Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pizza in the Park pics posted pronto

I want to reflect a bit on last Sunday. I just haven't had time. It was an exciting day. We had over 200 in the college group and Pizza in the Park was rockin'.

Pizza in the Park pics are posted now at

This week we'll see how the church is "A People of the Book" in 1 Peter 1:23-2:3. Take a look before Sunday if you can.

Monday, September 24, 2007


A few have complained that they've been having a hard time getting Life Together to come up in their browsers, especially those on older systems.

This morning I have made a couple changes that I hope will help:

  • I removed the embedded "Life Together Convesations" audio in the upper right corner. Now click to listen.

  • I have limited the front page to 25 posts. If you want to see older posts, just click the older posts on the bottom of the page.

Let me know if you notice a difference. If it's still not coming up, then I'll keep hacking and see what I can do.

May I also recommend subscribing to Life Together, so that it comes to you via email or in a reader. This will eliminate the need for you to access the page altogether, while still enabling you to keep up on what's going on.

To subscribe via email, just drop in your email and walk through the verification process. . .

Enter your email address:

To subscribe in a reader, click this button . . .

Subscribe in a reader


Reflecting on all the new little ones being born here at Grace, Nate Maas sent me this hilarious video. The fact that its been viewed over 600,000 times means it definitely hits a nerve. We laughed out loud. Enjoy on a Monday. . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Now Posted . . . New LT Conversation:
Why Growth Groups at Grace?

Pastor Steve and I sure didn't accomplish our goal of a weekly "Life Together Conversation" this summer. Not sure what happened there, but we just didn't pull it off. As we've talked about it, we're still excited and committed to the concept, but going forward will try and be a bit more realistic and record them when we can.

Today we did! As we head into the Fall, we thought it a good opportunity to spend a little time talking about "Why Growth Groups at Grace?" Growth Groups start this week, but continuing enrollment will be happening this Sunday and next. Our desire is to see you in a Growth Group this Fall. This edition of Life Together Conversations will provide you an introduction or a refresher about how we do Growth Groups at Grace, why we're passionate about them and why we think you should commit to one.

Listen up and let us know what you think.

You can listen now at . . . .


you can listen right here in the upper right corner of this page.


you can listen to the podcast in iTunes at . . .

More Fall Kick-Off Pics

Lisa Leonard was kind enough to also snap some pics at the Fall Kick-Off, while she tried to keep an eye on her boys as Pastor Steve was busy with his responsibilities.

If you've ever checked out Lisa's blog, then you know she's got this great perspective and does neat things with her pics. We've added those to the Fall Kick-Off set at

Thanks, Lisa.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Honored at Being in the Presence of the Wounded

Phil and Carol Gray gave me heads-up about Matt Kokkonen's Viewpoint article in the Trib yesterday where he reflects on his visit with Lance in Germany. Here it is . . .

Matt Kokkonen talks to Josiah Johnstone and Joseph Staub, of the 649th Military Police from Camp San Luis Obispo, at the American Thunder Rally on Sept. 9.

Matt Kokkonen talks to Josiah Johnstone and Joseph Staub, of the 649th Military Police from Camp San Luis Obispo, at the American Thunder Rally on Sept. 9.

I want to thank the many people who attended our fourth 9/11 American Thunder Rally and barbecue supporting our troops at Mitchell Park on Sept. 9.

We collected a truckload of goods for the Military Parents of the Central Coast. The San Luis Obispo County Band played patriotic music. Vandenberg Honor Guard posted the colors. Col. William Hatch’s uplifting message was drawn from more than 30 years of military experience after his graduation from West Point.

Special thanks go to the following businesses for their generous donations: Bob’s BBQ of Santa Maria, Burke Construction, Milo Ferini Farms, Glacier Ice, Animal Care Clinic, San Luis Sourdough, Grizzly Academy, Lehmkuhl’s Cookies, Goni’s Brownies and the numerous individuals and donors without whom this memorable and profitable event would not have happened. San Luis Print and Copy, KVEC, KPRL, KGDP and KUHL promoted the event extensively.

Last week, on 9/11, I traveled to Germany to visit my daughter. She just had a baby daughter. While waiting for a connecting flight, I was contacted about the San Luis Obispo soldier who had been in a serious accident in Iraq. His parents were wondering where I was going in Germany.

My daughter, an emergency room doctor serving in the Air Force, had just been transferred to the large Army hospital at Landstuhl, Germany. Our local soldier, Lance Iunker, was being transferred to that hospital the same day that I arrived.

Lance was in a transport accident after a night mission in Iraq. Seven soldiers died and eight survived with major injuries. I met with him and other members of his unit who were not in intensive care. We talked and prayed together.

While Lance said my visits were very encouraging to him, believe me, his and his buddies’ faith, demeanor, character, mission, dedication and love of America gave me much more. It was but two days after our fourth barbecue and rally to honor our troops in San Luis Obispo that I had this opportunity to meet with wounded heroes fresh from the battlefield.

Lance stated that he was in the Army because he wanted to give something back to his country because of the freedoms our country had given him and others.

Another soldier had a young child whom he had not even seen yet. Still, he commented that this was the price of freedom.

Lance’s position in life is rooted in his firm faith in God, he said, and in knowing that even in this challenge his life was part of God’s plan.

It was a humbling honor to be in a military hospital with true patriots. I marvel at their strength of character.

Our volunteer troops are to be honored and supported, just like those who heeded the call at the birth of our nation.

Liberty is not won in a weekend. I salute our troops.

Matt Kokkonen is a financial planner in San Luis Obispo and the organizer of the 9/11 barbecue supporting the troops.

encouraging email of the week

Here is part of an email I received this week from a recent college grad. The reason it was so encouraging to me is not because he enjoyed Sunday's message, but because he's "getting" the church. . . . .

Yesterday as I was driving home after dinner with some friends, I thought a lot about the passage that you taught about in the morning. After rethinking through all of the ideas you expressed about the idea of “What in the world is the Church?”, I felt inclined to email you. I think I got the idea to email you for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to let you know how much I agreed with the sermon, specifically about the relationship between college student’s involvement with on campus ministries and the local church, and also to offer a little encouragement, if possible.

I started attending Grace this February, and have come to fall in love with it, joining a growth group, going to Mexico with the high schoolers, playing basketball on Thursday nights, and being apart of the church family in other ways. I graduated from Cal Poly in June of 2006 and never really had a church home throughout college. I was heavily involved with Campus Crusade for Christ all five years and although I owe a lot of my spiritual growth and maturity to that movement, I have come to realize how much I missed out by not getting involved with a local church those five years. I found myself looking around during yesterday’s service and couldn’t have agreed more with your urge for college students to get involved with the church. We all do need each other, young and old, men and women, mature and still learning, rich and poor, etc., and I can tell that Grace Church is on the right track to be a church described in the Bible. The church isn’t about what I can get out of it, but how we can grow together to glorify and worship the Lord. Grace Church has become a place where I experience peace, belonging, the Story, and His presence.
I'm excited about where our Fall series, "What in the World is the Church?" is going to take us . . . Come along!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lance Update, 9/17

From Dori, sent this evening. . . .

Hello Family & Friends,

After a very long day with many delayed and missed flights we finally arrived in Augusta, Georgia. A Major from the Army met us and escorted us onto the base. He told us that Lance had a serious infection with a 101-degree fever. Apparently, soldiers who return from Iraq have some funky bacteria on their skin that wouldn‚t be much of a problem unless it enters the bloodstream, which happens when they have injuries. Fortunately, the Army hospitals deal with this so much that they have a potent IV antibiotic cocktail that Lance‚s body responded to immediately. The Major helped us to get on base and gave us lots of paperwork that we would need later. He also explained that Lance was in an isolated room because of „his cooties‰, and that if we touched him we would have to wash our hands really well. We finally saw Lance late last night. I can‚t tell you what that feels like to look into my son‚s eyes finally! He is still my baby boy and yet such a man! I must have stared at him and kissed his hand, forehead and knee over and over! Anywhere I could touch him without hurting him! Then of course when we left we had to wash our hands.

This morning they got Lance up and he was able to sit and then walk a few steps toward the door! That was huge! He was not successful at it yesterday or later today when they tried it again, but he did it once so we know he will do it again!! We met the General Surgeon team that oversees Lance‚s case. They have called in a team of four other specialty groups including an orthopedic back specialist, an ear/nose/throat specialist, a neurosurgeon and a social worker.

The social worker talked to him about what to expect and how to get help. The Major and the social workers said that the greatest thing about Lance is that he is willing to talk about everything that he has been through including the loss of his seven buddies, the trauma of the accident and memories of war. Anyway, they said that the guys they worry about don‚t talk about any of it and Lance is not one of those. Praise God he is so open in his communication!

We missed the neurosurgeon but he told Lance that his head was healing very well. The ear doctor has not been in yet to see him but we did meet the Orthopedic back specialist. Here is where Lance could really use some prayer. Lance experienced two substantial compression fractures in the middle of his back (T5 and T6). These vertebrae help hold him up straight. The CAT scan showed that there were some bone fragments that had been squished out toward the spinal cord but they were not that worried about that. What concerned them was that when he sat and stood this morning he slumped forward, kind of like an old person with Osteoporosis in their back. They decided to take him down for an MRI but they sent him right back up because of all the metal staples in his head. They decided to take the staples out tomorrow (a couple of days early) so that he could get the MRI immediately. This will show them if they need to do back surgery to hold those vertebrae in place and help him stay straight up or if a back brace that goes up to his neck will do the trick. Our prayer is that he only will need a better brace. The doctor said if he could avoid this surgery he would really like to. He said it is a dangerous surgery because it is so close to all the vital organs (heart, lungs, etc∑) and that what they do during the surgery is complicated and very close to the spinal cord. So join us in praying that he will not need this surgery but as we have learned during our prayers that God‚s will is better than our best laid plans so I mostly pray for wisdom for the doctors.

We have been blessed already this trip! It is so good to see Lance and hold his hand! I gently rubbed and scratched his back for him and then I fed him some dinner and he said he thought he might have died and gone to heaven. The Army nurse laughed and said to me, „You don‚t get nurtured or pampered in the Army!‰ This was a treat for Lance and great quality time for me.
We are staying in a beautiful and comfortable hotel that was paid for through „reward credits‰ from a wonderful couple at our church and now the Army says a spot will be opening up at the Fisher House next door to the hospital. This is a free house that holds seven families of severely injured soldiers! What a blessing! They said we could stay for free as long as our son is an inpatient. They have treated us very well and we feel grateful for everything we have been given here. Lance has a beautiful red, white and blue quilt that was handmade for all the „American Heroes‰ that return injured from war. He received a flower on his door from a local church that said they were praying for him and that they appreciated his service! We received a call today from a lady who lives in Augusta and guess who she was? Ken Peet‚s (Lance‚s youth pastor) aunt!! She has lived here forever and offered us whatever help she could. It is a very small world, isn‚t it? First our friend Matt in Germany to visit and pray with Lance in Germany and now Ken‚s Aunt living here!

I could go on and on but it is so late and we want to get back early tomorrow. Just know that all of your support is so appreciated! God is so good! Pray also for Lindsey and Luke who are flying home by themselves tomorrow. They are sad to go but they both have school and fortunately my mom will be there to care for them. Once again I thank you for your many prayers for Lance and his buddies.

In His amazing love,

Fall Kick-Off Pics Now Posted

Lots of Fall Kick-Off pics are now posted HERE.

It was a great day of welcome, worship and fellowship. Lots and lots of visitors. Food was great. Climbing wall and jousting were a hit. Everybody loves snowcones.

God was exalted. The community was welcomed. We served together.

How about sharing what you enjoyed and what you thought could be improved.

If you're inclined to offer more substantial feedback, we'd love to hear it. You can download a feedback form here. . .

praying 4 you

The Mattina girls dedicated their I Madonnari square to Lance. Talented girls. Good stuff!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Iunker Opportunities

Two things this morning

  1. I just talked to Larry. Several people have asked about donating frequent flyer miles. Its a fairly involved and complicated process and the Iunkers are looking for someone who knows what they are doing to be the coordinator/clearinghouse for all this. If you're interested in serving in this way, email me directly at

  2. Josh Ernstrom has volunteered to set up a "video greeting booth" at this Sunday's Fall Kick-Off at Mitchell Park, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM (see post below for more details). You will be able to encourage Lance via video and then Josh will either load them on YouTube or get them to Lance on a DVD. Josh, you might want to bring two video cameras.

Lance Update, 9.13.07

Hello family and friends,

I heard from Lance again today. What a blessing to hear his voice! He is doing better each day. He can move his neck and lift his head a little. The swelling in his face and neck is going down. The CAT scan results showed a fractured sternum so that is causing his chest pain. He was fitted for a custom back brace today but when they tried to sit him up to put it on he went very pale and almost passed out so they had to lay him back down. They told him not to be discouraged and to just take baby steps in the recovery process. He had so hoped to be able to sit up and be wheeled down the hall to visit his buddy PFC Brendall.

He told me an amazing story of how Brendall had not only been the soldier to pull him out of the wreckage but that he learned that day that Brendall had also helped to save his life by holding him into the back of the truck as it plunged off the overpass. He said as they were about to go over the edge Brendall tried to jump out the back but Lance and SGT. Rivera were in the way of him getting out the back. As they went over, Brendall (who Lance had just taken to Chapel for the first time that very night) made the decision to save "Preach". He grabbed Lance as tight as he could and pushed him down, holding on to him with one arm and hanging onto the truck with the other. Lance said he would have flown out the back if Brendall would not have been hanging on to him. When they hit, the two of them were separated. Lance was buried under wreckage and three dead bodies including one almost 300 pound insurgent. He lay unconcious and then when he woke up he said it was very dark and he could only hear weeping, screaming and what he thought was gnashing of teeth. He was terrified and believed he had gone to hell! He cried out to the Lord and said, "I know Lord that I deserve nothing more but I have tried to be a faithful man." Just then he heard a voice calling out, "Preach, Preach where are you. I know you are in there!" Lance kept trying to move or say something. He finally moved his left toes enough for Brendall to see them. Brendall then began throwing the bodies and the torn wreckage off of Lance and dragged him out. As Lance saw light he also saw Brendall collapse from his injuries. He had 5 broken ribs in the back near his spine, a broken arm, hand and nose and a collapsed lung.

Lance thought Brendall had died. Then his other comrades began to be laid next to him and the rescuers said, "This one's dead (that was Weeks), this one is also dead (that one was Mora)." One by one Lance could see them and he thought they all had died but him and Lt. Roberts who was holding Lance's ear and scalp on. He kept praying for the Lt. and telling him they would be okay. The Lt. just kept crying until the Medi-Vac unit arrived. Lance then can't remember much until waking up from surgery.

Some of you wanted to know about the men who had passed away and some of Lance's buddies that I have written about before. The deceased are Staff Sgt. Gray (one of the authors of the NY times article), Staff Sgt. Rivera (married with 2 kids), Sgt. Hardegree, Sgt. Mora (another author of the NY piece, Lance met regularly with him for Bible Studies. He was a strong Christian), Sgt. Patterson (married with a 4 yr. old), Spc. Weeks (Lance's very good bud that is in that picture with him and is a newlywed), and Spc. Elrod.

The survivors' injuries that I can remember: PFC Keyes is in ICU with broken limbs and his spleen removed, Brendall who I mentioned earlier (can't walk yet from the injuries but will heal), Lt. Roberts broken shoulder, Sgt. Simpson scalp injuries like Lance (and will also go to Georgia with Lance), most of them have broken bones and are getting around really well. Two are in ICU. No major head injuries or spinal cord injuries and no amputations! Most of the guys have come into Lance's room and have told him they believe that God is the one who spared their life. Sgt. Simpson who has been rooming with Lance at the hospital asked for a Bible today!

Lance is leaving Germany on Friday at 9:00 am on a bus (midnight our time) and 1:00 pm on a plane. He will arrive in Washington, D.C. at 4:30 pm Eastern Time. He said they will stay overnight to stabilize again and then transfer to Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon, in Augusta, Georgia on Saturday. There is a chance he will not make it there until Sunday so we will fly out Sunday to see him. With the exception of Sgt. Simpson, all the other men are going to Fort Bragg, NC. This will be a sad separation for them all.

Lance mentioned in his phone call this morning that he had the best night sleep that he has had since arriving in Iraq. He said for the first night there was no rockets, mortars or sounds from artillery. He said no one turned on the lights and shouted "TST, let's go!!!" No one was shooting an AK-47 at him. He said he just slept in peace and it was so sweet!

On a lighter note...
Lance has been joking with the nurses that he is excited that he has finally had plastic surgery so he is an official Californian! He told me on the phone that he only wishes they would have gone ahead and added some pec/chest implants and maybe a six-pack of abs or calf implants while they were at it but oh well!!!
Lance is looking so much better each day. Our friend Matt who is in Germany took a video of Lance and emailed it to us. He is looking good, you can tell he is on a lot of morphine but it is so sweet to see him. What a gift! I thought I would share it with all of you so here it is on youtube . (a few posts down)

Let me also share with you that your love and support has been overwhelming. I have never felt so uplifted in prayer. We have had offers for plane tickets, hotels and cash for our travel expenses. It is so humbling! We see this as God's hand in everything and we give him all the glory and praise. Grace Church in San Luis Obispo is setting up a fund as well as Nancy Villa, my dear friend (805-545-5950), who is coordinating with Sesloc Credit Union to set up a fund to help with our travel plans. My father's church has offered Lance a hospital bed when he is finally ready to come home to rehabilitate here (I'm thinking the bunk bed with his brother might not work for awhile!). It has been such a blessing to not have to worry about how this crisis will impact us financially. So thank you to everyone! Our plans, after the first week together, are to alternate flying out to Georgia with one of us always staying here with the family and one being with Lance. I am sure that is not the cheapest way to do things but it will be the best on the other children.

Thank you for your prayers, your support and your offers to help! I believe that God shows his love for us in these times through others and He has brought us such peace during this difficult time, a peace that surpasses all understanding. God bless you all!

In His grace and for His glory,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Theule Family: Haaken Scootering

Haaken turned 2 last Saturday. We can't keep him off the scooter, so we finally broke down and bought him one. Kid practices!

Donating to the Iunkers

This update was posted on the Tribune site this afternoon . . . .

The part about donating to the Iunker's need was a bit vague and could cause confusion. We want to make sure all are clear, especially if you are hoping to obtain a tax deduction. So this was lifted from the earlier post today. Please read it carefully and call our accountant, Paula Richardson, at 543.2358, if you have any questions . . .

Many have inquired how we might help the Iunker family during this difficult time. The most helpful thing you can do is pray. If you wish to help financially toward their travel and other needs during this time, you may:
  1. Give to our Benevolence Fund. This fund is designated to help those in need in our church family and in the broader community. We are now in the process of putting together a disbursement from this fund for the Iunker family. In this case, your gift will be tax-deductible, provided you do not reference the Iunker's name on your check.

  2. Give a gift directly to the Iunkers. In this case, your gift will not be tax- deductible. Unfortunately, IRS laws do not allow tax deductions for designated giving directly to the Iunkers or any other individual. If you would like to have us pass on your gift, we would happy to do that.

    Let me say it one more time . . . if you expect your gift to be tax deductible, do not reference the Iunkers any place on your check. Make your check out to the Grace Church and put "Benevolence Fund" in the memo. Our commitment is to more than meet the finanical needs of the Iunker family during this difficult time. Thanks for your participation.

    If you have any questions about these matters, please call our accountant, Paula Richardson at 543.2358. Thanks for your care for the Iunkers during this challenging time.

Lance Video from Germany

My goodness, the world is a small place and God is so good. Turns out Matt & Jean Kokkonen were in Germany visiting their daughter, Jana, and husband, Patrick. Jana happens to be an ER doc in the very hospital where Lance is. So Matt is there and their hanging out with Lance and they fire up the video camera, post a little video on a .Mac sight. We get the link, download it and then upload it to YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

So good to see that boy's smile and hear his voice. Makes me miss him more.

So here's the introduction and below is the video. . . .Why don't you upload your own video response to the video for Lance over at the YouTube sight? He would be so encouraged!

Dear Dori and family,

You don't know me, though you know my in laws - the Kokkonens. As
you are aware, my wife and family and I are stationed over here at
Landstuhl - where my wife Jana is an ER doctor. Anyway, we have had
the great privilege to meet your son and to try to be an
encouragement to him and his troops in the aftermath of their tragic
week. Lance, as I have heard time and again during the past 24
hours, actually encouraged us more than I think we did him. He is a
special guy, and we know that the Lord directed our paths to
intersect out here.

I took the liberty of asking Lance if I could video a message home to
you for him - and he was excited about the idea. We also took some
more photos - so that you can see that your son is doing okay. . . . We just hope
that you are blessed by our efforts to see your son face to face
before you are able to be there in person.

May God bless you all, and Jana and I look forward to seeing Lance
again one of these days in SLO.


Patrick Reed (for Jana, our daughters Lucy and Anja, and Matt and
Jean Kokkonen)

moving toward the Fall Kick-Off

All-church email sent today . . . make sure you read the bottom stuff about helping the Iunkers . . .

Beloved Family of Grace,

Our 2007 Fall Kick-Off is just days away. If you have not yet registered, we'd like to hear from you RIGHT NOW. You can respond to this email or call the church office (543.2358) and let us know you're coming. Here are some details that you need to know as we approach Sunday.

Who are you inviting? It's not too late. . . in fact, now is the perfect time to invite those friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and classmates. Many of them will have received an invite mailer in their mailbox and may have noticed the big banner over Higuera. Pray first and then go for it. Leave the results to God. Invite them to sit and eat with you. We've attached an invite card that you can print or email.

What to Wear and Bring: Dress for the day is very casual. Our staff is free to wear shorts and flip-flops and so are you. Chair seating and lots of shade will be provided. If your family would prefer to sit on the grass under the trees, bring your own beach chairs and/or blankets. As in past years, we will have the slip-and-slide going, so bring those swimsuits for the kids. Also, this year, we will have a tie-die activity center as part of our fun zone. If your children wish to participate, bring a plain white t-shirt for them.

Parking & Arrival: Plan to be early for our 10:00 AM Worship Service. We really want to encourage you this Fall to park in the Morro/Pacific Street Parking Structure in order to free up the lot and street parking for visitors, guests, the elderly and those with special needs. Start this Sunday and make it a habit. I have requested that our staff and leadership lead the way in this. You will be warmly greeted by our Welcome Team at various points between the park and the parking structure. Our Welcome Team will fill out a name tag (red for guests less than one year, gold for regulars) and they will hand you a worship folder. This year our Life @ Grace has information for the day on its cover. Find a place to sit and greet those around you, looking specifically for those red name tags. A baby changing station will be located close to the public restrooms. New moms, you are free to hang out there, if you prefer. To minimize distractions, we ask that you keep your kids away from the playground during the worship service. They will have the remainder of the day to have fun and enjoy the park.

Worship Service: Worshipping outdoors is so fun, but can also be quite a challenge. Be praying for this crucial time. The Worship Service should be just over an hour. In the first part of the message, I will have an activity to engage the kids. I will be asking several 2nd - 6th graders who can read to participate in a specific way. Help me by prepping your children in that age range. Sound gets lost in the outdoors which means we need to really sing out. Let's let the neighbors and passers-by hear our praise to the Lord. My message for the latter half of Ephesians 2 will kick off our Fall series entitled, What in the World is the Church? After the service, please pick up your chairs and stack them in the designated area.

Lunch: Our food line went so fast and smooth last year that we decided this year to let everyone eat at the same time, rather than encouraging visitors/guests to eat first. Instead, we want to make sure that no red name tags eat alone. If you haven't pre-purchased your lunch ticket, you will do that first. Then you will proceed through the food line. Use the lines to chat with others and welcome those visitors and guests. Invite guests to come and sit with you. A blue grass band will be providing musical entertainment during lunch.

Fun Zone and Afternoon Activities: After lunch, we encourage you to stick around, wander the park and have a good time, even if you don't have children in the fun zone. Senior Saints, we want you here with us. There will be fun activities for all ages to watch and play throughout the day. The afternoon is a great time to engage those around you in deeper conversation, especially those with red name tags.

Many thanks in advance to those who are pitching in to make this day possible. This event is so big that it takes all of us to pull it off. Be talking it up with others and praying it up with the Lord. Let's pray that all feel welcomed, included, encouraged and challenged. Most of all, let's pray that the Lord is lifted high.

Finally, on an unrelated but vitally important note . . . some of you may not yet be aware that Lance Iunker was severely injured in a military accident in Iraq earlier this week. He is doing well and a full, but long, recovery is expected. I have and am posting updates from the family on my blog at . Click there for more details. Many have inquired how we might help the Iunker family during this difficult time. The most helpful thing you can do is pray. If you wish to help financially toward their travel and other needs during this time, you may: 1.) Give to our Benevolence Fund. This fund is designated to help those in need in our church family and in the broader community. We are now in the process of putting together a disbursement from this fund for the Iunker family. In this case, your gift will be tax-deductible, provided you do not reference the Iunkers name on your check. 2.) Give a gift directly to the Iunkers. In this case, your gift will not be tax- deductible. Unfortunately, IRS laws do not allow tax deductions for designated giving directly to the Iunkers. If you have any questions about these matters, please call our accountant, Paula Richardson at 543.2358. Thanks for your care for the Iunkers during this challenging time.

We'll see you Sunday!

Because of and for the Gospel. . . Pastor Tim

four found

I found a few more blogs today, of course all of them authored by gals . . . adding them to the list . . .

Jenny Fugler, (formerly Jeffrey), stationed at with hubby Travis at Columbus Airforce Base, MS. (Is that Mississippi?) . . .

The Life I Have Been Given

Carrie Haughey, married to Kyle, stationed and involved right here at Grace Church, SLO . . .
Little Dove
Kristin Jones, married to Brett who owns that yummy coffee place, the Nautical Bean . . .
Girls! Girls! Girls
Joy Newman, married to Cade, and one of the Arroyo Grande bunch who thinks Grace is worth the drive . . .
Simply Joy
Click over when you have a chance, leave a comment and tell them I sent you!

Do you think blogging invites reflection and contemplation? Does it just busy our lives or does it facilitate our community?

Lance in the News

Here's the story on Lance from KSBY. Video of the news story is also available there.

Here's the God-honoring video from KCOY. . .

Sorry, I don't think there's a way to embed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lance Update, 9/12

Another update from Dori . . .

9.12.07 4:09 PM

Hello family & friends, I wanted to fill you in a couple of updates. One is that KCOY channel 12 came today to interview our family and I told them that I would do the interview but that but it was important to me that God get the credit for saving Lance's life and that it was our faith that was getting us through this experience. I told them that I had explained all of this to KSBY last night and yet they had edited it all out which made me even sadder, plus they got the number of deceased wrong and Lance's injuries wrong. The reporter told me that she was a Christian and did these stories to glorify God so she would not edit our Christian faith out of the story. It should be on the 5:00 and a longer version of the 6 or 6:30 news tonight and possibly channel 11 10:00 news as well. Also, Lance’s story was in the Tribune today. You can check it out at

A friend of ours from church, Matt Kokkonnen was in Germany visiting his daughter who is an emergency room Army doctor at Landstuhl Medical Center where Lance is. He called and told me that he went and saw Lance today! Lance was thrilled to see someone from Grace Church and SLO. Matt said that he looks great and sounds good although he is in a lot of pain, mostly in his back and chest. He began moving his legs today under the covers! Praise the Lord!! We knew he could feel but he had not moved yet.
Lance was excited to move his limbs for the first time. The CAT scans showed more fractures in his chest that they were not aware of. Lance said that they are planning on putting him in a back brace for the next few months for the breaks in his back to remain immobilized. As you can see by the pictures, his ear and head look great! He has 60 staples holding his scalp together and 30 stitches on his ear! He is swollen but not that black and blue.

One amazing story I have to share that Matt told me about: Lance was pulled from the bottom of the wreckage by his buddy PFC Brendall (who suffered 5 broken ribs, a broken hand and a broken arm). Lt. Roberts, who suffered a broken shoulder, talked to Matt about Lance and said, "Lance is the strongest Christian man I have ever met. It is not easy being a Christian on the battlefield let alone in the Army. I am a very weak Christian. Lance was always really strong no matter what and we didn't make it easy on him. After he was pulled from the wreckage, I was holding his ear onto his skull and the whole time he kept saying, 'I'm praying for you LT, I'm praying for you'. I just started crying right there while I was holding his ear and he's praying for me. He made me a stronger Christian at that moment." Matt then told me that he prayed with Lance and the other wounded men in Lance's room for the gifts that they had received (not only their lives but on had just had a baby two weeks ago). Thank you all so much for your prayers and your support. I honestly feel so lifted up by the Lord it is very humbling!

In His great and amazing love,

Campout Pics Now Posted


Over 500 pics are now posted from the Grace Family Campout this last weekend at Lake San Antonio. It was great to see so many new families this year. Ben Collins did a great job bringing Psalm 40 to life.

I was so tired and sore on Monday. How about you?

And I did not run out of gas.


I can't remember another message which garnered as much feedback as the one I preached on Psalm 39 a week ago.

We all experience seasons of sorrow, but generally don't talk about them. I think we need to. Thankfully, the Psalms show us this season of our spiritual lives, just as they show us all seasons.

Several people mentioned to me the recent revelations of Mother Teresa's decades-long depression. Here's the TIME article.

(I'm curious what you do with this? Was Mother Teresa even saved? Did she trust in Christ alone? No one, but God, knows the soul of another. While I think that Roman Catholic theology can contribute to an unsettled, unassured and sorrowful soul . . . . David in Psalm 39, the testimonies of the saints throughout the ages and our own experience reminds us that even "evangelical protestants" (or whatever you want to call us or them) experience seasons of sorrow. I think that's one of the reasons Psalm 39 is there. . . to normalize this experience. )

As I mentioned in the message, Charles Spurgeon experienced regular bouts of depression. He talks openly about this in a chapter from his famous Lectures to My Students written to and for pastors. The chapter, available online, is titled "The Minister's Fainting Fits."

The chapter is long, but well worth the read and classic Spurgeon. If you think you don't have time to read it, perhaps the ending will inspire and challenge you to make the time.

By all the castings down of his servants God is glorified, for they are led to magnify him when again he sets them on their feet, and even while prostrate in the dust their faith yields him praise. They speak all time more sweetly of his faithfulness, and are the more firmly established in his love. Such mature men as sonic elderly preachers are, could scarcely have been produced if they had not been emptied from vessel to vessel, and made to see their own emptiness and the vanity of all things round about them. Glory be to God for the furnace, the hammer, and the file. Heaven shall be all the fuller of bliss because we have been filled with anguish here below, and earth shall be better tilled because of our training in the school of adversity.

The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble. Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary ministerial experience. Should the power of depression be more than ordinary, think not that all is over with your usefulness. Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy's foot be on your neck, expect to rise amid overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints. Live by the day—ay, by the hour. Put no trust in frames and feelings. Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement. Trust in God alone, and lean not on the reeds of human help. Be not surprised when friends fail you: it is a failing world. Never count upon immutability in man: inconstancy you may reckon upon without fear of disappointment. The disciples of Jesus forsook him; be not amazed if your adherents wander away to other teachers: as they were not your all when with you, all is not gone from you with their departure. Serve God with all your might while the candle is burning, and then when it goes out for a season, you will have the less to regret. Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are. When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord. Set small store by present rewards; be grateful for earnests by the way, but look for the recompensing joy hereafter. Continue, with double earnestness to serve your Lord when no visible result is before you. Any simpleton can follow the narrow path in the light: faith?s rare wisdom enables us to march on in the dark with infallible accuracy, since she places her hand in that of her Great Guide. Between this and heaven there may be rougher weather yet, but it is all provided for by our covenant Head. In nothing let us be turned aside from the path which the divine call has urged us to pursue. Come fair or come foul, the pulpit is our watch-tower, and the ministry our warfare; be it ours, when we cannot see the face of our God, to trust under THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS.

The Lord has a plan . . .

God is glorifying Himself through Lance's hardship and pain. Outstanding article in Today's Trib . . .

San Luis Obispo County’s website | 09/12/2007 | SLO soldier in Iraq hurt in crash that killed nine

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pray for Lance

Lance was seriously injured in an accident (not hostile fire) in Iraq yesterday. It looks like he's ok. Below are two updates from mom, Dori. Join us in prayer for Lance. . .

11:45 PM last night . . .

Dear family and friends,

I am writing one of two updates I never wanted to write. I received the dreaded phone call from Baghdad late tonight that Lance had been injured in a horrible accident yesterday. Seven or eight of the men in his platoon were killed (I do not know who they are at this point). Please pray for their families as this must be the worst day of their lives.

Lance just got out of surgery and will be flying to a hospital in Germany in the next few hours according to the nurse I spoke with. He has a fractured back but is able to move his limbs, his ear was torn off but they sewed it back on, and he has 30 stitches running up the side of his head. I am not sure of the extent of the rest of his injuries but he was allowed to talk with Larry and I and it was a relief to hear his voice. He sounded good!

They said once he is stable and accessed further for his injuries in Germany he will probably be moved to Walter Reed or maybe somewhere closer in California.
Please pray for a full and quick recovery and praise the Lord that he chose to spare his life! Lance has always said that the Lord has great plans for him and that He is not through with him yet, so we will see where this journey leads us now.

In His grace,

4:15 PM today . . .

Hello family and friends,
I have just gotten off the phone with the surgeon in Baghdad. He gave me a run down of Lance's injuries so I thought I would pass them along. He said, "Your son sustain significant injuries so I will start at the top and work my way down. Lance had significant scalp injuries. His scalp was basically torn off and needed immediate surgery to sew it back on. His right ear was torn off and dangling by a thread so a plastic surgeon sewed it back on. He was so fortunate to have a plastic surgeon here on site when he came in. That is highly unusual! The bones that support the eyeballs were fractured but since the vision is still intact we decided not to operate at this time. We believe his hearing is intact in the left ear and time will tell how his hearing is in the right ear. A ruptured eardrum will heal itself overtime but a perforated one may require future surgery. At this time his hearing looks like it is intact. He has contusions on his right lung and a small amount of air near his heart but no surgery is necessary at this time. He has compression fractures on the T5 and T6 (thoracic vertebrae) with blood collection around them. We do not believe surgery is necessary at this time and the fractures appear to be stable fractures. He also has low back or lumbar vertebrae fractures with no spinal cord injury. Mrs. Iunker, I in no way want to make light of your sons injuries because they are significant and he is your son. But in the big scheme of things and in comparison to the other soldiers, your son is a very blessed young man!"

AMEN to that!!!

He then said," Mrs. Iunker, do they call your son "Preach or Preacher?". I said, "Yes. How did you know that?" He said, "Wow. He is an amazing young man. I didn't get the chance to talk to him when he first came in because he went straight from the accident into surgery. When he was wheeled out of his second surgery, the Chaplain went over to him to try to wake him up from the anesthesia. He was very groggy. The Chaplain leaned over him and called him Preach. He said, "Preach, they said you're going to be okay! Your son raised his hand up into the air and said, 'Praise God, Praise God! God has something big in store for me!' I must say most soldiers don't wake up from surgery like that!!"

We are definitely praising God for his mercy today. We are also mourning with the families of those who have lost their loved ones. I must say I am in disbelief that the entire platoon has been wiped out. All 18 men of Charlie Troop are either dead or so injured they have been flown to Germany. There are none left in Baghdad! It is overwhelming to think of in those terms. Lance had a tough time with that last night and didn't even want to know who made it and who didn't but today he had several hours alone with the Chaplain and they reeled in their grief together. Lance said it was so good to get it all out!

I talked to Lance today too. He was just about to load the plane for Germany (2:00 pm our time). He is stable enough to go now and he will be reassessed in Germany for all his injuries. When ready, he will be moved back to the states (probably, God willing) in just a couple of days. They are unsure at this time if it will be to North Carolina or to Walter Reed in Texas. That decision will be made in Germany and we will find out hopefully tomorrow so we can make travel plans.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and I promise to keep you updated as I learn more about Lance's recovery.

In His great and amazing love,

who ya bringin'?

Below is the email I sent to the church family last week. Turns out it reached only the folks with K-Z last names. Check out the banner over Higuera. . .

Beloved Family of Grace,

I can hardly believe that summer is passing and the fall is upon us. Our Fall Kick-Off Celebration is next Sunday, September 16. If you've come to Grace over the last year, you're going to be blown away at how we turn turn the inside out to bring the outside in. You don't want to miss it! If you've been around for a while, then you know what an exciting Sunday this is. We're going to send you more detailed instructions next week, but for this week, I wanted to ask you again those three questions I asked last Sunday. . . .

1. Are You Coming? If you are, we need to hear from you so we can plan for lunch. Visitors and guests on that day eat for free. For the rest of us, the charge for lunch is $6.00 per person. If you have not filled out a Sunday tab, call the church office at 543.2358, respond to this email right now, or fill out the tab on Sunday.

2. How are You Helping? This HUGE day requires the service of all. We've got a good group for set up. We could use some more help in the Fun Zone and for the Clean-up Team. And we can never have enough Greeters/Welcome Team folks. Use the tab in this week's worship folder to sign-up to serve. Remember, this Fall at Grace, Everybody Plays.

3. Who are You Inviting? Folks who might not darken the door of the church, just might be willing to come to a celebration and picnic in the park. Many in our community will see the banner over Higuera St. this next week and about 4000 homes will receive postcard mailers, but we see these as supportive and complementary means of invitation. MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, NEIGHBORS AND CO-WORKERS NEED A PERSONAL INVITATION! In this Sunday's Worship Folder you'll find an invite card. We've also included an electronic copy below that you can forward to friends via email.

It's going to be a great day! Start praying now that the Lord will be lifted high, that we might serve with gladness, and that our community would feel warmly welcomed!

Because of and for the Gospel. . . Pastor Tim

Here's that postcard. Right click or control click to download.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Family Campout at Lake San Antonio happens this weekend. Can't wait. Going to be great. Expecting nearly 250. Taco is raring to go and so am I!