy laden,

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you,

and learn from me,

for I am gentle and lowly in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy,

and my burden is light.”

Tell Jesus about your burdens…




Matthew 11:28-30

“If anyone would come after me,

let him deny himself

and take up his cross

and follow me.”


Tell Jesus how you’ve used him like a mascot,

to prop yourself up,

to get things

to feel good about yourself…


Remember again today that you have died…

Find your life, your righteousness, your all in him…




John 6:35

“I am the bread of life;

whoever comes to me

shall not hunger,

and whoever believes in me

shall never thirst.”


Tell Jesus ways you have tried to fill your hungers

and slake your thirsts on other things besides him…

Let’s praise him for the ways he satisfies…



To Jesus

FORGIVER – “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven” (Mt. 9:2).

FRIEND – “I have called you friends” (Jn. 15:15).

SERVANT – “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Mk. 10:45).

INTERCESSOR – “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Lk. 22:32).

COMFORTER – “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn. 14:27).

CONFRONTER – “You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Mk. 8:33).

TEACHER – “Listen” (Mk. 4:3)!

COMING JUDGE – “Depart from me…” (Mt. 25:41).

DEFENDER – “Leave her alone” (Mk. 14:6).

SAVIOR – “The Son of Man came to seek & to save the lost” (Lk. 19:10).

EVER-PRESENT – “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20).




John 4:29


see a man

who told me all that I ever did.”


Let’s pray for our evangelism efforts…

Saturday Morning Prayer Meeting


Listen to “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” by Charles Wesley…

Biblical Movements of Lament (from Mark Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy):

1. Turn to God – Address God as you come to him in prayer.

2. Bring your Complaint – Identify in blunt language the specific pain or injustice (why/how?!)

3. Ask Boldly – Specifically call upon God to act in a manner that fits his character.

4. Choose to Trust – Affirm God’s worthiness to be trusted and commit to praising him.



“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.

In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord” (Ps. 77:1-2a).

· offer short prayers of address to God, orienting ourselves, stating who we are talking to…

· examples: Pss. 5:1, 17:1, 25:1, 28:1, 80:1, 83:1, 86:1, 90:1, 123:1, 141:1, 142:1…



“Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?

Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble” (Ps. 10:1)?

How long, O LORD, will you look on” (Ps. 35:17)?

“Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint” (Ps. 64:1)…

· name specifically the thing you are lamenting in the chat box…

gun violence in chicago; racism in this (and all) countries; Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd….; all the destruction that has followed; police officers who don’t serve and protect us, but scare us; police officers that are doing their jobs well that are now judged; poor people facing a harder life during the pandemic; isolation and loneliness in time of coronavirus, especially among the elderly in nursing homes; the fact that we’re in a global catastrophe and national tragedy and only a fraction of the church shows up to pray; more people not caring; that I only care when social media tells me to care; loss of my longest standing close friendship; death of my grandmother; failed leadership in many institutions and governments; public discourse that has degenerated into politicians swearing at each other and people in general villainizing those who have different viewpoints; apathy of the church and the lukewarm spirituality that characterizes us; the loss of freedom in places like Hong Kong, and the potential effect on the church; getting old; feeling lonely; unfulfilled dreams for a church that’s committed to each other and a common mission in our neighborhood; not being able to gather in person as a church; 100,000 deaths from pandemic in States; that I still struggle with the same sins – pride, impatience, selfishness…..; divisiveness within the church in regards to secondary and tertiary matters (specifically people’s stances on social distancing, mask wearing etc); fake news and people’s proliferation of it; my kids’ spiritual state; the response of fear and self-preservation; xenophobia and our treatment of the alien who lives among us; not having consistent devotional time despite being at home more; broken relationships in my family and in the families of others in the church; unhappy marriages; the sometimes lack of good Christian responses to today’s social/political issues; I don’t love God as I ought; impatience and not making wise decision as I ought to be; CPS budget crisis and how that could impact economic disparity in Chicago for the longterm; sharing the gospel clearly and people being completely unfazed; suicides of pastors; the seeming lack of evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit to bring change in others….. in me??

· a few people vocalize these cries…



“But you, O LORD, do not be far off!

O you my help, come quickly to my aid” (Ps. 22:19)!

· importune God to act on behalf of his glory…

· examples: “arise” (i.e. Ps. 10:12), “grant us help” (i.e. Ps. 60:11), “remember your mercy” (i.e. Ps. 25:6), let justice be done (i.e. Ps. 83:16-18), forgive (i.e. Ps. 79:8-9), “restore us” (i.e. Ps. 80:3), “listen” (i.e. Ps. 86:6), “teach me” (i.e. Ps. 143:10), “vindicate me” (i.e. Ps. 35:24)…



“But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,

because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:5-6).

· the ‘buts’ of the Bible; examples: Pss. 31:12, 14; 71:10-11, 14; 86:14-15…

When we go to heaven and realize all that prayer did on earth,

we’ll be ashamed that we prayed so little.

W.E. Sangster

Don’t forget: our weekly, all-church Prayer Meeting is tomorrow (Saturday; 5/9) at 10:00 AM on Zoom.

What were the disciples doing after the Ascension… before Pentecost, while they were sheltering in place in the Upper Room?

“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). Not just private/personal prayer, but praying together.

There’s a great application here for our Prayer Meetings. It would be great to see the whole church with one accord crying out to God from 10:00 to 11:00 AM on Saturdays.

On Sunday (4/12) we’re having an Easter Parade! This is an optional, extra opportunity. We realize that not everyone has a car or can make it. But for those who do and want to participate, we will be lining up in our vehicles along the west side of Laflin, just south of Roosevelt, facing south. Be there by 8:45 AM.

Nobody is to get out of their cars or share rides with people they haven’t been living with. Feel free to decorate your car if you want!

At 8:45 AM crack your window because Pastor Nathan will be yelling out the ancient Easter greeting, “He Is Risen!” You know what to say next.

Then we will slowly circle the roundabout, honking in celebration.

And here is a parade route on Google Maps that you can follow:

Be safe and follow all rules of the road! It’s not important that we all stay together. But use this time to listen to the Spotify playlist and to pray for what you see. Here’s a guided prayer tour of the UIC Area that you can use on Sunday. You can even do it in your mind’s eye from home if you can’t come!

· Turn right onto Roosevelt and as pass The Meeting Place headed east. Look at the senior citizen home (Roosevelt Place) on the SW corner of Loomis and Roosevelt and pray for all the seniors who live there and in our city who are more susceptible to COVID-19…

· Then look to the right and notice the Brooks Homes (the B in ABLA) in the background – low-income CHA housing, almost entirely African-American. 70% of those who die from COVID-19 in Chicago are Black. Pray for the poor throughout the UIC Area and our city…

· As you turn left on Racine and then right on Taylor Street, pray for the restaurants along this strip in Little Italy. Pray for the whole restaurant industry in our city and workers who are affected by this shut-down…

· As you approach Halsted, look to your left and think about UIC – the largest university in Chicagoland… largely empty right now. Pray for the research that happens here and for the gospel to advance on this campus…

· Turn right and head south on Halsted. Then turn left, headed back east, on Roosevelt. As you approach the Canal corridor, pray for the retail industry in our city, that these brick-and-mortar businesses would flourish again. And pray for those who work at grocery stores like Whole Foods and Jewel…

· Turn right and go south on Canal and notice the Pacific Garden Mission with the big cross. Pray for the homeless in our city, and those who are working with them to not grow weary in doing good…

· Get ready to turn right on 18th Street, then do a little right-left jiggety-jog at Halsted, and then keep going westward through this main strip of Pilsen. Pray for the artists, pray for the hipsters, pray for the restaurants, pray for the Mexican community, pray for the immigrants, pray for the Lozano Public Library and the civic institutions of our city…

· You’ll keep going for a while, you’ll cross Ashland and go under the CTA Pink Line. Then as you approach Harrison Park, pray for the Chicago Park District and their programs that mean so much to our city. Pray that kids would be playing on the swings again (see Zechariah 8:5)…

· Then turn right (north) on Damen and go through the long, dark underpass, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel (whether God’s common grace to flatten the curve or Christ’s return to remake the earth). Now you’re emerging into the Illinois Medical District. Pray for all the hospitals and other medical institutions here (i.e. Cook County, the VA, Rush, UIC…). Pray for all the patients inside and the healthcare workers putting their lives at risk…

· Make a soft right on Ogden and then another right onto Harrison. Come back east across Ashland, note the Marriott and pray for the hospitality industry…

· Keep going on Harrison and pay attention to Andrew Jackson Language Academy on the left and pray for CPS and all the schools across the city to re-open soon and be places where kids are learning things like how to read, so they can read the Bible (among other things). Pray for teachers…

· Then look to the right just before you get to Racine. That gated community, that’s Westgate Terrace. Pray for the residents there… and all the people of the UIC Area… and Chicago… Illinois… the U.S…. the world… that God would be merciful, not just to stay the plague, but to bring repentance and faith, uniting more people to Christ, so that they would not experience eternal suffering, but have eternal life with our resurrected and returning Lord…

For our Saturday Morning Prayer Meeting this week, we will be using the Prayer Guide that’s part of The Gospel Coalition’s “A Day to Fast and Pray.” Consider doing some kind of food fast tomorrow too if you can. Join us at 10:00 AM via Zoom.

Reminder: “Immanuel Pastors Podcast” is now findable on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

Look for the Guide for Palm Sunday in your inbox tomorrow!

Secret Church is an intensive Bible teaching and prayer time. It was designed to raise awareness of persecuted Christians around the world who are often prevented from meeting regularly. When they are finally able to gather, they do so secretly and for several hours, as they are desperately hungry to soak up God’s Word.

During the season we find ourselves in, where we are feeling the lack of regular gathering, this event can take on new meaning. We can experience greater solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have had to deal with hardships all the time.

Last year was our first time participating in Secret Church. We were already planning to do it again via livestream on 4/24 from 6:00 PM to midnight. But due to the ‘stay at home’ order we will need to do this in separate locations.

If you would like to participate, please reply to this email by the end of next Wednesday (4/8). IBC will then pay for your registration which includes a simulcast link and a booklet which will be mailed to your address so you can follow along from home on Friday the 24th.

Is this crisis driving you to prayer or revealing your prayerlessness?

Either way, ‘come’ and pray.

Last week we shifted our weekly all-church Prayer Meeting online and to Saturdays.

Click on the link in your email tomorrow (3/28) just before 10:00 AM.

‘If disaster comes upon us,

the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine,

we will stand before this house and before you —

for your name is in this house —

and cry out to you in our affliction,

and you will hear and save.’

2 Chronicles 20:9

In the New Testament era, there is nothing special about a particular place. We can come before God’s heavenly throne anytime, anywhere by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19; cf. 4:16). Let’s join together and cry out to him during this season!

We’re moving our regular weekly Prayer Meeting to Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM via Zoom for the time being.

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

  • #IBCserm Just this today from Joshua 13 - "We still have work to do." 2 weeks ago
  • #IBCserm Just this today from Joshua 11:1-23 - "Rest comes to those who don’t resist God, but trust him." 1 month ago
  • #IBCserm Just this today from Joshua 10:1-43 - "God is advancing his kingdom, through us." Lunch afterwards for everyone! 2 months ago
  • #IBCserm Just this today from Joshua 9:1-27 - "Instead of being prideful and impulsive, we should be prayerful and principled." 2 months ago
  • #IBCserm Just this yesterday from Joshua 4:1-24: God's people need to remember His faithfulness so that they can run into the future. 3 months ago