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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How My Neighbourhood Saved Me: Becoming More Human!

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Jun 122015

Love My Neighbourhood 1I love my hood of Bowness, and there is no other place I would rather live in our city of Calgary. It is a quircky and eclectic place where the rich and the poor live in close proximity to each other. It is a place of beauty, generosity, and diversity. No two houses look alike, and we have verdant green spaces with tall mature spruce and pine trees!

Truth be told my love for my neighbourhood was not a ‘love at first sight’ kind of deal. To be honest when we first felt the nudge to move here, I fought the idea. Bowness was known in our city as one of the rougher hoods, and a place that you would want to move out of as quick as possible to a safer part of the city. When we moved in there was a biker gang called the Grim Reapers based in the hood with a fortified club house to boot. A few years later the notorious Hell’s Angel’s crew swallowed up the Grim Reapers, and set up shop. There were youth gangs including the Indian Posse, grow ops, drug deals, frequent B & E’s, and folks living on the margins because of urban poverty.

Jesus loves to show up in what we think are some of the most dodgy, dangerous, and dark places!

Bowness in many people’s minds was an undesirable place to live compared to the new burbs popping up around the city that had the outward appearance of looking squeaky clean and safe. I wanted to live close to the university and start a church with young college age kids who were cool and trendy, or plant in the suburbs where there were young middle class families with money, and where I was under the illusion we would be safer. 

Somewhat begrudgingly, I moved into the hood with a wheel barrel full of hubris mixed with a smidgen of good intentions. We would swoop in and save this poor and needy place. I had, though I would never vocalize it, some kind of slightly twisted, grandiose Superman complex. I thought God needed me on His dream team to parachute into Bowness like the elite Navy Seals, and rescue it. Instead, my story has been mostly about how my neighbourhood has saved and changed me.

That is not to say that we haven’t had a few things to contribute and offer during our years here, but I can truly say IHumility 3 have received far more from my hood than what I have given back in return. Over the years what we have tripped into is an incredible place to live with hidden beauty, outlandish generosity sometimes from people who have very little, and an ongoing story of redemption where out of the ashes, pain, poverty, and brokenness my neighbourhood is being transformed. God has been at work here long before we ever showed up! I’ve simply been invited to go along for the ride, and in so doing I’m being changed and saved.

Here is how I’m being saved by my neigbourhood. Through my time in the hood I’m becoming more human, more humble, and more hopeful! I will share on this journey in a 3 part series of blogs.

Becoming More Human

Being Human 2Many of us so called Christians, including yours truly, can tend to be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good! We often come across as weird and abnormal for all the wrong reasons. We get caught up with talking about religious stuff in a lingo that not many understand or relate to. We can be so uptight about ‘evangelizing’ people causing folks to be suspicious about our motives for friendship. Many of us are not comfortable being outside the comfort zone of our church turf and circle of friends. We become anxious or withdrawn in settings where we are not in control.

The amazing thing about Jesus was that He was both God and human. This collision of the divine intersecting with our messy humanity is true spirituality, and what makes Jesus so appealing to me. An example of this from the life of Jesus is that his first miracle was not done in a church meeting, but at the normal, human, everyday event of a wedding where they ran out of wine. He took water and changed it into wine, and I dare say that it was alcoholic, though some may disagree with me. I wonder if some of the folks by this time in the wedding party were not already a bit tipsy! How much more human can you get! When was the last time you were at a wedding, and they ran out of wine or beer and a follower of Jesus turned some water into beer or wine…just sayin!

In my early days of being a pastor, and running the church, I was so busy trying to be Superman saving the world, and running the church that I had no time to do some of things that I love.

My interests and hobbies that people can relate to, and that would connect me to folk inside and outside the churchBeing Human 1 were squeezed out of my life by what I thought were higher priorities. I thought that these normal activities of life were not quite as important, or spiritual as prayer meetings, church services, and organizing programs to keep people coming to church. I had become abnormal.

In the last 10 years, I have gotten back to coaching my son’s hockey and soccer teams, back to hunting and fishing, and back to being normal. Re-connecting with these very earthy and human activities has brought me such joy, fulfillment, new friendships, and a better understanding of who Jesus is, and where He would show up.

Where my thinking and action has changed is that Jesus is present at hockey or soccer game as He is in a church meeting.

RootedAnother aspect of becoming more human is to be rooted in a place. As a missionary kid who gets wander lust every 3 months, to stay put in one place for so long is really foreign. Living out the daily, and at times overwhelming, mundane routines of driving kids to school, owning a house, paying a mortgage, mowing a lawn, and shuttling kids to sporting events on week nights and weekends is where most people are living. Walking out the reality of Jesus showing up in these daily experiences makes me more relatable, and gives me more credibility than all the grand stories of my international travels.

If I don’t live and experience hospitality, vulnerability, sharing, conflict resolution, pain through loss, hope, forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemption in my hood on a regular basis in the rhythms of normal life, then my message has no meaning for life in the now. I end up telling 10 year old stories of my encounter with Jesus and His Kingdom breaking in, but have no fresh stories of how Jesus has shown up in my life and neighbourhood in the last week.

I have the privilege of traveling and speaking a little bit in different places about neighbouring, community, and mission. The temptation is to get on the circuit and not be present and involved at home. Thus I have to say no to some really good things and opportunities so that I stay grounded and real. It’s a juggle sometimes. I don’t want to be a disconnected itinerant speaker with an intergalactic vision traveling the world, yet to busy zooming in and out to walk out these ideas in my own backyard! I don’t want to wait till after I die to experience life to the full in the here and now!

Today I’m a more rooted, healthy, and real person for all the hours of simply being present with these friends in the hood doing the things that I love!

Stayed tuned for part 2 as I share on how my neighbourhood as helped me become more humble.

By Tim Schultz


Hope: Living Good News in the Midst of Bad News

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Jan 092015

Hope 2The economy of fear is big business in our world. Fear is what sells news, books, horror and apocalyptic movies about the end of the world, insurance, and is a key driver behind much of the health/pharmaceutical industry. Whether it is the Ebola crisis, the stock market and oil prices plummeting, the war against terrorism both in the Middle East and on our shores, global warming and the extinction of species, we are being bombarded with bad news that preys on our worst fears. 

This unhealthy diet of bad news is fueling a pandemic of either resigned fatalism on the one hand or radical fanaticism and unrealized triumphalism on the other hand. 

Fatalism born out of despair is like a fog or darkness choking out theFear 2 light. It seeps into our brains, and our emotions convincing us that it doesn’t matter what we do because this world is going to hell in a hand basket. So we cover our eyes, and hope this is all a bad dream that will go away. We are numbed into inaction. We lose hope and give up. We start to see the world as grey rather as a world full of colour!

Proverbs 13:12 describes it this way: “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.”

Sinking ship 1Even some of our theology, reflected in the recent end times movie, Left Behind starring Nicolas Cage, feeds into a doom and gloom worldview in which this world is like a sinking, burning ship.  Our only hope is to put on the life jacket of personal salvation to give us hell insurance, and to be our ticket into heaven in the afterlife. The best we can do is huddle in our life boat with a few other chosen folks – the church – waiting for Jesus to come airlift us out of this mess.

Now I am not suggesting that we live in despair, or buyPlanet of the Apes into the debunked and dying Enlightenment doctrine of truimphalism that promised through science, technology, and the power of humanism everything would get better and better until we reached utopia. Our experiment in hoping that the evolved human race could reach the heights of replacing God and fix all that ails us has not produced the end result we had hoped for. The movie The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an interesting commentary on the consequences of our hubris as a human race.

With all of our intellect and innovations, we have not been able to eradicate the heinous evils of genocide and ethnic cleansing, or stop the exploitation of children and women. Our progress and rampant greed has led to the raping and destruction of the natural resources and environment for profit. With all our advances we still have not been able to wipe out diseases such as cancer. These stark realities are humbling.

Fanaticism in religion has not fared any better. We can see daily the ugly fruit of  its various iterations such as: Dominion theology – the belief that we are to rule over all the earth by taking over the power structures of every sector (politics, religion, education, business, entertainment, ect.) of our society and setting up a prototype of God’s physical kingdom on earth …kinda like what Constantine the Roman emperor did in the 4th century when he made Christianity the state religion, or what Calvin tried by being a spiritual dictator and trying to set up a theocracy in Geneva in the 16th century, or ISIS in Iraq and Syria today.

Fear 1Another expression is the Manifest Destiny theology. We see this especially in the the political and religious right wing camps in North America. This is the belief that we are God’s favourites with His backing to promote and spread our brand of politics and religion. The extremes of the above are found in Fundamentalist theologies that use God to rationalize and justify the use of fear, force, and even violence to enforce their worldview, doctrine, and morality.

These doctrines have not worked, and have even back fired to create more Bad News!

Much of the bad stuff happening out there we can try to hold at arms length. What happens when it hits close to home? This last year we as a family had to live through the sudden bad news that Esther, my wife and mother of our 3 boys, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. When I heard the news it was like someone had punched me in the stomach. Why Esther? Esther is one of the nicest people I know. She eats healthy, has no history of breast cancer in her family, and doesn’t smoke or drink at all. Haven’t we had our fair share of hard stuff happen to us?

The question is not whether we will face bad news, but how do we face the reality of bad news in our lives, and not succumb to negativity, fear, despair, or a fatalistic resignation to simply circle the wagons and hope bad stuff doesn’t happen to us?

Hope 1The answer is found in the word Hope. What is Hope? How does hope help us walk out being Good News when we experience bad news in our lives? How does hope motivate us to do our part to make this world a better place in the here and now?

My two Heroes of Hope are my wife Esther and Jesus who have been examples of how to live Good News in the midst of bad news. Below are the ways that they have showed me what walking out hope looks like.

1. Hope is letting go of the notion that life is fair. Bad things happen to good people and it simply doesn’t make sense. The sooner we stop trying to figure out all the answers to the ‘Why’ questions the sooner we get on with living life. Esther has not let bitterness creep in to her heart by becoming angry and blaming God. She has not let herself get stuck in the muck of self-pity by focusing on the ‘Why me?’ question. Instead she has accepted the fact that life is full of mystery, and that she wants something beautiful to come out of her journey. She has been honest with the fact that cancer sucks, but she will not let this awful disease rob her of living life with joy.

2. Hope is a posture of alert expectancy for good to come out of the bad! (from the Message Rom 5:5). It is believing for the best and not giving into fear. Hope is first and foremost a choice to be postive even when things look bleak.

My wife Esther has been a living example of this unfailing optimism in how she has walked through the last year of battling cancer. Instead of feeling sorry for herself she has lived every day to the full with an expectancy that she will be healed. Her joy and peace through it all lifted the anxiety and fear that could have settled over our boys. 

The Good News is that we believe God has healed her from the cancer through both the health care she received and through the prayers of so many! Today she feels great and the past year seem surreal. Her perspective is that it could have been much worse. She sees her scars as a mark of grace…kinda like a tatoo she didn’t have to pay for! She has a story of hope to share with others of how God can turn the bad around for good. 

3. Hope is an attitude of being thankful for every good gift even when you face the bad stuff. Right from the get go Esther has modeled being grateful for the fact that the cancer was caught early (Stage 1), that she had one of the best surgeons in the city, that she didn’t have to have a mastectomy, that she came through radiation with little side effects, and that she is deeply loved by so many. Esther doesn’t seek attention and shies away from the limelight, so it was cool to see her become the center of so much attention and pampering!

4. Hope is an action! We live hope when we do something to makeHope 3 this world a better place. Every act of service like shoveling your neighbour’s side walk, every smile, every time we recycle, every time we forgive an offence, every moment spent creating something beautiful like a poem, painting, or song, we live hope in action. It is doing our part to be an answer to the problems plaguing our world. 

Let’s be advocates for justice by supporting a child from a needy community through World Vision or Compassion, or lobbying our government for tougher laws against child exploitation! Let’s be peace keepers by mediating between two parties in conflict, or by becoming a friend of a person from another part of the world or religion than our own.

Let’s encourage the Next Generation that they have a purpose for being on planet earth. Through their talents and gifts they can make this world a better place by discovering cures to cancer or Ebola, by finding and inventing renewable sources of energy, and by working to eradicate poverty through education, health, food and water, well paying jobs being available for all!

5. Hope is found in the person of Jesus and His promise of a coming Kingdom. The Grand Dream that I wait for, live for, and work for is a day that is coming where every wrong will be made right, where the earth will be renewed in all its beauty and harmony, where there will be peace and reconciliation in every relationship and between every race and religion! A day where there will be no more poverty, sickness, death or tears!  Jesus promises to come and complete His restoration plan for this world. Let it be so and let us live so no matter what we face.


Tim Schultz