Do you appreciate beautiful island ambiance? Are you a surfer? Are you a fan of Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, or AnnaSophia Robb…or even Hercules (Kevin Sorbo)? Do you love Carrie Underwood? Do you like movies that make you cry?  For all of these reasons or just for one, you should consider going to see Soul Surfer this weekend. This is a movie that also models a faith that is not perfect but real.

About a month ago I was invited to a preview of the movie, and honestly my main reason for attending was because it was a free date night with my wife.  Little did I know how my heart would be engaged that night, however. Now, I am definitely not a cryer.  There are a couple of movies with tear-jerking scenes that have caused me to quickly wipe my eye before anyone could see, but this one had my eyes welled with tears throughout.

The film is based upon the real life story of Bethany Hamilton, a teen sensation surfer in Hawaii who lost her arm in a shark attack. The character development that takes place in the movie is remarkable given the length of time they had to work with; consequently, most viewers will come away being able to relate to this family and wonder how their own might have handled the adversity that the Hamiltons are forced to face.

From a faith perspective, the movie is inspirational. While God is directly mentioned in only a few scenes, He is all over the place. Reminds me of the book of Esther in that way.

It’s difficult to call Bethany’s story a tragedy, and she certainly wouldn’t want us too. Conversely, we can view it as a triumph–the triumph of faith over fear and amazing accomplishment in spite of adversity.

If you can organize a trip to see Soul Surfer this opening weekend–with your family or your small group—you definitely won’t regret it. The movie is getting great publicity and the well-known cast should also allow your friends who are not Christ followers to feel safe in attending. You’ll have ample opportunity for conversations about faith afterwards.

(And for my missional, country music-loving friends, there’s a great segment with Carrie Underwood leading a mission trip to Thailand that may inspire your group as well! ;-))

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,

Here’s a great idea for a 4-5 week small-group experience…and it’s free! (well, mostly)

While the Sparks idea is designed for beginning groups, this idea could easily be used by existing groups to shake things up a bit.  If your group is looking for a different kind of experience that is missional and activity-based, you might want to give SPARKS a try this summer.  Our friends at Mosaic in Los Angeles can help you get started:  Spark good!

I’ve become a big fan of Tim Keller. His practical understanding of biblical non-negotiables, his commitment to being the church, and his amazing intellect are a perfect mix to bring clarity to cluttered conversations. Below you’ll find an excerpt from his article, “Missional Church.”

If you’ve ever wondered what makes a small group missional you’re about to find out.

“What makes a small group ‘missional’? A ‘missional’ small group is not necessarily one which is doing some kind of specific ‘evangelism’ program (though that is to be recommended) Rather, 1) if its members love and talk positively about the city/neighborhood, 2) if they speak in language that is not filled with pious tribal or technical terms and phrases, nor disdainful and embattled language, 3) if in their Bible study they apply the gospel to the core concerns and stories of the people of the culture, 4) if they are obviously interested in and engaged with the literature and art and thought of the surrounding culture and can discuss it both appreciatively and yet critically, 5) if they exhibit deep concern for the poor and generosity with their money and purity and respect with regard to opposite sex, and show humility toward people of other races and cultures, 6) they do not bash other Christians and churches–then seekers and non-believing people from the city A) will be invited and B) will come and will stay as they explore spiritual issues. If these marks are not there it will only be able to include believers or traditional, “Christianized” people.”

Much thanks to Dr. Keller for removing the clutter from the Missional Small Group conversation.


I read an interesting article that was tweeted to me recently by @desiringgod explaining the reasons for differentiating between evangelism and missions. Because the term missional is being used more frequently now, I wonder if that isn’t the reason for the timing of Piper’s article. I have seen some great shifts in the way we do church and the way we are being the church because of the missional movement. This article reminds me that as I encourage our folks to be more missional here at home and in fact more missionary, I still need to offer that unique challenge for people to forsake all to go to the dark corners that will never be reached “as we go.” Check out the article and let me know what you think!

Watching this video of our latest American Idol leading worship led me to reflect on two questions:  What greater things remain to be done in my city? And what can my small group do to see it happen?  See, I always knew watching American Idol was good for our spiritual growth! 😉


Just reading over a little book by C.T. Studd that was often an inspiration to me while working in the Last Frontier.  It’s called “The Chocolate Soldier” and here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“THE OTHERWISE CHRISTIAN IS A Chocolate Christian, dissolving in water and melting at the smell of fire. Sweeties they are! Bonbons, lollipops! Living their lives in a glass dish or in a cardboard box, each clad in his soft clothing, a little frilled white paper to preserve his dear little delicate constitution.”

You can read the booklet in its entirety at  Hope his words serve as an inspiration and a challenge for you in missional living!

abtg12_mainpicRemembering some Korean missionaries I worked alongside for a time, I looked up some background on the G12 methodology that they employed in disciple-making. While I know there is some controversy regarding the implemention of this missional strategy, I also can’t help but be impressed with the emphasis that G12ers place upon evangelism and discipleship. Here are just a few of the practices they utilize that can be helpful as we consider our small groups:

• The corporate mission which is synonymous with the personal mission, is to win people to Christ, make them disciples and enable them to become fathers of multitudes.

• Everyone can be a leader and should be developed into one, in fulfillment of Christ’s calling to be a disciple-maker.

• Everyone is mentored so that, in turn, he can mentor others.

• Long term relationships are encouraged. Members are committed to each other and each other’s success for as long as possible.

Not a bad start huh? Let me know what you think about G12 and the similar practices you might be following as a small group leader. Here’s a link to some more info about the movement: : Again, this is not an overall endorsement but a recognition that these missionaries I knew were doing some good work by implementing some key principles of multiplication and reproducibility cross-culturally.


I consider myself somewhat of a romantic, nostalgic, something-like-that kind of Nomad. More than anything else probably, I’m a collector of stories from around the world. That has only increased since traveling to some of those awesome places where missions movements were either birthed or met their temporary end. One of the groups that has always fascinated me is the Moravians. First of all, I really love their motto:

(Latin) In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
(English) “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, charity”

That helps us keep a pretty healthy perspective and is certainly applicable for small group life. Some of the other aspects of their movement that I appreciate are:

Passion- Their passion led to sending 9 missionaries out for every 1 who stayed behind at one point. Some of them even sold themselves into slavery in the Caribbean so that they could better reach slaves with the Gospel.

Piety- Their piety was evidenced by a continuous prayer watch that lasted for 100 years 24/7. These folks really sought to live the holy life.

Simplicity- They lived in settlements where people maintained personal ownership but lived out the principles of simplicity and generosity.

Small group focus- They formed hundreds of small renewal groups that encouraged personal prayer and worship, Bible study, confession of sins and mutual accountability

Here are a couple of links to learn more about the Moravians. Hope they offer you some encouragement and a reminder that we are part of a missional legacy much bigger than ourselves!

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem [Nashville, Nashville]!… How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Luke 13:34

Building upon building filled with people on a journey; some of them seeking spiritual truth. I want to be an instrument used to point them to His “nest”…