A Few Faithful, Forgiving Friends!

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Mar 272017

A Few Faithful Forgiving Friends

“On this crazy journey of life thru the lows of the valleys, and the highs of the mountain tops, the one who has found a faithful, forgiving friend to walk with is rich beyond all measure!”

Those of you who have hung around me long enough have heard this mantra of a ‘few faithful, forgiving friends’  roll off my tongue more than once. It is a constant thread that weaves through my life message. These kinds of people are a rare treasure indeed. I have tasted of this kind of friendship, and in this way I can say I am a rich man! My hope and wish is that all would have the joy of finding these kinds of friends and fellow sojourners.

These folk have known you a long time. They have seen the side of you that is broken, frail, fragmented and not so nice or even dark. They have seen the side of you that is beautiful, free, and full with gifts and dreams to make a difference in this world.

They love you enough to cover your vulnerable back end when exposed, to speak the truth even when it stings, and yet stick with you when you screw up and fail. They pick you up when you fall down, and they sit with you in the silence of the dark night of the soul.

They believe in you and cheer you even when others are cynical, cutting, and critical. They step out with you by investing their time, energy and money to explore and experiment in a wild adventure into the unknown together!

Below is a blog written by the Katelyn Wall, the daughter of one of my life long friends, John Wall. Read and enjoy her take on why finding some faithful, forgiving friends is so rewarding and life giving. May her blog inspire, encourage and move you to find your circle of faithful, forgiving friends!

Forgiving, Faithful, Friends

by katelynashlee

Throughout my years here in Earth, I have learnt the importance of having great, loving friends. Friends, who share you dreams and passions, challenging them and encouraging them; who admire who you are and who you are becoming; Friends, that know how to have a fun time.

A few years ago, when I was about eighteen, I travelled around India with my father and his best friend who was from Canada (Calgary, represent!). Our journey there was to visit and encourage churches to keep up the good fight. Actually, it felt a lot like what Paul and Silas, and a few others did in Acts. My fathers friend encouraged me with one of the fragrances of his life’s message, which was simply to be intentional about surrounding myself with a few, faithful forgiving friends. I remember replying by telling him he was like a book I hadn’t read yet – but the blurb sounded really interesting. I drilled him with questions about faith and life and fellowship with the church – and the world, like, ‘how do you create a meaningful life, that is inspiring, encouraging and builds a legacy?’ Part of his answers extended around the idea that we need to be intentional about doing life with others, just as the disciples did during their earthly time with Jesus, and beyond that.

Friendship is not only a good idea, it’s the promise of a better, more fruitful world and church. It promotes peace and unity is its outpouring. A possibility of kindness and freedom and truth, rather than deceit and failure and war. It has the power to withstand things, it is supportive, and when it’s done right, it’s empowering. Friends point you towards a brighter future, a healthier you and a happier existence. Surrounding yourself with a Few Faithful Forgiving Friends, means you walk into relationship where there is no needy things among you. Friends that stick by you, sharpen you, point you towards the Father and forgive you when you fail to meant those goals. Friends that share in the inheritance of the Holy People in the Kingdom of Light (Col 1: 9-12). They call out the best in you, by challenging the worst. 

I was 20 when I first picked up Bob Goff’s book, LoveDoes. It inspired me, among many things, to work towards establishing friendships that are meaningful, intentional and filled with unconditional love. He puts it like this;

“Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It’s about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That’s what I want my life to be all about – full of abandon, whimsy, and in love.” – Bob Goff

One of my life ambitions now is to become friends with Bob. 


But it doesn’t start there. It starts right now, in the living room of my best friend’s new crib. Friends who I’ve journeyed with since we were children. Friends who have championed me, forgiven me, and inspired me to continue fighting for what I believe in. They are faithful friends that pursue the good things in me.
It starts here with my housemates, sharing life stories in order that we might catch a glimpse of the wonderful joy in life and be welcomed into share it.
It starts right now in the decisions you make when interacting with strangers. When we chose to simply be friends without an agenda. When we are engaging and connecting; by being present and making the decision to simply, do it. It creates positive change, and I believe the world is hungry for it. 

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions were their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all, that there were no needy persons among them.” – Acts 4:32-34

So today marks the start of something new – A life lived with intension. The early church got it, they so lived in fellowship that there was no one among them who needed something. And it probably wasn’t only physical needs.

Just as Paul said, “Therefore as Gods chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have grievance against someone. Forgive, as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” 

Just a Few Faithful Forgiving Friends.

katelynashlee | March 6, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Tags: BobGoffcompassionempowerfaithfellowshipfriendshopeunity | Categories: journey | URL: http://wp.me/p37xUL-3H

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Our Deepest Longing In Relationships: Experiencing and Practicing Unfailing Kindness and Faithfulness

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Sep 102013
What we all long for!

What we all long for!

Most of our problems in marriages, relationships, community, and church flow from a faulty view of the nature of God and the toxic residue we carry from our experiences of broken trust, promises and covenants not kept, and of betrayal in our relationships with one another. We get tired and resentful when we initiate with people, and they don’t initiate in return. We often feel like we have been used in relationships to benefit someone else’s agenda, or on the flip side we’ve been guilty of using people to meet our needs. We have a hard time trusting God or people because they have not kept their end of the bargain from our perspective.

I believe this is how many folks outside of the church feel when we develop a relationship with the subtle unspoken, or sometimes spoken agenda of converting them, or getting them into our church. People are smart and can smell a slick vacuum cleaner salesmen or multi-level marketing scheme a mile away.  What would it look like to love people with no strings attached? Is that even possible or right?

He loves us even if we reject Him!

He loves us even if we reject Him!

I believe that our best example of how authentic relationship works comes from God. The highest value in the Trinity is relationship flowing out of love. God loves us with no strings attached. He keeps His end of the bargain even when we don’t. He remains faithful even when we are unfaithful. (II Tim 2:13) He is a covenant and promise keeping God. (Hebrews 6:13-19) God takes the risk of loving us first while being fully aware that we may choose not to love Him in return. The Trinity will continue to love us even when we don’t reciprocate that love. He demonstrates unfailing kindness to us.

Hesed 1The Hebrew word for this core part of the nature of God is Hesed. It is such a rich and profound word that describes the kind of relationship God practices. In Exodus 34: Psalm 86:15 from the Message says it this way: “But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit. ”  This thread of God’s faithfulness and everlasting kindness is woven through out the Bible. I believe it is the highest ethic in God’s heart, and what we so long for in our relationship with God, and one another. When we experience faithfulness we are secure in our relationships!

Sealing the deal!

Sealing the deal!

In the O. T., there are some interesting practices when one entered into a covenant with God or another person. An animal was sacrificed and cut in two halves from the nose to the tail. The two parties would stand on the blood facing each other. They would pledge their lives to each other, commit their wealth to each other, and they promised to take care of each others relatives if the either party died (Go’el – near kinsmen). They would pledge to be loyal to each other even if one party should screw up. They would then walk in a circle 8 around the halved animal, so that they ended up where the other party had stood to begin with. To seal the covenant, they would cut their wrists and grasp hands letting their blood mingle, and they add the other persons name to their name. In Genesis 17: 5 when God makes a covenant with Abram. Abram takes part of God’s name JHAWEH and inserts into his name becoming Abraham.

In our understanding of God, many of us wonder if He is a dual personality playing Jekyll and Hyde. In some instances in the Bible, He comes across as an angry God doling out severe punishments, wiping out people, and then on the other hand extending mercy. He seems to flip flop, depending on His mood that day. In relating to this kind of God we walk on  egg shells never really knowing whether He will be kind towards us or angry at us. Out this notion of who God is we have a hard time trusting Him. This then impacts how we relate to one another.

I believe that to understand God’s holiness, judgments, power, and justice, we must see these characteristics through the prism of Hesed. If we don’t, holiness becomes legalism, a list of behaviors through which we judge people, or a form of religion where by through our behavior we try to win God’s approval. Through this skewed lens, justice and His judgments are viewed as punitive, or God venting His anger rather than demonstrations of His love.

Love puts boundaries around us to protect us!

Love puts boundaries around us to protect us!

When God stands up for and defends the under dog (the poor, the widow, the foreigner and the alien) we see His love expressed in justice. When through His judgments He brings order out of chaos caused by sin we taste of His unfailing kindness to restore His fabric of beauty, peace, and generosity to all of creation. When we experience the discipline of God, we see a Father who loves us enough to train us so we grow up. He cares enough to put up fences to keep us from harm, and yet gives us the freedom to face the consequences of crossing these boundaries. (Hebrews 12:5-11).

When it comes to God we are to respect Him, fear Him, and stand in awe of Him. Yet we can respect someone we don’t really like. If our view of God is that He is consistently angry, not pleased with us, constantly pointing out our faults and sins, and looking for reasons to punish us, we will want to hold Him at arms length. We end up avoiding or hiding from Him. If we see Him as a grouchy, mean-spirited, war mongering, vindictive God who keeps score, we will want to avoid spending time with Him, especially if we have not been faithful.

His Kindness never fails!

His Kindness never fails!

If our image of God is one where the consequence of choosing not to love Him is that He will rejects us, or will turn His back on us, we end up acting like servants trying to keep a Master happy, not friends. Yet Jesus in John 15 says that God wants us to be friends not merely servants.  The question is “Do you like the God you worship? 

Yet His nature is so opposite to what many of us believe. He is first and foremost  a merciful and faithful God. When we blow it, He gives us a second, third, fourth, and who knows how many chances. It is His kindness that brings us to repentance. It is love that changes people.Do we really believe that? Exodus 34:6 in the Message says: “God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient– so much love, so deeply true — loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin..”

The practical question is: When we have tasted of and are secure in the unfailing kindness (Hesed) of God how will that impact how we live out relationships in community and mission?  There is much that could be said, but for the sake of brevity, I will pose a few questions to ponder and ideas of how we can apply Hesed in our relationships in and outside of our communities of faith.

The end goal of communities of Jesus followers is summed up in John 15;13: Greater love has on one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  “We are to become a community of faithful forgiving friends!” 

Communities of faithful friends!

Communities of faithful friends!

Below are some questions to help us move towards that goal.

  1. When have you experienced betrayal or broken covenant in your life? What trust issues do have as a result?
  2. Is there still residual pain that causes you to hold God and people at arms length?
  3. Do you keep score and hold on to grudges from past hurts?
  4. When people don’t keep their end of bargain or meet up to your expectations do you feel resentful or look for pay back?
  5. Do you have some relationships in your life where there is no other agenda other than to simply enjoy their presence with no strings attached? The relationship is not founded on whether the personcan perform some function to further your agenda or mission as a community?
  6. How do you react to folks who blow it big time? Is their a safety in your community for folks to be vulnerable and honest with their mess? What happens when a person of another sexual orientation comes into your community?
  7. Does your community quickly make space and welcome in the foreigner, widow, single moms, orphans, and the poor?
  8. When a leader in the community has to step back from leading, do they still feel welcome and a part of the of the community? Is there an inner circle of the cool leader types and an outer circle of folks in your community? Is it hard to break into the ‘in’ circle?
  9. Is there the freedom to express our spoken and unspoken expectations for community, and the freedom for people to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to those expectations?
  10. Have you ever experienced people moving into the same neighborhood together to love one another and serve that community? Have you ever experienced people selling a second house or car and giving all that money to the poor out of love?
  11. Are you becoming a friend of Jesus and do you have a band of faithful, forgiving friends who practice ‘Hesed’?
Staying True!

Staying True!

When it comes to mission I believe we need to have genuine friendships with those outside the church and love people whether they ever say ‘yes’ to Jesus or not. We are to love folks whether they ever come to our church community or not.

Without authentic relationship where we love people with no strings attached, we end up assuaging our guilt, or getting weird by doing forms of power or prophetic evangelism where we parachute in and out of people’s lives doing our thing to people in a strange way. We end up doing programs of evangelism, like sharing the 4 spiritual laws, that feels forced or aggressive. We come across as arrogant, and as if we have the truth and others don’t. We do proclamation evangelism through a meeting without taking the time to really get involved with folks God has put around us to love and be loved by. All of these approaches to sharing our faith are good and effective, but lack integrity if we don’t start with real relationships.

We need to chill and begin by just loving people, and letting them love us in return. Out of relationship, God will give us opportunity to share our story of how we have had an encounter with Jesus where we have tasted of His unfailing kindness that has met the deepest longing in our hearts, and is the reason why we love others with no strings attached. As Jesus said in John 13:35 “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” 





What Does Food and Fun Have to Do with Discipling?

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Nov 132012

Finding a Friend while Hiking!

My second story is about Yoshie – a Japanese designer who loves the outdoors. I met Yoshie when I went hiking on Manly beach. We were both lost and trying to find our way back to the main road from the bush. Since finding each other when we were lost hiking, we have been texting each other about going hiking in other places in Sydney, but busyness in our lives had kept this from happening. Finally we re-connected when I invited her to my friends’ Halloween party. We left early to go search for food. In the midst of our conversation about culture, boys, work, and studies, the story of God and His Community came up. Yoshie was exposed to Christianity when she was in the States for few years, but some of her questions never got answered such as: “I don’t mind going to my friends’ church, but why don’t they come to my events? Why do Christians love me, but hate each other? Can I get to know God without going to a normal church?”

Trang's friend Yoshie enjoying food.

That night God taught me the lesson that everyone is curious about God (could be other Gods) and community.  Our job is to listen and ask right questions. How do we do it? We have the joy of walking with God everyday and asking Him what He is doing. I can’t wait to start forming a community with Yoshie around food, hiking, and beach volleyball. In the midst of working with God, He wants us to have tons of fun as well. This is my story of how the Kingdom of Heaven is happening wherever we go for fun and relaxation.

On the other hand, postgraduate school has been pretty intense. One of the requirements of my studies is that we have to do group projects with another person. I was praying for a good partner who would be hungry to learn and also have fun. God answered my prayer by sending me Adriana – a girl from New Zealand with Brazilian roots. Adriana has an amazing work ethic, and is very intelligent. We have pushed each other to achieve high quality work in school. After working on 15 projects together, we haven’t killed each other. This is a good sign. We have learned how work together and trust each other. In the midst of school projects, we take time to be each other’s therapist, and we have learned about each other’s family, culture, dreams and beliefs. I started sharing with Adriana about Jesus and what it means to be a Jesus follower. Through the trust that we have built over the last eight months, Adriana has opened up to me and shared with me her desire to seek out His Kingdom. I cannot wait to walk with Adriana through this journey next year over good food, wine, gardening, and business.

My last story is how the Kingdom of God is happening at work. Neil is my industry mentor for my consulting project at an organic certified business here in Australia. One day in the middle of our normal discussion about work the story of Jesus just came up. I found out that he has been curious about God for a long time, but disillusioned with Christianity because of how other Christians have failed him. To be honest, I am always nervous before having a meeting with Neil, because he is so intelligent and successful in the field of psychology and business while I am just a kid with a burning heart filled with God’s love. However, I could not keep myself from sharing with Neil about the love of Jesus, and telling him my story of what Jesus has done in my life. My hope is that God will reveal Himself to Neil in the language that he will understand.

Through this relationship I have learned that Jesus is not a math problem. Jesus is like a poem. A poem can be simply words every time we read it, but the layers of its meaning are only revealed when we spend the time meditating on it, and experiencing it. Poems speak not only to the head but also the heart. The only way we can experience the poem is to read it together through fellowship. This is how it is with Jesus. To really know Jesus, we need to experience Him through an encounter we have with Him personally and through His community. It is not enough to just know information about Him.

Yummy quiche that me and my posse of friends cooked up!

I hope that my four chosen short stories will encourage you to see how simple church, fellowship, and discipling can be. If you start looking to build relationships with not-yet-Jesus followers in the community that God has already put you in, you will be amazed at how many opportunities you will find. Relationship is the starting point of your journey with God and His community, because none of us live in a silo. Food is a great stimulus for relationships to flourish. If you don’t like food, you can find other things that you have in common with the people in your circles. When trust is established and when the Holy Spirit urges you to share; you need to obey and respond. “…To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1Samuel 15: 22)

This is when the beauty of partnership with God shines through. I cannot put it in words how wonderful this feeling is when it happens. Start with simple acts of love, then practice listening, responding to what you hear, and praying together for and with your friends.  Pray simple prayers. Pray like you would talk to your father, mother, brother or sister. Please don’t use jargon and church language, because it doesn’t make any sense to your friends. Pray with the language of the heart which will powerfully connect with the spirit.


Working along side Jesus is definitely fun and rewarding, but you need to pay attention and do it intentionally. You need planning to be able to be flexible and spontaneous when the opportunity comes.

I cannot wait to hear your stories. Please share them with us when you can.



Application Questions to Practice:

Have you ever asked yourselves when would be the right time to become a spiritual parent? How long should we walk with Jesus before we reach out to others and disciple them? I hope that my experience can encourage you to go and search for the answer.

Discipling As a Lifestyle of Intentional Relationship

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Nov 062012

It is an honor and privilege to have our spiritual daughter Trang share with you some of her stories of her journey into a relationship with Jesus and His Kingdom, and how she is experiencing the joy of inviting some of her friends to meet Jesus and discipling them in the Jesus Way of living. I hope these stories encourage you that inviting and apprenticing our friends into the Kingdom is not just for the ‘super Christians’, the ‘jedi mentors’, those that have been Jesus followers for umpteen years. or those who are the ‘elite or wild, crazy evangelist types’, but the wonderful privilege and call of every Jesus follower.

As you will hear in Trang’s story, the journey of obeying God through intentional relationships is the slow way to disciple, but we believe is the most lasting and fruitful way! It is attainable for all if we simply listen to what Jesus is saying and obey. The Trinity is passionate about relationship, and placed this longing to belong, and a heart cry for community in the hearts of people of every tribe, stripe, and type. It may take a little re-organizing of our lives and priorities to simply be present where we work, play, live, and study! If you and I so choose, we will trip into some awesome adventures in seeing our friends where we live, work, study, and play trip into the Kingdom! We will by accident, yet on purpose, end up planting simple Jesus communities all over.

I hope to visit Trang and her simple Jesus community, and posse of friends who are on a journey to know Jesus and His Kingdom in the next year. Any of you out there want to join me? Let me know. You would be more than welcome to go see and learn together how Jesus is forming His Mosaic around the world.

Tim Schultz


Dear friends,

Trang doing what she loves!

As a daughter and a sister in Christ, I’d love to share with you my journey with Jesus, Tim & Esther (my spiritual parents), and my movable church. There are two parts to my story. The first one is how my discipleship journey began, and how God has trained me for the last ten years to be ready for His kingdom. The second part is the how the harvest is happening in Sydney after ten hard years of training.

I will start with my background first. I wasn’t born and raised in a Christian home in Vietnam, but I believe that God has known me from the beginning. He “created my inmost being”, and He “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalms 139: 13).  He has given me an earthly family along with a love for cooking food, culture, and business. My search for the meaning of life started when I was 18. but it was not until I turned 19 that I got to know Jesus personally by living with Tim, Esther and through the Faith Vineyard community in Calgary, Canada

For ten years, Tim and Esther have been faithfully and gracefully coaching me, and walking with me through the process of how to create and build healthy community. For the first four years of living with them, I watched, copied, and asked questions about Jesus, the Kingdom, and how to form a Jesus community with my friends. Then I practiced by inviting my international non-Christian friends at school to come to our house for dinner and talk about Jesus and His Kingdom on Friday nights; as well as hanging out and having fellowship with them in their community. Some of my friends entered the Kingdom during this time in Calgary.

Then I went back to Asia working in different business projects in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It was a desert time with no Christian community around me, but I learned to get closer and closer to God because He was the only Christian community that I had. Getting on the phone and praying with Tim and Esther was not the same as praying face to face with them, but I survived and got through the desert. I started simple communities around me with non-believer friends wherever I was in Asia. Through that time God gave me confirmations about my gift: the gift of connecting with people regardless of their culture, ethnicity, education, language and social status. He also blessed me with the skills and knowledge in business in different industries.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to do a Masters of Marketing in Sydney with the intention of connecting with the business network here to advance in my career, as well as partnering with Jesus in His Kingdom work. I did not know where my journey with God would lead me this year, but I knew that we would have a fun adventure together working and connecting with the people He placed in my life here in Australia.

Trang with one of her new friends!

Here is a picture of where I was in February of this year to set the stage for the rest of my story. I knew nobody in Sydney. It took me two weeks to see around 30 houses to find a place to live. I was the only international in the marketing post-graduate program. I had no friends except some connections that Tim gave me in the Cabramatta Vineyard who live on the other end of the city. I had no business contacts or connections, but I had God with me and that gave me so much confidence to start my adventure “… surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Now I want to paint a picture of what is happening in my life right presently. I have many friends who come from different backgrounds, countries, ethnic groups, age groups, social statuses, and languages in all the situations that God has plugged me into. I have gained a good reputation among the professors at school as well as in some of the business communities in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. There are at least three simple churches (of two or three) that I am involved in every week. Yet I know that I am not the most successful person or on top of the world, but I have to say that by responding to God and working closely with Him everyday, I do mean everyday, God has given me a part of His harvest here to work on.

Here are some of the stories of how God has given me opportunities and how I have responded to Him. There are four places that I am in at the moment: studying (the university), working (business community), having fun (what I do for pleasure), and living (where I physically live in 2 places): my house and my neighbourhood).

Trang and Susan cooking together!

Let me start with where I live first. This is a story about Susan and her friends. Susan and I first met when she came to rent out my room in my old place. We had our first conversations about the challenges of living as a foreigner in this country, and also chatted about cooking and baking. I was looking for friends as well, so I thought we could encourage each other and be friends. We started our friendship around a baking and cooking lesson. Susan was amazed how easy it was to bake.  As well we would sometimes go out for supper together. After the first few weeks of hanging out, she asked me if I could be her older sister here. I was thrilled. Then one day God told me to talk to Susan about Jesus. I was excited and a bit reluctant at the same time, but God had a plan. Susan had heard about God from Morman, and she had been confused for a year about God, her culture, her previous beliefs, but she could not deny that Jesus was real. This is what Susan said when I asked her if we could start our discussion about God every Friday night:  “Trang, I knew that God would take care of me. Whenever I have questions He would send someone to me and you are that person now. Thank you.” I cried that night. I cried because God had done everything, and all I had to do was to obey by becoming a friend with Susan, listening to her story, and asking her questions. Our friendship has been growing since that point. Susan has taught me about her culture, her country’s history, Chinese ancient poems, and shared her passion to reach out to and care for other Chinese girls. Susan is still searching, but I believe she is already in the Kingdom and starting to work in the harvest without realizing it yet.

Susan inviting her friends into community.

Before I send this story out to you, there is another amazing story about Susan that I cannot wait to share. On her own initiative she has invited other girls that she knows to come cook and find out about Jesus. Yesterday I met Charlie for the first time. Can you imagine how many people Susan could reach out too? That’s all happened by just a simple act of being Susan’s friend.

I have more stories of what God is doing in Sydney to share with you in the next blog.

Trang – part of our Mosaic family in Sydney, Australia