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Dear IBC Family,

We will not be gathering as a church again tomorrow in light of the stay at home order, but here is the home resource guide for your devotional time.

The Spotify playlist has been loaded with a new set of songs for this week. You can also listen to the Immanuel Pastors Podcast on Spotify at your convenience. The most recent episode helps you understand some of our thinking about Sunday services.

The highlighted “Sermon of the Week” for this Sunday is John Piper’s “Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain.” Listen to it online with your household and discuss what application it might have to our situation today. Pastor Nathan was a senior in high school on a visit to Wheaton College and in the packed audience on the night when this message was delivered. It had a massive impact on the course of his life.

Finally, here is another Puritan prayer from The Valley of Vision entitled “The Gospel Way.”

The Gospel Way

BLESSED LORD JESUS,

No human mind could conceive or invent the gospel.

Acting in eternal grace, thou art both its messenger and its message,

Lived out on earth through infinite compassion,

Applying thy life to insult, injury, death,

That I might be redeemed, ransomed, freed.

Blessed be thou, O Father, for contriving this way,

Eternal thanks to thee, O Holy Spirit,

For applying this way to my heart.

Glorious Trinity, impress the gospel on my soul,

Until its virtue diffuses every faculty;

Let it be heard, acknowledged, professed, felt.

Teach me to secure this mighty blessing;

Help me to give up every darling lust,

To submit heart and life to its command,

To have it in my will,

Controlling my affections,

Moulding my understanding;

To adhere strictly to the rules of true religion,

Not departing from them in any instance,

Nor for any advantage in order to escape evil,

Inconvenience, or danger.

Take me to the cross to seek glory from its infamy;

Strip me of every pleasing pretence of righteousness by my doings.

O gracious Redeemer,

I have neglected thee too long,

Often crucified thee,

Crucified thee afresh by my impenitence,

Put thee to shame.

I thank thee for the patience that has borne with me so long,

And for the grace that now makes me willing to be thine.

O unite me to thyself with inseparable bonds,

That nothing may ever draw me back from thee, my Lord, my Saviour.

Praying for you,

Pastor Theo

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.

Dear IBC Church Family,

It is with sincere sadness that we have decided to cancel services for this week. As stated in a previous email you should have received, we will continue to monitor the situation on a week-by-week basis, so that we can restore our weekly Lord’s Day fellowship together as soon as it is safe to do so. I’m hoping and praying that as these troubled times continue to pressure us away from one another, our common love for the Lord and his people will draw us closer together, holding all things in common (Acts 2:43-47).

In the meantime, the unstructured state of our world will continue to encourage us to neglect the things of God for entertainment and what we think are the more expedient needs of everyday life. For this reason, the Elders of IBC strongly encourage you to still do your upmost to set aside time to remember the Lord, to pray for Christ’s mercy over the sins of the week and his grace to endure the next, and to feast on his Word. I’ve listed some prayers and resources for this week’s reflection which you can use with your family or roommates. This is not a healthy substitute for the biblical command to assemble together (see Heb. 10:24-25), but our hope is that these resources will allow us to honor the Lord as best we can and be filled with his Spirit on the Lord’s Day, even in exile (see Rev. 1:10).

Here is a link to the church’s weekly Spotify playlist. Every week we will change out the songs with regular IBC worship music.

We are also highlighting a ‘Sermon of the Week’ for you to reflect on. For this week, we have a sermon by an older pastor named Francis Grimke. Here is a short biography of his life. And here is the sermon. It was given on the first Sunday back after a quarantine related to the deadly Spanish Flu in 1918. Please read it tomorrow.

Finally, I have attached a prayer from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions for your reflection:

Weaknesses

O Spirit of God, help my infirmities;

When I am pressed down with a load of sorrow, perplexed and knowing not what to do, slandered and persecuted, made to feel the weight of the cross – help me, I pray Thee.

If Thou seest in me any wrong thing encouraged, any evil desire cherished, any delight that is not Thy delight, any habit that grieves Thee, any nest of sin in my heart – then grant me the kiss of Thy forgiveness, and teach my feet to walk the way of Thy commandments.

Deliver me from carking care, and make me a happy, holy person;

Help me to walk the separated life with firm and brave step, and to wrestle successfully against weakness;

Teach me to laud, adore, and magnify Thee, with the music of heaven, and make me a perfume of praiseful gratitude to Thee.

I do not crouch at Thy feet as a slave before a tyrant, but exult before Thee as a son with a father.

Give me power to live as Thy child in all my actions, and to exercise sonship by conquering self.

Preserve me from the intoxication that comes of prosperity;

Sober me when I am glad with a joy that comes not from Thee.

Lead me safely on to the eternal kingdom, not asking whether the road be rough or smooth.

I request only to see the face of Him I love, to be content with bread to eat, with raiment to put on, if I can be brought to Thy house in peace.

Praying for you through the week,

Pastor Theo

‘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.

Peace I leave with you;

my peace I give to you.

Not as the world gives do I give to you.

Let not your hearts be troubled,

neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27

Members and Attenders of Immanuel,

All schools in the state of Illinois closed down on Tuesday and will not re-open until at least March 30th. These missed days will not be made up because the closure is due to what they refer to as an “act of God.” We believers know that this unusual time is indeed from the hand of our sovereign Lord. And we trust that he has wise yet mysterious plans for this disruption to our daily lives. We will be doing much reflection on what those might be in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

For now, we wanted to communicate some important information with everyone.

Sunday Services – After much prayer, thinking, counsel, and deliberation, we have decided to suspend our regular Lord’s Day gathering starting this Sunday (3/22). This was not an easy decision. But the state of Illinois has now mandated the cancellation of events of more than 50 people. As a church of 88 members plus children, regular attenders, and visitors this does not allow us to all assemble together, nor does it seem wise at the moment. We want to preserve the unity of the body and promote the safety of our city, and so we are regretfully taking this extreme but temporary measure. We will re-evaluate this decision every week as the circumstances are constantly changing.

We also have decided not to do a ‘livestream’ of a service. We are not judging other churches that have chosen this option, but we feel like it would be wisest not to allow anyone to think that such an activity can replace what is meant to happen in the assembly of the saints. During this season we pray that you would remember fondly all the sweet times we’ve had together at The Meeting Place and long deeply for our future reunion there.

We will be giving you more guidance and resources for how to be spending your time on Sunday mornings (and all the other days).

Small Groups – Hopefully you already received communication from your Small Group Leaders that we have asked Small Groups not to meet physically together for the time being. Each group, however, is encouraged to communicate regularly, share updates, and even experiment with different ways of sharing insights from the Bible Reading Plan and staying in touch via technology. Your Small Group will be a great way to still be connected with other people in the community during this time.

Prayer Ministry – We are working on different ways to have online prayer meetings and organize prayer walks. We are mobilizing our Intercessory Prayer Team to ensure that everyone is covered in prayer. And please reach out to them at prayer with any items you need specific prayer for!

Children’s Ministry – Our Deacon of Children’s Ministry is working on getting curriculum and activities for you to use at home with your children. And the Elders will be sharing more resources for Family Worship.

Koinonia – Our Deacon of Koinonia is working on some creative and fun ideas for ways to still foster community life during this season. Stay tuned…

Member Support and Mercy Ministry – Our budget has funds built in to meet tangible needs inside and outside our church community. If you have or know of any financial needs during this time that the church can help meet OR if you would like to contribute extra money to this fund, please contact the Elders!

We will be communicating with you regularly as we go through this together. For now, we encourage you to keep up a regular schedule, keep reading the Bible Reading Plan and good books, keep memorizing and meditating on Psalm 1, pray… and (as was said in last Sunday’s sermon) do all this before and more than you watch the news and Netflix.

Your Pastors,

Nathan & Theo

Secret Church is an annual gathering to study God’s Word and pray for the persecuted and the lost. This year’s topic is “Prayer, Fasting, and the Pursuit of God.” It will be held Friday, April 26th, @ 6:00 PM and normally goes for about 6 hours (4 hours of study + 2 hours of prayer). It’s a bit of a time commitment, but even if you can’t stick around for the whole thing, it’s still encouraged for you to join. It’ll be a rich time of studying God’s Word in the context of seeing the glory of Christ multiplied to the ends of the earth.

If you’re interested in watching the live simulcast, please contact internationalmissions at immanuel dash baptist dot net or talk to Jaden before April 15th. The cost will be $10/person which pays for the simulcast and the corresponding study guide. The number of people who respond will determine where we it will be hosted.

This week we’ll be spending our lunch hours in focused prayer, asking God to work in our hearts to show us more of him, to reveal our sins to us, and for us to meditate on the goodness of God in our lives and respond. Each day we will provide some guidance to help you pray. Our hope is that these would be a spring board into prayer and that our hearts would be open to God’s leading of our time.

Monday

Let’s pray with Paul that God would open our hearts and minds to know and to experience him in greater, richer depth this week as we meditate on the work of Christ on the cross.

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1:15-21

God, by your great mercy please open up the eyes of our hearts to see you and know you more. Lord, please reveal to us how marvelous and majestic you are and prepare our hearts to grow closer to you this week as we approach the celebration of our Risen Savior Jesus Christ.

Palm Sunday – Tomorrow marks the beginning of Holy Week as we remember the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem for the final week of his pre-resurrection life. Jonathan will be preaching to us from Psalm 27.

Liquid Lunches – Monday through Friday we are recommending that people fast from solid food and use the lunch time to pray. We will be sending out a prayer guide with Scriptures and topics to help you focus this time.

Good Friday – We will be having a service of singing and Scripture meditation with a short devotional from Theo as we reflect on the meaning of the death of Christ. 6:45 PM at The Meeting Place.

Outreach Saturday – We want EVERYONE to participate in some part of this day. It will begin with a brief prayer meeting at The Meeting Place at 10:30 AM. Then we will go out and do surveys at several foot-traffic hot spots throughout the UIC Area, asking questions about Easter that could lead to spiritual conversations. Then at 1:00 PM we will be having an Easter Egg Hunt Outreach at Arrigo Park. Please be inviting people to this! We emailed out a digital invitation this week and will have printed copies for you to take at the service tomorrow and share with friends and classmates.

Easter Sunday – In lieu of Table Talk there will be a brunch for everyone at 9:30 AM before the service.

The week leading up to Easter is always a big week in the life of Immanuel. Here’s what to expect this year:

4/9 – Palm Sunday (Jonathan will be preaching to kick off our week together)

4/10-15 – ‘Liquid Lunches’ (this year’s suggested fast is no solid food for lunches; we’ll be sending out prayer guides so you can use that time to focus spiritually)

4/14 – Good Friday Service (a contemplative service with songs, readings, and a brief message on the atonement from Theo)

4/15 – Prayer and Outreach (in the morning we’ll gather at The Meeting Place to pray together and then go out across the UIC Area to do surveys that will lead to spiritual conversations about Easter; then in the afternoon we’ll also be having an Easter Egg hunt for kids at Arrigo Park where the gospel will be presented; we’d like everyone to participate in at least one of these outreach events)

4/16 – Brunch and Celebration Service (before worship there will be a spread of breakfast food to eat together!)

On the third Sundays of every month there’s a meal after our worship service. Plan to stick around and eat!

This Sunday during the meal Kara will be sharing about her upcoming work in Germany.

After that, there will be a short, optional seminar that you won’t want to miss on “Bridging the Secular Divide.” It’s designed to help us better understand how the unbelievers around us think and act. And we’ll be explaining a new evangelistic focus for our Sunday Morning Prayer Meetings this year.

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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