July 2010


Earlier this week Rick Howerton posted a Q&A with Alan Danielson. In his post, Alan answers questions about Triple Threat Leadership, a book that he has recently published on leadership, and the broader application of Triple Threat Solutions. Although the principles developed in the book are not limited to small-groups, it certainly seems to be something you’ll want to investigate as a small-group pastor or leader. As I prepare to begin leading a new group I found this blog post itself to be simple, direct, and very helpful—especially when Alan addresses the issue of strategy. And even though we are aware of the importance of vision and vision casting, one can never be reminded too often. It looks like anyone even remotely associated with small groups could stand to gain quite a bit from Triple Threat Leadership.

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Deciding what to write for The Gypsy Road each month is proving to be one of the hardest parts of my job. Never mind that I work with words for a living and have for 20 years or that I, personally, am never at a loss for words.

But as I stare at a blank computer screen, I can feel my blood pressure rising. I suddenly remember there are pencils to be sharpened or files to be organized—absolutely anything to distract me from this task at hand.

So, in my struggle to figure out what to share this month, I decided to ask a few of my friends to pray for me. One friend in particular gave me the jump-start I needed. She simply asked me, “What’s on your heart?” Hmm.

Time … that’s what is on my heart. Not the “what time is it?” kind, but the “where does the time go?” kind. Maybe because I’m really into the song “Blink” by Revive. Or maybe I’m into the song because the message pricks my heart. Either way, the question of what I’m doing with my life is permeating my soul right now.

Six months of 2010 have come and gone. This year was going to be different. And I guess it has been in some ways. It’s been crazier, busier, more out of control. How does that happen? There are movies I meant to see, places I meant to go, and friends I meant to visit. Now that’s a familiar feeling.

I really want to get to the end of this year and be able to identify what I did with my time that was meaningful, relational, and transformational. I want everything I do to be about celebrating the incredible blessings God has placed in my life—my community of friends, coworkers, and family who are closest to my heart.

Maybe this is a good discussion for your small group—especially during the summer months that tend to be a bit more relaxed and a little less schedule-driven. What have you not taken time for but really wish you had? Consider these suggestions to get you started:

•  Get together over dinner just to catch up on life.
•  Rent some of those flicks you missed in the theater and invite your small group over for a movie night.
•  Bake goodies and deliver them to group members you’ve lost touch with.
•  Plan a chore-free, errand-free Saturday and spend that time focusing on the needs of others.

I pray you and your small group will be able to make time for the things that are closest to your heart. That’s where you can find me.

Until next time,
Signe

I have forgiven people lots of times. Jesus said 7 times 70 right?  And sometimes it takes that many.  I’m sure I’ve been forgiven even more.  Sometimes I think I’ve gotten pretty good at this forgiveness thing, but there are some times when forgiveness is really tough.

The last time I spoke to my dad, it was actually to his answering machine. We were planning to leave for the mission field soon and we had just discovered that our baby’s heart had stopped beating in the womb.  My wife delivered little Samuel with no first breath to follow and we began planning the funeral.

I debated long and hard whether to call my father to invite him to the funeral. The last time we had seen each other, I had basically had to throw him out of my house.  We had never had much of a relationship, though I had sincerely tried since reaching adulthood and certainly since having children.  I wanted them to know their grandfather and I held out hope that he would be redeemed through forgiveness and a relationship with the next generation. Nothing else had worked.

On that day, with my children in the room, my father lost control once again…and all the dysfunction I had grown up with came crashing home again. I made a quick decision but one that I really haven’t regretted…well…maybe once.  I decided in that moment that my children needed to be protected.  That they would not grow up the way I had…and I made my father leave our house.

The one day that I regretted that decision was the day I called him on the phone.  I thought once again how sad it would be for the man to never know that Samuel had lived, albeit only in the womb, or that he had died.  So I called him on the phone and got the answering machine.  I left a message and told him about the funeral.  Part of me hoped he would show up and that finally we could begin an adult relationship based upon truth rather than the distorted view of my childhood he liked to remember.  But he didn’t show up. It seems he really didn’t care.

Just a few weeks ago, I discovered that my father died while I was in China. And no one let me know about it so I could pay my last respects…whatever those are.  None of my siblings knew either. Apparently he wanted it that way…or that’s the word that has been passed along through a cousin.  At this point in the story things could be worse I suppose.  I could write the next paragraph about the many regrets I have that I didn’t try to reach out “just one more time.” Except I really don’t have any.

What I do have…still lingering in the back of my heart…is some regret that I didn’t find real forgiveness while he was living.  I wanted him to be sorry.  To be in a place to receive my forgiveness…to want my forgiveness.  I hope he’s in such a place now.  I wish I knew for sure.  Either way, I’ve got to forgive him so that I don’t carry that burden nor pass it along to my children.  I think I can do it…7 times 70…but you know, forgiveness is really tough sometimes.

I just came across a recent post at Bill Donahue’s blog titled Community as God’s Central Program. In this post Bill hits on some very strong tenets of community and the value of community not only to our culture, but for our theology as well. Opposing a “concordance approach” to understanding God, Bill uses Stan Grenz as a jumping off point for merging the core ideas of community and kingdom of God. He concludes:

Restoring the relational core to our theological understanding of the Kingdom will create an environment for guiding one another into truly redemptive relationships with God and others. And it will dramatically influence the way we “do church” for decades to come. That’s my hope.

It seems that the practice of inter-dependence has been lost within a culture of self-reliance. From the earliest ages we’re challenged to be anything but dependent—which when applied correctly is very healthy, but taken to extremes can lead to isolation. The notion of “truly redemptive relationships” referenced above must become part of our small-group DNA. Give this post a read and consider the implications. You can read the the whole post by clicking here. Follow Bill Donahue on Twitter at @bdonahue80.