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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

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

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, we have a great opportunity to demonstrate our difference from the world (the topic of this coming Sunday’s sermon passage in 1 John).

This means that we exhibit peace in the midst of panic because we know him who is from the beginning (1Jn. 2:13,14). So many passages of Scripture come to mind that call us not to be anxious (i.e. Ph. 4:6-7), not to be worried (i.e. Lk. 12:29), not to fear but find refuge in God (i.e. Ps. 46:1-2), etc…

We are ultimately not even afraid of death (i.e. Ph. 1:21; Heb. 2:15). And we have the message that can rescue people from eternal death (i.e. Jn. 11:25). Let’s be sure to share the gospel with a hopeless world during this time and recognize its power to go viral (see Mt. 13:33).

Some trust in the banks and financial institutions, some trust in government health professionals, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (Ps. 20:7). We don’t set our hope on the uncertainty of riches (1Tim. 6:17), but our treasure is safe in heaven (Mt. 6:19-21).

We believe in the mercy of God (see 1Chron. 21:13 and surrounding context) and we believe in the power of prayer (James 5:16). Let’s pray for God’s common grace to curb COVID-19 through health care researchers and workers and other means. Let’s pray for those who are suffering in various ways (physically, emotionally, economically…). And mostly let’s pray for this to be an occasion for people to pay attention to God and the things that really matter eternally and not just continue to go through life with the illusion of invincibility, immortality, and the inevitability of human progress.

Let’s remember that gathering together every Lord’s Day to express God’s worth and our oneness in Christ is an important part of what it means to be a church (i.e. Heb. 10:25; the Greek word translated ‘church’ carries the meaning of an ‘assembly’).

We will continue to monitor the situation, but at this point, taking into consideration our church size and general age demographic together with the current outbreak level in Chicago, our normal Sunday services for praising, praying, preaching, and participating in the Lord’s Table together will continue. However, out of love for each other and our neighbor we will take extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus:

· The Set-Up and Tear-Down Crews will be extra vigilant to wash hands, maintain cleanliness, and wipe down surfaces.

· The Welcoming Team will open doors for you as you enter The Meeting Place.

· We will greet each other with a holy elbow bump, instead of a kiss or hug or shaking hands.

· Chairs will be set up farther apart from each other than usual.

· We will have hand sanitizer stationed in the line for the Lord’s Table for everyone to use before taking the elements.

· We will not pass baskets but will leave them out on the back table for you to put your offerings in.

· Table Talk lunch is cancelled for this Sunday.

· If you are immunocompromised and/or elderly we suggest not coming to service.

· If you are sick or have been exposed to the coronavirus, we ask that you not come to service.

If you feel like you need to stay home, please let a pastor know so we can care for you appropriately during this time.

We are also monitoring this issue with respect to Small Groups and other gatherings and will keep you posted.

One of our body’s own medical professionals recommends consulting www.cdc.gov/coronavirus for more information and tips about preventing the spread of the virus (i.e. clean your hands often; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; cover coughs and sneezes; maintaining a safe distance…).

We have tried to balance faith and prudence in this approach. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact Pastor Nathan.

Don’t forget to invite a friend to dinner and a movie tomorrow (10/12) at The Meeting Place. Fall themed food and fellowship starts at 5:00 PM. Then American Gospel will show afterwards.

This Sunday (10/13) the Marathon will make it harder to get to corporate worship, but not impossible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Plan ahead. And walk if you can.

Spots are filling up fast for Dinners for 8! Sign up here if you haven’t already.

This Sunday (1/6) we start our new meeting times:

Sunday School (for kids 2nd grade and up) and Prayer Meeting now starts at 9:00 AM

Corporate Worship now starts at 10:00 AM

This Sunday, August 12, we will not be having our regular service at 1443 W. Roosevelt Road. Instead the whole church will be up in Wisconsin at our Annual Immanuel Summer Retreat!

Be advised: this upcoming Sunday the Chicago Marathon will be winding through our city, including a large part of the UIC Area (Taylor to Ashland to 18th Street west of Halsted).

In years past we used to have our service in the afternoon or evening, but the last couple years we have met at our normal time of 10:45 AM and it has worked just fine. Just plan ahead and leave early.

Walking or biking is best. If you have to drive you can get off on Roosevelt Road from the 90/94 exit.

Here is the website with more information.

This next Sunday (11/27) we will be having a Joint Service with our Spanish-speaking sister church – Cristo el Redentor.

                                                            

Please note:

 

(1) The time is 10:00 AM.

(1) The address is 2005 S. Blue Island (Citlalin Gallery & Theater).  See the map below (the lines in black indicate areas where you will find good parking on SUNDAYs in the AM)…

 

 

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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