Pray for the Malta Ministry Team

Paul DreillingChurch Blog

malta team Immanuel baptist richmond

We have some exciting news! Immanuel will be sending a ministry team to Malta, an island off the coast of North Africa, from January 31-February 7. They will be providing a Kid’s Club for the missionary children during an annual missionary conference of one of Immanuel’s missionary families working in the Mediterranean region (since this article will be on the IBC website we can’t mention their name or location). These conferences are special times for missionaries when they can get a break from ministry, are able hear God’s Word taught in English, and have fellowship with other teammates they don’t get to see regularly.

The IBC team members are: Dick & Pam Anthony, Joel & Ruthie Hess, Renita Like, and Beth & Karl David Webel. The MKs range in age from 1 ½ to 16 years old and are from the USA, Canada and Korea. There are several evening meetings and a date night planned when our team will also be with the kids. Most of these children are in isolated locations without contact with other MKs. Our team will be an important link in fostering interaction with other adults like their parents and among the kids themselves. In some cases these MKs will eventually attend colleges in their home countries with classmates they met on the mission field.

Please pray for our team:

• For the ability to plan activities and prepare well for the trip with their everyday responsibilities
• Wisdom in packing since they will need to bring everything they use with the MKs
• For team unity as they meet to prepare, and during the trip
• For good health leading up to and during the trip
• That God would use this trip in a special way with the MKs and the team. For the salvation of
those MKs who may not know the Lord.

Paul Dreiling


Paul Dreiling
Church Administration/
Missions Director

Five Reasons to Preach the Book of Ezra

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

EzraSunday, January 12, we launch a new sermon series at Immanuel Baptist Church on the book of Ezra called Rebuilding Ruins. I don’t know precisely how many sermons it will include, somewhere between 14-16, but Ezra will be worth all the attention we give it for at least five reasons.

We need eyes to see God’s providence and man’s opportunity.

Preaching Ezra will clearly present God’s power to change hearts and attitudes. The story begins: “the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia” (Ezra 1:1). God motivated expatriated Jews to return—“everyone whose heart God had moved” (Ezra 1:5). Later, God changed the heart of the king of Assyria (6:22), motivated the king of Persia to beautify the house of God (Ezra 7:27-28), and caused both kings to submit to God’s sovereign will (Ezra 1:2; 7:23). God can change your mind too. We need faith to pray big prayers for our sovereign God to move among us and spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

We need the courage to start over or try again.

Perhaps it is helpful to know that the book of Ezra spans almost a century, and two big gaps form in the story. In chapter 4 false accusations against the Jews ended construction of the temple for 20 years, and 50 years lay between the events of chapter 6 and Ezra’s return in chapter 7. That is a long time to finish a project. Will your patience last decades? Perhaps you quit too soon—quit serving, quite sharing the Gospel, or quit attending church altogether. Reading Ezra will give you patience to start over or try again.

We need atonement for our sins.

When the people returned to Jerusalem, they immediately built an altar in the seventh month and began establishing the temple in the second year. The people praised God at the temple’s foundation singing, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel” (Ezra 3:11). But why build the temple before a wall as Nehemiah constructed? Why not roads, houses, and infrastructure first? Why set the altar before the temple’s foundation? The answer: sins were atoned on that altar. For 50 years the sin of Israel’s rebellion laid exposed. The altar was the place of forgiveness, and God’s people wanted to be clean before God. We must hold the Gospel of Jesus Christ as our priority in the church for the same reason. Before good works and worthwhile projects, we must hold to Christ’s sacrifice for sin.

We need purity as God’s people.

The book of Ezra ends with a public confession of the people’s sin of intermarriage. To be clear, Ezra was not condemning interracial marriage. The Law made provision for non-ethnic Jews to join the nation, and Ruth, as an example, was a Moabite who joined Israel through marriage after accepting the God of Israel. The impure marriages were dissolved because the people had “broken faith and married foreign women” (Ezra 10:10). A holy God is equally concerned with the purity of your marriage, money, education, and career.

We need the Bible to restore the church.

God’s Word (the Bible) restores God’s people. That is the book’s unifying theme. Ezra 7:10 says, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Knowing Scripture, obeying Scripture, and teaching Scripture will revitalize the church just as it restored Israel after the exile. No fancy mission statement or program launch necessary. Just Christians who carry their Bible to church. We need to be Ezra-like in our hunger for God’s Word.

Pastor Michael Wilburn Immanuel Baptist Richmond


Pastor Michael

Remembrance Service – January 5th

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

UPDATED remembrance service

Immanuel Family,

On Sunday, January 5th in the 5:00 pm service gathering we will share a special time reflecting on church members who entered the Lord’s presence in 2019. We said goodbye to these faithful brothers and sisters, we miss them still, and we look forward to seeing them again at Christ’s return for his Bride, the Church.

Let me invite you to attend Sunday’s Remembrance Service as we listen and share about those who have gone before us. Then we will observe the Lord’s Supper and look forward to resurrection day.

Shirley Baldwin – January 20, 2019
Audrey Redmond – March 7, 2019
Margaret Fox – April 2, 2019
Anne Terrell – April 30, 2019
Mary Ann Cate – June 30, 2019
Charles Baber – July 10, 2019
Jane Anthony – July 20, 2019
Audrey Nichols – July 21, 2019
David Eshleman – July 30, 2019
Jeanette Lane – September 15, 2019
Tom Conner – September 19, 2019

Pastor Michael Wilburn Immanuel Baptist Richmond


Pastor Michael

10 Reasons to Read the Bible

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

read the Bible

You need more Scripture. You need more time reading, listening, praying, applying, and sharing God’s Word. What better day to begin than January 1, 2020? Let me challenge you (and me) to invest more time in the Bible this year.

You can achieve this by:

Completely reading the Bible in a year;


Reading Immanuel’s weekly Scripture reading and sermon text ahead of Sunday morning, and;


Reading the Gospel of John one-on-one with an unbelieving friend. Do this and you will disciple yourself, enhance corporate worship, and evangelize a friend.

Here are three tips for getting started:

Buy a new Bible (digital copy, study Bible, or whatever gets you motivated to read).


Read a new English translation of the Bible (For example, I followed this tip and read the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NRSV, NLT, NET, CSB, ESV, NASB, and CEV).


Use a reading plan for the Bible (try the Through the Bible, M’Cheyne, or chronological plans – or use our church app).

Here are 10 biblical reasons to read the entire Bible in 2020:

Joshua 1:8
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Matthew 4:4
But he answered, “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

John 6:63
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

John 8:31-32
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 14:23-24
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

John 17:17
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Acts 20:32
And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Romans 15:4
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Pastor Michael Wilburn Immanuel Baptist Richmond


Pastor Michael

Merry Christmas, Immanuel!

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Immanuel baptist staf 2019

Immanuel Family,

The year 2019 will soon end. A new decade full of opportunities and beginnings will capture our attention. Before we flip the calendar, let me encourage you to reminisce over God’s amazing grace to you and your family and remind yourself that God’s here-and-now grace leads to a never-ending future grace. As Ephesians 2:7 speaks, “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Do you understand what that means? The good news of the Gospel only gets better. This year will end but God’s grace never will.

On behalf of the church staff, thank you for allowing us to lead and serve you. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Pastor Michael Wilburn

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 21:11

The Christmas Story

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Luke 2:1-20
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 1And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Please join Gloria Duffey and our children’s ministry for a Christmas play on Sunday during the 5:00 pm service gathering.

Pastor Michael Wilburn Immanuel Baptist Richmond


Pastor Michael Wilburn

I Could Have Been One of Them: An Adoption Story

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

I could have been one of them an adoption story
Paul Rohs, a first-time guest at Immanuel, shared this story with us on Sunday, December 1st. Sharing it here is intended to encourage your support for the sanctity of life, adoption, and foster care.
This is a very difficult story for me to think about, much less talk about. I deserve no attention for it. The story itself deserves consideration. However, I am so burdened to share it, here goes. 63 years ago, a certain woman was close to giving birth. However, for some reason, she had determined her pregnancy was “inconvenient.” 63 years ago last week, before abortion was legal and readily available, a baby boy was born and immediately shipped off to an orphanage.
Some 5 months later, a young couple was led to add me to their family. Perhaps it was my magnetic personality. Maybe I was just that cute. Well, most likely neither. I have no memory of my earliest days and know nothing about why I was put up for adoption so I render no judgment. I grew up only knowing my adopted life and family. This is my family. These are my parents. The life they gave me was steeped in the love of God and as good as anyone ever had. I thank God each and every day for merely surviving until birth, my biological mother for giving me up for adoption, and my true “parents” for adopting me.
Dad was a truck driver, tough as nails. The four of us kids, all adopted, grew up in small-town America on a family farm. We raised most of our meat and had a huge garden so I never learned the easy life. It was hard work and long days. We got one new pair of work boots a year and a new pair of jeans twice a year when the Outdoor Store had its sale. At age 13, I began working on our farm and at least one other. Life was hard work, honest, and right out in the open. There were things you did and things you just didn’t do. All this wrapped in a God-loving “in touch” family.
Now, after a wonderful 41-year marriage to my best friend, three daughters with their own families and lives, a career in the Air Force and a second career with other agencies, undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees, I am retired. As a little farm kid who always knew I was adopted but never knew where I came from, I realize I never cared about the where. Ever.
I have read many things about the benefits of adoption, but never written by us kids, who were adopted. Although I never boasted that my life on its merit or by my actions has been exceptional, I can attest to what I’d consider a positive impact—one that would make my parents proud. All resulting from an act a young, couple, my parents, were led to make many years ago.
Anyone reading this and contemplating adoption or knowing someone who is, let me encourage you to do so. You can be the parent of a child who for whatever reason, deserves to be saved. If abortion is being considered, someone today is looking for a little one to call their own. Only recently had it hit me that if abortion was legal and as readily available then as it is now, I most assuredly would have been one of them. That is a very tough realization.
Ever since murder by abortion was made legal, some 60 million of us, souls deemed inconvenient and unplanned, have had our lives ended in the blue barrel. If you have seen the movie “Unplanned” you will know what I mean. If you have not seen it, you should. With the expansion of abortion criteria, I cry at the thought. You must know that if a wall like the Vietnam Wall were built with the names of those babies inscribed on it, that wall would be more than 48 miles long. Yes, 48 miles. You can do the math—more than 1,000 times the total number of casualties of the entire Vietnam War.
I am not trivializing the trauma of an unplanned pregnancy. I can only consider it from my perspective and the Word of God. One hears about the guilt felt by those surviving battles while others did not. I live with that daily. Yes, daily. My life could easily have ended the same. I was deemed inconvenient before I was born. I thank God every day that I was adopted instead.
by Paul Rohs

Live Life Forward

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

2 Peter 3This Sunday Evening, we will hear from Dr. David Nelson with his sermon, Live Life Forward (2 Peter 3:14-18). Let’s learn a little more about Dr. Nelson and his history with Immanuel:

Dr David NelsonTell us your background and history with Immanuel.
I have been a part of IBC since the late ‘50s even before the church moved from Pine Street (read more of Immanuel’s history). Phyllis’ family became part of the church in the early ‘60s, so our families had grown up under Pastors Seume, Toussaint, and Fesmire. We count it a real blessing to have sat under godly preaching while growing during many years of Sunday school and very active youth groups! It was under Seume’s ministry that I began to feel the tug (call) to the pastorate which subsequently guided my life and education. Thankfully, Phyllis, quite separately from me, had felt that she’d like to serve God as a pastor’s wife. Though our families knew each other, we had not met before the late ‘70s. God brought us together at IBC and we were married in 1981. Phyllis has been a faithful, godly and indispensably wise companion throughout our life of ministry.  God blessed us with two children, Dave (37) and Rachel (husband-Jay Short) (36).
How have you served the Lord over the past 30 years?
Thirty-three years ago, our young family moved from Richmond to the Philadelphia area to attend seminary and serve as an intern at First Baptist Church of Newtown (now called Grace Point). One-third of my seminary degree came from that active internship where I served in many, and varied ways. Subsequently, in January 1992, God directed us to take the pastorate of The Baptist Church of Perry, in western New York State. Through many years of trial and blessing, we were able to see the church turn around from a generally legalistic church to become a gracious, relational body with love for Jesus Christ. Phyllis and I likewise grew in many ways, grounding our faith in the centrality of the glory of God over all things. John Piper’s saying encapsulates the heart of our ministry: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Along the way (late ‘90s) I had become burdened by the state of converted people. So many who claimed faith did not seem to live it. Where was the effectual change conversion was supposed to bring? Upon expressing this in a phone conversation with my former pastor, he urged me that if I were going to study the subject anyway, I would do well to get a degree in the process. This I did. It has been a profitable study that led to a doctorate from Gorden-Conwell Theological Seminary. It fine-tuned my faith in God and his Word and benefitted the church as well. Several years ago we began to feel that our work at BCP was nearing an end and that it would be profitable to the gospel for me to pass the baton to the next pastor. By God’s grace we were able to leave the church with a healthy unity in Christ and a good pastor to lead them further down the path we had begun.
What does semi-retirement mean for a pastor?
I can say only what it means for me. First. I don’t look at what I’m doing as retirement, but only that we resigned (affably) from one ministry in order to rest (for a short time) before returning to further ministry. Second. Without knowing exactly what is next (God always knows) our thought is that we would like to remain in some form of ministry though in a different place and perhaps at a different pace. In a real sense, one never “retires” from ministry altogether. Third. Rest, like labor, if done in a godly way, restores the soul and finds its grounding in faith that trusts God in quiet as well as in work. Lastly, I plan to do some writing.
What advice would you share with a church after a lifetime of ministry?
First. Ensure that the main thing IS the main thing! I know, that sounds so cliche! But it is not! It’s absolutely critical to a happy, God-fulfilling life. To glorify God BY enjoying him forever is the sine qua non of the Christian’s purpose. All things must emanate from this pursuit, whether it’s work or witness or worship. Second, Pray. Pray privately. Pray corporately. Be so intent on prayer that other things in life might suffer in order to give time to prayer! I often said something to the effect that “prayer is the engine that drives the church.” And if that is true, then how will the church move forward on the right basis unless they pray? Further, if prayer is essentially communion with God, then it is natural for us to enjoy the privilege of such a beautiful union. Third. God’s Word. Read it. Study it. Soak in it until it becomes who you are. Aim to become something of what Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, viz., that he knew the Bible so well, that his very blood ran bibline. Prick him anywhere and out flowed Bible! Many things happen in our lives and in our churches, so if we get these things right, all other things will fall into place. In sum, a lifetime of ministry has reinforced the basics, the ABC’s of Christianity!

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation (1789)

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

1798 Thanksgiving Declaration
Washington issued a proclamation on October 3, 1789, designating Thursday, November 26 as a national day of thanks. In his proclamation, Washington declared that the necessity for such a day sprung from the Almighty’s care of Americans prior to the Revolution, assistance to them in achieving independence, and help in establishing the constitutional government.
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks:
  • For his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation
  • For the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war
  • For the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed
  • For the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted
  • For the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed;
and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions:
  • To enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually
  • To render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed
  • To protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord
  • To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us
  • And generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Ears to Hear Podcasts

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Michael Wilburn favorite podcasts for the church

Whenever I see a person with earbuds I ask myself, “What are they listening to?” because what we hear shapes who we are in the long run. Often, podcasts fill that airspace. Podcasts offer free downloadable audio content to anyone with a computer, smartphone, or digital device. Some of the popular “podcatchers” are iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. In fact, you can subscribe to Immanuel’s podcast on Stitcher HERE.

Why Listen to Podcasts?

What you hear influences how you think. Your time and attention really matter, and your commute time is more than background noise. Proverbs 18:15 approves, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Podcasts are an excellent alternative to talk radio and music. They allow you to selectively hear profitable conversations for your mind, heart, and spirit.

In case you wonder what a pastor plays in the car, here are 13 podcasts on my iPhone right now:

  1. 5 Minutes in Church History
  2. 5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer
  3. 9Marks Pastors’ Talk
  4. Ask Pastor John
  5. Classic Tales Podcast
  6. Expositor with Steven J. Lawson
  7. HBR Ideacast
  8. Revitalize & Replant with Thom Rainer
  9. The Briefing with Albert Mohler
  10. The On Preaching Podcast with H. B. Charles, Jr.
  11. The Tolkien Professor 
  12. Thinking in Public with Albert Mohler
  13. United? We Pray

Make a Suggestion

What podcasts do you listen to? Follow the link to our Facebook page, Immanuel Baptist Richmond, and post a comment with your podcast recommendation.


Pastor Michael