God’s Grace in your Suffering

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

David Powlison tribute from Immanuel Baptist Richmond

Photo: ccef.org

Dr. David Powlison died on Friday, June 7, 2019. If you don’t recognize his name, he left behind a trove of books, articles, and lectures on the Christian life for you to learn and apply. Dr. Powlison was the Executive Director of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), a faculty member at Westminster Theological Seminary, and the Senior Editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling. You can find a summary of his life HERE.

God's grace in your sufferingTributes to Powlison abound in the blogosphere—all worthy of your time. I mention him because I was reading his book, God’s Grace in your Suffering (2016), on the day he died. Immediately his words came through with greater ethos. The book is an exposition of the hymn, How Firm a Foundation, with each chapter applying a stanza to personal suffering in this life. Through the song, Powlison emphasizes God speaking to you, “God’s voice speaks deeper than what hurts, brighter than what is dark, more enduring than what is lost, truer than what has happened.”

If you are hurting, the song and the book will help. It will encourage and comfort you. Read it; sing it; believe it.

How Firm a Foundation Lyrics

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, 
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! 
What more can He say than to you He has said, 
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled? 
Fear not, I am with you, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand. 
When through the deep waters I call you to go, 
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; 
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless, 
And sanctify to you your deepest distress. 

When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie, 
My grace,all-sufficient, shall be your supply; 
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design 
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine. 
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose, 
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes; 
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, 
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. 

“Suffering is both the acid test and the catalyst. It reveals and forms faith. It also exposes and destroys counterfeit faith.”

“You must cast your cares on God, who cares for you, because you’re helpless in yourself (1 Pet. 5:7). Your cares are bigger than you. You are under pressure. You are vulnerable, and you know it. You are burdened about matters you cannot control or fix. Life is hard. You feel crushed, careworn, threatened. You come as a refugee, not boasting of your assets, but bringing your cares. And your Father cares for you. He is strong and good.”

“It’s not pleasant to need help. But it’s sheer joy to find help.”

“As troubles settle in, they claim your thought life, conversations, emotions, future, faith. They occupy wakeful hours at night. If you fall asleep, they wake up with you first thing in the morning. Dismay well covers a whole range of temptations—tendencies from troubled to unglued, from disappointed to hopeless, from worried to panicky, from frustrated to enraged.”

“The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow. Those rivers sweep many good things away. Your deepest distress is deeply distressing. But the God who loves you is Master of your significant sorrow. He calls you to go through even this hard thing. Though woe feels impossible, though woe devastates earthly hopes, God sets a boundary (but not where we would set it).”

“The emotions of Psalm 31 express how faith trusts in the midst of danger and anguish. The emotions of faith run the gamut from fear to courage, from sorrow to joy, from hate to love, from neediness to gratitude.”

“Many psalms capture this tension between our proclivity to sin and our fidelity to our Redeemer from sin.”

“The most remarkable good things that the planet has ever seen or will ever see can only come out in the context of suffering. We will look first at courageous endurance and then at wise love. The refiner’s fire brings forth gold out of affliction.”

“Your entire life is a holy experiment as God’s hands shape you into the image of his Son.”

“Much of how we grow is a matter of slow-forming habits—the accretion of new patterns of thinking, attitude, and response. Much of our growth happens subliminally, the way a child grows.”

“We twenty-first-century people are hasty folk. We like things to happen fast. We want problems to have quick solutions so we can move on to something else. But God has made our souls to work on agricultural time and child-rearing time.”

“If you have “leaned for repose” on Jesus, you will live. Repose here does not mean a restful state of peace and tranquility. It’s the old original meaning: to rely entirely, to depend, to actively place the weight of your life on Jesus. Put your entire faith, confidence, and trust in him.”

“The hymn writer knows our vulnerability to dismay. I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. If you’ve ever sung this hymn with your brothers and sisters, these last lines come out fiercely triumphant.”


Pastor Michael

Pastor Michael Wilburn Immanuel Baptist Richmond


Pastor Michael Wilburn
Senior Pastor
Immanuel Baptist Richmond

Children’s Ministry Volunteer Opportunities

Gloria DuffeyChildren's Ministry

Children's Ministry Volunteer Opportunities

Dear Immanuel Family,

We have a wonderful team of people who faithfully serve our precious IBC children each week and we would like to invite you to learn more about opportunities to serve in this way. We hope you will pray about being involved! View Openings.

What about the perks?

– Instant hero status
– All you can eat goldfish crackers
– Exercise during worship
– Unlimited high fives
– Crayons available any time

More importantly…

Children’s ministry is ministering to a person at the most critical time in their life.  – Dale Hudson

If a child leaves knowing Jesus loves him because you’ve loved him, you’re doing something right. – Klista Storts

You may speak but a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian Church in years to come. – Charles Spurgeon

Families, churches and parachurch ministries must recognize that primary window of opportunity for effectively reaching people with the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection is during the pre-teen years. It is during those years that people develop their frames of reference for the remainder of their life – especially theologically and morally. Consistently explaining and modeling truth principles for young people is the most critical factor in their spiritual development. – Barna Research article, “Evangelism Is Most Effective Among Kids”

The power for good or evil that resides in a little child is great beyond all human calculation. A child rightly trained may be a world-wide blessing, with an influence reaching onward to eternal years. – George Muller

I am ready to serve

Gloria Duffey
Gloria Duffey
Director of Children’s Ministries

Looking Back, with Winnie Minear

Winnie MinearChurch Blog

I was born September 14, 1951, in Maryville, Tennessee, the fifth of six children. My family moved to southeast Iowa when I was three where we lived on a farm. In 1958, we moved to eastern Florida to Vero Beach when I was in the second grade and I finished elementary, junior high and high school there as well. I went to Maryville College in Maryville, TN where I was born. At the end of my second year of college, I came to faith in Christ through the ministry of Campus Crusade. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

After graduation, I was a summer missionary with CEF in the Knoxville area. In the fall of 1973, I attended the CEF Institute in Michigan. In January 1974 I moved to Richmond to work with Mrs. Lola Little with CEF in the Richmond area. I began attending Immanuel Baptist in 1974. In September 1975 I began teaching at Richmond Christian School where I taught for 4 years.

It was in February 1978 during the ministry of Pastor Fesmire in a missions conference that God spoke to my heart to serve Him as a missionary. Revelation 5:9 was the verse God used to speak to me: “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy art Thou to take the Book and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe, and tongue and people and nation.’”

I attended Moody Bible Institute in 1979-1980 for my Bible training. During my year at Moody God confirmed my call to missions. The summer of 1980 I went on Practical Missionary Training to Mexico and Central America for two months. In the fall of 1980, I attended the candidate school with CAM International. After being accepted with CAM and God providing my support, I left for a year of language school in San José, Costa Rica in August 1983.

I arrived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the capital, in August 1984. In my first ministry, I taught English classes and Bible studies at the Penzotti Institute, a Honduran Christian school. I also was involved in ministry in several churches in Tegucigalpa. Most of my time was spent at the Berea Church in Cerro Grande on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. I taught children’s Sunday school classes and ladies’ Bible studies.

I moved to San Pedro Sula in February 1994 to the northern part of the country. In San Pedro Sula I was involved in two churches teaching children’s Sunday school classes and ladies’ Bible studies. From 2001 to 2018 several Honduran Christians and I had the opportunity for ministry at a large public school teaching weekly Bible classes for the 5thand 6thgrade classes reaching over 400 students each year.

Another ministry that I had while I lived in San Pedro Sula was providing teacher training classes in 42 churches in northwestern Honduras. I also had the privilege to teach Christian Education topics from 2002 to 2015 in northwestern Honduras at a Bible Training Center, similar to a Bible Institute, training many pastors and church leaders that couldn’t attend a seminary.

In 2010 I had the opportunity to train teachers in Nicaragua. I also had the privilege of going to Cuba with other missionaries from my mission to train Christian leaders in Christian Education in 2013, 2014 and 2016. We partnered with the New Pines Seminary to provide seminary level Christian Education courses for the Cuban church leaders. I was deeply impacted by the Cuban Christians’ deep joy and love for God and a deep desire to serve Him in the midst of hard times for many years.

Another ministry that I have had throughout my missionary career has been discipling women. I count it a great privilege to have come alongside these women to help them grow in Christ. It has been a joy to see many of them now discipling others. I have also worked alongside several pastors’ wives in church ministries.

Truly God has been faithful to me in all my 35 years as a missionary. I praise God for His faithfulness.  Thank you so much for being co-workers with me in Honduras these many years.  It would not have been possible without you. Thank you so much for your financial support and for your faithful prayers.”

Winnie Minear

Join for Minnie’s Retirement Report and Reception during our Sunday Evening Service Gathering at 5pm.

Family Worship

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Starting on Wednesday, June 5th, the 3rd summer of Family Worship begins. Family Worship is a weekly gathering dedicated to inter-generational worship and community missions. We are serious about spending our lives around God’s Word and prayer, and sharing the Gospel with neighbors and friends. Every Wednesday, June through August, Family Worship will gather in the Fellowship Hall at 6:30 pm. All people are welcome. All ages are included. All guests are invited.

At Family Worship, we sing, pray, and fellowship. Songs are printed in a booklet for you to sing at home what we sing together. This year, prayer will focus on three monthly themes: prayer for the family in June, prayer for the church in July, and prayer for the nations in August. Fellowship will include introductions and testimonies in the meeting, then staying around for members, parents, students, and children to talk and play together. In addition, you will hear about a summer book club and community projects.

Family Worship ties the home and church together under the authority and unity of Jesus Christ. I love Don Whitney’s motivating words about it. “Having your family in a Christ-exalting, gospel-centered, Bible-teaching local church is crucial to Christian parenting. But it is not enough for conveying to your family all you want to teach them about God and your beliefs. Moreover, it is unlikely that exposure to the church once or twice a week will impress your children enough with the greatness and glory of God that they will want to pursue him once they leave your home.” (Family Worship, p. 14)

I hope you will join us.


Pastor Michael Wilburn

New Leadership in Music

Michael WilburnAnnouncement

Dear Immanuel Family,

Liz Dillon

Liz Dillon has agreed to serve as Immanuel’s Music Director on an interim basis through the summer. Liz is the wife of Pastor Jon Dillion. She will work with Brian Evans through the summer as a transition period until Brian leaves to support a church plant in the Church Hill neighborhood. We anticipate Liz will take the full music ministry responsibilities this Fall. As with all church officer positions, the Music Director is a congregationly-approved position.

Who is Liz Dillon?

Liz started as a junior church pianist at 12 years old. By 15, she was regularly playing for worship services. All of her early music teachers were church musicians, which she considers a great blessing. Along the way, Liz learned to play woodwind instruments, percussion, and organ. She is a 1991 graduate of Bob Jones University in piano pedagogy. She learned choir leadership under the direction of Dr. Fred Coleman at BJU and Mr. Larry Carrier at Morningside Baptist Church.

Liz’s music ministry experience includes teaching music to students of all ages in studio, classroom, and choir settings, serving as church pianist at Community Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida, and leading as Music Director at Evangel Baptist Church in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Liz also organized the church music as she and Jon planted LifeSpring Baptist Church in Arkansas.

All of her training and experience prepared Liz Dillon for a role as Immanuel’s Music Director working with the pastoral staff to coordinate worship gatherings, overseeing the worship leadership calendar, directing the adult choir seasons, leading the Easter Good Friday service and the Christmas Eve Candlelight service, and mentoring music department leaders and volunteers.

What is Ahead for Immanuel’s Music Ministry?

Liz Dillon will join weekly staff meetings to coordinate congregational music for services. Beginning this fall, Sunday night choir rehearsals will begin involving the choir in Sunday services and practicing for the Christmas Eve Candlelight service. Liz’s input will help the Vision Committee this year to develop a church-wide music philosophy statement.

Baby Dedications

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Do you remember show and tell in elementary school? On Friday afternoons each student held up a prized possession from home, told what it was and how they got it, then passed it around the class for closer inspection. Some may think that baby dedications are a church-styled show and tell, but that is far from the point.

What is a baby dedication? Well, it is not presented in the Bible as a church ordinance. A baby dedication expresses a parent’s desire to shepherd his child’s heart to know and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. It expresses a church’s generational desire to see the faith carry on to the next generation. It is a pledge of Gospel hope, a promise by the parents, and a partnership with the Body of Christ.

The goal is to raise children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Every child with parents willing to make such a public promise to the Lord and partnership with the church is blessed by God, even before they know it, as Timothy was blessed by his mother and grandmother. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2  Timothy 1:5).

On Mother’s Day, May 12th, these families will dedicate their children to the Lord. As a church family, we commit with them to pray, encourage, and help along the way.

Puritan Thomas Brooks on Christian Humility

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Satan’s Device:
“Satan hath his devices to destroy the saints; and one great device that he hath to destroy the saints is, by working them first to be strange, and then to divide, and then to be bitter and jealous, and then ‘to bite and devour one another’ (Gal. 5:15). Our own woeful experience is too great a proof of this.”

The Christian’s Remedy:
Labour to be clothed with humility:

    • Humility makes a man peaceable among brethren fruitful in well-doing, cheerful in suffering, and constant in holy walking.
    • Humility fits for the highest service we owe to Christ, and yet will not neglect the lowest service to the meanest servant.
    • Humility will make a man bless him that curses him, and pray for those that persecute him.
    • Humility is the nurse of our graces, the preserver of our mercies, and the great promoter of holy duties.
    • Humility can sweep over other men’s weaknesses, and joy and rejoice over their graces.
    • Humility will make a man quiet and contented in the meanest condition, and it will preserve a man from ever envying other men’s prosperous condition.
    • Humility honors those that are strong in grace, and puts two hands under those that are weak in grace.
    • Humility makes a man richer than other men, and it makes a man judge himself the poorest among men.
    • Humility will see much good abroad, when it can see but little at home.
    • Humility will make a man have high thoughts of others and low thoughts of a man’s self.
    • Humility will make a man excellent at covering others’ infirmities, and at recording their gracious services, and at delighting in their graces.
    • Humility makes a man joy in every light that outshines his own, and every wind that blows others good.
    • Humility is better at believing than it is at questioning other men’s happiness.
    • “Ah, were Christians more humble, there would be less fire and more love among them than now is.”

Excerpt taken from Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (1652)

Proverbs 22:4
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
is riches and honor and life.

Foundations: Bible Truths for Christian Growth

Jonathan WhiteChurch Blog

Beginning May 5th, Immanuel Baptist Church will offer a Sunday morning class for individuals who are new to the church and young in their faith. The Foundations class is a great place to begin learning about the Christian faith and exploring what the Bible has to say about your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Our intentions are to walk alongside one another through this study, sharing the lessons we’ve learned and growing mature believers in Christ. Our hope is that we strengthen the biblical literacy of others, equipping and encouraging them to take what they have learned and pass it along to others.

A few of the topics and questions that will be covered:

  • Salvation – Recognizing who Jesus is and who we are in Him. So, what is the good news, bad news, and great news!
  • Eternal Security – Once a Christian, you are eternally secure in your salvation. But what if you commit a sin, are you still saved?
  • Baptism & Communion – The two ordinances of the church, as ordained by Christ as a memorial to His life and sacrifice. Why are these important to the Christian faith?
  • The Word of God – The Bible is the inerrant word of God. Why is that important? Why is it called the Word of God?
  • Evangelism – In Matthew 28, Jesus commands us to make disciples. What does it mean to evangelize in the Christian faith?

We look forward to providing this engaging class to cover these deep, important questions and more! Cost: $10 for the book, Foundations: Bible Truths for Christian Growth

Jon Dillon

Discipleship Pastor

Jonathan White

Jonathan White

Pastoral Intern

Mission RVA: That We May Serve

Paul DreillingChurch Blog, Events

Mission RVA 2019
Next weekend, Immanuel’s Spring Missions Conference will focus on local ministries and outreach. How fitting that we can set aside the weekend following the celebration of how Christ gave up his life for us, to encourage each other to give ourselves in service to others.  We have picked for our theme, “That We May Serve.” As Jesus said, “The greatest among you shall be your servant (Mt. 23:11).” Dr. David Apple from Philadelphia will be our keynote speaker. We will also hear from a number of our missionaries serving in RVA and throughout the US.  Hope you can join us.


Saturday, April 27th
6:00 PM | Room 107
“It’s Not About Me”

Sunday, April 28th
9:30 AM | Sanctuary
“Mercy is for Everyone”

10:45 AM | Sanctuary
“More Than Tea and Cookies”

Missions Luncheon: REGISTER ONLINE
1:30 PM | Fellowship Hall
Q&A – Wrap Up

David AppleDr. David S. Apple has directed the Mercy Ministry of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, since 1988. He presently oversees over 200 volunteer staff in outreach, evangelism and hospitality to homeless and addicted persons, nursing home residents, incarcerated men and women, people living on the fringe, and others. His ministry includes deacon training and equipping churches across the United States for ministry in their communities. He is the author of Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry in the Local Church Transforms Us All and Neighborology: Practicing Compassion as a Way of Life.

In his many years of experience, David has had two philosophies of ministry: 1) There is no mercy without the gospel–we must provide an alternative to what the world offers; and 2) Don’t work harder than the people coming for help–encourage independence, not dependence. These philosophies are seen plainly in his work.

David grew up in Paterson, New Jersey in a non-religious Jewish home and attended Eastside High, the school made famous in the film, Lean on Me. From an early age he was taught the principles of justice and reconciliation. In 1963 and 1964, he participated in civil rights marches and spoke at youth rallies in support of his rabbi and other “Freedom Riders.” As a college freshman, he came to salvation in Christ through the ministry of an urban church plant in the Northside of Paterson. David worked in crisis intervention and public advocacy for many years, and then managed a printing business before injuries from an auto accident put him on disability.

David earned a B.A. from Calvin College, a Pastoral Counseling Certificate from Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, and a MATS and D.Min. from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to these earned degrees, he has learned much in “Jesus’s School of Life”: From paralysis and loss of an eye from a skull fracture, childhood sexual abuse, single parenthood, and loss of job-income-health after being hit by a drunk driver. All of this to show that “His power is made known in my weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

David has served in diaconal and mercy ministry for over forty years. Building on both success and failure, he loves training deacons and equipping churches for ministry. He enjoys Sunday crossword puzzles and baseball. He is a lifetime Brooklyn Dodgers fan.

2019 Shepherds’ Conference Highlights

Mike Srisam-angChurch Blog

“The mission of the Shepherds’ Conference is to provide the opportunity for men in church leadership to be challenged in their commitment to biblical ministry and to find encouragement together as servants of the chief Shepherd.”

This year I had the privilege of attending my fourth Shepherds’ Conference. It was from March 5-8that Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. This conference attracted 4,500 men from 67 different countries and men from all 50 of the United States were represented. This year was especially unique because it is also the commemoration of 50 years of God’s faithfulness in the life and ministry of John MacArthur as pastor of Grace Community Church.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Faithful.” All the sermons and breakout sessions were geared towards being faithful as a Christian, and in particular, being faithful in pastoral ministry. The topics covered included being faithful in humility, faithful in personal holiness, faithful to love, faithful to disciple, faithful in the midst of persecution, faithful in the home, faithful to worship, faithful in response to criticism, faithful to guard the truth, faithful to pray, faithful in the culture, faithful to evangelize, faithful in the pulpit, and being faithful to the end because God is faithful.

This conference has been, and continues to be, a huge blessing and an encouragement to me. I would like to share with you just three highlights of my time there:

First, the gathering of the saints (pastors, shepherds, preachers) from all over the world giving glory to God.

It was an absolute joy and a beautiful picture to see God’s amazing grace and mercy in calling people from all over the world to salvation in Christ, to be used by him to shepherd his church. This reminded me that God is so much bigger than I often give him praise for. God is working all over the world all the time and it is humbling to know that God is using me to proclaim his word and to make his name known where he has placed me.

Another incredible experience is hearing 4,500+ men singing and praising the one true living God for what he has done and for his faithfulness in their lives. The sound of all the voices coming together and singing biblical truth was emotionally powerful and filled my heart with thanksgiving.

 – Secondly, the fellowship of the saints (former classmates, pastor friends, ministry co-laborers).

One of the things that I always look forward to when attending this conference is reconnecting with friends and getting to know new friends. One of the blessings was getting to enjoy this conference with my twin brother Rob, who is currently getting his Mdiv at The Master’s Seminary. I was able to see our beloved brother David Andersen as well. I was even able to meet and talk to a former Immanuel youth pastor, Jim Newcomer. The Lord’s work is never accomplished alone and this was a good reminder that I am but one member of a larger body in God’s family.

 – Thirdly, the preaching ministry of the saints.

This conference is committed to challenging and encouraging church leaders through the preaching of God’s word. I not only love to preach God’s word, but I delight in hearing God’s word preached. Throughout the span of four days, I was able to listen to 13 sermons, two q&a sessions, and attend two breakout seminars. It was a highlight for me to sit under faithful men who exposit the word and have a high view of scripture.

I want to thank our Immanuel church family for allowing me to attend this conference, and Hannah, Charlotte, Lucy, and I to enjoy some time with our family and friends in California. All the prayers and support were greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Mike Srisam-ang
Student Ministries Pastor
IBC Richmond