Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Adopt a College Student

Kate has recently blogged in her post The Potter's Clay: Adopt about the Hasson's experience in adopting a college student . . .

Adopt a college student!

We signed up a couple months ago at church to do the Adopt a College Student outreach and tonight we had our first dinner with our new family member. Sheila is her name and she is wonderful! I had kinda gone into this thinking that we'd be able to bless a student and give them a home away from home, but in this case I think it is more like us who is getting the blessing. Suzannah and Charlotte were extatic to have her over; really, when she arrived it was more like a movie star walked into our home than just a student. We had a wonderful time getting to know her and play games. Her boyfriend, Matt, who also goes to Grace came over too, and we had a great time together. I really enjoyed having them over. It was different because we are usually used to just having our peers over for dinner and being comfortable talking about the things in our stage of life. But tonight it was sweet to talk about their doings and their plans for the future and just be interested in their young lives. Sheila and I got along well and I love her sweet heart. I am blessed by doing this, our girls are tremendously, and I hope that Sheila will be too. (Plus, she said that she'd love to babysit anytime! :) )

Faithful Greg Johnson heads up this invaluable ministry and the word is that there are still a few college students in need of adoption. I think there have been over 30 college students who have been adopted so far this Fall and that number is growing. P. Steve shared in staff meeting this week (God@Work) that the college students are talking about their great experience and so more and more are saying they want to be adopted. . . its contagious.

What's it take? The only requirement is to spend time with your college student once a month or more. . . take them to lunch or have them over.

Here is one more great way for us to be practicing all this church stuff we've been learning this Fall . . . Let's live the Gospel.

To adopt your college student, contact Greg at

Hey, all you college student "Life Together" readers, why don't leave some comments about your experience as adoptees to "stimulate others to love and good deeds!" Let us know that you're out there and that this thing is meaningful to you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


my tags are out of control. . . . to see what i mean, scroll down and look at the messy right column . . . i should probably do something about that . . . sounds like a lot of work . . . any suggestions?

Tim Borland is going to pull it off!

Some of you will remember Tim Borland's BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL to run 63 marathons in 63 days for the Lord and to raise money for A-T, a rare degenerative disease that affects some children.

He is going to pull it off! For some inspiration on this Tuesday, check out this video of marathon 55. . .

To follow Tim's video blog as he comes down to the end at the New York City Marathon, go to

And here is the latest email update. . . note at the bottom says Tim will be interviewed on Good Morning America this Friday. Check it out. . .

Latest news from the road!

Please help us spread the word! We want as many hits as possible on YouTube this week, so send the link to all of your friends, encourage them to watch the blogs and pass it on to their friends!

Tim's mother, Kathy, joined the A-T CureTour and is having fun on the road with everyone. Tim said that she is definitely getting into the swing of things ... including forgetting what day it is and what city they are in! :-) She will be with them all week and will see him finish in New York.

Yesterday, Tim had a great run in Montclair, NJ, which is a beautiful town. He really enjoyed meeting host Jenny Jones (a volunteer with the A-TCP since she saw Brad Margus on the Rosie O'Donnell show several years ago) and board member John Feeley.

At Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, Tim had a really interesting run. People asked to have a photos with him and told him they read about him in USA Today. A lot of runners couldn't believe their eyes when they saw him run past them toward the end of the marathon -- with a large carrier on his back saying that this was his 56th marathon in as many days! He passed at least 1,000 runners toward the end. Tim ran in record time for the A-T CureTour in 3:45! He enjoyed spending time with the Kindregan and Klein families.

Carlisle, PA (day 55) was the first day with nice weather in quite a while, so Tim ran without getting drenched with rain! Douglas Fickel's sisters Emma and Sam ran with Tim for his first five miles, and local Brownie troops met him along the way to cheer him on and bring him oranges and bananas. Later, Douglas, Alivia Steinfelt, and Caitlyn Tilghman were all pushed over the finish line in the Axiom Racers! Renate Klein and her family also came from Delaware to show their support.

In Williamsburg (day 54), Tim ran in downpours for the first hour and half of the run, but that didn't stop them from having a great time. A local running club ran relays with him, which was a lot of fun, and Tim really enjoyed seeing so much of the local history as they went through Jamestown. The Lewin family had Tim, Michelle and the kids to their house for breakfast that morning, and it was nice just to hang out for a while and spend time with Jimmy.

Greensboro (day 53) had a great turnout with the Erwin family, and the tailgate party was held at one of their Ham's Restaurants which was terrific. Chaz had a blast! A local cross country team ran with Tim.

In general, Tim is feeling great, but he is also looking forward to getting some much-needed rest. He thinks the kids are going to go through A-T CureTour withdrawal ... they will have to get back into a routine and won't have a daily party!

Don't forget ... Good Morning America is scheduled to run the story this Friday, Nov. 2.

NPR will be rescheduled and we will keep you posted.

To view the video blogs, read the news, or make a donation, visit

So . . . What is your BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL for the Lord?

Be thinking about it this week as we come together on Sunday and consider that the church is "A People Serving."

Monday, October 29, 2007

God at Work

When we gather for prayer each week, our staff asks the question, "Where is God at work at Grace?" We always have things to share. It's a great discipline that forces us to lift our heads before we wade into the sometimes overwhelming mound of congregational needs and prayer requests. We always have to things to share. Sometimes a lot of things to share. Last week we shared for over an hour. A very encouraging time.

Three photo sets have been added to the Grace Flickr site that represent just a fraction of where God was at work last week. . .

Child Dedication . . . always a precious and important time as a church family.

Super Dessert With A Purpose . . . this was an incredibly encouraging evening of short term missionary reports from folks from Grace who have been or are now serving all over the world. I so wish the evening was recorded. Not sure why it wasn't, but it won't happen again. If you missed it, you missed out.

College Hoe Down . . . an annual tradition. I heard something about Caleo riding up on a real life horse.

Check out more pics here. Where do you see God at work this Fall?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lord, make us a church full of Johnnys!

This relates well to last week's message from Romans 12. . . .

HT: Debbi Weeks

UPDATE: I just reposted another copy of this video, because the first had a crazy musical track and somebody was kind enough to inform me. I originally viewed the video on another site. The sound quality on this one I've just posted is so poor, I'd just recommend turning down the volume and reading the text. Still good stuff.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Attributes of God, Part 2: God's Knowledge

God is Ominscient. He knows everything: Everything possible, everything actual; all events and all creatures, of the past, the present, and the future. He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in every life of every being in heaven, in earth, and in hell. "He knoweth what is in the darkness" (Dan. 2:22). Nothing escapes His notice, nothing can be hidden frm Him, nothing is forgotten by Him. Well may we say with the Psalmist, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain unto it (Psa. 139:6). His knowledge is perfect. He never errs, never changes, never overlooks anything. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:13). Yes, such is the God "with whom we have to do"!

The infinite knowledge of God should fill us with Amazement. How far exalted above the wisest man is the Lord! None us knows what a day may bring forth, but all futurity is open to His omniscient gaze. The infinite knowledge of God ought to fill us with holy Awe. Nothing we do, say, or even think, escapes the cognizance of Him with whom we have to do: "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Prov. 15:3) What a curb this would be unto us, did we meditate upon it more frequently! . . . The apprehension of God's infinite knowledge should fill the Christian with Adoration. The whole of my life stood open to His view from the beginning. He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet nevertheless, fixed his heart upon me. Oh, how the realization of this should bow me in wonder and worship before Him.

A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God

Friday, October 19, 2007


Our family has been recently exploring Shakespeare as part of our kid's education. I'm embarrassed and sorry to confess that my own education included little, if any, of Shakespeare. I hardly know any of the plot lines of his plays. . . . But it's never too late.

I am fascinated by the "Bard of Avalon" . . . . his little known life, his incredible insights into human nature, and his amazing use of the English language. (Obviously, I am intensely in the last two topics!)

Shakespeare made up many of the words that we still use today, including . . .

shooting star
farm house
Shakespeare gave us phrases and figures of speech that have become embedded in our Western consciousness. Though I have never formally studied Shakespeare, I know and use numerous Shakespearisms. Here are some of the gifts of Shakespeare. . . .

too much of a good thing
pomp and circumstance
wild-goose chase
one fell swoop
not budge an inch
to be or not to be
for goodness' sake
a sorry sight
there's the rub
in my mind's eye
the be-all and end-all
we have a seen better days
good riddance
neither rhyme or reason
eaten me out of house and home
bated breath
I had no idea. Did you?

We're reading Hamlet as a family, and to get a headstart and a visual context, we watched Mel Gibson's Hamlet circa 1990. Gibson is great. The story of Hamlet is awesome. Visuals are compelling.

If you, like me, have been deprived of Shakespeare, perhaps Hamlet is a good place to start. Consider this a formal movie recommendation!

What's Happening in Adult Bible Fellowships?

Adult Bible Fellowships are essentially Sunday School Classes for adults. But we desire them to be so much more than "classes." We want to them to be "Fellowships" and all that that implies. It appears to be working. . .

I lifted this encouraging bit from Pastor Steve's Weekly Email Update to our Adult Bible Fellowship Leaders.

This has been an exciting Fall Quarter in our ABF Ministry. As you know we often answer the question “Where is God @ Work @ Grace?” when our staff gathers each week. I find myself regularly sharing about Adult Bible Fellowships of late. Let me encourage you with some examples:

  • We have seen successful leadership transitions in Heritage Builders from Ted Malley to Jeff Mundorf, Tim Nugent and Ted.

  • In light of Leon’s sabbatical, Tim Arlen has stepped into the lead role in Harvesters and has been gathering a team of others who are serving in areas of prayer, welcome, socials and more.

  • Harvesters has launched our first ever ABF-based Growth Group and we are hearing great reports that this is greatly facilitating deeper relationships. We anticpate a couple more from Harvesters for the Winter Quarter.

  • 2:42 began the Fall with a contacting blitz to reconnect with folks scattered during the summer. They followed this with a picnic in Mitchell Park after church a couple weeks ago allowing families (most of whom live outside SLO) to get to know each other better in a casual environment.

  • Heritage Builders hosted a “Back to School BBQ” a couple weeks ago and began reconnecting with each other.

  • I hear reports that Living Stones has grown to standing room only and is busting at the seams of their room on Sunday mornings.

  • Bereans, Harvesters, Heritage Builders and 2:42 all began new series this Fall including Hebrews, James, What Jesus Demands form the World and Daniel.

  • Numbers of personal stories of folks finding a significant place of connecting and belonging in our ABF Ministry.
Are you a "two service" family yet? Perhaps this is the next step into Grace for you. Our vision is that you'd worship together as a family in one of our 3 worship services, but then also enjoy some age-segregated fellowship and instruction in our outstanding Sunday School program for kids and our Adult Bible Fellowships.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Attributes of God, Part 1: God's Solitariness

Along with Grudem, I've enjoyed reading again A.W. Pink's "The Attributes of God." I thought I'd kick off a periodic series of selections from Pink highlighting some of the attributes of God.

So, in this post, consider the solitariness of God . . .

The God who made the world and all things in it,
since He is Lord of heaven and earth,
does not dwell in temples made with hands;
nor is He served by human hands,
as though He needed anything,
since He Himself gives to all people
life and breath and all things . . .
Acts 17:24-25

"In the beginning God"(Gen. 1:1) There was a time, if "time" it could be called, when God in the unity of His nature (though subsisting equally in three divine persons), dwelt alone. "In the beginning God." There was no heaven, where His glory is not particularly manifested. There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to hymn His praises; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but "from everlasting." During eternity past, God was alone: self-contained, self-sufficient, self-satisfied; in need of nothing. . . .

God was under no constraint, no obligation, no necessity to create. That he chose to was purely a sovereign act on His part, caused by nothing outside of Himself, determined by nothing but His own good pleasure, for He "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). That He did create was simply for His manifestative glory . . .

He is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in His perfections. He sustains all, but is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but is enriched by none.


Monday, October 15, 2007

awesome elders


As I mentioned yesterday, our elders and pastors had a chance to sneak away for our annual Elder/Pastor retreat last Friday/Saturday. We had such a sweet time studying the attributes of great God out of Wayne Grudem's Sytematic Theology (the elders are working through this big book on the front end of our twice-a-month meeting).

We agreed together that our vision of God fuels the way we live our lives and the way we do ministry as a church. We live in a gloriously God-centered universe. We need a bigger, Biblical vision of God!

Grace is blessed with a united and sacrificing team of elders and staff. These men love the Lord and want to know Him and serve Him. We just enjoyed being together. I give thanks for our strong plurality and our partnership in decision making and shepherding.

Grace Trifecta

In the lastest issue of the Chamber of Commerce Newsletter, I noticed three pics of Grace folks who have recently started new businesses or who's businesses have just joined the Chamber. If you look closely at the pics, you will notice even more folks who call Grace home. It's encouraging to me to see our folks getting actively involved in the community. I pray for them as the represent Christ even as they try to run and grow their businesses . . . May they seek the welfare of the city and the glory of Christ even as they serve their customers/clients and stive to put food on their tables.

Brenda Ramler and her business: Birth and Baby Resource Network

Peter & Amy Kardel and their business: Clever Ducks Computer Network Services

Chad Theule and Sean Cheney and their business: One Source Home Solutions

Fun Day Monday

Here's an awesome video from Josh and the boyz, with our Jr. High Director, Ben Collins, as the star.

Made us laugh on a Sunday afternoon. Hopefully it will do the same for you on this Monday. I want to know how they did that. . . . .

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

entertaining ourselves at church

One of the most influential books I read in seminary was "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman. Have you ever read it? Please do.

Pastor Al again sent me a great article from Christianity Today entitled "Amusing Ourselves on Sunday." The article talks about the dangers and pressures of entertainment culture on the church. A good reminder and relevant to our recent discussion of media uses.

Here's a great quote:

"When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a comedy show, then a nation finds itself at risk."

Are we an audience when we gather for worship or a congregation? What's the difference?

Just as consumerism is radically affecting the way we experience church, so is entertainment . . . and we don't even realize it. How do we start?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Parenting Teens

My good friends, Paul & Virginia Friesen, presented another fantastic seminar at Grace last night. This time, the focus was on the challenge and delight of parenting our teems. We all need more Biblical instruction and support in this delicate area.

I know that Monday night was not the best night for some, so, as usual, we have posted the audio on our website for your listening enjoyment. If you missed it, make the time to listen to it. Session 1 was instruction focussed. Session 2 consisted of reflections from their grown daughters, Julie and Lisa (who attend Grace), and some valuable Q & A.

CLICK HERE to listen.

If you were there, share an takeway or insight to encourage others to listen.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Jaclyn listening in France

Always nice to get an email like this on Saturday, when I am spiritually preparing for another Sunday . . .

Hi Pastor Tim,

I just wanted to say thank you for posting the sermons on-line! I am in France for a year, and I've loved listening to your sermons on-line. It is such a blessing and I wanted to say thank you!

I graduated from Cal Poly in June. I majored in Spanish, French, and Linguistics. I knew after graduating that I wanted to spend a year abroad and after much pondering, I decided to go to France as an assistant language teacher. I'm working with different schools in English classes.

I went to Grace Church all four years of college. I was involved in the college group for a while and then found my nitch helping out in the Junior High youth group. I was also in Noonie Fugler's growth group during my four years. I definitely consider Grace my home church and I have to say that I miss the fellowship there quite a bit.

God has been so faithful to me here though and I am continually amazed! I found a church here that I'm going to and it has a young adult group. While it is hard to understand the sermons, worshiping God in another language is amazing. Not completely understanding the sermons is one reason why I'm listening to your sermons online. Also, it is wonderful to learn about the "People of God". God is so much bigger than the US, SLO, English, etc... I'm here in France experiencing fellowship with God's people here.

I have a blog if you're interested in my adventures:

Jaclyn Lude

I've added Jaclyn's blog to my list on the right. Check it out. There are some killer pics of the town she's staying in.

consumer church

In yesterday's message, "A People Committed" based on Hebrews 10:19-25, we looked at the undermining effects of consumerism on commitment. Only the Gospel can move us from consumerism to commitment!

Nicky Jensen, a gal involved in our College Ministry, sent me a link to this great reflection (sort of a rant) on the consumer church by musical artist, Justin McRoberts. I had never heard of McRoberts, but the music samples on his website sound great and similar to the style of Caedmon's Call. I've been looking for some new music. Click over and check him out.

Here's Justin's rant. . . . it'll get you thinking on Monday. . . .what are your thoughts/reactions?

Reflect on this... I think Consumerism undergirds almost every decision the modern American makes. (notice you and I are in this group)


I'm not so sure. The church is sailing in the deep waters and strong currents of a consumeristic whirlpool. She's spinning and she's lost her bearings. On board things seem fairly normal. Yes the church is beginning to notice her members lives lack depth... but they do not know why. Systemically the church has problems it does not know it has... or at the very least she significantly underestimates them. In other words most churches today consider consumerism a given for people who live in the USA and perhaps more importantly... they believe that the gospel can co-exist with this mentality.

The Consumer church might look something this. The absence of authority ---the final authority in the consumer church is the individual attendee. To truly submit to the direction of an elder/pastor and their spiritual leadership is laughable. Biblical headship has faded.

The desire to please the congregation supersedes the desire to please God. With authority gone who's in charge? It is spiritual anarchy with a fancy Christian mask.

The staff are highly specialized hired guns to do the work of the ministry for the church. I had an influential attorney in a large church I worked with tell me, "The day (the Sr. Pastor) stops preaching good sermons, and administrating well...I'm calling for him to be fired." I guess Moses would never have made it as pastor there.

Religious activity and developing a "spiritual menu" of programs takes the place of prayer, silence, community and obedience. Superficiality takes the place of depth. - In a consumer culture we love things to happen fast. If we sit in a drive through for more than 5 minutes it seems like an eternity. If our church services go 5 minutes long we complain. Superficiality is a child of consumerism. If I'm a consumer, I'm really only interested in me which leads to an inability to love others. When I'm a consumer, I'm interested in knowing you primarily for one reason...what you can give me. I become a manipulator and a user. I lose track of what's happening in the real lives of "friends" and fellow believers because I'm not really interested in their pain, fear, loneliness, or joy. I'm only interested in mine. Depth always comes slowly and the church who allows a sinful and worldly perspective to run rampant without correction is simply selling out the gospel of God and his plans, purposes and agenda for his children. The gospel again becomes a product that enhances peoples lives and the church begins to making better citizens of America. The truth of God is exchanged for a lie.

After superficiality comes image. Image is the consumer's greatest idol. Churches should be prayerful of how they "advertise", if they should "advertise" at all...... Isn't advertising the triumph of image over reality? If we're going to advertise.... be real...Instead of "An exciting, relevant, contemporary, family church with dynamic ministries for God" that really translates into: "we're a bunch of boring people who want to be exciting, we've recently added guitar (or synthesizer) to our services... we don't really know each other very well but we have things for everyone in your family to do while your here." Advertising that would be more truthful of my church.. " a bunch of normal people who are really messed up. we desire to follow Jesus, but we find we've found we're mostly interested in serving ourselves and being busy and we want to stop..... we really love God but we often fall short of worshiping him the way we really want to... pray for us...." but frankly ... that doesn't do it either. The fact is you can't promote or advertise the body of Christ. Much of what we experience in our lives these days is not reality. The church does not need to add to the confusion of noise advertising or eye sore billboards but throwing out lies on behalf of Truth. Being the Body should be enough advertising. (Oh and please take down all messages on your marquee's other than "Church signs are stupid")

This image forming is about hype. This mental pollution starts from when our alarms go off in the morning to wee hours of the late night TV. It's like Kalle Lasn in his book Culture Jam says "Corporate Advertising (or is it the commercial media?) is the largest single psychological project ever undertaken by the human race" I like what Dennis Miller says too. "Hype is the glittering rhinestone on the jumpsuit of mediocrity that catches our eye and makes us think, "Hey maybe the Spice girls don't suck" It's the triumph of substance over style, predicated on the sad truth that most of us, if the gift-wrapping on the outside of the box is fancy enough, we won't notice that inside there's nothing but a big pile of dung" A consumer church will find that people pick their church because it has great music, the pastor is entertaining. Think about how many times you've heard "mature" believers say.... "I just don't get anything out of the bible... worship." As pastors we read the Bible and "look" for something profound for our sermons. This is contrary to historical Christianity and to scripture itself... it all changes with Guttenburg's invention of the printing press and people have God's word in their hands to "look through". But historically Scripture has been heard. The story told.
What if we're called to listen more than look. What if more pastors started listening to what God is doing in the lives of his people... and helping them to listen as well.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A People of the Book

In Sunday's message entitled "A People of the Book" from 1 Peter 1:23-2:3, I talked about the centrality of the Word of God in the life of the People of God.

(If you missed the message, I think you'll find it helpful and explanatory. In it, I explain our worship service, the historical symbolism of the pulpit and the place of the Bible in the process of salvation . . . among other things.

I got this great email from Steve Potratz. He gave me permission to post it in our shared hope that it would stir up some dialogue. So let it roll . . .


Many times Jesus would say: “You have heard that it was said… but I tell you…” One of Jesus greatest teaching challenges was helping people unlearn.

Over the years our church has taught people to bring their bibles to church. Deane Keller consistently encouraged people to mark their bibles. One of his trademarked phrases was “circle the word…” I remember him joking about it when he preached at the anniversary.

I so appreciated your message Sunday and your emphasis on the Word. You were right on. I appreciate too your explanation of the service structure. In that explanation you invited comments on the Keynote slides. I would like to add my two cents: We visit a lot of church throughout the country. When pastors put the scripture in their presentation we consistently observe very few bibles being carried by the people. I know you have purposely not included the main scripture text. However, by including all of the reference text (I know you do it to save time – and I honor that) I have noticed fewer people using or bringing their bibles to Grace. Two weeks ago Sunday only 6 people in 20 sitting around me had a bible open during the message. I would like to suggest you not display any scripture in your Keynote slides. Encourage people to use their bibles by turning to the text – even if it’s just for one verse. I would also like to encourage you to encourage the people to mark their bibles. The more people use their bibles the more they will use their bibles.

I use my computer for my morning devotions. I use my handheld many times in church. I have noticed that this is detrimental to my retention of scripture – I need to carry and mark up a physical bible and do except on choir Sundays.

While I’m writing, I would like to suggest one other thing: I like your emphasis on the pulpit and the delivery of the Word. How about keeping the pulpit for ONLY this purpose? Have the scripture read from the pulpit and delivered from there. Maybe the pastoral prayer too – but keep all other uses to a side or other locations. In other words, I don’t know why we read scripture from a side mike?

Just some thoughts – I would love to see people learn to use their bibles more and understand the use of the tools built into their bibles. It is amazing to me to see how few people understand how to use the reference system in their bible or even why it’s there. As you said Sunday, the bible literacy is very low.

No need to respond. I really appreciate your leadership, your teaching and your love for the people. To God be the Glory.

Standing firm,


Steve obviously gets what we're trying to do and shares these values. What do you think of Steve's suggestions?

Do you think flipping around in our bibles instead of projecting complementary texts would be helpful? I know it would definitely slow us down, but maybe that's not a bad thing.

Do you think people are bringing their bibles less these days? Is that because of something we're doing or not doing or is that just the cultural trend? I sure feel like I say just about every week, "You've got to have a Bible open in front of you" and a whole bunch of other things to reinforce the use of bibles. Do you think we can/should do more?

While we're at it. . . how about some thoughts/feedback on my recent use of slides and fill in the blank outlines?

Here are some of my own thoughts at this point in time:

  • I am in a season where I am definitely rethinking some of this stuff. I am in a total experimental mode.

  • I still have a strong conviction that preaching is, by and large, an oral medium. Jesus used visual language and illustrations. He painted pictures, but with words. Romans 10 makes it clear that people must hear. God gives his Word, not a picture. Though Jesus was the "image" of the invisible God, both before and after the incarnation the emphasis was on the proclamation of God's truth. After Christ, God's truth then centered on the person and work of Christ. Paul most strongly commanded Timothy to "preach the Word." This was his dying charge near the end of the apostolic age.

  • I don't preach because preaching is the most effective means of communication in today's world, but because I believe that preaching is the God-ordained means of communication for all time.

  • My aim is to help people engage with the text and message. This is my driving ambition: to get God's Word into the lives of God's people. I am willing to use slides and fill in the blanks if they engage visual learners and don't compromise the message.

  • I try and create slides that complement and support, rather than drive the message. I want the slides to be "invisible" in the sense that I am not verbally calling attention to them. If you listen over the radio or web, I don't want you to even be aware that there were slides.

  • I am hypervigilant for unintended consequences in the use of these tools. Fill in the blank outlines can dumb down content. Slides can create less engaged and lazy learners. The medium does impact the message. I think this is potentially dangerous stuff. We need to be continually thinking through these issues. Like in the area of bioethics, just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

  • I don't want to do things because our culture and the audience demands them, but because they might be helpful for some.

  • I don't want to compromise the Gospel, my own theological convictions, or the centrality of the God's Word in the life of God's people. I do want to connect with people and connect people with God's Word.

  • I don't know what I am doing! There is no script and I don't think the Bible says much about these things. I am doing what I am doing in a vacuum to a large extent. I reserve the right to stop creating slides and offering fill in the blank outlines.
Wow. I guess I have a few thoughts about these issues. What are yours?

Monday, October 01, 2007

What's Up with Lance?

I've gotten behind on my Lance updates. . . Sorry about that.

Here's a stack of three so you can see his progress, beginning with the least recent and moving downnward to the most recent. . . .

9.20.07 update

Hello Family & Friends,
Yesterday and today were good days for Lance’s recovery! He is making slow and steady progress in his physical therapy. He walked about 30 feet yesterday with his back brace and walker and he three times that far today! His reward today was that if he could walk a certain distance, the physical therapist would allow him to walk down the hall to his office and use his computer to look at his Facebook page! That was just the motivation Lance needed. He worked up quite a sweat and was able to read a couple of messages from friends. It was a huge encouragement for him! He was wiped out after that and slept for a couple of hours!
Another huge step forward is that he started eating last night! He has also been off of the morphine for two days and taking only oral narcotics. Each little thing is a break through!

I wanted to thank everyone who prayed the last couple of days for his back. The MRI came back that he does not need surgery! The doctors were really relieved because this would have been a risky procedure right next to the heart they said. They also said there are bone fragments but they are far enough away from the spine to not worry too much about them. He does have one bulging disc that may cause him some pain but it is not worth doing surgery for.
Here is the next step. We are waiting now for a back brace that goes all the way up to his neck (very uncomfortable poor guy). Until he gets this, his back is not stable enough to sit in a wheelchair. Once he can sit, they need to send him to the ENT (ear doctor) to have his ear cleaned out (dried blood and debris) and then have his hearing checked for any hearing loss. He also needs to have X-Rays taken while in his brace both standing and sitting so they can tell if his back will heal in just the right way. He also has a couple of weird infections that they are treating him with medications for (nothing they are really worried about, just from being injured in a third world country).

Lance has been put into a really neat program called the “Wounded Warrior” program that actually takes the soldier and puts them into a new Battalion called the “Warrior in Transition Battalion”. We were escorted from the airport by a major who was instrumental in starting this program here in Georgia (which is now all over the country if I understand correctly). The Army started this program in 2004 because they didn’t know what to do with all of the wounded soldiers that were coming back from Iraq. One of the nurses (our case manager) explained that during Vietnam many soldiers died but in this war the body armor is so good that most soldiers are surviving and coming back injured. It is really hard to follow up medically with them during all the various stages of treatment if they are with their normal Battalion (say if Lance is made to go back to Fort Bragg when he gets out of the hospital). Instead they transfer them to this Warrior in Transition Battalion until they are ready to return to active duty or medically retired. He has a Major and a Colonel that checks on him and us everyday in the hospital. They are very supportive.

At this point in time he will need to be in the brace for at least three months. He needs lots of help and care because he is not allowed to twist or sit up to get the brace on without assistance. We have been hearing that once he is ready to leave the hospital, he will be able to do those three months at home but may have to come back to Georgia for check-ups. Nothing is for sure (especially with the Army). I will be flying home on Saturday to get caught up on a few things and make it to a couple of appointments and then coming back to trade places with Larry by the end of next week, unless he miraculously gets out before the next Friday! Please continue to pray for continued progress in his recovery, wisdom for those making his discharge plans, and travel mercies for Larry and I.

I have continued to see God’s hand in everything we are experiencing. Each new day we can see how He has orchestrated this entire event including the placement of Lance at this hospital. Ken Peet’s aunt (Lance’s youth pastor in high school) came by to visit us and brought a cake, fruit and some books. She was wonderful! Then we received a personal call from Colonel Betts who is the Assistant Chief Nurse of the entire Eisenhower Hospital. She called Lance and told him she would come by to visit him and that she heard he was a wonderful young man and that his fourth grade teacher (Barbara Hawkins) said hello. She happens to be her sister!!! It has been such a small world!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We feel them and they are keeping us going!!! Praise God for His goodness and His faithfulness! He has been our Rock and our Shield! We give thanks in all things!

In His grace and for His glory,

9.24.07 update

Hello family & friends,

Lance is improving so much each and everyday! He received his new back brace on Friday and he said it helps with the pain so much. He has been able to sit up for short periods of time and walk around the entire 9th floor of the hospital wing!! His balance is so good today that they may even start him on a cane instead of a walker! God is so amazing! They still need to get him into the ear clinic to clean out his ear and check his hearing (please pray for no hearing loss) but once that is complete he will be ready to be released from Eisenhower Hospital. They had told us this morning they were sending him home (I have to admit that made me very nervous for both Lance and us) but they changed their mind and said he was not quite ready for an across the country plane flight and to be cared for at home so they will be moving him to a VA rehab hospital in downtown Augusta, Georgia.

We will be able to continue to stay at the Fisher House. So if you wanted to send Lance a card this week you could send it to:
c/o DDEAMC Fisher House, building 280
Fisher House Road, Attn: Iunker Family
Fort Gordon, Georgia 30905-5650

For those of you that have sent cards to our house, I am flying back on Friday and will bring them to Lance. He has been so encouraged by all of your support and prayers and so has our entire family. The support you have all given us is so inconceivable. It only reminds me more of Christ's love for us! I came home this weekend to our entire street lined with big yellow ribbons on every neighbor's tree! It is beautiful and I hope it lasts until Lance makes it home!
We continue to see God's hand in every little thing that has happened and every decision that keeps happening. I was sharing with a few people at church on Sunday how weird it is to have the Army "own" your child and to not have a say in anything they do. I try to advocate for him or I try to ask for things but in the end they make all the decisions. At one point I was starting to have a little emotional breakdown in the hospital when I felt like they were not going to make very good decisions for Lance. Lance turned to me and said, "Don't worry Mom, that's just the Army. They say a lot of things but in the end, the Lord has me and it will all work out. It always works out." So I started thinking and praying and thought, he's right. When he was in Baghdad I had completely released all control and worry to the Lord and was in peace (usually). Now that he was back safe in the USA, why was I suddenly trying to control everything in the hospital? So I submitted his care and his release over to God and peace came rushing over me once again. Why does my son at age 19 learn that so much younger than I do in my mid forties????

Please continue to pray for his physical recovery as well as his mental recovery. Returning from war is hard on the psyche. He said he is so grateful to be here and to not have people trying to kill him everyday. He said that it is so weird to not feel like he needs to be ready to fight everyday and night, but yet he still thinks that things are going to blow up or that certain sounds are RPGs or gunshots so he can be startled. The good thing is that he just tells himself "I am not in Iraq anymore and no one is trying to kill me". That brings him so much peace. He also says he cannot wait to talk about how God has been so faithful and good throughout this entire experience with other people!

Thanks for all of your prayers!

In His grace and for His glory,


9.28.07 update
Hello family & friends,

I thought I would give you a quick update on Lance's recovery. He had his ear checked on Tuesday. The doctor was so impressed by how well the surgeon put the inside of his ear back together as well as the outside. He said it was truly a miracle he has hearing at all! There is both high and low frequency hearing loss in the right ear but it is considered conductive hearing loss which means that they will continue to check it because it could easily come back with time! Praise God! Lance was really excited to hear that. His plans to be a police officer would definitely have changed if there was permanent hearing loss. The other ear was fine even though it was the one that was injured when they were hit with the first roadside bomb back in February. Lance was making very quick progress in walking, but on Wednesday he had a set back and the doctors told him that he needed to slow down. They put him back on the walker and allowed him only one physical therapy session a day (one time up and walking). He was so disappointed and discouraged. He is desperate to be independent! Today, he was finally moved to the Uptown VA Hospital in Augusta, Georgia. They have converted the entire first floor into an active Army rehabilitation hospital for wounded Iraq war soldiers that are rehabilitating and working toward independence. It is a one of a kind facility and a model for the rest of the country. Lance loves it! He has a whole slew of doctors that work with him and he will be there until he can sit up long enough to make the flight home. One of there first goals is to have him be able to walk 100 feet and be able to sit up without having hot flashes (he is now so sensitive to all of us going through menopause)! Lance has met some amazing soldiers that have various injuries. They all talk together about what has happened to them. Lance said even though some are missing limbs or have lost their sight they have the best attitudes! Lance was deeply touched by their stories. Most of these guys had been there for months and could take "field trips". Lance said, "My goal is to take one of those field trips this week". He said he wants to be as independent as possible before he comes home. He doesn't want anyone taking care of him anymore. I told him that was fine, he could come home and take care of me! My dad and I are flying out in the morning to be with him and Larry is returning tonight to come home for the week. We will take each week as they come but the plan is for Lance to be in this rehab. hospital for at least two weeks then see the back doctor again. If he can make the trip to California, then he will come home for six weeks before going back for a recheck and home again for another six weeks! Please pray for Lance's continued recovery, that he would not push himself to hard (doctor's orders), for traveling safety, for wisdom when dealing with all the options/benefits/rights/advocacy/etc... that goes with the military. God has been so good and faithful and we are so grateful for everyone in our church, our jobs, our community, and all our family and friends. You have been so supportive and helpful in every possible way. Thank you so very much! In His grace and for His glory, Dori P.S. I wanted to include a couple of things. One is an email from a father in Atascadero who has two sons in Iraq. One of them is in the 82nd Airborne and Sgt. Hardegree who was killed was his son's best friend. His son attended the memorial service for all seven soldiers at Camp Taji and he wrote me this email: I'm glad to hear you are able to be with Lance now. I spoke with Jeremy yesterday after his return from Taji. He said the chaplain gave a great memorial for all. He also spoke of Lance in the memorial service. The chaplain said he had visited with Lance at his hospital bed in Baghdad. When he told Lance he was going to be ok, the Chaplain said Lance wispered his thanks to God. He used this in the memorial to speak of Lance' undying faith in face of tragedy. He continues to be a strength to his fellows though he is half a world away! I look forward to meeting up with you guys when Lance makes it back to the Central Coast. I shared this with Lance and he was so encouraged! I also thought I would share with you the web site that holds the names and pictures of all seven of the men who were killed in Lance's platoon. These were great men that Lance misses very much and talks about all the time. I chased down the following link, to photos of the men with whom Lance served, those for whom he grieves... (Cut and past in your browser address line) A compassionate review of these men is also readable from .