Family: Parent Summit Recap October 2012

Miss the October 2012 Parent Summit or just curious to know what others thought about the half-day workshop?

Check out a few Immanuel parents’ biggest take aways from the summit’s focal points of discipleship and growing and a strong family:

~PI4A84 from Immanuel Church on Vimeo.

What did you take away from the Summit?

Click HERE to register for the April 2013 Parent Summit!

Please share!

The Monday After: Living a Generous Life: Moving Toward Trust {Marcus}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the day, after the music fades and our cars leave the parking lot, pieces of the message tend to fade, too; somewhere along the way, we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; leave your thoughts in the comments below so we can create conversation and encouragement!

The Monday After: Sunday, October 28, 2012: Living a Generous Life: Moving Toward Trust

By Marcus Wolfe

I write this as a scrooge.

Not from the place I should be — not even close.

But God has been taking me on a journey regarding generosity which started about 3.5 years ago.  So I was really struck by Pastor Joe’s insightful question today: Why Do I Have So Much?  As I thought about this, the disgruntled part of me of the not-so-distant past would have brooded about what I don’t have; but, increasingly, the developing giver has chosen to look a different way.

I would have focused on being laid off from a full-time job three years ago, but instead I was reminded that I have a part-time job that actually allows me to match my work with my current physical limitations.  It has also allowed me the time to grow spiritually through things like Vantage Point 3, Senior Adult Ministry Breakfasts, better devotions and visiting others; it’s allowed me to grow as I look at serving others where I work.

I would have been upset that we are losing our home of 11 years, but instead I have chosen to see this as a blessing as we are moving from a second-floor unit to a first-floor unit that better matches my current and possible future physical limits.

I would have focused on my labored breathing this morning and my knee being a little sore, but my wife reminded me that I have access to excellent medical care, and that I have good medical insurance, both of which many people lack.

These “but instead” views have not come easy.  They came out of the adversity of these past years with the seeds for generosity being particularly sown last year as I went through VP3 and made the sacrifice of time required for this journey.  It was then as I discovered more about God and more about myself, that I saw where I could plug in and serve with my time and talents.  However, as that has been growing, God still needed to get the last “T,” that of treasure.

That has been His process in me lately.  During the last several years we have increasingly had more garage sales and given stuff away as we anticipated the coming move.  As we now pack, we realize how much stuff we still have and how much we still really don’t need.  I have seen God provide a new place to live, matching us up with believers as landlords who have waited patiently for us to become new tenants.  I have seen the generosity of my church family and earthly family rally around us to provide for our economic, physical, spiritual and emotional needs.  I have been able to praise God for His provision and now I am seeing more and more how I can help others praise God by assisting them.

So where does this lead to with the final “T” of treasure?  I am beginning to find myself evaluating spending and saving based on the question, “What else could I do with these finances from a kingdom perspective?”

This doesn’t mean our spending habits have changed all that much yet, but we are thinking and talking more about where our money goes first.  It has meant a decision to start regular giving to the church again, something I had given up.  It has also meant God touching my heart to reach out in a very personal and financial way to a hurting world. For years, my wife has wanted to sponsor a child through a relief agency, but I let her commitment to Operation Christmas Child be our service to hurting children.  Then several weeks ago I was listening to Christian radio and felt personally convicted that we should step up our giving and reach out to a hurting world and sponsor a child.  And this time I obeyed.  So on October 19th, we “adopted” a 13 year old boy named Jordy from Ecuador through Compassion International.  This step has excited me as I hope we can bring some comfort, joy and encouragement to this young man like has been brought to us these last years by those around us.

Again these are the sentiments of someone in progress.  I am still gripped by the materialism of a modern American, my “wanter” still wants more than I have, but it is my hope that I can move forward with Immanuel in helping God’s Church achieve His mission in Gurnee, Waukegan, Lake County and to the ends of the earth.  And in helping God’s Church reach out, my own heart can be conformed to the image of Christ.  I would be like one of those spoken of in 1 John 3:18.

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”(NLT)

Marcus is married to Jessica and is currently a substitute teacher at Zion Benton Township High School.  They care for any number of guinea pigs (currently two).  In his spare time, Marcus enjoys reading, computer games and shooting.  His ministry passions include working with senior adults and the sick, and growing with other men, as well as helping Jessica with whatever ministries she is involved with at the time.   

ICYouth: On bare feet, open hands and giving hearts {Grant}

Every Friday, we’re taking a peek at how God is working in the lives of our impact students. These servants of Jesus are walking daily by faith as they navigate the hallways and relationships inside their school walls and beyond. Our weekly series, In the Aftermaths of iMPACT , will highlight what God is up to in their lives in their voices. Leave them some encouragement by commenting?

by Grant Everly

Sunday night was definitely a first for me, as well as everyone else at Impact.

Right off the bat I could tell something was up. I came to Impact 15 minutes early for a first impressions team meeting, just like I do every week, but it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t a normal Sunday night. In the weekly meetings, we, the Impact first impressions team, normally get briefed on the night’s happenings, but this Sunday, as we came down to a part on the “rundown” for the night labeled “shoes,” the mood started to shift drastically. We were no longer just partaking in a normal Impact; this night was completely different and quite frankly, radical.

Stef Boyce began to tell us what exactly was meant by “shoes.” It was quite evident by her body language and tone that she was overflowing with anticipation. “Tonight,” she began, with a huge grin, “we will be asking you all to give up your shoes.” My initial reaction was a little disbelieving. “Uh-huh, you think that a whole bunch of teenagers are going to take their shoes off and give them away on a moments notice?” But then I quickly began to realize that Stef was being completely serious. Tonight, they truly were going to straight up ask us Impact students to give up our shoes and walk out of the church in our socks, never to get them back. My thoughts soon changed from initial disbelief to the realization that this was actually going to happen. A grin started to sweep across my face in the same way that it had swept across Stef’s, and I let out a little laugh thinking, “This is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS!!!!”

My grin soon turned into pure excitement as I began to realize what God was calling me to. My heart raced as I came to the conclusion that it was going to happen–my shoes were going to be given up by the end of the night. I was quickly hyped up, if you will, super excited to see how God was going to use all of this. It was no longer a question of whether my beloved tan, canvas, low cut, Nike 6.0s were going to be on my feet at the end of the night — it was a question of where they were going after tonight.

You know that feeling you get when you do something that is really difficult to do, but you’re certain God had called you to? I was experiencing that exhilarating feeling in a much greater strength than I ever had before; the only problem was that it wasn’t even close to time to give up my shoes yet, as Impact hadn’t even opened its doors. I was going to have to wait another hour before I gave up my shoes.

I left the meeting with a heart that was pounding obnoxiously hard. It was soon time for Impact to begin. My friends began to enter, and Impact appeared normal, but I could never quite completely convince myself that it was a normal night, in large part due to my heart, which had to be pumping blood at an accelerated rate. I tried to relax just a bit, but I was just too overwhelmed with the joy of knowing that my shoes were no longer a material possession of mine, but were soon to be used to advance God’s kingdom.

The “fun stuff” (hangout time, group games and discussion groups) at Impact were soon coming to a close, and the next thing I knew I was walking into the youth room, ready to hear what I knew was sure to be a one of a kind, and certainly radical message by Josh. It’s absolutely unheard of for someone to ask you to give up something of yours, much less something that most would consider a basic necessity. I tried to conceal my excitement as I walked in to the youth room.

I did my best to have a normal experience during Josh’s message, but I couldn’t help myself. I was continually looking down at my shoes just grinning in anticipation over what it would feel like to give them away, thinking about the fact that they soon wouldn’t be mine.

Soon it was the closing part of Josh’s message and Josh began to introduce the challenge he was proposing to us. I could no longer conceal my excitement! My heart began pounding as Josh told us what he wanted us to do. Then he said it. The challenge was officially on the table, there for the taking. He wanted us to give up our shoes. To simply come up and lay our shoes down on the stage, with complete uncertainty in regard to where they would end up. I soon found that I was grinning a grin that was surely stretching from ear to ear. There is no doubt in my mind that it was the biggest grin that has ever spread across my face. My stomach then began to churn, and I knew it was officially time.

Josh exited the stage and I looked down upon my shoes for what was sure to be the last time. I said a short prayer over them, having no idea what was going to happen to them. I then proceeded to walk up to the stage and lay down my shoes. In a word, it was exhilarating. My shoes, the ones that I wore everyday, and the ones that went with every outfit, were no longer mine; they were fully God’s. I returned to my seat and my smile began to grow even more as I watched the stage grow into a mountain of shoes.

The leaders came up and took our shoes while Josh said a few last words. That was the moment that completely solidified the experience. At that point there was no turning back — the shoes were officially God’s. I was totally psyched!! I knew that if the God of the universe was calling me to give up my shoes, he had a pretty good reason as to why, and I truly couldn’t wait to see how he was going to use my shoes.

We then proceeded to worship, which was an experience in and of itself. With at least ¾ of the youth group worshipping shoeless, there was certainly an air of surrender. The worship time ended, and then we were dismissed.

I walked out the door a changed teenager, and not just because I was just wearing socks on my feet. I now knew what it felt like to fully surrender to God, and knew that full surrender was something I needed to strive for in the future. My graciousness turned to frustration as I read the signs that some of the youth leaders were holding. The signs read: “God gives back. Take your shoes”. “Really?” I thought, quite frustrated by the fact that after all of this I was going to get back the shoes I had just given away. It certainly seemed anticlimactic, but I soon realized that God’s work on my heart wasn’t quite complete.

As I came home, I began to settle down a bit, and realize what the real goal behind the night’s happenings was. My frustrated mindset was all wrong; it was never a question of how my shoes would be used, it was a question of whether or not my shoes were God’s for the using.

It all began to set in. Throughout the whole night, I was excited to see how God would use my shoes, and, although that was an exciting thing, it wasn’t the point. The point is that, regardless of what happens, my stuff isn’t mine; it’s God’s. It wasn’t a matter of God using my shoes, it was a matter of my shoes being God’s for the using. The difference is that while one rests on the tangible results, the other relies fully on trust in God.

As Christians, we are called to trust God with our material things, and once we realize this, we begin to understand that our giving is not defined by what happens to it once it is placed in God’s hands, but rather it is defined by the simple fact that we are obedient enough to place it in God’s hands.

They could’ve burned our shoes on Sunday, or they could’ve donated them to needy children in Africa. In choosing to give our things up we recognize that we don’t know where our stuff ends up, but in seeing this, we also realize the beauty of generosity.

It’s not about where our things go after they leave our hands; it’s about whether or not we trust God enough to place what’s in our hands in His hands.

Grant Everly is a sophomore at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

World Outreach – They’re Home!


Just a note to say that Deb and I, along with Michael Matteoni and Beth Marshall, arrived home from South Africa around 2 p.m. yesterday. We are very tired from 24 hours of flying, but had an excellent and healthy time with our missionaries, Rod and Lori Kraybill and their youngest daughter, Anissa.

Rod and Lori serve God well and represent Immanuel well in the work they do. We got a good overview of their work, not just in South Africa, but throughout the African continent. We visited many of the townships around the area of Johannesburg, including the Soweto district where the rebellion against apartheid began. We visited a daycare center for children, talked and prayed with AIDS patients and attended church where Rod and Lori are involved. (I got to speak there last Sunday). We also painted Rod’s offices that are used by four staff members.

We had a great experience and I believe were a real encouragement to the Kraybill family. We were the first church to visit them on this field.

A few prayer requests:

  1. Their physical safety. Crime is very high in the area.
  2. The need for a Senior Pastor in their church. They church has been without for one for four years.
  3. The need for a new worker to fill an upcoming office vacancy — a key position.
  4. Rod and Lori’s parenting of three girls- two away at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, and one (Anissa) still at home.

For those of you who knew and remembered we were gone and prayed … thank you.

– Pastor Joe

The Monday After: Living a Generous Life: Moving Toward Freedom {Sheryll}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the day, after the music fades and our cars leave the parking lot, pieces of the message tend to fade, too; somewhere along the way, we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; leave your thoughts in the comments below so we can create conversation and encouragement!

The Monday After: Sunday, October 21, 2012: Living a Generous Life: Moving Toward Freedom

By Sheryll Belonga

“I surrender all, all to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

I have sung this chorus on many occasions, and in my heart I believed I had surrendered all.

What I have come to realize is that my mouth was saying or singing one thing but my actions have shown something different.

This past Sunday a question was posed, at least one out of the many that got my attention:

“What are you still holding on to that you haven’t given to God?”

So I asked God what that was in my life, and His answer was time.

Time is something I always feel as though I need more of and feel like I can’t get enough of.  There are days when I don’t use my time wisely, so I end up taking it from my family.  I have often taken it from God when I felt as if I didn’t have enough of it to offer Him.  Those are the days when I don’t make time with God a priority, and I always regret it.

I realized that the reason why I don’t give my 24 hours over to God each day is because I want to be in control of them.  Now I don’t think this consciously but that is what I am, in fact, saying with my actions.  For some reason I think that if I just keep working at it I will one day be successful at how I use my time.  In reality — I can’t do it on my own.

History has proven to me that when I step out on my own to do something success is not guaranteed.  If I follow Matthew 19:26 on the other hand, success comes.

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’. “

When I look back over my life and examine the times when I allowed God to order my day, I recall days of peace.  That isn’t to say issues did not arise, but that I found peace in the midst of them.   It doesn’t mean I didn’t have any “mommy moments” where I wanted to yell at my kids; I did, but I was able to step aside and refocus on God, which brought me peace.

I believe what Pastor Josh:  if I give God the thing that is most difficult for me to let go of, then everything will fall in line.

This week I plan to surrender all to Him.

This week I will let my actions speak louder than my words.

Sheryll Belonga is the wife of Jurrell and homeschooling mom to their three great boys. Her hearts desire is to glorify God in all she says and does in spite of life’s daily happenings.