Friendship Takes Two

Author: Kate Franken

There was a time when I rarely opened my Bible, never once did I read a book in its entirety. I would pray a stream of words that flowed from my mind and not my heart. With little understanding of what the words within my memorized prayers actually meant, I prayed to the saints and to Mary, in attempts to better reach God.

It was a time when I knew some things about God, but I didn’t know God.

I was thirsty. I sought to quench my thirst with an inordinate number of things of this world like a farm animal that repeatedly gets its head stuck in the fence due to its pursuit to be satisfied. I persisted in chasing after fleeting desire, despite experience teaching me to do otherwise. I was chasing after the wind.

One hot summer’s day, a group of friends and I were embarking on a three hour drive to a northern coast town; we were given the choice of two cars. One of the two friends driving shared that she planned to listen to a sermon on the way up, knowing that would influence some people’s decisions. While the majority packed themselves in the other car, I opted to join her and her sister. 

As we rolled down stretches of country roads, my interest in what the pastor had to say about God grew. One sermon became two. Two became three and so on. And most beautifully, for the first time, we talked deeply about the things of God as dear friends.

After that day, I continued to listen to that same pastor. His teachings helped me see God with new eyes. He awakened me to God’s invitation to have a personal relationship with Him. He helped me see that God wanted my heart, not my works. He erased the hoops I had thought I must jump to reach God, and allowed me to see that God was close. The pastor captivated me with his words, as he broadened my understanding of who God is. 

One of the most mind-blowing things I learned in those podcast sermons was that God calls us friend.

Kate Franken FriendshipJohn 15:12-17 states, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

There is no greater love than Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, laying down His life for us. He is listening as we seek him. God loves us in a way no other friend can. With God, we are known—fully, truly, and still He loves us. He chooses us. He qualifies us to do Kingdom work. He showers us in mercy and incomprehensibly calls us friend.

God simply asks that we love. We love one another. We love Him.

As our friend, He wants to hear from us. He wants our prayers, for us to seek Him always. He values authenticity and constancy, just as we do. The more honest we are with God, the deeper our friendship becomes with Him.

Friendship is a two-way street. Just as He wants us to talk to Him, He wants us to listen to Him. He speaks to us through the Bible, so we must regularly be in the Word to hear His voice. His Word is alive and active and we ought not to dismiss its power and authority.

Friendship requires that both friends prioritize one another. It’s when this doesn’t occur, that friendships fall apart. We need to be asking ourselves routinely Am I prioritizing God? If not, we must reorient.

Friendship Kate FrankenForging a friendship with God has forever changed me. He has my heart and is all I’ll ever need. I lean greatly on the truth of His Word and the intimacy of prayer to walk the hills and valleys before me. It’s a fierce and beautiful friendship that has brought peace to what tomorrow holds. The peace comes about from knowing God—knowing he can be trusted eternally.

May this be an encouragement for you to incline your heart towards Him, seek His face, and lessen the gap. Open your Bible. Pray vulnerable words. Drink from the cup where you’ll thirst no more, forge and keep your friendship alive with the Truest of Friends.


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

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Choosing, Forging, and Keeping Terrific Friendships

“You will not make it in life unless you are really good at choosing, forging, and keeping terrific friendships.”

Timothy Keller, a well known and respected pastor who hails out of New York, stated this in a video I recently watched for a church leadership class. It’s fitting, really, that for the whole month of May our training devoted itself in the art of relationships. Questions that stirred included, “What makes a friend? How do I choose them as an adult? Am I a good friend?”

Keller friendship (1)Keller went on to explain that “Friendship is the only love that is absolutely deliberate. It will not push itself upon you.”

That makes me stop and think–I need to choose well in regards to my friends, but how do I chose well? What are the characteristics of a friend that I should seek after? Or vice versa, the characteristics that I must display that will make me an affectionate, loyal, loving friend?

The video progressed to explain four things needed to create a friend: constancy, carefulness, candor, and counsel.

Constancy

I must be faithful and dependable. Proverbs 18:24 challenges us with these words: A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” To me constancy means I am that faithful friend, one who can be called (or texted) in the middle of the night. I come over when you’re overwhelmed with a pick-me-up coffee and a smile. I show up, time and again, without question. I let you in, all of you, and don’t shy away when life gets particularly hard or messy. A true friend sacrifices their time in order to be there for their people. I am determined to be a constant friend.

Carefulness

To be a faithful friend I need to be aware of my friend’s well-being and emotional state. This is the second aspect of a good friend. When friends are walking through perilous times in their lives, I am sensitive to their needs. I am unable to rejoice in my life when my true friend is unwell. On the contrary, when my friend is rejoicing, I am celebrating with them. I am acutely aware of their emotional and mental health, and display empathy. I am determined to be a careful friend.

Candor

I will be a truth-teller. I speak into my friend’s lives with frankness and honest expression. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” I know someone is a true friend when they are not afraid to share with me things I need to hear, but might not want to hear. Do I wield the truth to my dearest friends, even if it’s uncomfortable? Am I speaking God’s Word into their life when lies deceive and they are lead astray? I also recognize their giftings, remind them when forgotten, and spur them on in serving the Kingdom of God. I am determined to be a candid friend.

Counsel

friend Sarah DLastly, as a true friend, I am to counsel those I love and have chosen to be in my life. James 3:17 shares, But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” When I am counseling a friend, I am first seeking after truth from Scripture. I am always ensuring that my counsel is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and finally, sincere. If my counsel does not align with these characteristics, it is unwarranted and therefore not useful. I am determined to be a counseling friend.

In my lifetime, I have encountered many a friendship. Some friendships turned out to be more seasonal, some have lasted over half of my life. The beauty of a friend is that they are irreplaceable, and a gift from God. C.S. Lewis beautifully sums up friendship in the Four Loves.

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

As I am reminded of Keller’s four characteristics of a good friend, I am also reminded that God is always at work, even in our friendships. He knows that in order to make it through life, we need friends to cleave to in adversity and to rejoice with in happy times. Friends are a reflection of God’s goodness and faithful love toward us.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.

 

 

One Another Friendship

Last week a beautiful thing happeneda friend dropped by. No planning, no consulting our schedules to pencil in a playdate in six weeks pending the weather, possible illness, and the unforeseen mishaps that are bound to happen. Just a knock at the door.

As we sat amidst my laundry, watching little ones play we chatted about what was going on in life. As we took breaks to feed children or put a grumpy baby to bed, we coached the littles on friendship 101. Don’t pinch. Give her space. You can play with it when she is done. Gentle. Be slow to anger,she didn’t realize that hurt you. Yelling isn’t how we talk to our friends.

Friendship Holly HawesIt is good advice for us all.

Later, they will learn to keep confidences, cheer one another on, and be includers. To care for one another’s broken hearts, and forgive one another.

One another is really what friendship is about. As Christians, friendship is not simply based on common interests or places in life, but on the fact that as followers of Jesus we are family. Beyond stage of life, race, or ambition we are called to relationship. Because of this the one another includes the other.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with {Sisterly} affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

While the Bible doesn’t have a top 10 list of friendship do’s and don’ts, when I think about the way a family should treat one another, I continue to gain more insight into how redeemed sister-friendship works.

Come as you are

…But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

There is no need to clean yourself up to join the family, and we shouldn’t permit the facade of perfection to remain within our friendships. Family gets to see all sides of you. Morning bedhead. Messy room. Struggling and succeeding. There is vulnerability in sharing your real life, and this is exactly where we begin to connect deeply with one another as sister-friends. Past the Pinterest projects and small talk is the part of your soul made for real inter-dependence.

Confess

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

I vividly remember the first time I sat across from a friend and confessed an area I’d been struggling that I hoped to never say outloud. Years later, I don’t remember even what I actually confessed, but I remember the deep relief and healing I felt as she said outloud that God had already forgiven me and she forgave me as well. We need people in our lives who can tell us the truth, hear us out, and pray for us.

Holly Hawes FriendshipMartin Luther famously said, ‘All a Christian’s life is of repentance.” Indeed, we are people who not only say we are in need of the change God can bring in our life on day one of following Jesus, but  also on every day after that. In our relationships this means  we are to be sisters and friends who are real about the places we are struggling and are pointing one another back to the good news of the gospel.

Forgiveness

…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13

Friendship has a certain quality of commitment that is never stated in vows, signed on a legal document, or even agreed upon in a conversation. Instead, day in and day out we begin to do the things that make relationships last and slowly a foundation is built. Part of that foundation must be forgiveness or the relationship will not stand the test of time. People do fail, and no one but Jesus is perfect. We are able to forgive one another because we know that God has forgiven us.

I’m With You

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

As sisters we hold front row seats to each other’s life. We must cheer each other on both in times of joy and pain. I find that most people are great at half of this verse. We have the encouraging cheerleader party thrower types who celebrate well when a friend gets a promotion, begins a romantic relationship, has a baby, or is just excited for the new hobby she started. On the other hand there are the mercy-filled empathetic type who sit and weep with those struggling with illness, infertility, loss of a job, disappointment, or marriage trouble. We default to one side, but miss out if we don’t learn to give both rejoicing and weeping.

You Have a Gift

For as in one body we have many members,and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them Romans 12 :4-6a

For some reason, it is difficult to see in ourselves the ways that God has made us and gifted us. We need our sisters to point out how they see God at work through us, and how our gifts are needed. So next time you see a friend excelling at something, let them know. Because we are not alone in this journey. We were designed to encourage, help, and serve those whom God loves, those He created in His image.


Holly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time holly-squareas a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

June Printable: Worry Not

Dear Readers,

As those who belong to Jesus, worry will not steal from us anymore! Sarah Dohman has created this beautiful printable to remind you that you are cared for by the God who knitted the universe together.  May these words from Corrie Ten Boom, who was a courageous survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, on your wall, desk, or wherever you like to put your printables remind you that you can trust God to be who He says He is!

Download this beautiful printable here!

CTB Worry Quote

 

A Focus on Friendship

Author: Kimberley Mulder

My “one word” for 2017 is friendship. At the beginning of each year I spend some time listening to God and observing my journey thus far to discern what one word I am to focus my attentions for the upcoming year. It is always something that God is cultivating in my life, maybe pruning, but always bringing greater life.

To begin my year’s focus , I prayed about my friendships, and discovered a deep gratitude that rescues me from the seeping insecurities about them. When I forget to approach these relationships as God’s gifts I mire in doubts that others care for me, that I fail people too often, that people are rejecting me. These are fears founded on my sinful nature, for I do fail friends, but what God, and my lovely friends, are showing me is that they forgive me and love me.

In addition to cementing this foundation of gratitude for the friends I have, God has been showing me his friendship. I have found great delight in reading an account from the gospels as if I were there as His friend. I observe in my mind’s eye what is recorded, and His Spirit fills my imagination with details of the setting, with personalities of the characters, with words and actions that may have occurred. And I interact with Jesus, asking questions, listening, following and watching him. I am sure this imaginative imagery is not an accurate depiction of what occurred in real time 2000 years ago, however, through it Jesus is present to me as a friend!

One word FriendshipNaturally, I have to read a book or two about my “one word” and so I started with one on spiritual friendship – “Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction” by David G. Benner. It is a rich explanation and exploration of soul friendship. These are the friends who nurture your soul and care deeply about your whole self. These are the companions God has given you on your transformational journey with Christ. They are vital gifts from God! The guidance in the book has already blessed my relationships.

Then there is the guidance I am giving my daughter regarding friendships and “friending” online. She is a pre-teen and her world is dictated by peers. We recently walked her through the positives and negatives of using social media, building her foundation to connect and care for her friends. We have given her expectations and guidance to treat everyone as she wishes to be treated even as she encounters peers who aren’t held to these same expectations. We are trying to give her the tools and abilities to build her ship with her friends to sail together through these adolescent years.

Friendship Kim MulThis leads to our family’s newest adventure in friendships. This summer we did not sign up for any camps or classes, we are not taking any trips and our schedule is REALLY empty. (Hear my gulp of faith mixed with fear that God will fill all these days with good things?) Instead, I have been telling every friend and neighbor to come visit us, play with us, eat with us. Come summer break, we will be issuing invitations regularly to hang outs, picnics, trips to the library, you name it. And reiterating to everyone to drop by which is counter-cultural, at least in our neighborhood. This is a giant leap of faith for me – one in which I think we will be learning quickly how to build and maintain our family’s ship of friends!

I urge you to pray over your friendships, to see them through God’s eyes, to find resources that infuse life into your relationships and will help you train your children to model true friendship to a world addicted to “friending”.


Readers, how could you work on a friendship today?

2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)