Becoming Stronger Together in Christ

Pastor Warren’s on deck next!

During July, Pastor Warren leads us all in worship as we are “Becoming Stronger Together in Christ.” Pastor Warren will use scripture examples from the early Christians from the Book of Acts and the book The Discipleship Difference by Bob Logan.

Pastor Warren’s weekly line up of topics:

1. Being Transformed: What does that look like? – Acts 2:37-47

2. Getting started in the Community. – Acts 4:23-37, Acts 6: 1-7

3. The Mosaic of Discipleship and growing together in groups. – Acts 10:44-48

4. Obedience as the Crux of Discipleship. – Acts 14, 15, 21

5. Living out our mission by Building the Community in Christ. Acts 28:17-30

This past weekend, Pastor Donald wrapped up his summer preaching series, “Not a Fan.” If you missed any of his messages, you can catch up with them here.  The “not A fan” Bible study is available 24/7 via RightNow Media (Contact Pastor Warren if you’d like to sign up for RightNow Media.)

Summer preaching at Immanuel has a fresh look and new feel this year. I hope that you’ve enjoyed it so far and that it touched your life.  We are definitely going to have a meaningful summer here at Immanuel. I pray you will join us!

See you in church this summer!
Pastor Tom

This Little Light of Mine

Father’s Day Men’s Choir

I’m happy to share that both the Altar Guild and our “men’s choir” stepped up in observance of Father’s Day weekend.  The Altar Guild baked and packed cookies for the men of Immanuel. We certainly appreciated their efforts and it’s my guess that all evidence of their work was consumed by noon on Sunday. (They gave the women flowers on Mother’s Day. I’m certain the flowers lasted at least seven times as long as the cookies did.)

The “men’s choir” did leave something behind on Father’s Day however! A recording of their rendition of This Little Light of Mine that you can view here.  As you can see, they really did let their lights shine!  The song choice was a special one and they did a beautiful job with it. You’ll have to watch the whole tape to see the variety among the different verses.

Of course I should also mention that Pastor Donald shared the second message in the “not a fan” sermon series this weekend. AND he joined in with the youth car wash as much as possible.

I hope you will join us next weekend as Pastor Donald wraps up his “not a fan” series.  But there’s much going on during the week here too, including Adventure Bible Camp. Now that’s another example of people letting their lights shine!

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Summer preaching at Immanuel will have a fresh look and feel this year. Each pastor is preparing a special series of messages built around a topic of their choosing. Add to this RightNow Media, Shining Stars, the July mission trip, and so much more.  We are definitely going to have a meaningful summer here at Immanuel. I pray you will join us!

See you in church this summer!
Pastor Tom

Pastor Donald is “Not a Fan”

We’re going deep this June! Pastor Donald’s preaching series, “Not a Fan,” debuted last weekend and will run through the end of the month. Besides Pastor Donald’s wonderful sermons, we have the opportunity to dig deeper on our own via a “Not a Fan” Bible study, available on demand and free of charge to Immanuel Members through RightNow Media, but more on that later.

Both Pastor Donald’s sermon series and RightNow Media’s Bible Study are based on Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman, who wrote the book to consider the difference of being a fan of God/Jesus compared to being a follower. A fan is “an enthusiastic admirer,” who wants to be just close enough to receive the benefits of Jesus, but not have to sacrifice anything. A follower requires commitment and sacrifice. Pastor Donald delves into the concept over three weekends:

June 10/11 – D.T.R. (Define the Relationship)

Last weekend, Pastor Donald asked, “How would you define your relationship with God?” View that message…

June 17/18 – The Relationship Defined

Does your life reflect what you say you believe? Do you think you’re on the right road because of what you’ve done? Do you know Jesus and does He know you? It’s Father’s Day, so Pastor Donald will talk about the relationship between a father and child and how that relationship is tested when we don’t do what we should.

June 24/25 – Whenever. What about Now?

Are you going to follow Jesus or keep waiting to follow? Pastor Donald will talk about how we put off truly following Jesus. If you wonder what is the worst thing that could happen if you wait till tomorrow, the answer is it might never come. Saying “tomorrow” to Jesus is like hitting snooze on your alarm in the morning.

Not A Fan” via RightNow Media

The “Not A Fan” Bible study is a collection of 6 videos, each approximately half an hour in length.  That study, and thousands more are available because Immanuel has access to an extensive video library called RightNow Media! It’s like the “Netflix of Video Bible Studies” and on Easter Sunday we sent out email invites to members and friends. (If you didn’t receive an email, or can’t remember if you did, simply contact Pastor Warren and he will make sure you get an invitation.)

Summer preaching at Immanuel will have a fresh look and feel this year. Each pastor is preparing a special series of messages built around a topic of their choosing. Add to this the fact that RightNow Media is available 24/7 and we are definitely going to have a meaningful summer here at Immanuel. I pray you will join us!

See you in church this summer!
Pastor Tom

How Did She Pull it Off? Stronger Together!

Principals are busy people – especially at the end of a school year. And yet, Principal Delaine Schiestel pulled together a very successful work day on June 3. Well, Delaine and 42 others did! Delaine was the organizer, but so many other people fueled the event. Volunteers from Prince of Peace worked with Immanuel volunteers, prepping middle school lockers for painting. People worked inside and people worked outside – cleaning, raking, staining, and so much more. She even had me working on the landscaping in the courtyard. It was truly a community effort. Stronger Together.

So, Immanuel, let’s continue to work as a team! That includes youth, elderly, members, non-members, new Christians and old Lutherans, all! For building a community in Christ requires everyone to use whatever God has given them. It requires changing old practices and habits. It is the old comfortable way of doing things that has led to the necessity to build up the community in Christ. Think about it!

There are so many opportunities for us to give back! There will be two more work days this summer – Saturday, July 8 and Saturday, August 5. Plus, we’re again hosting the Community Meal on July 27th. And I invite you to visit Immanuel’s website to read about more ways to serve. If you don’t live in the Palatine area, I urge you to get involved in your local community!

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me . . . Matthew 25:35

See you in church!
Pastor Tom



Last Sunday, I had the privilege of inviting our teachers up to the altar. It was the annual teacher/staff recognition. God has blessed Immanuel beyond measure with the opportunity to operate our school. We do not take this opportunity lightly. Each student is important to everyone who serves at Immanuel. God has entrusted us to educate each child, and to share the message of Jesus Christ. We couldn’t do it without our teachers and staff. And speaking of staff, I also called on Jan Pemoller.  We are truly thankful for her service – 25 years at Immanuel and counting! It got a chuckle when I commented on the fact that Jan has worked with 8 pastors here at Immanuel! We also noted all “anniversaries,” in five-year increments:

  • Kendall Braun – 5 years
  • Jackie Hetzner – 35 years in Ministry
  • Linda Kinsella – 25 years
  • Emily Laubenstein – 10 years in Ministry (10 at Immanuel)
  • Nikki Lloyd – 10 years in ministry (5 at Immanuel)
  • Diane Nordman 10 at Immanuel
  • Jan Pemoller – 25 years
  • Paula Schroeder – 15 years at Immanuel
Me, Pastor Matt, my daughter Kim, and my wife Carol – shown here at Matt’s Ordination.

This Sunday I will be observing another noteworthy event in “education” – a graduation.  My son-in-law, Pastor Matthew Rosebrock, is graduating from the Fuller Theological Seminary in California. As you can imagine, we are all thrilled for him and grateful that God has provided this opportunity.  I regret that I am unable to attend Immanuel’s Voter’s Meeting. A seminary won’t move a graduation because one father-in-law needs to attend a meeting.

See you in church – just not this weekend,
Pastor Tom

Coming to You This Summer Live from Immanuel’s Pulpit!”

We’ve teamed up for some great summer preaching! Pastor Donald (June) “Not A Fan,” Pastor Warren (July) “Becoming Stronger Together in Christ,” and Me (August) – “Dr. Seuss and God”

Summer preaching at Immanuel will have a fresh look and feel this year. Each pastor is preparing a special series of messages built around a topic of their choosing. This weekend Pastor Donald will begin his series, which he calls “not a fan.”

Pastor Donald based this series on the book not a fan by Kyle Idleman. Idleman wrote this book to consider the difference of being a fan of God/Jesus compared to being a follower. A fan is “an enthusiastic admirer.” They want to be just close enough to receive the benefits of Jesus, but not have to sacrifice anything. A follower requires commitment and sacrifice. For three weeks in June, we will look at our relationship with God.

During July, Pastor Warren leads us all as we are “Becoming Stronger Together in Christ.” He will use The Discipleship Difference, a book we studied on a staff retreat last month.  Bob Logan, a mentor of mine, wrote the book. Pastor Warren will highlight scripture examples from the Book of Acts.

I’ll be covering August with a series of messages I’m calling “Dr. Seuss and God.” Dr. Seuss dedicated himself to writing simple, entertaining, and thoughtful poems. He used basic words children would understand. And he would also introduce what some people would consider nonsense words. Take, for example, his poem about the Zoad in the Road. But even this nonsense word was deeply researched. “Zoad” came from a Greek word that meant “ladder,” a device people would use to get somewhere. I’m looking forward to talking about Dr. Suess and tying his beloved children’s books in with scripture.  Can you imagine the fun that kids will have in Grace Space?  And speaking of kids, I think I need to ask them to draw some pictures I can use this August for “Dr. Seuss and God.”

We are definitely going to have a meaningful summer here at Immanuel. I pray you will join us!

See you in church this summer!
Pastor Tom

Grace Space: Immanuel’s Continuing Commitment to Children

The child-sized tables and chairs may seem out-of-place. They are now filling the space once occupied by the pastors and acolytes in worship. Children are working on crafts, and exploring Bible-based activities during church. At first glance, it seems it seems to go against everything we expect in worship. But we are not going to let an outdated cliché stop us. The old adage “Children should be in the back of the church, in the nursery or cry room, not in the front of the church within reach of the pulpit” no longer applies.

We call it “Grace Space” and it’s being introduced by our Children’s Ministry Director, Trephina Bedell. If children are in inviting environment with gentle supervision, they will likely behave well. They will even enjoy their time in church. We encourage parents to sit up front near the children so they can see that they are nearby. During the summer months, we will not have a volunteer to staff Grace Space for each service. But if no volunteer is present, that’s still not a problem…we ask parents to sit with their children in that case.

Grace is the free and undeserved favor of God. We are giving our children prime space in our church because we love them without any conditions. It is so important for children to be an active part of worship! We will give them a rich measure of grace, even as God gives his grace to us.

I will consider almost anything during our worship that will welcome more people – young and not-so-young. They will then hear about Jesus – that doesn’t compromise our beliefs. We have many traditions in our worship which I respect and value. But I don’t want a tradition to necessary take precedence over communicating the Gospel. There was a time when men and women (with children) sat separately in church. “Family seating” was introduced in the mid 1800’s. Pastors wore a Geneva gown (black gown) for many years, replacing it with a Cassock and Surplice after WWII. Pastors now wear a Alb or a nice suit.

It’s a win-win…parents have the option to have their children worship with them in the pew or sit up front in “Grace Space.” When we come across any problems, we will deal with them. In the meantime, know that all children are welcome in worship at Immanuel. And if your baby is fussy, even crying, let me know. This grandfather will hold your little one for a while! As a pastor, I am never bothered by a fussy baby because I so pleased you and your child are in worship.

Let me leave you with some words from St. Paul that show the emphasis he placed on change so people will hear the Gospel.

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings! Corinthians 9:22-23

See you in church – and I’ll see the little ones in “Grace Space!”
Pastor Tom

“19 grads @ Imm Pal r sent by the pastors as missionaries”

It’s hard for me to describe the special moment depicted in this photo (taken during graduation last Friday night.)  My friend, and the speaker at Immanuel’s 2017 graduation, Mike Zimmer, probably captured it best when he tweeted:

Mike got right to the heart of it. Those 19 eighth graders – now high school students – are the product of a Christian education. That’s what we do here at Immanuel.  I’m grateful for that.

The students are on summer vacation already. But teachers are still busy this week – wrapping things up, meeting, and planning the very best for their students next year.  I’ll be praying for them this summer.  They pour themselves into this place and their students all year. I’m grateful. And they’ll be back in August, ready to do it all over again.

I’ll be praying for our graduates and our students this summer too. I know that with each student we have an opportunity to provide the best academic education and spiritual instruction possible. We will teach and emphasize Christian values. God willing, all students will take these values and attitudes with them throughout the rest of their lives! Thanks be to God!

See you in church, and maybe even camp this summer,
Pastor Tom

A Memorial Day Prayer

Once again, it’s Memorial Day Weekend and once again I’d like to offer up a simple prayer…

Father, you do not need us to bring before you the needs of war-sufferers: both the veterans and the victims. You know all about them. Your compassion is the same, whether we remember them or not. It is we who need to remember.

We thank you father for reminding us that remembrance is not enough; for reminding us that helping them is the Christian family’s business. We remember them so that you may guide us into the best way of helping them.

We pray for an out pouring of your Holy Spirit on all leaders who are responsible for war, that they may find peaceful ways of solving their countries problems, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  AMEN.

Pastor Donald’s preaching this weekend.

See you in church,
Pastor Tom

Evil Without Limitations

Ariana is a singer and lyricist who became famous through her acting on Nickelodeon. Her fans include young families and children. Often compared to Mariah Carey, her music is very popular world-wide and she is currently on a sold-out world tour which she suspended last evening following a terror attack at her concert in Manchester England.

This attack targeted young girls. I think of Immanuel’s middle school students and recent graduates…many of them would have loved to be at her concert just like the kids in Manchester England. Young people spending an evening watching a 21-year-old woman whom they watched on TV for years, perform music they admire. It all seemed so normal, innocent, and entertaining.

In an instant, everything turned and 21,000 concert goers experienced something that is expected only in the war zones of Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. There are sick people in this world who look at last evening’s concert as evil, unholy, and against their extreme religious views. I don’t even want to call it a religion. For me it is satanic hate, the darkest example of evil that is reserved only for those who absolutely reject everything that Christianity teaches. These evil people teach their own children to commit brutal murder, posting it on the internet for the world to see. Their children will not grow up healthy. What new acts of evil will they carry out as they follow their parents example?

Friday evening, I will be at Immanuel’s Graduation Ceremony. I thank God that their parents partnered with us and we have taught them well. They have a sense of absolutes, of right and wrong, of love to their neighbors, of forgiveness, faith and God’s never ending love for them. Their world is changing rapidly. Far too many of the changes are not good. Manchester reminds us all to draw ever closer to God.

I am not a global terrorism expert. I have read sections of the Quran, but I am not proficient on Islam. I am a simple parish pastor who wants to reassure people that God is still God. He has not abandoned us, nor will evil take away your faith!

Let’s pray together…

Lord God,
No one is unfamiliar to you
and you want all people to be saved and know the truth.
In your kindness, please watch over the victims of the Manchester attacks,
those who are caring for them,
those who lost loved ones,
those recovering from their injuries,
and those who witnessed unspeakable horrors.
Bring those who are guilty of terrorism to justice
and restore peace
as hate and anger is replaced with love and understanding.
Help us to remain steadfast.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesian 6:10 ff.

See you in church, and at graduation Friday night,
Pastor Tom