Text Size
blogheader3.png

Church Wide

News - November 21st

Attention: open in a new window. PDF | Print |

Blogs

Dear Immanuel Family,

When Jonathan Lopez signed up for a speech class in 2008 at Los Angeles City College he didn’t know that one of his speeches would explode in his face.  Being a Christian, he decided to use the speech as an opportunity to tell how God had impacted his life.  Part way through his speech the professor began mumbling so loud in the back of the room that Jonathan had to ask him to lower his voice.  The professor then exploded and announced that the speech was over and those who were offended by it were free to leave.  No one moved, at which time the professor shouted, “Class dismissed.”  (Read Jonathan’s whole story at: http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/Faith-and-Justice/7-3/CoverStory)

More and more, those who live out a Christian world view are going to feel the reaction of the secular world around them.  The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Ephesus, said, “You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. (4:17-19).  I suppose that we should not be surprised that Jonathan got the response that he did from his professor.  How can we expect Godly behavior from people who haven’t experienced the grace of God in their lives.

Next Sunday, November 30, at 6:30 pm, in the Fellowship Hall, we will be showing the movie, God Is Not Dead, which was based on several cases like Jonathan Lopez’s.  More often, especially in our educational institutions, there is an intolerance to students expressing and practicing their Christian beliefs.  This reminds me on a lesser scale of the days of Daniel and his friends when they replied to the king, “He (God) will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  (Dan 3:17,18).

PSD

   

News - November 13th

Attention: open in a new window. PDF | Print |

Blogs

Dear Immanuel Family,

(The following is from the Gospel Coalition website, entitled Preparing for Sunday Worship by Jason Helopoulos.)

The Christian life is lived from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day. Corporate worship is the high point of our week and the constant rhythm of our lives. We dare not “neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some” (Heb. 10:25), because there is nothing as meaningful, rich, and glorious on earth as the church gathering together with its Lord and Savior in worship. Most Christians believe this, but does it translate to our practice? Or is the moment we are sitting in the pew or the auditorium chair the first time we think about corporate worship in our week?

I would suggest that if corporate worship is as significant as the Scriptures portray it to be (Ex. 19; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 11:17-34; 1 Cor. 14:26-39; Heb. 10:25) then we should prepare for it. We count preaching as significant, so we expect our pastor will prepare his sermon before he enters the pulpit. We consider worship songs important, so we expect our music teams, pianists, and organists will appropriately prepare before sitting down at their instruments. We believe our engagement in corporate worship is essential, so we should also expect to prepare even as we expect the pastor and musicians to prepare for their participation in the Sunday morning service. How can you prepare for worship? Here are a few ideas:

  • Seize the Rest of the Week: Practice family worship and secret worship throughout the week knowing that this will inform and encourage your experience in corporate worship.
  • Be Boring: Go to bed early on Saturday night. Friday nights can be filled with late-night activity, but Saturday nights should routinely be safeguarded. Sleepy heads make for drowsy worshippers.
  • Right Attitude: Cultivate a spirit of joy on Sunday mornings in your home. If this is the highlight of our week, then let’s act like it. Talk about how wonderful the day is going to be, wake the kids up with excitement, turn on good Christian music for the whole family to listen to, and put a smile on your face.
  • Media Blackout: Refrain from turning on the television, watching Netflix, or catching up on Facebook Sunday mornings. Our minds are so easily distracted. Safeguard your mental space.
  • Plan Ahead: Lay out your Sunday morning clothes on Saturday night, so you don’t have to change ten times on Sunday morning before finding an outfit that fits well, looks right, or is ironed (of course, this point was not intentionally directed to any particular sex!).
  • Don’t Be Surprised: Read and think through the Sunday morning text earlier in the week. We should seldom be surprised at the passage we hear preached. Working our way through a passage throughout the week provides more fertile soil on Sunday morning.
  • Early Bird: Rise early on Sunday morning and spend time reading the Word, praying, and meditating to prepare your heart for worship.
  • Talk & Drive: On the car-ride to church talk about the passage that will be preached, sing a hymn together, and converse about the things of God.
  • Timing it Right: Give yourself enough time on Sunday mornings. Rise early enough that the morning isn’t rushed. Leave home with plenty of time to spare. Try not to arrive at church late or even a few minutes before the service. Rushing out the door at home and rushing in the door at church has stymied many worshippers.
  • Collect Your Thoughts: Sit-down, read through the bulletin (if you have one), think through the songs, meditate on the Scripture readings, and pray before the service begins.

For the Christian, there is no sweeter moment in the week than Sunday morning. How good it is to meet with God and His people! Because it is part of our weekly activity, there is a temptation to treat it as common and routine. May it never be! One of the ways to ensure that this is not the case with us is to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls for corporate worship each week. Take the time and effort, your soul will be the beneficiary.

   

News - November 7th

Attention: open in a new window. PDF | Print |

Blogs

Dear Immanuel Family,

My younger brother is coming to visit us this weekend.  Even though we don’t see each other very often, when we are together, it’s a great time of catching each other up.  There is a special connection there because he is my brother.    Shawn McEvoy writes, “Men, especially us hard-working, married-with-children types, are lacking in close biblical friendships. The reasons are varied….suffice to say that most men I talk to would vouch for the lack of quality friendships in their life, even if they speak of different reasons for the condition.”

Proverbs tells us that, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  The writer’s point is that it’s better to have a true friend than many friends who are just acquaintances.   I remember the days of growing up in a small town and the time I spent just hanging out with friends.  Sometimes we got into more mischief than we should have, but what sweet memories I have of those days.  Sadly enough, for various reasons those friendships didn’t continue into adult life.   Once we get into “normal life” you may feel like the Simon and Garfunkel song – “I am a rock, I am an island.”

The Bible says that “Iron sharpens Iron.”   With some families separating because of schooling or jobs, it becomes more important that men seek out meaningful relationships in the communities where they live.   How fortunate we are to have a church where these types of relationships can be fostered.   We men need the encouragement and accountability that comes from other men.    As we worship and serve together these kind of relationships can grow.    Many of us come from different parts of the city, but groups like the Wednesday night Men’s Fellowship or the recent Men’s Breakfast allow us to be together.  Maybe the Lord will open doors for a men’s outreach ministry to help us in Reaching Richmond.

PSD

   

News - October 31

Attention: open in a new window. PDF | Print |

Blogs

Dear Immanuel Family,

I think we would all agree that we just finished an incredible “Reaching Richmond” Missions Conference.   I know the “Fall Festival” wasn’t planned necessarily to go along with the conference, but it fit so well with what we heard about engaging with the mission field in our neighborhood.  It was great see so many folks at this event; many from our own ranks, but visitors from the neighborhood.

I love this quote from St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words. If, for example, your business sells health products and you are not living a healthy lifestyle, it will be difficult for you to convince people to buy your product.  Your potential customers will judge what they can see (rightly or wrongly) before they listen to your words.  Our actions have to match what we say and believe.  

I know the conference was a bit like drinking out of a fire hose, but maybe we need some time to let what we heard sink in.   Here are some things that I remember from the week:

  • When sharing the gospel we need to obtain permission to proceed
  • Immanuel needs to consider naming Deacons
  • It’s time we get out of our bubble
  • God has placed us in this part of Richmond so we can seek the “Peace of the City” and minister here
  • All of us should be being discipled and discipline others
  • Are we indirectly communicating prejudice towards other people?

Let’s keep talking about these things until we have made some changes.  I love what the ladies did for their luncheon.  They handed out “Reaching Richmond – Ministry Opportunities” (see attached) with ideas of ministries to get involved in.  Maybe the Lord will lead us to start new ministries from scratch, but there are many ministries that are “shovel ready.” If you know of one that is not on this list let me know and we will periodically publish a new opportunity list.   “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”  Hebrews 10:24.

PSD

   

Page 1 of 33