Really Good News!

Thomas SmoakChurch Blog

We look forward to our time with Thomas Smoak during Immanuel’s International Missions Conference October 18-20! Watch as Thomas gives a preview of what is to come:

Seeing and Serving God the Sender

Thomas SmoakChurch Blog

Immanuel baptist church richmond Virginia missions conference 2019

God is a missionary God. He is a sender of Good News. Whoever finds him and gets to know him quickly learns that his heart beats with the question, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”

During this year’s missionary conference we will listen for that call through Isaiah’s vision of heaven’s throne in Isaiah chapter 6. We’ll also hear it through the missionary call of others whom we serve as a church. Our theme is “Seeing and Serving God the Sender.”

As a young boy, I saw him through many of you at Immanuel. Growing up as a “sent one” from among you gave me a unique perspective on the worldwide fruitfulness of your faithfulness. At age 14 I said, like Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me.” Thank you for helping me see and hear the Sender and for serving him by sending Susanna and me on God’s mission for the past 30 years.

Not everybody is a missionary. It takes, on average, a hundred senders to pray and give and train and encourage each sent one. But all true members of Christ’s body are “on mission” – called to Christ’s mission in the world. His sacrifice cleanses our hearts of selfishness and our lips from speaking lies, making us worthy to speak Good News where it most needs to be heard. Every disciple follows Jesus into a world that needs him. All of us pray that his kingdom will come and give sacrificially like he did so that others “through his poverty might become rich.” We’ll talk more about that on Sunday afternoon, October 20th.

And it’s really Good News we bring! It’s a blessing for those who send, for those who go and for those who hear and believe. On Friday night, October 18th, our young people will gather to hear and discuss my friend Dr. Robert Woodberry’s research about how missionaries made the modern world (See his lecture at: His extensive research is overwhelmingly conclusive that, though it is far from perfect, the modern missionary movement that teaches conversion to Christ by faith has blessed every place it has touched. In fact the freest places on the planet almost always reap the fruit of missionary roots.

The whole world is filled with God’s glory. We’ll spend time listening to the seraphim proclaim that truth to us right up to the present. But the whole earth is not yet filled with the knowledge of his glory as the waters fill the sea. That’s the mission. That’s the promise. That’s the blessing of the mission.

Have you seen the Lord? Has his message of love and reconciliation ignited your heart with love for God and the world he loves? If not, I pray it will. If so, I challenge you not only to receive his cleansing touch for yourself but to hear him asking from his heavenly throne, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” And to answer with joy and hope, “Here I am. Send me.”

Thomas smoke


Thomas Smoak
International Director
Action International Ministries


Watch for more from Thomas as we prepare our hearts for our International Missions Conference, October 18-20.



Musical Reflections

Liz DillonChurch Blog

musical reflections by liz Dillon Immanuel baptist richmond

Music is such a huge part of our daily lives, that it is nearly impossible to imagine a full day without it, in some form or another. Radio, television, movies, advertising, even elevators and doctors’ offices, are full of that wonderful combination of melody, harmony and rhythm that we know as “music!” And so it is for those who worship God. In his Word, music is mentioned in the very first book of Genesis, and in the last book of the Revelation. In Exodus, we are told that Moses wrote songs. The lyrics to a song of the Israelites in Exodus 15 are as relevant today, as they were so many thousands of years ago. “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him!” I believe God gave music to all mankind, just as he gave us speech, in order to glorify him and to share and enjoy with other people.

There are songs of rejoicing at a wedding. Songs of grief and of hope at a funeral. Songs of triumph after victory. Songs of remorse after sin. Songs of confidence in his promises. Songs that celebrate answered prayer. Songs of affirmation of God’s Word. Songs that praise his attributes.

In the church, music is also a huge part of our worship and teaching ministries. Our preschoolers learn the essentials of God’s nature through song. We memorize Scripture easier when we have a simple melody to accompany. Every time I’ve been around our IY teens, they’re singing. Each church gathering of adults and families, includes worship in song. Why?

While we have plenty of Old Testament examples of corporate and individual singing—in addition to the hundreds of Psalms of David—the New Testament church, as it was being established in the early years after Christ returned to heaven, received directives regarding the use of music. The apostle Paul instructed believers in churches to use psalms (songs of Scripture) and hymns (songs directed to God) and spiritual songs (songs of application), to enforce the Word in our hearts, to teach each other, and to give thanks. (Eph 5 and Col 3) Therefore, singing in church is obedience to his Word. Beyond this instruction, however, we don’t have detailed guidelines regarding the “How?”

The music of our church should always reflect the nature of the God we worship. Knowing him, understanding his nature, and believing on his name, are all integral to true worship music. Our music needs to be saturated in Truth, also. When it reflects him and his Word, he is greatly glorified.

I am often asked questions regarding musical preferences and styles and the use of different instruments. As I have objectively (I hope!) formulated my own personal music philosophy, I try to keep in mind that most of what we hear today, connects specifically to this particular time in history, stylistically speaking. And each generation of the church has had their own “sound.” For instance, the earliest church fathers rejected the use of any instrumentation whatsoever. Instruments were considered entirely sensual, secular and pagan (I’ve often wondered what their thoughts about David and his instruments were?!). It was about 1,000 years before the organ was accepted for congregational singing—and not until around 1930, that the piano was seen as a beneficial addition to that! God, his Word, and his attributes, will NEVER change, but it’s obvious that our expression of worship does indeed change with the generations. The church music your grandparents heard on Sunday mornings has a different sound than the music you hear today, and today’s worship sounds different from what your grandchildren will hear.

As we learn the many facets of God, we express worship in a variety of acceptable styles. God’s Word doesn’t prescribe any certain style of sound. I personally believe that worship music should sound distinctly “Christian.” But I understand that may even differ, according to your background, experience or culture. You’ll notice that I like to blend older hymns with newer songs of faith. You’ll also notice we use the keyboard instruments, along with strings, wind instruments and rhythm. Immanuel is blessed to have many skilled musicians who are excited to be exercising their gifts for his glory in the church, and a congregation that loves to sing! It is my hope, that the worship music at Immanuel encourages your own singing, reinforces the truth of the messages from the pulpit, and reminds us of the greatness of the three-in-one God we serve.

If you have musical experience and skill that could be used in our music ministry at IBC, please let me know!

Liz Dillon Music Director Immanuel Baptist Richmond


Liz Dillon
Music Director


Tom SmithChurch Blog, Men's Ministry

Authentic Manhood Bibe Study Immanuel Baptist Richmond Virginia

If some thing or some word is mentioned often in God’s Word, it is wise to assume that it must be important. Such is the case with the word TRAP or SNARE. These words appear over 70 times in Scripture. By definition, the words mean almost the same thing: To catch or involve by trickery or wile; A position or situation from which it is difficult or impossible to escape. Our enemy Satan knows that we are usually too smart to fall for an open or obvious trap or snare. Who in their right mind would step on a steel bear trap, right? So, Satan must use trickery, deception, and lies to find our weak spot and get us caught in a trap. Then, as the definition suggests, it is difficult or impossible to escape! 

To that end, Immanuel’s Men’s Ministry will be studying a series this fall called ‘A MAN AND HIS TRAPS’ (Wednesday evenings, 6:45 PM – 8:15 PM). This is part of the 33 SERIES from AUTHENTIC MANHOOD and is based on what we need to learn about Jesus’ life in the 33 years he spent here on earth. 

Our enemy knows that we as men, are vulnerable to being trapped and he knows exactly what “bait” to use in his traps. Unless we are constantly alert to those traps, we can be lured in and snared – often to the point of great peril and cost to us and those around us. What is interesting is that Satan knows EXACTLY what “bait” to use for each man. The bait that attracts me to a trap may not be the same as what attracts other men, so it is critical that we know and be on guard to our individual weaknesses. Satan knows what they are and will try his hardest to TRAP and SNARE us! 

Here are some of the ‘TRAPS’ we will look at: 

Idols – Anything from self to substances
Empty Promises – Personal Integrity
Battle Plan – Guarding and defending against traps
XXX – Pornography
Control – The quest for power in every situation
Significance & Comfort – “It’s all about me!” 

God’s Word is very clear in it’s warning to us: 

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (AMP) 

There is an old saying that states “Nothing unites humans like a common enemy”! Unite with our men’s group this fall as we band together to get on the defensive against our ‘common enemy’! 

Together In The Battle… 

Tom Smith Immanuel Baptist Richmond
Tom Smith
Men’s Ministry
IBC Richmond

Fresh Eyes for Familiar Truths

Women's MinistryChurch Blog

women's Bible study Philippians Richmond Virginia

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
“I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings…”
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
“Do not be anxious about anything…“

The book of Philippians contains some of the most well-known and oft-quoted verses in the Christian vernacular. With its long-standing familiarity, there are several dangers and benefits to teaching and studying this short book in the local church.


  1. ARROGANCE: “I’ve heard this before!”
    First, we could easily arrive at a familiar Scripture with a prideful attitude, thinking, “I’ve heard this before,” and becoming callous to the truth. We could approach the passage with preconceived ideas of what the main ideas are, or what we should take away, and fail to look for something new, recognizing that any and all understanding is a work of the Holy Spirit.
  2. APATHY:“I’ve seen this before!”
    Second, we could come to a commonly-referenced passage with a degree of laziness, believing, “I’ve seen this before,” and not caring to apply ourselves to the careful study of the Word or forgetting that Scripture is always profitable, no matter how many times we’ve read it.
  3. ABUSE: “I’ve used this before!”
    Third, we could take a recognized verse and pervert the meaning, suctioning it out of context without regard for the author’s original audience or intent. We can state, “I’ve used this before,” as an excuse for isolating statements and mishandling them for personal gain.
  4. APPROPRIATION: “I’ve made this say something it’s never said before!”
    Fourth, we could try so hard to find a new meaning for a well-known verse, maintaining, “I’ve made this say something it’s never said before,” that we forget a text cannot mean something to us that it did not mean to the original author or reader.  In attempting to make a verse say something different, we appropriate implications and risk misinterpreting the point.
  5. AMBIVALENCE: “I’ve applied this before!”
    Fifth, we could hesitate to study a widely-recognized passage, saying, “I’ve applied this before,” ignoring the fact that knowledge should result in obedience. Our uncertainty in revisiting familiar verses begs us to consider whether we are consistently and completely living out the applications found therein.


  1. HUMILTY: “I don’t know!”
    First, we can never grasp the fullness of God’s Word. We are frail and feeble and must regularly beg the Holy Spirit to be our Guide and Teacher. When we read a verse like, “I want to know Christ…,” we must approach it with submission and meekness, recognizing that we, as finite beings, can never wholly know Christ in all His glory; but, we can strive to know Him better every day.
  2. HUNGER: “I want more!”
    Second, different seasons of life make different passages resonate in different ways. Having a solid foundation means there is something upon which to build. Studying a familiar passage in teenage years is going to look different than it does in retirement. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” takes on new, timeless significance when we have seen the good work unfolding in our life, and it should awaken in us a desire to see that good work continue until it is complete.
  3. HARMONY: “I see now!”
    Third, there is something to be said about studying an oft-quoted verse within the broader narrative of Scripture. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength,” conveys a much deeper meaning when we understand that Paul is talking about contentment amid abundant prosperity or abject poverty, not dangling a good luck charm that gives unfiltered access to anything we desire. When we study context, we see the consistency of God’s words and correct false doctrine or bad teaching.
  4. HONESTY: “I’ve been there!”
    Fourth, there is relational value in transparently sharing the way a passage has ministered to our spirit with fellow brothers and sisters. Flippantly quoting, “Do not be anxious about anything,” may or may not be helpful or encouraging when a friend is facing difficulty, but sharing personal insight and perspective rooted in experience with these beloved verses, especially with people who may not have considered them in that light before, could be extremely uplifting.
  5. HEART: “I love Him!”
    Fifth, familiarity often produces affection. There is a reason, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” is cited regularly at the gravesides of saints who have gone to be with Jesus. There is comfort in clinging to memorable truths. Like old friends, verses that we know and love can continually refresh our spirits and make us long to know and love Jesus more.

Ladies of Immanuel, we invite you to join us this fall as we study Philippians together. May God grant us the grace to look at these familiar passages with fresh eyes, avoiding the dangers and embracing the benefits. May we prayerfully request the humility, hunger, harmony, honesty, and heart we need to grow in our love of the Living Word through our study of the written Word.

Sarah feiler Immanuel baptist Richmond virginia

Sarah Feiler


Making the Switch

Jonathan WhiteChurch Blog

Make the Switch by Jonathan White Immanhel Baptist Richmond

We all know that change is inevitable. Whether we initiate it ourselves or someone else forces us to change, the ancient philosopher Heraclitus’ words certainly ring true: There is nothing more constant than change. So, think about a change that you enjoyed, and now think about one you didn’t. What was different about them? Why did you like the first and resist the other? Let me offer four potential reasons:

1. You lacked a common goal.

This could have happened because (1) the change wasn’t communicated or (2) everyone didn’t agree on the goal. Everyone sets goals for themselves, and churches are no different. Whether it is being more involved in the community or having vibrant ministries, we are all working towards something. If a change is not clearly communicated, it makes it difficult for people to support changes when they do not understand “the why” (even if a deep-rooted passion to support the change exists). God provides a proper example in Genesis 12. He clearly articulates to Abraham his plan for him and for Israel. In addition, people need to agree on the goal. Of course, you’ll never get everyone to agree, but it is important to genuinely consider opposing opinions and compromise where possible. People appreciate feeling like they have been heard and a conversation that thoroughly discusses their concerns goes a long way in arriving at a shared goal.

2. You lacked a good plan to achieve your goal.

We have all been there. A plan is communicated, but important items were not considered. More often than not, those leading the change either assumed you cared about something you didn’t or didn’t realize you cared about something you did. In my prior career, my role was to help organizations understand how to change effectively. This required not only understanding what was being changed, but the people who were being impacted. The plan was only as good as the level of collaboration. Jesus is a prime example of this. While he could have accomplished his missional purpose without our assistance, he instead commissioned his disciples to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. Likewise, we would be wise to work with others to identify their needs before making unilateral decisions that affect someone else.

3. You lacked the resources to enact your plan.

For example (and this is just an example), let’s say Immanuel desired more vibrant worship in their members, and the plan was to change the style of music. The next questions would be: Is there anyone in the church who could lead that genre of music? Do they have the proper instrumentation for it?  How will we transition from our current style to our new style?  It’s important to consider all these details, otherwise the change will fail. But, even more important than these details are the people involved. You need people who have a heart and a passion for what the goal of the change is setting out to achieve. After all, preparing people’s hearts is just as important as preparing their minds. New behaviors begin to take root when the gospel truth catches fire within our hearts. The hearts of the people are a viable resource to tap into, so it is important to understand what matters to them and educate them on how reasons for a particular change are guided by the Gospel.

4. You weren’t prepared for the change to occur.

Change is a process, but that does not mean effective change must happen slowly. For example, moving out of your parents’ house can seem daunting unless they took the time to prepare you to be successful by equipping you with tools like budgeting, critical-thinking, and sound decision-making skills. It is the same for any change. What matters most is not the speed at which the change occurs but that the time was taken to prepare and equip people for the future. Going back to our example about Jesus missional purpose, he spent three years teaching his disciples and preparing them for a time when he wouldn’t be physically with them anymore. Not that they were alone for the Holy Spirit was provided as a guide. Similarly, we should remain involved even after the change occurs.

So, think back to your examples of a change you enjoyed and a change you didn’t. Do these reasons resonate?  What can you do to overcome these barriers? What can you do to reduce the negative impact of change? How can you, with Christ as your example, prepare those in your life for changes that may come? Understanding why people oppose change shows us what not to do and will ultimately help people in being able to make the switch.

Jonathan White


Jonathan White, Pastoral Intern
Immanuel Baptist Richmond

Pray for Family Fun Fest Follow-Up!

Jon DillonChurch Blog

I praise God for the perfect weather and great opportunity to connect with families in our community at our very first Family Fun Fest at TJ High School this past Saturday. I thank the Lord for the good participation and incredible spirit of many in our church who helped to make this happen. From those who worked directly with me throughout the process, to those who came out to canvass the neighborhoods, to those who were involved in giving, praying, and preparing, and to those who participated in setup, cleanup, and working the event, thank you and may the Lord bless you as you did it all for the gospel’s sake and his glory!

Because of this event, there are many in our immediate community who have now had a personal encounter with Immanuel Baptist Church, and we trust that God will use this in his purpose to seek and to save those who are lost. My favorite part was watching our church family enthusiastically interact with each of the families who attended. We will be following up with several of these families so please pray for the Holy Spirit’s work in their hearts.

Jon Dillon 2019


Jon Dillon, Discipleship Pastor
Immanuel Baptist Richmond

The Storm-Tossed Family

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

storm tossed family
Russell Moore earned Christianity Today’s 2019 book of the year with The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home. Dr. Moore serves as the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The book’s goal is to shape the family in light of the cross, a reference to the Gospel that Jesus died for sinners in order to adopt sons and daughters into God’s family. Moore writes, “These families of ours can be filled with joy, but will always make us vulnerable to pain. And the joy and the pain are pointing us to the same place: the cross.” (p. 3)

Moore is vulnerable about his own family, candid about Christian families, and at times blunt about the brokenness of many families. I encourage you to read Moore’s book, not only for family fixes but for the hope that God can redeem what is broken. On Sunday, August, 18th, I will give away three free copies of The Storm-Tossed Family in the 5:00 pm service gathering.

Explicit in each chapter is the Christian Gospel, that a cross-shaped life moors a family to the Lord Jesus Christ preserving them through the storms of life. Moore talks the reader through each phase of family life—from childhood to adulthood to death. His examples of broken family life leave the reader thinking, “Lord, I hope that never happens” then confessing “Lord, your grace is sufficient if it does.” Moore reassures, “The only safe harbor for a storm-tossed family is a nail-scarred home.” (p. 5)

Here are quotables from the book for each family stage:

To Husbands and Wives

“A cross-shaped masculinity walks not with Esau’s swagger but with Jacob’s limp. A cross-shaped femininity comes not with the glamour of Potiphar’s wife but with the Bible-teaching prowess of Eunice and Lois.” (p. 82)

  • “The cross-shaped marriage is one in which a wife cultivates a voluntary attitude of recognition toward godly leadership.” (p. 88)
  • “Headship will look, in many cases, like weakness. So does the cross.” (p. 89)
  • “The wise path would be to choose a mate that one can imagine not only lying in bed on a honeymoon, but kneeling by a bedside at hospice.” (p. 112)

To Mothers and Fathers

  • “Children bring with them the sense of our responsibilities, and with that the tremor of terror that we won’t be able to live up to those responsibilities.” (p. 190)
  • “The love of a parent is seldom seen any clearer than when a parent exerts the effort to affirm the gifts and callings of a child, especially when those gifts are different than those of the parent.” (p. 228)
  • “If laughter and joy are not part of our families, something is wrong.” (p. 235)
  • “If ‘good’ children were merely the result of technique, then we could boast of our own righteousness through the lives of our children. It is not.” (p. 252)

To Grandparents

  • “When we see godly older people pouring their lives into younger generations and churches doing the same, there is almost always one common denominator: the older generation is remarkably free of bitterness and jealousy.” (p. 204)
  • “When I was a younger father, I assumed that much of this relaxed grand-parenting mode came from the exhaustion of age or of being out of touch with the day-to-day needs of childrearing. I suppose that is true in some cases and in some ways, but it is probably more true that age and experience teach one how to better differentiate between immaturity and disobedience.” (p. 273)
  • “If, though, we judge the value of our own lives by our ‘usefulness’ and our ‘independence,’ we will despise the revelation in those who once seemed strong and independent that things are quite otherwise….Dependence is not weakness. Weakness is not failure. Failure is not fatal.” (p. 286)

To the Church

  • “A church that focuses on the family is in line with the Bible, but a church that puts families first is not….a Christianity that puts family first will soon find itself uncomfortable with Jesus.” (p. 51)
  • “The church is not a collection of families. The church is a family. We are not ‘family friendly’; we are family. We learn the skills within the church to be godly sons or daughters.” (p. 60)
  • “We tend to remember the storms that threatened our lives more than the rains that saved them.” (p. 291)

Michael Wilburn


Michael Wilburn, Senior Pastor
Immanuel Baptist Church


Job Change: Four Elder Perspectives

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Certain seasons of life bring job transition. Along with the changing responsibility and schedule comes a new perspective on life. Perhaps you are searching for a new job or anticipate retiring in a few years. How should you approach it with a Christian desire to please God? Four elders of Immanuel Baptist Church experiencing this transition share their perspectives in response to four basic questions.

How does a job transition challenge your identity?

John Denler

As a husband and father in a single-earner family, I realized how easy it is to identify much of my self-worth to my employment. This was particularly true when I was laid off but also when considering retirement. Worrying how I would support my family contributed to this false reality imposed on us in our culture. My value is not found in my job. We must remember our true identify is found in Christ and Christ alone. Once we grab onto this truth, the transition, whether when laid off or retiring, can change our emotions from fear to expectancy as we wait to see God’s sovereign grace and sovereign plan for us being realized. Read Matthew 6:25-34, Romans 14:16-18, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

Kevin May

In my transition, the issue was not the position but the process. As a manager who had leadership privileges, without a real reason and within 15 minutes, I was stripped of duties, phone, computer, access codes, credit cards, etc.  and escorted out of the building to my car as if I were a criminal. It was more of a head game, but it did take me a few days to remind myself and be re-assured that my identity was not in that single position. I really needed to come to the position that who I am is much broader and, in the Lord, much larger than any occupation. The Lord has been gracious in using these few months through various organizations, people and opportunities to put me in various leadership roles to re-assure this area of responsibility.

Hank Sierk

To some degree my identity has always been connected to my work. Work consumes a significant portion of every day and the relationships there are a part of life’s fabric. When I was young, changing jobs had an element of the excitement of risk-taking, new challenges, long-term plans, different surroundings and people. What I did loomed large in my self image. Change seemed like a normal progression of life.

Retirement, on the other hand, appears to be the end of something. The goodbyes, retirement parties, promises to never forget you, are known –  based on our own life experience, to be shallow. The unknown of ‘no work’ seems foreboding and absolute. There has been a comfort in routine, refined over many years. What defines who I am? What will it be like when my wife has me around the house all the time? What will I do when all the postponed projects are completed? Will we have enough money to live on? Will I be healthy? Should I take on other work?…and on and on goes the list of questionings…

I think retirement needs to be viewed in the same way as young life transitions. It is a new set of challenges, to be sure. There are many decisions that loom large on the immediate horizon, but these are surmountable.  How does the Lord want to use me now that I have somewhat more freedom of schedule? When I was working everyday, careful use of time entered into every decision. How can I avoid losing that sense of urgency about available time? My first weeks outside the work routine make me realize how easy it would be to slip into a relaxed, do it tomorrow, mindset. How can I make this a special time of growing closer to my wife and family? I think if my focus is on what’s next, it will be a healthy transition.

Gary Thomson 

The thought process of a career transition began as a “way of life” many years ago with the decision Janice and I made to live conservatively and contently. As the opportunity for a career transition became more intense, many of the typical barriers, while discussed, weren’t driving issues. Two months into “next” I am challenged by how much what I did “defined me” in my thinking but I find great peace in thinking of what’s ahead.

Who were the first people you talked to about the transition?

John Denler

The decision to retire was a major assessment which included my wife, Alison, from day one. It was a process over time as we discussed the pending decision both in our ability to retire and what I wanted to do once retired. Obviously, one of the most important aspects of our discussion was the need we prepare for a diminished annual salary. After making the decision to move ahead, we reviewed it with our financial planner and started taking the “next steps” to include notifying our children, then my employer. I also asked the Elder board and our SOMA group to pray for wisdom before I made the final decision to notify my employer and give them 60-days’ notice. See Proverbs 15:22

Kevin May

I talked to my wife, then called my children. I wanted them to hear it from me and to know that we would be ok. Next, I began to speak to my closest friends and support group. From there, it was the broader network that would help in the job seeking process.

Hank Sierk

I had a fairly significant and highly stressful job, being responsible to implement cyber security controls at my company’s generating facilities. While I liked my job and really enjoyed the comradery of the people I worked with, the toll on my health was showing up. I had been considering retirement for some time, but with a son still in college, had delayed it. The retirement option came upon me suddenly as a special offer from my company. We had been talking of retirement, certainly, but not immediately. This brought it up front and center.

I spoke to my wife first, of course, as soon as I was advised of the opportunity. The retirement package offered incentives to smooth the transition into retirement. While there were many unknowns, after much prayer, counsel and thoughtful consideration, we decided to proceed and trust the Lord for our future.

I also discussed the decision with close friends, then with those I closely worked with. Work associates were not anxious for me to leave but understood the special opportunity and were supportive. I must admit that I miss my daily interactions with these people. The Lord has been  growing me to understand that my self-worth is in Christ, not in what I do.

Gary Thomson

The discussions were really just between Janice and me and were ongoing over a significant period of time. My advice is to plan for both what you can and cannot control in your career. Innovation drives disruption and no company or individual is exempt from the risk created by innovation. For us, the advance planning allowed for a question of timing as opposed to a “should we do it” conversation.

What advice would you give to others in a job transition?

John Denler

First, commit your decision to God’s will and direction (Luke 12:13-21, Parable of the Rich Fool). As you commit to God’s wisdom, decide what you will want to do with your time and prepare for it before making your final decision and notifying your employer. I’ve been planning this for over a year. I have a clear picture in my mind of what I want to do after retirement to include: serving God in additional ministry opportunities, getting back into photography, taking day-trips with Alison, and visiting family. Bottom-line, ensure you can retire to provide for your real needs then have a plan to keep busy and in God’s service.

Kevin May

First, I would advise people to seek individuals or groups who have knowledge in transitions. In my case there is a Richmond group called Career Prospectors. A support group that can encourage, but more importantly give up-to-date advice on items such as resume’s, LinkedIn profile, interviewing, etc.  Second, I would take the time to evaluate who you are and who God wants you to be. Your new career will be a big step and you want to make sure you are stepping in the right direction. Finally, take the extra time that you have been given to invest in your life and those around you. I am actively seeking employment, which most will tell you is a full time job, but through this I have taken the time to volunteer and spend extra time with people I care about.

Hank Sierk

• Pray for guidance.

• Have a plan.

• Consider all the issues, family, financial and personal.

• Discuss it with those you trust.

• Don’t be fearful.

Gary Thomson

Trust that the God, who has directed your steps, will continue to do so. Stay patient. In those situations where the transition was not planned, it is easy to get impatient and “settle.” Stay positive. Pray.

What has God taught you about trust and fear in your transition?

John Denler

First and foremost, I must trust God to provide for my family and me. For me, building that trust started years ago when I was laid off from work twice. As I looked back, after finding employment, I could see God’s hand in finding a better employment path for me to walk. Second, fear is a debilitating burden to carry and we should always take those burdens to God and let Him carry them (Isaiah 43:1-2, 1 Peter 5:7). Third, remember that in marriage you are a team. God has given you your wife to both encourage you and discuss your concerns (Genesis 2:18).

Kevin May

I am reminded to be thankful for his grace because when there is trust the fear is removed. I truly believe that God knew all about the situation, the job and knows where I will be working. My responsibility is to renew this trust daily which will result in me seeking His wisdom, walking with the right attitude and encouraging those around me.

Hank Sierk

Fear is the enemy of trust. God loves us and has promised to provide for us.  Whenever I start to fear the future I lean back on God’s promise to never leave or forsake us.

Gary Thomson 

Trust God and seek His guidance on living in a way so as to allow both unexpected and expected career transitions to be something that allows you to trust versus fear.

Get Ready To Run The Incredible Race!

Gloria DuffeyChildren's Ministry, Church Blog

Vacation Bible School – The Incredible Race

Vacation Bible SchoolJuly 29 – August 2Ready, set, here we go! We’ve got a whole world to see. Experience God’s love for every tribe, language, and nation!We welcome you for a week of Bible lessons, crafts, games, snacks, and fun with old and new friends (Ages: 4 yrs old through 5th grade). Feel free to message us with any questions! Register at:

Posted by Immanuel Baptist Richmond on Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Ah, sweet summertime.  The lazy days of summer.  Time to do anything and everything… at least that’s how we start off this sunny time of year. Too quickly though, we hear, “I’m bored!” or “There’s nothing to do!” followed by a few sighs. Well, all of that is about to end! Pack your bags for The Incredible Race – an adventure unlike anything you can imagine.

Each day, we will dash from continent to continent on a worldwide trek to discover how we are all connected in this thing called The Human Race. You know it started with Adam and Eve and maybe you’ve heard about the Tower of Babel, but what does it mean for us today? Get ready to use clues and amazing challenges to explore how people all across the world are part of the same family. God wants us to share His love with our friends and neighbors as well as with people we don’t know, whether right here or far away, no matter how similar or different we are.

Vacation Bible School is next week, Monday – Friday, from 9am to 12pm. All racers, ages 4 years old thru 6th grade, are welcome.  Invite your friends and neighbors along for the adventure.

Get ready to run The Incredible Race! One Family, One Race, One Savior!

*Pray for our workers, our children, good weather, collection of school supplies for our Family Fun Fest, and our visitors on Friday. Most importantly pray for our Father’s Love to embrace everyone who attends VBS and especially for those who do not have a personal relationship with God, that this week they will open their hearts to Him.

Gloria Duffey

Gloria Duffey
Director of Children’s Ministries