Extra Strength: WHEN DIFFERENT ISN’T BAD {Martha}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

“It’s different,” my six-year-old said as he carefully chewed the cracker with a decidedly undecided look on his face.

In my head I was thinking, “It’s a cracker. How different can it be from all the other crackers that you know and like?”

What I’ve learned about his definition of “different” when it comes to food is that different = bad or I don’t like it. Rarely, if ever, has there been a food he has tried which he labeled as “different” that has made it into the regular repertoire of meals or snacks.

For me different in the food category has not been much of a struggle but if I’m being honest, different in almost any other area of my life is a struggle. If something is different than another thing or if a situation is different than it used to be it means there has been a change.

At Immanuel Church we have recently undergone some changes and there are some things that are different. There have been a lot of changes to the physical building itself and there have been changes to the staff, the most prominent change being that of Josh Petersen stepping into the role of Lead Pastor as Joe Boerman retired.

In my head, I know that the changes that have taken place with the building, programming and staff are good but it’s different.

Uh oh, those words again. It’s different.

Same is familiar, safe, easy. Different is scary.

Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way. Any risk takers out there are probably rolling their eyes about now. But if you’re like me and you’re feeling the effects of the changes at Immanuel, I want to encourage you that different does not have to be bad or scary, not when God is involved.

As I have become aware of these feelings about the changes at the church that I love I took my feelings to God in prayer and here’s what He has shown me.  It’s o.k.

It’s o.k. to feel this way, to mourn and miss what is no longer, to be unsure or even afraid of what is to come. I can trust God in this change. I can trust that He is working all things for the good of the people of Immanuel Church. This isn’t about me. It’s about God and what He is doing through this church, through us. I can trust that my leaders at Immanuel are being led by God in every decision they make and I need to pray for them.

Thank you, Father for the Church and how you’ve designed it to help accomplish your mission. Thank you for Immanuel and its leaders. Amen.


Martha has been a wife for 17 years and is the mother of three children ages 10, 9 and 5.  When she’s not folding laundry, cooking meals, helping with homework, kissing boo-boos, grocery shopping, cleaning house and running errands; she loves to hold babies at Immanuel MOPS!


Be challenged:

Whether these changes have been easy or difficult for you, I invite you to pray with me for our church and its leaders as we begin a new leg of Immanuel’s journey.

Thursday: Pray for Pastor Josh, his marriage and his family
Friday: Pray that we will be united in our mission to “help people know Christ and grow to be like him.”
Saturday: Pray for the student and children’s ministries and their leaders
Sunday: Pray for Bryan Bicket as he leads the men’s and small group ministries as well as Anita Everly as she leads the women’s ministries
Monday: Pray for the Alpha and Recovery ministries
Tuesday: Pray for the World Outreach team and its leaders and those going on mission trips
Wednesday: Pray for all other staff and ministry leaders (a list can be found at immanuelhome.org/leadership-team)

World Outreach: Sharing the Love of Christ in the Midst of Tragedy

Thank you for your generous support to Accelerate, our one-fund. Because of your generosity and God’s goodness, we are able to share stories from our missionaries like the one below. If you would like to give, please visit our giving page. Thank you for investing in the work of Christ both locally and globally. 

by Mike Bicket, missionary and aircraft mechanic with United Indian Missions Aviation

Soraida, a 7-month-old Tarahumaran girl living in the remote mountains of Mexico, was being held by her 14-year-old aunt when they were both accidentally shot by their 10-year-old relative.

Bicketblogpic August 2014The bullet pierced Soraida and continued through to her aunt, killing her and leaving Soraida severely injured. The missionaries living there quickly went into action, providing medical attention to the two girls and calling UIM Aviation for a medical evacuation (med-evac) flight.

United Indian Missions Aviation was able to quickly launch a pilot and airplane, arriving in the remote mountain village in less than an hour and a half after being called. The plane was able to take Soraida and her parents to a nearby mission hospital run by Mexico Medical Missions. There, the baby was able to receive oxygen and two doctors were then able to accompany Soraida and her parents to the capital city of Chihuahua for further medical treatment. Soraida is currently still in the hospital and is slowly starting to gain strength. Please pray for her as she still has a long way to go to get out of the ICU. And pray for her parents, that God would comfort them, sustain them and provide for all their family’s needs through this time.

Soraida’s parents are young Christians who are still growing in their faith. Actually, all of the believers in this village are young Christians as there have only been missionaries working there for a few years. Medical evacuations (Med-evacs) like the one UIM Aviation was able to provide is an excellent way to show Christ’s love for these new believers and for the un-believers living in this village.
Bicket blog pic August 2014 2Soraida’s parents are seeing the global Church displaying Christ’s love to them though the many believers in Mexico — from the pilot of the aircraft to the doctors and nurses at the mission hospital to the mission guest house workers where the parents are staying during their time in Chihuahua and many more.
The missionaries that work in Soraida’s village have had a challenging time in this village as many of the new believers continue to turn back to heavy alcoholism and have not taken their faith seriously.
We are praying that by showing care for these young believers, Soraida’s parents as well as their village, will see Christ’s love for them in a real way through this event and desire to continue to grow in their relationship with God and continue to make Him known among their own people.
Bicket FamilyMike and Kelli work with United Indian Missions Aviation in taking the gospel message to the people in the Sierra Mountains in Mexico.
Mike is an aircraft mechanic; their family lives in Tucson, Arizona. 


Local Outreach: Stories of Being the Light

by Laura Forman

The words aggressive and Christian should perhaps never be paired. Maybe you’ve known someone that fits the description; if not, you’re probably not interested in meeting such a person. That said, when Immanuel’s Go! Group leader David Forman was asked to describe its purpose, he responded that it is to help the church be more “aggressive” in sharing God’s love.

Jesus said:

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

It takes intent and initiative to share our faith, to shine our light. In these ways, we are “aggressive” by being fired up to love one another as Jesus intended, listening to and answering God’s call on our lives, praying for each other and nurturing our own relationship with God in order to mentor others.

Each member of Go! is committed to missional living, seeing our everyday lives as our mission field. Here is how some of us are doing just that:

Deborah Jensen prays for her neighbors as she walks past their homes. A former Micro Alpha host, she is currently on the summer Alpha Team. Deb’s outreach includes inviting neighbors, friends and her daughter’s friends to attend Alpha. She is looking forward to hosting an upcoming summer neighborhood block party, complete with a campfire, s’mores and a game of tag for the kids.

Also starting right where she lives, Beth Mccullough has led three neighborhood women’s Bible studies in her home since she felt God’s call to do so a year and a half ago.

Beth explained, “I have found that a neighborhood study seems to reach a group of women who are perhaps intimidated to enter a church building for a study, or who are short on time and appreciate a casual meeting right in the ‘hood that they can walk to. The women that have been coming are quite diverse in their spiritual backgrounds, and several do not have a home church. Two of the women who joined last time had never opened a Bible before- which was SO exciting to me!”

Lisa Stewart is working with Bridge House, a substance abuse treatment center.

In Lisa’s words, to share “how the programs that we offer at Immanuel have helped me to develop a personal working relationship with Jesus Christ has kept me clean and saved not only my soul but my life as well.”

As an employee of A Safe Place, a domestic violence shelter, Cindy Johnson is working on approval to lead Micro Alpha at the facility. Those in need of abuse services would be invited on a voluntary basis.

David and I currently host Micro Alpha in our home for a group of teens in substance abuse recovery. We felt the call to reach out to this vulnerable population because many drop out of twelve step programs due to confusion over the definition of “higher power.” In our fifth week, we continue to be amazed by their openness and excitement for the program.

Beth sums up our sentiments well, “The Go! Group at Immanuel has been a tremendous source of encouragement and support; I always leave the group meetings feeling refreshed and re-energized. It is wonderful to hear how God is working through the other group members’ lives, and to see glimpses of Him on the move in Lake County.”

Hear more stories of Go! members and get support or ideas for your outreach at our next meeting, the first Sunday of the month at 10:45 in room B113.

100_1824 Laura Forman is a follower of Christ and Immanuel Church member. She is  married to David and they live in Gurnee  with their five children. Working as  both a personal trainer and a freelance writer, she can be found at church  or www.lauralisaforman.com.

Small Groups: Stories of Renewal, Service and Love through 40 Days in the Word

40 days

by Laura Forman

Rarely do we participate in something together, everyone as an entire church community. Sure, most of us come to services weekly. Outside of Sunday mornings, are we ever truly on the same page? The answer is yes — if you’re in an Immanuel small group!

40 Days in the Word, a devotional method of Bible Study by Rick Warren, has inspired new ways of reading, interpreting and applying God’s words.

We all come to the Bible with our needs, and Joan Boyce is no exception. She has two grandchildren, ages 4 and 7, battling Sanfilippo syndrome- a rare, progressive and fatal disease. The experience has focused Joan on the power of God’s word, prayer and Bible study.

“God has used my grandbabies to literally re-align my thinking of who God is through his word,” Joan explained. “I’ve been in the word for many years; I found for me this (40 Days) was a refresher course, helping reestablish new ways of looking at the word and how it can be applied. It’s like fresh, cool water I’m taking in.”

Joan describes her experience in 40 Days as “wonderful”.

As part of the study, each group must plan and complete a “Micah 6:8” service project.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8 (NLT)

Immanuel staff member Hyacynth Worth and husband John are in the process of preparing to adopt an older orphaned child from Eastern Europe. Having hosted her over Christmas, with the help of New Horizons, they shared their adoption dream with their small group.

“They were so giddy when talking about it, like a young person talking about a first love,” group member Chesney Leafblad said.

When it came time to decide on a service project, the Worths were unable to attend.

“We were throwing around a couple of ideas, but they were uninspired. None of them were perfect. All of a sudden we started talking about them (the Worth family) and the journey they embarked on,” Chesney shared.

The group deliberated and asked, “Why don’t we have an event to help them fund their journey? Perfect, we thought, it was exactly what we wanted to do”.

Chesney believes, “It’s about seeking out opportunities to serve- instead of it falling into your path- sometimes you have to be proactive to find ways to serve. It may be totally different than anything you’ve ever done.”

Love Walks: Mile for Mile will take place in May. The walkathon and bake sale will be kid-friendly, as the group has a combined sixteen children. With a goal of raising  $10,000 toward adoption fees, the group believes in doing their best and “letting God take care of the rest.”

Trusting God means trusting his Word; loving God means loving his Word.

Bible Professor and Immanuel member Michael Vanlaningham, writing from Israel, sums it up well:

“We must be people of the Word. How can we hope to remain confident in God during hardships if we do not know His power and goodness? How can we avoid moral and spiritual mistakes and foolish, sinful decisions unless we know what they are? The Word of God is sufficient for us to know God and enjoy Him forever.”


Hear more stories from our church-wide study of 40 Days in the Word during service on Celebration Sunday, March 23. If you missed it, learn about 40 Days in the Word here.

100_1824Laura Forman loves Jesus. She is married to David and they live in Gurnee with their five children. Working as both a personal trainer and a freelance writer, she can be found at church or www.lauralisaforman.com.